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|What||UFC on ESPN: Blaydes vs. Volkov|
|Where||UFC Apex Facility, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|When||Saturday, June 20, 8 PM EST|
|How to watch||Watch on ESPN+ here!|
UFC on ESPN: Blaydes vs. Volkov was supposed to be the UFC’s return to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The promotion has not held a card their since their first one held back in 2015. But, at this, point, we all know the reasons why the UFC has redirected all their cards to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
The main event will see two top-10 heavyweights do battle as Curtis Blaydes looks for his fourth win in a row against Alexander Volkov, who is coming off of a win over the controversial hype train Greg Hardy.
The co-main event will see two of the hardest hitters in the featherweight division go at it as the powerful Josh Emmett will take on Shane Burgos.
The main card will also be kicked off with a catchweight bout at 160-pounds between Jim Miller and Roosevelt Roberts, who last fought less than one month ago on May 30.
All odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
|Josh Emmett||+ 110
Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes has only two losses on his mixed martial arts record, and no one can blame him that they both came against the same man: Francis Ngannou. Since losing via TKO to Ngannou (albeit by doctor’s stoppage), Blaydes won five straight (with a no-contest mixed in there) before having a chance to avenge his loss. Ngannou would once again TKO Blaydes. But, Blaydes would once again bounce back with a winning streak. Blaydes won a unanimous decision over Justin Willis and followed that by earning a TKO win over Shamil Abdurakhimov. His most recent fight, which happened in January of this year, saw Blaydes TKO former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in the second round.
Fighting since 2014, the Illinois native stands at 6 ft. 4 in. and has a reach of 80 in. A former NCAA Division I wrestler, Blaydes now trains in Colorado with the Elevation Fight Team. The most current UFC rankings have the 29-year-old fighter ranked as the third-best heavyweight in the promotion. He is on a three-fight winning streak.
Alexander Volkov’s UFC career has been stellar up to this point. Joining the promotion in 2016, Volkov went on to win his first four fights in a row, including notable wins over the likes of Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, and former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. His winning streak was cut short when he was knocked out by Derrick Lewis in the dying seconds of a fight that Volkov was dominating. Volkov most recently fought last November, agreeing to a last minute fight against Greg Hardy. Volkov would easily coast to a unanimous decision victory over Hardy.
The Russian-born fighter has been fighting professionally since 2009 and will come into this fight with most physical advantages, including a one-inch reach and three-inch height advantage. Training out of his home country, Volkov has a black belt in tsu shin gen and brown belts in both kyokushin karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is a former M-! Global champion and a former Bellator heavyweight champion. He enters this fight as the seventh-best heavyweight in the UFC.
Alexander Volkov via submission.
Josh Emmett was enjoying a two-fight winning streak in the UFC through 2017 before being put up against Jeremy Stephens. Emmett would suffer a knock out loss and would be out for 2018 after needing surgery for facial fractures following the fight. He returned in 2019 in a big way, knocking out Michael Johnson in the third round last March and following that performance with a first-round TKO over Mirsad Bektic last July, which earned him a performance of the night bonus.
Standing at 5 ft. 6.5 in. and possessing a 70 inch reach, the 35-year-old Emmett has been fighting professionally since 2011. He is a well-known trainee of the Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento and he holds NAIA wrestling credentials to go along with his purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is currently ranked at number nine in the UFc featherweight division.
Sane Burgos has only one loss on his record and it came against Calvin Kattar in 2018 in what was deemed a Fight of the Night classic. Since his loss, Burgos has rebounded by winning three straight fights, including a notable split-decision win over Cub Swanson. His most recent fight came at UFC 244 last November, where he fought and defeated Makwan Amirkhani by TKO.
The 29-year-old will come into this fight 4.5 inches taller than his opponent and will also have a 5.5-inch reach advantage. Training since 2013, Burgos works with the Tiger Schulmann team out of New York where he has a black belt in Tiger Schulmann MMA. He enters this fight ranked one spot below Emmett at number ten.
Our Pick: Josh Emmett via KO.
