We all know that as of late, the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic has shaken up all sports. In the world of combat sports, however, the UFC have got back up and running with a number of events. Despite having to cancel and move a number of scheduled shows, the worlds leading MMA promotion have been able to successfully put on four ‘behind closed doors’ events. With their fifth coming up this weekend, we take a look at the fighters who are thriving throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
UFC on ESPN 8 saw Kevin Holland face off against Anthony Hernandez. They faced off for all of 39 seconds before Holland scored a TKO victory. This went down as one of our standout performances due to how devastating it was. Despite only being 27, Holland has faced some huge names in the sport. He has competed against former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr, holds a win over the impressive Geoff Neal, has faced Curtis Millender and in his UFC debut faced former title challenger, Thiago Santos.
Despite only competing at UFC on ESPN 8, Holland is getting straight back in there and will be back for UFC on ESPN 9 this weekend. Daniel Rodriguez will be the man looking to stop Holland, who searches for his second victory in just two weeks.
Gilbert Burns is a man who has burst onto the scene in the last few years. If anyone defines ‘any time, anywhere’ it’s Burns. He’s so active on Twitter, where he constantly offers to stand in for fighters who have had to drop out of fights and this potentially makes his inclusion in the UFC on ESPN 9 main event no different for him. He stays ready to fight at all times and as of late, Burns has been on a tear.
185 tomorrow ? I can do it! Why not? I’m already here in Jacksonville! #ufc249 I know a guy
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) May 9, 2020
He featured on the first ‘behind closed doors’ event, UFC Brasilia back in March. On this occasion, he scored a performance of the night earning TKO finish of Damien Maia. He also became the first person to finish Maia via knockout in 10 years. Burns will face former welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley in a main event that has title ramifications.
In a division as stacked as the UFC’s 155lbs division, it is certainly hard to stand out. One way to get your name out there is to dominate your opponent in devastating fashion on a behind closed doors show where you know that new MMA fans may be watching as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Drew Dober did just this.
Hardcore MMA fans will know of Dober for his hard-hitting, cardio-based style. A member of the roster since 2013, Dober has had a mixed UFC career. Despite losing five times, Dober has been extremely impressive as of late. He has finished his last three opponents inside the distance via knockout, earning two performance of the night honours. At UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Teixeira, Dober handed Anthony Hernandez a TKO loss. This shot him into the lightweight rankings at #14. Who could we see Dober facing next? He deserves a shot at someone higher than him in the rankings, so anyone between #13 and #8 seems appropriate. Maybe we see the return of Gregor Gillespie to try and snap Dober’s winning streak.
At UFC on ESPN 9 this weekend, we’re sure to get a number of great performances despite the COVID-19 madness. We see the return of Brok Weaver after his strange debut, Mackenzie Dern looks to bounce back from her first professional loss against Hannah Cifers, the always exciting Spike Carlyle makes his second octagon walk and former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian returns against the sister of the woman who beat her last time out, Antonina Shevchenko.
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