UFC on Fox 26 - Breaking Down The Main Card
Date: Sunday 17th December, 1am (UK)
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Venue: Bell MTS Place
Robbie Lawler vs Rafael dos Anjos
Winnipeg, Canada will stage UFC on Fox 26 and the fans will be treated to an electrifying main event in the welterweight division. Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos will go toe-to-toe in what should be a title eliminator but with the current champion Tyron Woodley weighing up ‘big money fights’ and surgery on an injured shoulder, they may be in for a wait.
Lawler is the man who lost the belt to Woodley along with several brain cells after an explosion of strikes to the dome back at UFC 201. Since this loss, Lawler wisely took some time off as this vicious knockout capped off an active streak involving brutal wars with the likes of Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald and Johny Hendricks. The veteran returned to the octagon a year later with the rest certainly paying dividends with a hard-earned decision win over Donald Cerrone.
He will have no choice but to be on song again as he welcomes another beast to the cage who also looks rejuvenated after moving up from lightweight. Dos Anjos put on an array of vicious displays to earn the lightweight title but clearly struggled with the weight cut to 155 lbs and succumbed to Eddie Alvarez and Tony Ferguson.
The energized Brazilian looks a real threat in this division with championship calibre skills and power to match his new 170 lb foes. He won both scraps against Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny with his submission win over Magny really catching the eye. He was giving up a 10-inch reach advantage but negated it brilliantly, chopping down the lanky American with leg kicks and going on to finish him with an arm-triangle.
Two violent southpaws will provide a thrilling contest but unsurprisingly, Dos Anjos gives up the height and reach advantage again and this is highlighted as the key stat. Dos Anjos struggled fighting the taller opponent in Tony Ferguson but adapted superbly against Magny. However, Lawler is a different kind of hazard. Combining the reach advantage with ferocious knockout power reduces the Brazilian’s margin for error drastically so it would be wise to adopt a similar game plan and use his weapons to get Lawler to the ground.
Ricardo Lamas vs Josh Emmett
Ricardo Lamas has received a seismic change of opponent in the form of Josh Emmett at UFC on Fox 26. He was originally scheduled to fight the former king of the featherweight division and #1 ranked José Aldo but after Frankie Edgar pulled out of his title fight with Max Holloway at UFC 218, Aldo filled the void.
So, it’s easy to assume this will be an easier fight for Lamas now up against an unranked fighter but make no mistake about it, Emmett will bring the very best out of Lamas. Emmett has little to lose and arrives to the octagon with serious pedigree. He only has one loss to his name and looked dominant in his last fight against Felipe Arantes, dropping down to featherweight. A win over Lamas will propel him up the rankings and onto every contender’s radar.
So all the pressure is on Lamas but the veteran is ranked #3 for a reason. He has been fighting the best in the division for a decade and in his last 12 fights he has only lost to Aldo, Holloway and Chad Mendes.
Both fighters are tremendous grapplers but Lamas will be confident of gaining the upper hand on the feet and we have highlighted the ranking as the key stat; everything to lose for Lamas and everything to gain for Emmett.
Santiago Ponzinnibio vs Mike Perry
Expect fireworks and bombs to ignite the Bell MTS Place when Santiago Ponzinibbio and Mike Perry step inside the octagon. These two nasty and explosive welterweights have really caught the eye in a division that has quickly become the most stacked in the UFC.
The division is a murderers’ row with a combination of young prodigies and legends of the sport all near the peak of their careers so to catch the eye is special and these fighters have done so with blistering yet technical striking performances with eight knockouts in their 11 UFC wins.
Although both are very talented on the mat with Ponzinibbio boasting a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as you can see by their stats they have minimal interest in grappling, relying instead on their thunderous striking power to put their opponents to sleep.
Both men are nasty and predatorily hunt the knockout, making an early finish somewhat predictable, so their striking accuracy could be the deciding factor of when this fight ends. See below for the statistical breakdown:
Glover Teixeira vs Misha Cirkunov
The recent loss of two UFC stars with the retirement of Anthony Johnson and another drugs ban putting Jon Jones out of action has really hollowed out the light heavyweight division. So, the opportunity beckons for Glover Teixeira and Misha Cirkunov to earn a title shot against Daniel Cormier.
Both men are coming off devastating knockout losses on the same night in May this year but with the state of the division at the moment, two impressive wins could easily put them in title contention.
The veteran and exceedingly well-rounded Teixeira was at the wrong end of an electrifying performance by Alexander Gustafsson and at the age of 38 he is running out of miles on the clock and may resort to this being his last run at the coveted title.
The Latvian-born Cirkunov is desperate to bounce back in front of his fans after a 28-second exchange with Volkan Oezdemir left the Canadian resident unconscious. This snapped an eight-fight win streak but he has now been handed an equally tough assignment in the shape of Teixeira.
These are two very strong human beings who display their power with masterful grappling as you can see by their stats which are more evenly matched on second glance. Both are respectful of the other’s accomplishments as grapplers but both are confident in their variety of skills which could see a large portion of this bout as a Boxing match so their significant strikes are highlighted as the key stat in the statistical breakdown.