In one of the UFC’s biggest shows of the year, Daniel Cormier will attempt to repeat history, beating Stipe Miocic for the second time. Last year in the summer, Cormier earned a first-round KO victory over Miocic, ending the Ohio raised fighter’s two-year reign over the heavyweight division. In a well-deserved rematch, Miocic will try to take back the belt that he had for quite some time. Also on the card is the return of Nate Diaz. The polarizing fighter from Stockton will face Anthony Pettis after a few days short of a three-year absence from MMA. Along with those two fights are 10 other fights on the UFC 241 PPV card. Let’s start by looking at the preliminary card for the show.
Bout 1: Sabina Mazo (6-1) vs. Shana Dobson (3-2) (Flyweight)
Starting off the evening will be a flyweight competition between two fighters with small records. Mazo is coming back from her first pro loss, which came in her UFC debut against Maryna Moroz. Before then, she was a success story from the LFA promotion. Shana Dobson is coming back from a near year and a half layoff, losing to Lauren Mueller. Both early in their UFC runs, these fighters have something to prove on Saturday.
Bout 2: Brandon Davis (10-6) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (15-8) (Bantamweight)
The second fight of the show is a battle between two fighters who are no new faces to the UFC. Kyung Ho Kang joined the UFC in 2013 and since has racked up the respectable record of 4-2 1 NC. His recent win came over Teruto Ishihara in the February PPV in Australia. The placement of Kang on this card makes the timing work out that he can be on UFC’s end of year show in Korea. While Davis has spent less time in the UFC, his record is of a similar size, with 2-3. He’ll look to even his UFC record on Saturday against Kang.
Bout 3: Hannah Cifers (9-3) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-5) (Strawweight)
Jodie Esquibel’s run in the UFC has so far been unsuccessful. Entering the promotion with a record of 6-2, Esquibel has since lost three in a row. In what’s likely her last chance to stay in the UFC, she will face Hannah Cifers, who has a 1-1 record in the UFC. With Cifers being the favourite to win the bout, Esquibel will try to beat the odds on Saturday evening.
Bout 4: Manny Bermudez (14-0) vs. Casey Kenney (12-1-1) (Bantamweight)
Ending the early prelims and moving to the prelims on ESPN, two big bantamweight prospects will face off. Casey Kenney, a fighter who has only faced defeat once in his career, will face the undefeated Manny Bermudez. Kenney took his loss in 2017 on the Dana White Contender Series. He since then went off to LFA, where he earned four straight wins. He got signed to the UFC, and most recently in March got a win over Ray Borg. Bermudez has had quick submission losses throughout his career. With 14 wins, he has only left the first round four times. In his three-fight UFC career, he has stopped all of his opponents within two rounds. In what could be an explosive fight, these two bantamweights will likely put on a show.
Bout 5: Drakkar Klose (10-1-1) vs. Christo Giagos (17-7) (Lightweight)
Both Drakkar Klose and Christo Giagos have been successful recently in their MMA career. Klose, who has been in the UFC for a few years now, is riding a two-fight win streak currently. Same is the case for Giagos. All of those aforementioned wins came from decision. Actually, neither fighter has seen a stoppage victory since they joined the UFC. Both fighters have gotten their first UFC win, but one of them might get a first in a stoppage on Saturday. What’s more likely though is that someone’s streak will end.
Bout 6: Raphael Assuncao (27-6) vs. Cory Sandhagen (11-1) (Bantamweight)
Cory Sandhagen has had an undefeated run in the UFC thus far but will meet his biggest challenge on Saturday when he faces Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao is currently coming off a loss from Marlon Moraes, but his decade of high-level MMA experience gives him an edge over Sandhagen. With a 4-0 UFC record, Sandhagen has gotten wins via strikes, submissions and decisions. His recent win came over John Lineker in April. Who will prevail on the prelims with near perfection faces a veteran of the sport.
