UFC on ESPN+ 14: Fights to Watch

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UFC on ESPN+ 14 comes to us this weekend from Uruguay for the first time. It is currently headlined by a rematch between current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Liz Carmouche. We take a look at the main event, co-main event between Vicente Luque and Mike Perry and also at a fight between Gilbert Burns and Alexey Kunchenko further down the card.

UFC on ESPN+ 14: Fights to Watch

The Main Event

UFC on ESPN+ 14’s main event is a rematch which this time has much bigger implications. Current champion Shevchenko looks to extend her immaculate, unbeaten start as a flyweight when she takes on Carmouche. Coming off a brutal knockout victory over Jessica Eye at UFC 238, Shevchenko will look to avenge her first professional MMA loss. The loss came outside of the UFC nearly nine years ago and it’s blindingly obvious what an improvement both women have made since this bout. The fight finished via doctor’s stoppage and is the only finish loss on Shevchenko’s record.

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Carmouche is no stranger to the spotlight, however. UFC 157 was headlined by Ronda Rousey and Carmouche for the women’s bantamweight championship. It also marked the first time women had headlined a UFC card in the promotion’s history. With a record of 2-1 since dropping down to flyweight, with the only loss coming via split decision, Carmouche is riding a good run of form heading into UFC on ESPN+ 14. Shutting out Jennifer Maia over three rounds before showing off her wrestling, out-pointing Lucie Pudilova at UFC Prague, Carmouche is riding a two-fight winning streak.

Repeat or Revenge?

There are few in the flyweight division who can match ‘The Bullet’, Shevchenko’s stand up. This was evident when she faced one of the best strikers the UFC has seen, former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Out striking, grappling and working the former champion, Shevchenko won 49-46 on all scorecards to capture the vacant belt. You can re-watch this fight for free on Youtube and see just how good ‘The Bullet’ is for yourself. This isn’t to say this fight will be the same, however. Carmouche has six knockout victories from her 13 wins. This includes a TKO finish of current strawweight champion Jessica Andrade.

Will we see the superior striking of the current champion reign supreme? Or will the gritty American have what it takes to dethrone the #13 P4P fighter on the planet? These questions will be answered at UFC on ESPN+ 14!

Welterweights clash in the co-main

The co-main event sees fan favourite Mike Perry return to face 11 fight UFC veteran, Vicente Luque. This bout has ‘fight of the night’ written all over it and shouldn’t be missed.

Perry showed vast improvements in his fight IQ in his last bout with Alex Oliviera. Often guilty of being too one dimensional and just ‘standing and banging’, Perry did show off a more well-rounded game against Oliviera. Despite this, he is very much there to be hit, as Sucka’s own Julian Lung states in his analysis of Perry’s game. At 27, Perry still has time to improve and round out his game, whether he’ll manage to showcase this against Luque is another question. His power is undeniable however and this is what makes him such an exciting fighter. Perry can close out the show with a single shot. With two performance of the night bonuses already to his name, Perry will be looking to add to this.

Impressive streak

Luque is on a tear as of late. Standing at 9-2 in the UFC, with losses only in his promotional debut and to Leon Edwards, Luque is greatly under-appreciated. Having finished all nine of his UFC wins, six via TKO/KO and three via submission, Luque is a massive problem for all at 170lbs. With two knockout victories already in 2019, including an early fight of the year contender with Bryan Barberena, Luque is looking to make a statement this year. With a victory over Perry, it is impossible not to give him a top 10 opponent to really kick start his title challenge. Luque is everything the UFC want in a star. A long winning streak (currently five, all of which are finishes), an exciting style, a well-rounded skill set and someone who is down to fight anyone, Luque is certainly one who is flying under the radar at welterweight. First things first, however, he must get through the hard-hitting Florida man, Perry at UFC on ESPN+ 14.

Late replacement makes for an exciting clash

In what is one of the more intriguing fights on the card, Gilbert Burns steps in on just 12 days notice to face undefeated Russian, Alexey Kunchenko. Kunchenko was set to face Laureano Staropoli, but following a broken nose, Burns stepped in. In what is his first welterweight bout since his promotional debut, Burns will be looking to notch his third win within a year. He defeated Olivier Aubin-Mercier via unanimous decision at UFC 231, before submitting Mike Davis in April of this year. Burns has been calling everyone out, and pursuing a fight with fellow lightweight Alexander Hernandez. The opportunity to step up on late notice was clearly too good to pass up on. 

Dangerous Russian

Burns’ opponent, Kunchenko is little known to the casual fans. This isn’t to say that his credentials are not legitimate. The 35-year-old Russian is the former M1 Global welterweight champion with five defences of his title. Making his UFC debut in 2018, Kunchenko outpointed veteran Thiago Alves. He was back in action just three months later to defeat Yushin Okami, again by unanimous decision.

This fight could provide the classic striker versus grappler battle. Burns is a 2nd degree BJJ black belt, with eight of his 15 professional wins coming via submission. He’s also competed at some of the best grappling tournaments in the world, having impressive showings throughout. Kunchenko has just the one victory via submission, which came in his professional debut. He does have an impressive 12 victories via knockout. Will the kickboxer be able to hold off the grappler? Or will Burns hand Kunchenko the first loss of his professional career? Be sure to tune in to UFC on ESPN+ 14 to find out!

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Frazer is a 26 year old MMA and boxing enthusiast from Coventry, England.

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