UFC on FOX 29: What’s at stake this weekend in Arizona?

Dustin Poirier (Getty Pictures)

This weekend’s UFC on FOX occasion in Glendale, Arizona is sweet — actually good. “Higher than you’d anticipate every week after a robust pay-per-view providing” good.

Whereas there have been modifications to a few fights, the expansive 14-struggle lineup — which is a troublesome capsule to swallow after a breezy 9-battle night time final weekend — is robust from prime to backside with a pair high quality prospect set to hit the cage and a few extra seasoned expertise trying to discover a solution to stand out a bit of extra in their respective divisions.

As for the primary card, it’s made up of 4 aggressive, compelling fights that includes acquainted names or rising skills you need to actually begin taking note of now.

Right here’s a glance at what’s at stake in every of these 4 contests this weekend at UFC on FOX: Poirier vs. Gaethje.

Michelle Waterson vs. Cortney Casey

Strawweight is definitely one of the best of the 4 feminine divisions and one of the crucial aggressive weight courses in the UFC as an entire and this contest will have an effect on what occurs in the decrease third of the highest 15 in the second half of 2018.

Waterson enters on a two-battle dropping streak the place she’s fallen to the reigning champ, Rose Namajunas, and fifth-ranked Tecia Torres, whereas Casey comes in having dropped a clumsy, largely uneventful determination to Felice Herrig final outing.

Together with each ladies trying to get again in the win column, this contest is essential for Waterson as a result of the UFC has been rolling her out as a possible contender and minor star for the final 18 months — her outcomes haven’t backed up that push. She’s getting dangerously near drifting into the “Tim Tebow Zone,” the place an athlete’s movie star outpaces their efficiency.

Casey is the type of gritty, properly-rounded fighter that would simply roll into the Octagon on Saturday night time and hand Waterson a 3rd, straight loss.

There are some high quality fights on the docket in this division over the subsequent couple months and the winner of this one ought to land a date with somebody in the highest 10 subsequent outing, together with former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk if the group opts to have her reset towards somebody outdoors the highest 5 following her loss to Namajunas final weekend.

Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori

All of the strain is on Adesanya in this one, nevertheless it’s a really huge alternative for Vettori as nicely.

Adesanya made an on the spot influence by choosing aside and placing away Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 earlier than chopping a world-class promo following his promotional debut. “The Final Stylebender” immediately turned everybody’s favourite middleweight prospect and other people began getting a bit of carried away with their superior projections of his future greatness.

Having successful single is straightforward; dropping a terrific album is far more durable and this is the purpose the place Adesanya has to show that he’s greater than only a flashy striker who mauls overmatched opponents and may spit recreation on the microphone.

Those that assume beating Vettori is a foregone conclusion have to examine themselves, because the 24-yr-previous Italian has been steadily enhancing since arriving in the UFC and has the sort of strong all-round recreation that would halt Adesanya’s ascension in a heartbeat. If he’s in a position to take action, Vettori would usurp his opponent’s place as the excitement-worthy middleweight upstart to observe, which is why this is a pivotal contest for him as nicely.

Carlos Condit vs. Alex Oliveira

Speaking about athletes probably being at the top of their profession isn’t enjoyable and it’s even worse when it’s somebody as completed and usually superior as Carlos Condit, however it truthfully seems like this struggle goes to inform us what — if something — “The Pure Born Killer” has left in the tank.

Condit didn’t look nice in his return to the cage towards Neil Magny at the top of final yr, and this bout with the all the time harmful Oliveira must be an incredible probability to see if that struggle with Magny was only a one-off after a prolonged layoff or if the veteran contender is on the decline.

To be trustworthy, this struggle is fairly emblematic of the welterweight division as an entire proper now, as there are a bunch of established, properly-recognized rivals combined in with up-and-coming fighters trying to transfer up the rankings and we’re going to start out seeing which era will rise to energy over these subsequent few months.

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje

From a strict divisional perspective, this struggle will decide which of those violent gents will occupy a spot in the highest 5 and probably be matched up with Eddie Alvarez or the winner of the upcoming battle between Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee in a battle to assist additional delineate issues in the loaded, messy light-weight division.

This additionally seems like a little bit of a make-or-break struggle for Poirier from a contender standpoint. Regardless of all his success and quite a few high quality wins, “The Diamond” has did not get that one massive win he wants to actually stamp himself as a contender on a number of events. Fighters are afforded so many alternatives earlier than they’re completely relegated to being a “gatekeeper to the celebs,” particularly in such a stacked weight class.

For Gaethje, this is an opportunity to rebound from his first skilled loss and additional bolster his standing as probably the most thrilling and entertaining fighters in the game. After taking gold and silver in the Struggle of the Yr race final yr, the 29-yr-previous savage is preventing at residence in Arizona on the most important stage in the game, so for those who don’t assume he’s going to need to ship the sort of efficiency that blows the roof off the Gila River Area on Saturday night time, you’re sadly mistaken.