UFC Denver: Who’ll hit the heights in the Mile High City?

Back to where it all began on the UFC's 25th anniversary...

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The UFC returns to where it all began in Denver, Colorado for their latest UFC Fight Night show on the occasion of the organisation’s 25th anniversary.

Expect cool nostalgic vignettes and some old-school UFC 1 branding during the event, as the UFC pays homage to the early pioneers who started the ball rolling for the huge show that the UFC is today.

The card may not feature a huge pay-per-view level lineup, but the top two fights in particular will make getting up early in the morning (or staying up late at night, if you prefer) well worth your time.

THE MAIN EVENT

The headline bout in Denver was supposed to feature former UFC lightweight champion and future Hall of Famer Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, but injury scuppered his bout with returning South Korean sensation “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

Fear not, as the UFC has drafted in a replacement that should help keep us all on the edges of our seats on fight night.

Mexican contender Yair Rodriguez may not quite be at Edgar’s level, but there aren’t many fighters at any weight class as wild and exciting as “El Pantera,” who will be looking to claim a statement victory against Chan, who pushed then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo hard until a dislocated shoulder brought his featherweight title challenge to a premature halt back in 2013.

“The Korean Zombie” was then forced to put his fighting career on the back burner as he embarked on a two-year stint of mandatory national military service back home in South Korea.

Hopes were high for his return, especially after his comeback fight saw him knock out Dennis Bermudez in the first round at UFC Fight Night 104, but a knee injury forced “The Korean Zombie” to sit things out once again.

Now fully fit, expect him to come out all guns blazing against a similarly spectacular opponent. I’m leaning towards Chan’s better all-round MMA game taking the honours in this one, possibly by submission, but against someone as unpredictable as Rodriguez, literally anything could happen.

However it pans out, this one should be a cracker.

THE ODDS

Chan Sung Jung

To win – 4/6
To win by KO/TKO – 11/4
To win by decision – 11/2
To win by submission – 10/3

Yair Rodriguez

To win – 11/10
To win by KO/TKO – 12/5
To win by decision – 5/1
To win by submission – 13/1

THE CO-MAIN EVENT

As spectacular as the main event may turn out to be, it’s likely it will have to go some way to top the action that will immediately precede it. In short, the bout between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and “Platinum” Mike Perry has “slobberknocker” written all over it.

The two welterweights love nothing better than to step into the cage and throw leather, and it seems almost inconceivable that this one will be anything other than a crazy slugfest.

Cerrone has the clear experience advantage, and will have no issues making weight for the contest, having competed as a lightweight for much of his career.

But Perry is one of the heaviest hitters in the division, and I’ve seen at close quarters just what sort of damage he can do during his matchups. He’s not as refined a fighter as Cerrone, but I’m not expecting this to be a refined type of fight.

Judging by the odds, neither do the traders at Paddy Power HQ. They’ve picked Perry as the 4/9 favourite, and with Cerrone at the veteran stage of his UFC tenure, and with him facing one of the most powerful strikers of his career, I think Perry has the edge. He’s odds-on to win by KO/TKO for a reason.

THE ODDS

Donald Cerrone

To win – 13/8
To win by KO/TKO – 5/1
To win by decision – 6/1
To win by submission – 7/1

Mike Perry

To win – 4/9
To win by KO/TKO – 10/11
To win by decision – 9/2
To win by submission – 20/1

WATCH OUT FOR…

Maycee Barber is a women’s strawweight prospect with serious world title ambitions, and she’s made no secret of that aim. In fact, she’s on record as saying her plan is to become not just a UFC world champion, but the youngest world champion in UFC history.

That means the 20-year-old has less than three years to get her hands on the gold – currently held by Rose Namajunas – if she wants to beat the record currently held by Jon “Bones” Jones. No pressure, then.

Barber earned her spot on the UFC roster with an impressive display on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series earlier this year, and will make her octagon debut on the main card against fellow newcomer Hannah Cifers.

The UFC has high hopes for the undefeated Barber, Barber has high hopes for herself and the oddsmakers clearly agree, setting the 20-year-old prospect as the 1/5 favourite for her debut matchup.

Expect an all-action performance from the fighter dubbed “The Future” as she looks to kick off her UFC career with a statement win.

UFC DENVER: FIGHT CARD

Main Card

Chan Sung Jung vs Yair Rodriguez (featherweight)
Donald Cerrone vs Mike Perry (welterweight)
Raquel Pennington vs Germanie de Randamie (women’s bantamweight)
Beneil Dariush vs Thiago Moises (lightweight)
Maycee Barber vs Hannah Cifers (women’s strawweight)
Mike Trizano vs Luis Pena (lightweight)

Preliminary Card

Ashley Yoder vs Amanda Cooper (women’s strawweight)
Chas Skelly vs Bobby Moffett (featherweight)
Davi Ramos vs John Gunther (lightweight)
Devonte Smith vs Julian Erosa (lightweight)

Early Prelims

Joseph Morales vs Eric Shelton (flyweight)
Mark de la Rosa vs Joby Sanchez (flyweight)

Find the latest betting on UFC Denver over at paddypower.com