After the drama of UFC 239 in Las Vegas, the UFC octagon remains on West Coast time as Sacramento plays host to a UFC Fight Night event that offers a host of rising stars, plus a main event with legitimate world title implications.
Former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie has had a rollercoaster of the journey over recent years.
She won the featherweight title in a fight where she was criticised for late shots after the buzzer against Holly Holm, then was stripped of the belt after her refusal to face Cris Cyborg to defend her belt.
But now “The Iron Lady” is back, and she could be just one win away from a shot at the title in her best weight class of bantamweight.
De Randamie takes on the relentlessly-efficient Aspen Ladd in the main event in Sacramento, and while Ladd is a 4/7 favourite, I like De Randamie to come in and re-establish herself as one of the world’s best.
Her striking is world class, and her takedown defence has improved hugely since we first saw her inside the octagon. And against Ladd, who does her best work on the mat, De Randamie will need to use her striking to secure the win.
If “GDR” can keep the fight standing, the gap in class in the striking department could see her light up Ladd and secure a stoppage win.
And with odds of 10/3 available for a KO/TKO stoppage for the Dutch policewoman, there’s plenty of value there for us punter types, too.
Whoever wins could well find themselves in a title fight before the end of the year, and we reckon it’ll be De Randamie.
NO HAPPY RETURN FOR FABER
The event features the return from retirement of UFC legend and former WEC world champion Urijah Faber. “The California Kid’s” walkout to 2Pac’s “California Love” is as iconic as any in the sport, and he’s sure to get a huge reception.
But one thing we don’t think he will get, however, is the win.
His opponent Ricky Simon isn’t a star in the UFC yet, but he’s riding an eight-fight win streak, including a hat-trick of wins in the UFC, and has lost just once in his 16-fight career.
He’s in form, he’s active and he’s on the way up. Faber is a legend, but trying to come back from retirement against a young, hungry lion may well turn out to be a bridge too far.
We’re taking Simon to get the job done on the scorecards.
BEKTIC TO RETURN WITH A WIN
It’s been over a year since we’ve seen Mirsad Bektic inside the octagon, but when we did, he was in excellent form as he defeated perennial contender Ricardo Lamas via split decision at UFC 225.
Now, after a 13-month layoff, Bektic returns against hard-hitting Josh Emmett in Sacramento in a fight that could push him to within touching distance of the top contenders at 145lbs.
Emmett’s threat is obvious to anyone who watches him fight – he has sledgehammer-like punch power. But beyond that, Bektic would seem to have the edge in every other department.
The Bosnian has lost just once in his career, and has looked like a serious contender for years. And he looks a solid bet to take the win and move on to bigger and better fights in the not-too-distant future.