Two weeks before UFC holds it’s next PPV event in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, they are set to hold a smaller event in Sunrise, Florida. Live from the BB&T Center, the 13 fight card is main evented by Jacare Souza and Jack Hermansson. The main event underwent numerous changes, and now finds itself in a situation of a younger fighter facing a gatekeeper of the Middleweight division. But before we get more into that, let’s break down the preliminary card.
Bout 1: Court McGee (19-7) vs. Dhiego Lima (13-7) (Welterweight)
Kicking off the show will be Court McGee versus Dhiego Lima. Since he won season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2010, McGee hasn’t had an easy run in the promotion. Although this is true, he is heading into this fight after a decision win against Alex Garcia from October. Lima was a part of a season of The Ultimate Fighter as well, but found himself on the losing end of the finale on two occasions. His last fight was his most significant one in the promotion thus far, defeating Chad Laprise in one round at UFC 231. He still has room to prove himself after his entrance, exit and the return to the UFC.
Bout 2: Angela Hill (8-6) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-4) (Strawweight)
After he round one armbar loss in March, Angela Hill took a short notice fight against Jodie Esquibel for this card. The spot which was originally being held by Jessica Penne was vacated after she suffered an injury. Both fighters will be looking to recover from recent losses. Penne has lost to notable fighters in her last few bouts, those being Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Aguilar. Hill is also on a losing streak, but to smaller names like Randa Markos and Cortney Casey.
Bout 3: Jim Miller (29-13) vs. Jason Gonzalez (11-4) (Lightweight)
Jim Miller has been with the UFC since 2008, but a recent series of losses has booted him to a low spot on the prelims for this show. He has lost to the likes of Dustin Poirier, Anthony Pettis, Dan Hooker and Charles Oliveria in recent fight. He’ll be facing Jason Gonzalez, a fighter who has had a much shorter career within the promotion. Gonzalez has been absent from MMA since 2017, with his last loss being against Gregor Gillespie.
Bout 4: Gilbert Burns (14-3) vs. Mike Davis (7-1) (Lightweight)
Mike Davis won’t have an easy entrance into the UFC, as his first bout will be against Gilbert Burns. He competed in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in mid-2018, but has since fought twice more in the Island Fights promotion. He’s never won a fight via decision, which might make it a quick bout against Burns, who has gotten 12 of his 14 wins via stoppage. Like many people on this card, Burns had a different opponent originally, that being Eric Wisely.
Bout 5: Carla Esparza (13-6) vs. Vima Jandiroba (14-0) (Strawweight)
Now long-time UFC Strawweight fighter Carla Esparza will be welcoming newcomer Vima Jandiroba on Saturday, having the potential to take away her undefeated streak. Jandiroba got her most recent wins from the Missouri based promotion Invicta FC, fighting twice in 2018. Esparza has recently lost to Claudia Gadelha and Tatiana Suarez, two notable fighters in the division. Her original opponent for this weekend was Livia Renata Souza, but she pulled out due to injury.
Bout 6: Andrei Arlovski (27-18) vs. Augusto Sakai (12-1-1) (Heavyweight)
All of Andrei Arlovski’s recent bouts have followed a specific trend. They were against young talent, they went to decision, and they were all losses. He’ll be fighting young talent again on Saturday when he faces Augusto Sakai, but the finish and the winner is still to be found out. Sakai has fought for Bellator in the past, and had a win on the Contender Series which gave him a contract. He looks to continue his winning streak against a veteran Heavyweight.
Bout 7: Ben Saunders (22-11-2) vs. Takashi Sato (14-2) (Welterweight)
Finishing off the prelims will be Ben Saunders and Takashi Sato fighting in the Welterweight division. Sato is making his UFC debut in this fight. He came from Pancrase, getting a 14-2 record with his last fight being the main event of Pancrase 300. Saunders will be attempting to bounce back from a slump he’s been in, losing four of his last five bouts.
Bout 8: Roosevelt Roberts (7-0) vs. Thomas Gifford (17-7) (Lightweight)
Starting off the main card portion of the show will be Roosevelt Roberts versus Thomas Gifford. Roberts will be putting his undefeated 7-0 record on the line in his second appearance after being scouted from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Thomas Gifford will be making his UFC debut. His last six fights include five wins and one no-contest bout.
Bout 9: John Lineker (31-8) vs. Cory Sandhagen (10-1) (Bantamweight)
Cory Sandhagen’s 16-month career in the UFC has been nothing short of successful, racking up three stoppage wins since his debut. He has never entered the third round whilst on the big stage. What could be his hardest fight is when he faces veteran John Lineker. Out of Lineker’s 15 UFC fights he’s only lost three. Lineker will try to prevent a fourth loss on Saturday.
Bout 10: Glover Teixeira (28-7) vs. Ion Cutelaba (14-3) (Light Heavyweight)
Since 2014, Glover Teixeira has been losing nearly just as much as he’s been winning. After his win against Karl Roberson in January, Teixeira hopes to break his multi-year pattern when he faces Ion Cutelaba. This was a matchup that was originally planned for January, but due to Cutebala being injured was thrown out. Cutebala, A.K.A “The Hulk” has won both of his last two fights via first-round stoppage.
Bout 11: Mike Perry (12-4) vs. Alex Oliveira (20-6-1) (Welterweight)
Both coming off a loss, Mike Perry and Alex Oliveira will have a main card clash in the Welterweight divison. With four career losses, Perry had received three of those losses in his last four fights. Oliveira, who was originally supposed to face Jingliang Li, is coming off a late 2018 loss to Gunnar Nelson, having a 2-2 record in his last four fights. Win or loss, Oliveria hasn’t seen a decision finish since 2016. Perry was originally scheduled to face
Bout 12: Greg Hardy (3-1) vs. Dmitrii Smolyakov (9-2) (Heavyweight)
Greg Hardy has been a fighter that the UFC has backed from the start. A former NFL player, Hardy made his pro debut on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. After two first round wins and one regional fight, Hardy made his official UFC debut in January versus Allen Crowder. His dominant performance was lost due to an illegal knee strike in the second round. This didn’t do any favours for his already controversial past, being involved in a domestic violence case in 2014, with charges being dropped when the victim didn’t attend an appealing of the court ruling. He will face Dmitrii Smolyakov, who will be making his UFC debut.
Bout 13: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (26-6) vs. Jack Hermansson (19-4) (Middleweight)
In the main event, Jack Hermansson will get the biggest challenge of his career so far when he faces Middleweight gatekeeper Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He’s currently on a three-fight winning streak, with his last wins all coming via stoppage. His last win came just under a month ago when he choked out David Branch in under a minute. While Souza is coming off a win against Chris Weidman in November, he’s been 50/50 in his last four fights. Besides experience, another distinct difference between these two is a nine-year age gap.
The 39-year-old fighter Souza would have actually been the younger fighter if his original opponent, 41-year-old Yoel Romero didn’t pull out due to illness. The initial matchup would have been a rematch between the two Strikeforce alumni, with Romero getting the nod via decision in their first meeting. The main event underwent numerous changes, with the originally planned matchup between Romero and Paulo Costa falling through. Romero then fell ill when Souza stepped up, allowing Hermansson to step up.