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Four reasons you can’t miss UFC Fight Night: Uriah Hall vs Sean Strickland
It's a middleweight showdown headlining this Saturday night's card from Las Vegas, with all the action live on BT Sport.
A week after TJ Dillashaw made a winning return against Cory Sandhagen, the UFC returns to Las Vegas for another unmissable Fight Night.
The main event sees middleweight contenders Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland go toe-to-toe in a high-stakes match-up.
After a prolonged absence Kyung Ho Kang also returns against veteran Rani Yahya, while Cheyanne Buys and Gloria de Paula are both looking to put disappointing UFC debuts behind them when they square off.
Jared Gooden has stepped in at the last minute to face Niklas Stolze in a welterweight clash, with flyweights Ryan Benoit and Zarrukh Adashev also meeting, and Bryan Barberena and Jason Witt set to face off in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it welterweight bout that is sure to deliver fireworks.
Here are four reasons why you won't want to miss the action on Saturday night, live on BT Sport 1 HD.
Resurgent Hall meets red-hot Strickland
Middleweights Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland meet in this weekend’s main event in a bout that could have far-reaching implications on the division.
Hall has been in devastating form recently, putting an indifferent start to his UFC career behind him with four consecutive wins, including victories over the legendary Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman.
The 36-year-old won his last bout by TKO after 17 seconds, when Weidman’s leg snapped after Hall checked his first leg kick.
You beat Uriah, it puts you about one fight away from a title shot
The injury left Hall visibly shaken but “Prime Time” hasn’t had much time to reflect on the freak incident ahead of a seminal bout with an in-form Strickland.
After a considerable lay-off following a motorcycle injury, Strickland has gone 3-0 to force his way into contention in a stacked middleweight division.
He remains unbeaten at 185 pounds and could move into the top 10 with a fourth consecutive win on Saturday.
The 30-year-old former King of the Cage middleweight champion roared back into action with wins over Jack Marshman and Brendan Allen within the space of a fortnight last year, before earning a unanimous decision victory over Krzysztof Jotko in May.
“You beat Uriah, it puts you about one fight away from a title shot,” said Strickland. “But I don’t really fight for what’s next.
“I like to fight. This is my job, this is my life, and if I wasn’t getting paid to fight, I’d probably pay to fight!”
Something has to give when a resurgent Hall meets a red-hot Strickland and although a victory for either man is unlikely to land them a title shot, it would put them firmly in contention going into 2022.
“Mr Perfect” makes his UFC return
Kyung Ho Kang was on a roll in 2019, claiming wins over Teruto Ishihara, Brandon Davis and Pingyuan Liu, but the 33-year-old South Korean has been out of action since.
He bounced back from a split decision loss to Ricardo Ramos at UFC 227 in August 2018 with an impressive run of form. In fact, he’s lost only once in his last seven contests and his return is one of the weekend’s more interesting subplots.
Kang goes in search of a fourth win in a row on Saturday against veteran grappler Rani Yahya.
The 36-year-old Brazilian is coming off a submission victory over Ray Rodriguez in March and will be looking to capitalise on Kang’s lack of activity.
It was a dominant performance against American Rodriguez, where he constantly worked to secure the submission, ultimately doing so via an arm-triangle in the second round.
Kang is well versed on the ground with 11 submissions to his name but Yahya is currently tied for the most in bantamweight history and could become the sole possessor on Saturday night.
Can “Mr Perfect” make return with a win? Or will Kang become Yahya’s latest submission victim?
Contender Series graduates target first UFC win
Another notable storyline this Saturday is the meeting of Dana White’s Contender Series graduates Cheyanne Buys and Gloria de Paula.
The strawweights claimed decision victories on the scouting program but both suffered debut defeats in the UFC.
Buys, “The Warrior Princess”, was defeated by fellow newcomer Montserrat Ruiz in March in a one-sided affair.
The contest ended in acrimony when Ruiz appeared to gloat in front of Buys before the pair became embroiled in a verbal skirmish.
In a social media post after the controversial bout, Buys accused her opponent of spitting on her.
“To all my friends and family I just want to say I am sorry for losing my cool after the fight,” she wrote. “I have never in my life been spit on by an opponent that I gave nothing but respect too.”
De Paula meanwhile lost a narrow decision to former Invicta FC champ Jinh Yu Frey and will look to bounce back on Saturday.
“Our paths in MMA are indeed similar,” de Paula told MMA Junkie.
“I watched her UFC debut. I could see that she wanted to fight, but her opponent chose to tie her up instead. It’s what I went through during my own bout. I felt that she’d be a great opponent for my next fight.”
Expect fireworks in welterweight contest
The welterweight contest between veterans Bryan Barberena and Jason Witt could steal the show in Vegas on Saturday.
32-year-old Californian Barberena is competing for the first time since he underwent an emergency laparotomy a week before he was set to face Daniel Rodriguez.
He has lost four of his last seven bouts, but got back to winning ways against Anthony Ivy after successive defeats to Vicente Luque and Randy Brown.
Witt has experienced a tumultuous start to his UFC career, suffering a 48-second defeat on his debut to Takashi Sato.
He quickly earned a maiden win courtesy of a submission victory over Cole Williams in October last year.
Witt was almost immediately hit with a dose of reality though, when he was knocked out in 16 second by Matthew Semelsberger in March.
For as long as it lasts, the welterweight clash between two men with a point to prove could be a fight of the night contender on Saturday, live on BT Sport 1 HD from midnight.