Monday, May 16, 2022

UFC 271 Storylines & Final Comprehensive Preview

We’ve got a full, comprehensive breakdown of all the storylines heading into tomorrow night’s UFC 271 event along with the final face-offs.

UFC 271 goes down tomorrow night, February 12, 2022. The action kicks off at 6:00 PM ET on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, followed by the ESPN prelims at 8:00 PM. The main card begins at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

We’ve got a preview of the entire card and the storylines attached to each fight below capped off with the face-offs. And be sure to check out our staff predictions for the event right here!

Jeremiah Wells (9-2) vs. Mike Mathetha (3-0)

Jeremiah Wells enters the fight on a three-fight winning streak after having KO’d Warrley Alves in his debut and showing no trace of UFC jitters in the process.

Standing across from him is Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha, who has over 60 fights of kickboxing experience. He is a teammate of Israel Adesanya, and Chael Sonnen broke down the significance of his UFC signing here.

Wells enters the fight as a -235 favorite, the comeback on the undefeated and less-MMA-experienced Mathetha is +190.

You can check out the face-offs between these two competitors below.

Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs. Sergey Morozov (17-5)

Silva de Andrade is a 15-year fight veteran who has alternated wins and losses since 2016. He won his first Performance of the Night in his last fight with a KO of Gaetano Pirrello in the first round. de Andrade holds a quietly amazing record of 27-4.

Sergey Morozov is 8-2 in his last 10 fights, with the only two losses coming to the highly touted Umar Nurmagomedov and Movsar Evloev outside of the UFC. Morozov most recently defeated Khalid Taha via decision in July. You can peep some of Morozov’s highlights right here.

Below, you can catch the final faceoff between these two athletes.

A.J. Dobson (6-0) vs. Jacob Malkoun (5-1)

A.J. Dobson earned his UFC contract with first-round submission on Dana White‘s Contender Series. Five of his six wins came via first-round finish, with three KO/TKOs and three submissions. You can watch AJ Dobson Contender Series, Next Level here.

Jacob Malkoun is 1-1 in the UFC after defeating Abdul Razak Alhassan most recently last April via decision. Prior to that, he lost to Phil Hawes. Of note, Malkoun attempted 24 takedowns against Alhassan. So hard-hitter A.J. Dobson may need to pack in his wrestling shoes for this one.

You can catch the final face-off between these two below.

Carlos Ulberg (3-1) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-3)

Carlos Ulberg enters the fight as a -235 favorite over Fabio Cherant. Ulberg earned his contract from Contender Series via 2020 KO, and all three of his wins have come via KO.

Fabio Cherant is off to a rocky 0-2 start in the UFC, first being submitted by Alonzo Menifeld and then being knocked out by William Knight. To help turn his UFC fortunes, Cherant has been putting in time training at Sanford MMA and Fight Ready. You can learn more about Cherant via his LFA Diaries here.

Leomana Martinez (9-2) vs. Ronnie Lawrence (7-1)

Ronnie Lawrence comes in as one of the biggest favorites on the card at -305, with the comeback on Leomana Martinez being +240. Lawrence is on a four-fight winning streak and made the UFC’s “Fighters You Should Know” list for this card. He won his UFC debut via TKO in February over Vince Cachero. You can expect Lawrence to carry with him his wrestling, relentless takedown attempts, and a gas tank that never goes on empty.

Leomana Martinez is on a three-fight winning streak after being submitted on Contender Series in 2020. At UFC 271, Martinez will be competing in his hometown of Houston. So you can be sure he’ll be looking to leave a memorable impression, such as a KO like this one over Casey Jones.

You can catch the final face-offs between these fighters below.

William Knight (11-2) vs. Maxim Grishin (31-9-2)

Maxim Grishin is 1-2 in the UFC and most recently lost to Dustin Jacoby via unanimous decision. Prior to his UFC debut, Grishin had not lost in his last nine fights and not since 2016. You can peep some of Grishin’s highlights here.