Bout 7: Devonte Smith (10-1) vs. Khama Worthy (14-6) (Lightweight)
Finishing off the prelims of the card on ESPN is Devonte Smith versus Khama Worthy in a lightweight bout. Smith came from the Contender Series and has gotten two first-round victories since his debut. He’s a tall order for Worthy, who will be making his UFC debut. While he’s coming in as a huge underdog, Worthy is on a five-fight winning streak, all within a two year period.
Bout 8: Derek Brunson (19-7) vs. Ian Heinisch (13-1) (Middleweight)
Starting off the main card of UFC 241 is Derek Brunson facing Ian Heinisch. Brunson is coming off a victory of Elias Theodorou, which was a bounce back from losses to high profile fighters in Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya. Heinisch is heading into his third UFC fight, coming from the Contender Series back in 2018. Heinisch has quickly established himself in the middleweight division. A win over Brunson would make it his first win over a real gatekeeper/contender fighter.
Bout 9: Sodiq Yusuff (9-1) vs. Gabriel Benitez (21-6) (Featherweight)
Before the AKA gym puts their focus on Daniel Cormier’s fight, they’ll have duty watching Gabriel Benitez face featherweight prospect Sodiq Yusuff. Making his UFC debut in 2014, Benitez has a record of 5-2. Yusuff has been perfect since his arrival, with 2 wins, one of them coming via first-round punches. He impressed in 2018 on the Contender Series, earning his contract. While Yusuff’s record in MMA is small, his success arguably makes him a fair opponent for Benitez, who hasn’t been doing too bad for himself either.
Bout 10: Yoel Romero (13-3) vs. Paulo Costa (12-0) (Middleweight)
In a fight that has been a long time coming, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa will finally face off on Saturday. This matchup was first planned for November, but couldn’t happen as Romero wasn’t cleared to fight. Romero was then matched up with Jacare Souza, but pulled out of the bout due to pneumonia. Costa was offered to fight as a replacement in that bout but turned it down. Now, with tons of cancelled bouts, these two are paired up once again. Both fighters haven’t competed in over a year, but are both still valued highly in the middleweight division. Costa will be putting his undefeated record in the bout. Romero’s last fight was a championship loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 225. Will Costa continue his slow but steady climb up the middleweight division, or will Romero prove he deserves another shot at the title?
Bout 11: Nate Diaz (19-11) vs. Anthony Pettis (22-8) (Welterweight)
In the co-main event, the fan-friendly fighter Nate Diaz will make his long-awaited return against Anthony Pettis. Diaz’s last two fights were his famous original and sequel bout against Conor McGregor. Since then, he’s faded into the background of the UFC. He was expected to face Dustin Poirier back in the fall, but Poirier pulled out with an injury, he was benched once again. Pettis has remained busy as of late, recently knocking out Stephen Thompson with a superman punch in a fight night main event. He took a loss to Tony Ferguson in the Fall, defeating Michael Chiesa before then. Those two fights were lightweight bouts. While Pettis won’t have the concern for ring rust like Diaz might, he is still testing the welterweight waters.
Bout 12: Daniel Cormier (22-1) vs. Stipe Miocic (18-3) (UFC Heavyweight Championship)
In the main event of the PPV, Daniel Cormier will attempt to defend his UFC Heavyweight Championship against Stipe Miocic. He earned the belt in their first meeting, knocking out Miocic with an elbow while in a clinch. Cormier has since fought once, defeating Derrick Lewis to make the first defence of his belt. Miocic hasn’t fought since last summer.
The first fight with Miocic was an uphill battle for Cormier, being the short fighter by quite the length. His win proved that he can hang with Miocic, though the sudden fashion of the victory opened speculation about if he could do it again. On Saturday he’ll have the chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke, while Miocic will have the opportunity to do the opposite.
UFC will take a week off next weekend after having many consecutive weeks of events. The promotion will come back at the end of the month, with Weili Zhang facing Jessica Andrade for the Strawweight Championship in Shenzen, China. While there will be no fight night next weekend, the promotion will air the second last episode of Season 3 of the Contender Series on Tuesday. The show will conclude on the following week.