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7/20/16: Five Best Fights on Saturday’s UFC on Fox 20 Card
The UFC on Fox 20 event this weekend is one of the organization’s weaker fight cards, but today we’re looking at the best of what it has to offer.
5. Felice Herrig vs. Kailin Curran: Curran began her career in the UFC with a couple of entertaining fights, but after losing both of them – by TKO to Paige VanZant and submission to Alex Chambers – she was desperate for a win in her last outing in December. She got it when she submitted Emily Kagan, ending the losing skid and setting her up to move forward. A win over TUF 20’s Herrig, returning for the first time since her own loss to VanZant in April of 2015, would be significant. The need for a win puts some additional stakes on the Fox main card’s opener.
4. Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland: This could be a showcase for Saenz, who fell short of upsetting Urijah Faber in December despite a good effort. That brought an end to a seven fight winning streak for the 35-year-old, who is actually less battle weary than his 32-year-old opponent. Wineland returned to the cage last July on the Fox event in Chicago after more than a year out, and he dropped a decision to Bryan Caraway. The one-time title challenger has been out for another year, and given recent performances it’s hard to have confidence in him winning. With that said, a win over Saenz gets him back on track, and the fight itself should be decently entertaining.
3. Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko: Shevchenko hadn’t necessarily shown anything in her first two UFC bouts to suggest she’s going to best Holm, but she beat Sarah Kaufman and went to a decision with current champ Amanda Nunes. She’s a tough out with submission skills and some solid striking ability coming from boxing and kickboxing herself. Holm is back for the first time since losing her title in March, and needs to get a win here to set up a significant fight in the division in the fall, so it’s an important spot for her as well. Though it’s not much for a main event on Fox, it’s still a good, competitive matchup in the division.
2. Darren Elkins vs. Godofredo Pepey: Pepey’s been must-see TV in his last several fights, scoring a flying knee KO, a triangle/armbar submission, and a flying triangle submission over his last three fights. He hasn’t fought since March of 2015, but he’s returning against a tough veteran competitor in Elkins on this preliminary card. Elkins is a really difficult fighter to beat, as his smothering grappling game is capable of shutting a lot of styles down. However, Pepey’s fairly comfortable wherever he goes, and if he pulls out something special against Elkins it could be a highlight on this night.
1. Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez: This co-main event was one of the best fights booked in a crowded month, and it’s far and away the best fight on this card. Barboza’s coming off a career best win over former UFC Champ Anthony Pettis, while former Strikeforce Champ Melendez returns from suspension and a loss to now champ Eddie Alvarez. This is two top ten, arguably top five lightweights trying to put themselves in the mix, and if you only tune in for one fight on Saturday it should be this one.
[Photo (c) Joshua Dahl via USA Today Sports]
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