William Knight is 3-1 in the UFC after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. He knocked out Fabio Cherant to win Performance of the Night in August 2021 and most recently defeated Alonzo Menifeld via unanimous decision in December. He is coming into this fight on short notice.

You can catch the face-off between Knight and Grishin below.

Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-7)

In his last outing, Kyler Phillips lost to Raulian Paiva via unanimous decision in July 2021 in a Fight of the Night. Before that, he defeated prospect Song Yadong via unanimous decision. He is 3-1 in the UFC, including an impressive 2020 finish over Cameron Else.

Marcelo Rojo is 0-1 in the UFC after being knocked out by Charles Jourdain in the third round. He’s 1-2 in his last three fights, with 14 of his 16 wins by stoppage. You can peep the best of Marcelo Rojo here.

Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs. Casey O’Neill (8-0)

In this, her retirement fight, “The Happy Warrior” enters the Octagon as a woman who is ready for the next generation to take over. As she prepares to bid farewell against one of the members of that incoming generation, you can check out a career retrospective of Roxanne Modafferi here.

The Rise of “King” Casey O’Neil has contained all three UFC wins by finish, most recently winning Performance of the Night in TKO of Antonina Shevchenko. O’Neill ranked #99 on the MMA News Top 100 Fighters of 2021 list, and a win here would be a step towards a higher number on next year’s list.

O’Neill is aware of Modaferri’s plans to try everything she’s ever wanted to in an MMA fight before, but according to “King” Casey, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. After this fight, O’Neill would like to finish competing against every single ranked flyweight in the top 15 before getting a title shot.

But first, she has to deal with the exiting “Happy Warrior.” You can catch their face-off below.

Andrei Arlovski (32-20) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-6)

At 43 years old, Andrei Arlovski still finds himself as the favorite (-145) going up against a younger opponent in 29-year-old Jared Vanderra. Arlovski has won his last two fights, first over Chase Sherman and then over Carlos Felipe. Here is a look back at some of Arlovski’s greatest moments as we await yet another Octagon walk for the legend tomorrow.

After earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, Vanderaa has gone on to have a 1-2 record in the UFC. Most recently, he lost to Alexander Romanov via TKO in October 2021. Prior to that, he won Fight of the Night in a decision win over Justin Tafa.

You can catch the face-off of these two heavyweights below.

Bobby Green (-140) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (+120)

Bobby Green last won Performance of the Night in knocking out Al Iaquinta at UFC 268. This was his first stoppage since 2013. Prior to that win, he also won Fight of the Night in a loss to Rafael Fiziev at UFC 265.

We’ve seen Green compete in the UFC for nearly a full decade. After the UFC’s kind gesture of paying his brother’s funeral costs, Green maintains that he intends to remain loyal to the promotion throughout his career. Judging from his last performance against Iaquinta, that career may have many chapters to come.

The next one comes against Nasrat Haqparast, who most recently lost to Dan Hooker via unanimous decision at UFC 266. Haqparast is 5-3 in the UFC, with one of those wins being a vicious KO of Joaquim Silva in 2019.

You can catch the very fiesty face-off between these two fighters below.

Alexander Hernandez (13-4)  vs. Renato Moicano (15-4)

Alexander Hernandez has alternated wins and losses since 2018. You couldn’t tell judging from his most recent performance, though, where he knocked out Mike Breeden last October. Hernandez owns two Performance of the Night wins and is 5-3 in the UFC. Hernandez was unhappy to be on the prelims, so now we’ll see what he does after being bumped up on the main card against Renato Moicano.

Renato Moicano is 2-1 at lightweight after once being ranked in the featherweight top 5. Most recently, Moicano submitted Jai Herbert in June 2021. His losses in the UFC have only come against killers: Brian Ortega, José Aldo, The Korean Zombie, and Rafael Fiziev.