Raquel Pennington was on a four-fight winning streak, including a win over Meisha Tate, when she was granted her first title shot against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in May 2018. She would lose the bout via TKO and subsequently struggle to put wins together. She would go 1-2 over her next three fights, and the win she earned was a narrow split-decision. She most recently fought former champion, Holly Holm, this past January at UFC 246 and was ultimately defeated via unanimous decision.
The Colorado-born fighter trains in her home state with the Triple Threat Gym. She has been a pro since 2009 and is mostly known for her boxing prowess. She stands at 5 ft. 7 in. tall and has a reach of 67.5 inches. She is currently ranked as number six in the women’s bantamweight rankings.
Like her opponent, Marion Reneau hasn’t had it easy over her past couple of fights. Only fighting twice over the past two years, Reneau lost both of her recent bouts by unanimous decision. In 2018, she dropped a decision to Cat Zingano and followed that with a decision loss in 2019 to Yana Kunitskaya. It has been more than a full year since she last fought.
The American fighter will stand one-inch shorter than her opponent but will possess a half-inch reach advantage. Training out of California with Elite Team, Reneau boasts a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Cleber Luciano and a light blue/dark blue belt in muay thai under Rafael Cordeiro. She enters this contest as the number-10 ranked bantamweight in the UFC.
Our Pick: Raquel Pennington via decision.
Since 2017, Lyman Good has gone just 2-2 in the UFC. He had two fights in 2019 and went 1-1. His loss came against former title challenger Demian Maia last February. He lost the bout via rear-naked choke submission. He did bounce back, however, at UFC 244 last November. He fought Chance Recountre and defeated him in the third round of their bout via TKO.
This bout was originally scheduled for UFC 249 this past April but Good was pulled from the contest due to a COVID-19 infection.
Standing at an even 6 ft. tall and having a reach of 74 inches, Good trains out of New York with Tiger Schulmann. He holds a second-degree black belt in Tiger Schulmann MMA under Schulmann himself. The 35-year-old has been fighting since 2005 and was the inaugural Bellator middleweight champion. He is currently unranked by the UFC.
Belal Muhammed didn’t kick off his 2019 as planned, losing to Geoff neal via unanimous decision last January. But he bounced back. He followed the loss with a unanimous decision victory over Curtis Millender at UFC 236. Then, at UFC 242, he earned a performance of the night bonus after submitting Takashi Soto with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their fight. He is now on a two-fight winning streak.
A product of the Roufusport gym, training with the likes of Paul Felder and Tyron Woodley, Muhammad has been fighting since 2012 and holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Daniel Wanderley. He stands at 5 ft. 10 in., giving up two inches to his opponent, and has a 72-inch reach. He is four years younger than Lyman Good and, like Good, is currently unranked in the welterweight division.
Belal Muhammad via decision.
Jim Miller is a staple of the UFC. He has the most fights and the most wins in the history of the lightweight division and is currently tied with Donald Cerrone for the most fights in the UFC. Period. Although he isn’t winning as much as he’d like, he is still entertaining, game, and ruthless. He’s gone 3-3 since 2018. His most recent fight came against Scott Holtzman this past February. Miller would lose the fight via unanimous decision but both fighters received Fight of the Night honors.
The 36-year-old stands at 5 ft. 8 in. tall and has a reach of 71 inches. Known for his grappling, Miller trains in New Jersey at his gym Miller Brothers MMA. He is a former NCAA Division I wrestler and he holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Jamie Cruz. This will be his 47th professional fight.
Not only will this be Roosevelt Roberts second fight in less than a month, but it will be his second catchweight fight in less than a month. On May 30, Roberts fought Brok Weaver, who missed weight by 2.5 pounds. Regardless of the extra weight, Roberts was still able to win the bout, submitting Weaver with a rear-naked choke in the second round. It was Roberts second win in a row.
At just 26-years-old, Roberts comes into this fight ten-years younger and five inches taller than his opponent. He will also have a two-inch reach advantage. Born in Florida, Roberts now trains in California and holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has been fighting professionally since 2016.
Roosevelt Roberts via submission.
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Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of the sport of hockey and the NHL.
Email: [email protected]More info on Ryan Bristlon
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