This week’s UFC Vegas: 34 is an absolutely stacked card from top to bottom, but for one reason or another, has flown under many radars, perhaps due to #2 Ranked Paulo Costa pulling out of the Main Event in favor of fighting #4 Ranked Marvin Vettori at the end of October.
However, Costa splitting hairs about who gets him closer to a title fight could very well backfire, because #9 Ranked Kelvin Gastelum, as he does time and time again, has put his money where his mouth is, and jumped at the opportunity to fight #3 Ranked Jared Cannonier in Costa’s place.
The card opens with a Welterweight Bout between former AFC Welterweight Champion, Sasha Palatnikov and submission specialist and BJJ Blue Belt, Ramiz Brahimaj. A classic wrestler vs striker bout, all eight of Brahimaj’s wins have been via submission, he has only been stopped once, in his last bout against Max Griffin almost a year ago. Palatnikov on the other hand has only been submitted once, against Impa Kasanganay earlier this year, and it is worth noting that he won the AFC Welterweight Strap by UD in a 25-minute bout against Sung Won Son, so it appears that he has the cardio to keep up Brahimaj’s wrestling.
Dana White’s Contender Series Alum, Roosevelt Roberts also returns to the Octagon for the first time in almost a year, eager to get back into the win column after losing to Jim Miller and Kevin Croom (although this was later overturned to NC after Croom tested positive for marijuana metabolite after the bout last year. Having taken a year out to ground himself, Roberts should be in tip-top shape for fellow DWCS Alum, Ignacio Bahamondes. Bahamondes missed weight in his last bout against John Makdessi back in April, where he lost a narrow Split Decision.
Kicking off the Main Card is a highly anticipated Flyweight Bout between top-ranked contenders, #3 Alexandre Pantoja and #6 Brandon Royval. Pantoja has two wins over current Champion, Brandon Moreno, while Royval’s last fight ended due to a shoulder injury against the Champ. With almost identical training, with both men being high-level BJJ and Muay Thai practitioners, this fight is certain to deliver those Flyweight Fireworks that we’ve become so accustomed to.
In the Co-Main event, UFC and Strikeforce legend, Clay Guida makes his second return to the Octagon this year, after defeating Michael Johnson by Unanimous Decision back in February. His opponent, Olympic silver medalist, Mark Madsen, remains undefeated at 10-0-0, hopes to add a legend to his trophy cabinet with a win over Guida, which may see him in contention for a ranking in the near future.
- Jared Cannonier (185) vs Kelvin Gastelum (186)*
- Clay Guida (155) vs Mark Madsen (156)
- Parker Porter (262) vs Chase Sherman (256)
- Trevin Jones (135) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov (138.5)**
- Vinc Pichel (155.5) vs Austin Hubbard (156)
- Alexandre Pantoja (126) vs Brandon Royval (125.5)
- Austin Lingo (145.5) vs Luis Saldana (146)
- Brian Kelleher (136) vs Domingo Pilarte (136)
- Bea Malecki (135) vs Josiane Nunes (136)
- William Knight (206) vs Fabio Cherant ()
- Roosevelt Roberts (154.5) vs Ignacio Bahamondes (154)
- Sasha Palatnikov (170) vs Ramiz Brahimaj (171)
* Kelvin Gastelum weighed in last with 13 minutes to spare, and came in at 186.25lbs, and was given another hour. He made the 186lb Middleweight limit with the aid of the curtain and the bout will proceed as planned.
** Saidyokub Kakhramonov missed the 136lb Bantamweight limit and will forfeit 20% of his purse to his opponent, Trevin Jones, and will be ineligible for any performance bonuses.
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