Four reasons you can’t miss UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier vs Kelvin Gastelum on BT Sport

Top 10 ranked middleweights Cannonier and Gastelum look to bounce back from defeats on a stacked card in Las Vegas.

By Tim Williams Published: 18 August 2021 - 4.20pm

Middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum headline an unmissable card as the UFC returns on BT Sport this weekend.

Reeling from defeats to Robert Whittaker in their last bouts, both men will be looking to propel themselves back into title contention with a statement win at the UFC Apex.

Elsewhere on the card, veteran Clay Guida takes on Olympic medallist Mark Madsen in a lightweight contest, heavyweights Parker Porter and Chase Sherman finally meet and Vinc Pichel takes on Austin Hubbard.

Highly ranked flyweights Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval also square off and Mana Martinez and Trevin Jones meet in a bantamweight contest.

The action gets underway on BT Sport 1HD from 1am on Saturday night, but if you can’t watch live the whole card will be available - spoiler free - on btsport.com and the BT Sport app on Sunday morning.

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.

Middleweights look to bounce back from Whittaker defeats

Top-ranked middleweights Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum return to UFC action after losing to former champion Robert Whittaker in their last fights.

‘The Killa Gorilla’ has impressed after dropping down from light-heavyweight, stopping David Branch, Anderson Silva, and Jack Hermansson in his first three fights at 185lb.

The three-fight winning streak earned him a shot against Whittaker in the co-main of UFC 254, but he was outpointed by the New Zealand-born Australian in a competitive contest in Abu Dhabi.

Gastelum, winner of the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter, has lost three of his last four bouts with the only win coming against Ian Heinisch in February.

It was a welcome victory after successive defeats to Israel Adesanya, Darren Till and Jack Hermansson. In fact, it was the perennial contender’s first win in nearly three years.

The American has a wealth of top level experience having beaten the likes of Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza and is a competent technical striker with an impressive wrestling game.

Cannonier is the naturally bigger man and he’ll be looking to blow Gastelum away early with his sheer physicality.

In what could be an intriguing contrast of styles, Saturday’s main event promises to be an unmissable contest between two middleweights looking to propel themselves back into title contention.

Undefeated Madsen faces acid test against Guida

Saturday’s co-main pits the vastly experienced 53-fight veteran Clay Guida against Olympic medallist Mark Madsen, who is competing in the UFC for only the third time.

Guida, the 39-year-old Hall of Famer, got back to winning ways last time out with a victory over Michael Johnson and will be a genuine step up in class for Madsen who is yet to face such an accomplished operator.

The 36-year-old Dane has won all 10 of his MMA bouts so far, including a pair of victories in the UFC, and will be targeting a statement triumph over a seasoned campaigner.

He brings considerable pedigree with him after claiming a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 2016 Olympics, but was sidelined after his last win when he suffered a broken jaw.

He sustained the injury against Austin Hubbard at UFC 248 where he kept his perfect record intact despite a late onslaught by his opponent.

“This is exactly why I’m in the UFC,” he said after the narrow points win. “I want to be pushed. I want to fight the best.”

It looks like he’ll get his wish on Saturday when he meets Guida in what should be an explosive bout for as long as it lasts.

Heavyweights Sherman and Porter finally lock horns

Chances are that the judges won’t be needed when heavyweights Parker Porter and Chase Sherman finally meet on Saturday night.

Their first bout was postponed with Porter’s withdrawal in April allowing former champion Andrei Arlovski to take his place on short notice and defeat Sherman on the scorecards.

Prior to that defeat, Sherman picked up where he left off in the UFC after returning in May 2020, recording his fourth consecutive victory with a TKO win over Ike Villanueva before losing to Arlovski.

The 36-year-old Porter, who fought Jon Jones in his third bout, is looking to build some momentum after recording his first win in the promotion against Josh Parisian last November.

Both boast a phenomenal finishing rate of just under 85 percent and will be looking to send out a statement to the rest of the heavyweight decision with a convincing win in Las Vegas.

Flyweight contenders threaten to steal the show

The tantalising match-up between top 10 flyweights Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval is a bona fide fight of the night contender.

Brazilian Pantoja holds a win over current champion Brandon Moreno and is 7-3 through his first 10 UFC appearances. A few more wins and he could be firmly ensconced in the title picture.

Brandon Royval has also enjoyed a strong start to his UFC career, with submission wins over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France.

He came unstuck against Moreno at UFC 255 but the Factory X Muay Thai product from Denver, Colorado has plenty of time to string more wins together and earn another title tilt.

Moreno’s first tile defence is still to be confirmed and a dominant win for either fighter on Saturday night could position them favourably as we enter the final stretch of 2021.

Expect to see the full gamut of mixed martial arts when the number three and number six ranked lightweights – both Jiu-Jitsu black belts – go toe-to-toe in a bout that could have far-reaching implications at the top of the division.

Tune in to BT Sport 1HD from 1am on Saturday night to enjoy all the action live from Las Vegas!