Thursday, December 9, 2021

5 Fighters to Watch at UFC 224 This Weekend

UFC 224 is around the corner and there are five fighters to keep a close eye on.

The event will take place this Saturday night (May 12). UFC 224 will be held inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This will be the UFC’s second trip to Brazil in 2018.

In the main event, Amanda Nunes defends her women’s bantamweight title against Raquel Pennington. Also, middleweights Jacare Souza and Kelvin Gastelum are set to share the Octagon. There are plenty more bouts on the card that are sure to satisfy viewers.

Without wasting any more time, let’s get to the list of five fighters to watch at UFC 224:

5. Ramazan Emeev

Ramazan Emeev
Image Credit: Jeff Botarri/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It won’t take long for things to get interesting at UFC 224. Ramazan Emeev and undefeated welterweight Alberto Mina will collide on the UFC Fight Pass portion of the prelims. It’s set to be just the second fight of the evening.

Emeev comes into the bout with a 16-3 record. He is a two-time M-1 Global middleweight champion, but he’s making the move down to welterweight for this bout. It’ll be interesting to see how the Russian fares at welterweight.

4. Elizeu Zaleski

Elizeu Zaleski
Image Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Elizeu Zaleski is riding a four-fight winning streak. He’s coming off a unanimous decision win over Max Griffin. If he beats Sean Strickland at UFC 224, then it’s hard to deny giving Zaleski a ranked opponent.

With 12 knockouts to his credit, Zaleski is a dangerous welterweight. Finishing Strickland won’t be easy as he hasn’t been stopped. Strickland has only lost to Kamaru Usman and Santiago Ponzinibbio. If Zaleski pulls off a win, expect to see him in a higher-profile bout soon.

3. Karl Roberson

Karl Roberson
Image Credit: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Karl Roberson earned a UFC contract on Dana White‘s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He knocked out Ryan Spann in just 15 seconds. Roberson followed that up with a first-round submission win over Darren Stewart in his UFC debut.

The quick finishes have given Roberson a stern test in Cezar Ferreira. Ferreira has had 12 fights in the UFC and that’s not including his time in “The Ultimate Fighter” house. If Roberson can defeat Ferreira in impressive fashion, then watch out for “Baby K.”

2. Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum
Image Credit: Steve Marcus/Getty Images

As far as Kelvin Gastelum’s middleweight title hopes are concerned, his bout with Jacare Souza is sink or swim. While Gastelum is young, another loss may convince him to try his luck cutting down to 170 pounds again. This is Gastelum’s chance to rise to the occasion and prove he belongs at the top of the heap at middleweight.

It won’t be easy as Souza has only lost to Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker during his UFC run. Those who dismiss Gastelum’s chances in the fight point to his submission loss to Chris Weidman. If the fifth ranked middleweight can get past Souza, it would go a long way in softening the blow of that defeat.

1. Vitor Belfort

Vitor Belfort
Image Credit: AP Photo/Felipe Dana

This is it for “The Phenom.” Vitor Belfort will call it a career at UFC 224. The man to share the Octagon with him for the final time will be fellow Brazilian icon Lyoto Machida. Belfort was supposed to retire at UFC St. Louis, but his opponent Uriah Hall had a weight cutting mishap.

Belfort will end his career having had 41 fights. He goes into his bout final bout with a professional MMA record of 26-13, 1 NC. Belfort will leave the sport having won the UFC light heavyweight title and the UFC 12 heavyweight tournament winner. Many expect “The Phenom” to be in the UFC Hall of Fame someday.

Be sure to join us for live coverage of UFC 224. We’ll keep you up to speed with live results and post-fight tidbits.

Who are your fighters to watch going into UFC 224?

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