Pre-fight Analysis

UFC Vegas 80: Most Underrated Card of 2023

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After being absent from our screens last weekend, the UFC returns this Saturday with Grant Dawson taking on Bobby Green in the main event of the evening. Several sections of fans online have been critical of the main event and the card as a whole, which perhaps lacks some of the big and well known names that are usually littered across almost every UFC event. Yet the more hardcore viewers have pointed out that not only is this card good, the sheer amount of highly rated prospects scattered across means that there is a case that it may be the most underrated of the year.

UFC Returns this Weekend with the Most Underrated Card of the Year

Grant Dawson vs Bobby Green

The main event will see a potential future contender of the lightweight division take on a veteran who has been a relevant name at 155-lbs. for ten years. Grant Dawson has amassed an extremely impressive record since making his UFC debut in 2019 and is yet to suffer a loss in the promotion. Picking up eight victories and a single draw, Dawson’s overall record reads extremely impressive at 20-1-1. His last few fights have seen him take a significant step up in competition with excellent performances over fellow highly rated prospect Damir Ismagulov and Olympic silver medalist Mark Madsen. Currently sitting at #10 in the rankings, expect Dawson to be fighting a name possibly several places above him if he picks up a victory over Green this Saturday. 

Beating Green is certainly not a guarantee; however, over his ten years in the organization Bobby Green has shown himself to be an extremely capable Lightweight with wins over fighters likef Clay Guida, Lando Vanatta, Tony Ferguson, and Al Iaquinta. A fan favourite with his striking heavy style, Green has historically struggled with wrestlers and with Dawson possessing some of the best grappling in the division, this could prove problematic. While it will be an uphill battle for Green, he will be confident that he can pick up the victory and possibly yet another fight of the night bonus in his 23rd fight with the promotion.

Joe Pyfer vs Abdul Razak Alhassan

One of the brightest prospects in the Middleweight division returns to the Octagon this Saturday night. Joseph Pyfer initially gained recognition for his impressive story, coming through abuse, homelessness, and freak injuries before finally ending up in the UFC. With two excellent first-round finishes so far, it feels like the organization could have the next big star on their hands. Perhaps wisely, they are avoiding giving him ranked or almost ranked opponents too soon although his last victory over Gerald Meerschaert would lead one to believe he is not a million miles from that level.

His next opponent Abdul Razak Alhassan is another established UFC fighter who has been in the organization for some time now. Debuting in 2016, the Ghanaian fighter has amassed a 6-5 record in the UFC and is coming off a KO victory earlier this year. While his record may not be the most impressive, Alhassan has shown that he is a worthy competitor in the organization and is not a roll over, letting Pyfer take the victory. Perhaps what is most noticeable about the tenured fighter is how he wins his bouts. With an overall record of 12-5, Alhassan’s twelve victories have all come via KO. Despite being a Judo Black Belt with his primary base coming from Judo, it is clear that he possesses serious power and Pyfer will have to be extremely careful when dealing with him.

Alex Morono vs Joaquin Buckley

Alex Morono has always been a staple in the UFC’s welterweight division. Making his debut in 2016, “The Great White” has fought countless names over the years and has picked up massive wins over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Song Kenan, Mickey Gall, and most recently, Tim Means. The win over Cerrone in 2021 would see Morono establish himself as a high-level welterweight fighter and be the beginning of a four-fight win streak that would eventually see him rise in standing and culminate in taking on Santiago Ponzinibbio. Morono would lose this fight, but would bounce back with a bang, defeating Tim Means in his last outing.

The star of possibly the most viral KO in UFC history, Joaquin Buckley returns to the Octagon this Saturday. Formerly fighting at 185-lbs., Buckley saw his fortunes mixed at middleweight and could not break into the top-15 in the division. Opting to move down to welterweight for his last fight, he immediately was off to an excellent start with a second round head kick KO victory over Andre Fialho. Hoping to build on this momentum and take a run at the rankings, a win over someone as established as Alex Morono would be a massive statement of intent for Buckley and project him up the ladder at 170 lbs. 

Drew Dober vs Ricky Glenn

Long thought of as one of the best of the rest, Drew Dober is one of the highest-profile names currently outside the top-15 in the lightweight division. With a long career in the UFC that has seen him pick up victories over Bobby Green, Rafael Alves, and Alexander Hernandez, Dober has consistently fought the best the division, competitively fighting against Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev. After losing his last fight to Matt Frevola, Dober will be looking to get back in the winning column and finally build enough momentum to crack into the top 15 of the division. 

Ricky Glenn will also look to get back into the winner’s column as his last two fights have resulted in a draw and a KO loss. The draw to Grant Dawson has the opportunity to age well if Dawson puts in a winning performance over Bobby Green, while the KO loss to Christian Giagos was undoubtedly a huge setback. Still, if Glenn emerges victorious over someone as credible as Dober, with another win or two, he could make the case for a Dawson rematch with Dawson likely eager to close that chapter decisively also. A fight like that has the potential to boost both Glenn’s profile and status within the rankings.

Philipe Lins vs Ion Cutelaba

Philipe Lins’ UFC career was on the ropes in 2020 after compiling a 0-2 record in the promotion. Joining after winning the PFL’s 2018 Heavyweight tournament, Lins never really took off at Heavyweight, and a knee injury combined with multiple fights falling through meant that he would not compete in the Octagon until 2022. Lins would make his return at light heavyweight. Making the move down would ultimately be the best thing that could have happened to him. He has gone on an impressive three-fight winning streak since including a KO victory over veteran Ovince Saint-Preux. Shedding any former negative reputation of pulling out of fights or fights falling through, Lins has been very active in the last year as his upcoming bout set to be his third this year. A win over Ion Cutelaba and a four-fight winning streak would likely ensure that his next opponent would be against someone with a number next to their name. 

Ion Cutelaba has had a tumultuous time in recent years in the UFC, yet admittedly has faced a murderers row in terms of competition. Multiple fights against Magomed Ankalaev, Johnny Walker, and Ryan Spann have seen that Cutelaba has lost more often than won in recent times, yet is still undoubtedly a dangerous opponent, as can be seen by his recent first-round KO of Tanner Boser in his most recent outing. Having finally tasted victory once again in his last fight, Cutelaba will be eager to repeat the feat and will be out for blood on Saturday night.

Alexander Hernandez vs Bill Algeo

Undoubtedly an extremely talented fighter, Alexander Hernandez holds an impressive KO victory over Beneil Dariush, yet despite his evident talent fails to successfully make the step up in competition each time he has attempted. Losses to Donald Cerrone, Thiago Moises, Drew Dober and Renato Moicano are nothing to ashamed of yet point to Hernandez being unable to deal with a step up in competition. His last two fights have seen him move to featherweight, lose to Billy Quarantillo and move back up to lightweight where he defeated an aged Jim Miller. Hernandez needs a consistent run of form as constantly trading wins and losses will not allow any momentum to be built, regardless of talent. 

Bill Algeo will represent an extremely tough test for Hernandez. 3-1 in his last four fights with the defeat coming via split decision against the extremely skillful Andre Fili, Algeo has shown that he is a bright spark in the featherweight division in recent years. A win over a name like Hernandez would be an excellent addition to his record and could allow him to fight up the scale in the future, possibly even garnering him a coveted rematch with Fili.

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