Check out the face-off between these two competitors below, which includes Moicano leaving Hernandez hanging…

Jared Cannonier (-165) vs. Derek Brunson (+145)

Two top-5 middleweights go at it in what is widely being viewed as a title eliminator. Cannonier rejects the idea that this is a “striker vs. grappler” match and is also not buying into the “Blonde Brunson” hype. In fact, he intends to wipe out the entire gimmick and turn “Blonde Brunson” into “Blood Brunson” at UFC 271.

Brunson has also come with his share of trash talk heading this bout. After roasting Jared Cannonier as MMA’s answer to The Nutty Professor, he also said that Cannonier would need to be perfect and lucky to score the victory tomorrow night.

If Brunson gets the win that he is clearly anticipating, he will have completed one leg of his retirement tour, which would include one final fight against whoever is middleweight champion.

This bout will also feature two top-50 athletes on The MMA News Top 100 Fighters of 2021 list. Brunson was ranked four spots ahead of Cannonier, so “The Killa Gorilla” can show that our panel was a little bit off in this key middleweight clash tomorrow night.

Here is the final face-off between these two top-5ers:

Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs. Tai Tuivasa (14-3)

Do. Not. Blink. Because one of these two men is almost certain to go to sleep.

Derrick Lewis (#3) has won five of his last six fights. The UFC’s KO king most recently slept Chris Daukaus last December after losing an interim title fight against Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 in his own backyard. Now, “The Black Beast” is back in Houston and ready for redemption.

For Tai Tuivasa (#11), this is a massive opportunity. He’s on a four-fight winning streak, with all coming by KO. Not only that, but only one of his career wins has not come by KO. If Tuivasa adds Lewis to the list, he may very well crack the heavyweight top 5 and enter the world-title conversation.

Tuivasa already confessed to accepting this fight while “blind drunk.” And win or lose, it’s safe to say “Bam Bam” will get drunk yet again. The question is, will it be him or a reluctant Black Beast who is doing a cup shoey after the fight?

This bout features two more fighters featured on our 2021 year-end list. We’ll see how they begin their 2022 campaign tomorrow.

You can check out the final face-off between these two bangers below.

Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (23-5)

Finally, we have the rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker that is three years in the making. Whittaker has admitted that he was not in the right headspace going into the initial fight between these two. Adesanya has insisted that this is what he had said all along prior to their fight.

Since claiming the second-round TKO at UFC 243, Adesanya hasn’t been shy about bragging about the victory and revisiting that night. According to the middleweight champion, he humbled Whittaker inside the Marvel Stadium in 2019.

It should come as no surprise that Whittaker isn’t a fan of comments like these, and he’s gone as far as to say that he flat out doesn’t like Adesanay’s character and the way he conducts himself.

But all that matters is what will take place inside the Octagon. And since his loss to Adesanya three years ago, Whittaker has revealed the changes he has made. However, despite many people praising Whittaker for his improvements, Izzy doesn’t get all the fuss and believes this narrative is being overblown. Whatever improvements Whittaker has or hasn’t made, Adesanya has tricks up his sleeves to shut Whittaker down, including a strategic choice of hairstyle.

Adesanya has also pinpointed what he believes to be the precise moment he will break Robert Whittaker’s spirit during the bout, which is when Whittaker learns that he can’t outgrapple him. Whittaker has addressed this assumption that this is what he will try to do, even unloading on the “Just Take Adesanya Down” brigade leading up to the fight.

Unlike in their first encounter, Robert Whittaker feels he is now in the proper state of mind for the task at hand and isn’t concerned about the outside noise. As for Adesanya, as confident as he is, even he has privately admitted that he is nervous coming into the rematch.

The champion’s main motivation heading into tomorrow is to not only overcome those nerves but outdo his performance against Whittaker at UFC 243—and in so doing, send Whittaker back to that dark place.

Check out the final face-off between these two rivals below along with their closing remarks.

To view the full UFC 271 Ceremonial Weigh-in, you can do so right here. And please be sure to keep it locked on tomorrow for full, live coverage of UFC 271!

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