To the surprise of most, the UFC has seen great success since its restart back in May. However, UFC 251 is shaping up to be the crème of the crop. UFC superstar and BMF champion Jorge Masvidal set to take on current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. But before getting there, two highly anticipated title fights will take place in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions respectively.
So here is what you should expect during the preliminary card of the UFC’s first event on Fight Island.
UFC 251 Prelims Preview
Leonardo Santos vs, Roman Bogatov
The first Brazilian set to enter the octagon on Saturday is 40-year old Leonardo ‘Lamparao’ Santos as he takes on UFC newcomer Roman Bogatov in the lightweight division.
Santos is currently undefeated while in the UFC with a 6-0-1 record. He is a 4th-degree black belt in BJJ with 4 world cup championships. His most impressive performance in the UFC thus far includes his first-round TKO of Kevin Lee back in 2015.
Since October of 2016 Santos has only made the walk once in June 2019 when he KO’d Stevie Ray in the first round.
Making his UFC debut is 29-year old Russian Roman Bogatov. Bogatov is currently undefeated as a pro with a 10-0 record.
The Russian captured the M-1 lightweight championship at the end of 2018 before defending twice and making the jump to the UFC.
Makwan Amirkani (15-4) vs. Danny Henry (12-3)
A very interesting stylistic matchup in the featherweight division is scheduled between Makwan Amirkani and Danny Henry. Amirkani currently trains under John Kavanagh at SBG Ireland with the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Dillon Danis, James Gallagher, and Conor McGregor. Mr. Finland joined the UFC well-credentialed in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling as a 4x Finnish national medalist winning gold back to back in 2012 and 2013.
Amirkani enters this bout 5-2 in the UFC coming off a fairly one-sided loss to rising contender Shane Burgos at UFC 244. Although credentialed, Amirkani has had a difficult time in his offensive wrestling only landing 34% of his attempts in the UFC.
Henry is a very complete mixed martial artist shown in his record finishing 10 of his 12 professional wins, half by knockout, and the other half by submission. 2-1 in the UFC, Henry’s only slip up was against featherweight title contender Dan Ige who is scheduled to take on Calvin Kattar July 15th in the main event on Fight Island.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikov
The matchup between these two welterweights at UFC 251 has been going under the radar all week. Elizeu dos Santos is a very game opponent who has finished 14 of his 22 wins via knockout.
Over his 8-2 UFC career, Zaleski has been very unlucky when it has come to climbing the middleweight rankings. Although he has an 80%-win rate with the organization, he hasn’t been able to establish himself as a contender just yet.
Unfortunately for dos Santos when the high-profile fights have been offered they have always fallen through. Some fights that got away include Jack Marshman, Belal Muhammad, and Neil Magny. Dos Santos is a very high-level black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the well-respected head coach Cristiano Marcello at CM System in his native country Curitiba, Brazil. This is where he will have a significant advantage over Muslim ‘King of Kung Fu’ Salikhov.
The Russians only 2 defeats come by way of submission, so Zaleski’s ideal game plan would be to mix it up on the mat. On the feet is where Muslim Salikhov is set to excel. Posing a 185-13-1 in professional kickboxing, the ‘King of Kung Fu’ is known as one of the best Wushu Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) competitors in history.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
The featured fight on the UFC 251 prelims will welcome the only light heavyweight division matchup of the night. Since Volkan Oezdemir signed with the UFC in 2017, he has already made the walk eight times before making it nine on Saturday night.
Oezdemir has a 5-3 record in the organization. He looked impressive in his first three bouts beating Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov, and Jimi Manuwa before making his first title fight appearance only 11 months into his UFC career.
He would go on to fight the future champion in Daniel Cormier and two future title contenders Dominick Reyes and Anthony Smith, losing in all three. Currently, Oezdemir is riding a 2-fight win streak finishing Ilir Latifi and earning the decision over Aleksander Rakic.
Jiri Prochazka comes into the UFC as the former Rizin’s 205 lb champion posing a 26-3-1 record. The 27-year old Czech native has an astounding 96% stoppage rate finishing 25 of his 26 wins. Prochazka has only reached the second round on two occasions on his current 10-fight winning streak.
Both men will be hungry for the finish as a win for Oezdemir could mean title contention while for Prochazka would mean another finish on his already impressive record.
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