UFC 301: 5 Preliminary Fights to Watch

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The UFC is set to return to Brazil. UFC 301 will go down from the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro this Saturday.

The pay-per-view is set to be headlined by a flyweight title fight between Brazilian champion Alexandre Pantoja and Australian Steve Erceg.

“The King of Rio,” Jose Aldo, the former featherweight champion, is set to return for the first time in over a year-and-a-half to fight bantamweight striker Jonathan Martinez.

As it stands, the card features a Brazilian in every fight, top to bottom. Let’s take a look at five of the best bouts on the UFC 301 preliminary card.

Joanderson Brito vs. Jack Shore

Two of the best featherweights outside of the official rankings will throw down in the UFC 301 preliminary card headliner. There’s a lot at stake for both men, as the winner may not get a number next to their name, but there would be an excellent case for them to fight a ranked opponent next.

Brito, since losing his UFC debut to Bill Algeo, has been a wrecking ball at 145 pounds, as he has finished Andre Fili, Lucas Alexander, Westin Wilson and Jonathan Pearce. He will hope to add Shore to the list.

Shore’s one loss is to Ricky Simon at bantamweight. He has since moved up, making good on his UFC featherweight debut by submitting Makwan Amirkhani via rear naked choke. The well-rounded, grindy Shore will look to become the second man to defeat Brito inside the Octagon. Brito draws what might be his toughest UFC fight, on paper, to date.

This will be a high-level showdown in the featherweight division.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Iasmin Lucindo

Former strawweight title challenger Kowalkiewicz is set to clash with Lucindo in enemy territory. Amazingly, all but one of Kowalkiewicz’s professional losses have come to UFC champions or title challengers. Since losing five in a row, Poland’s “KK” has responded with four straight wins. She’ll hope that Lucindo will be number five.

Lucindo has two straight wins: Polyana Viana and Brogan Walker. Neither woman has Kowalkiewicz’s experience of beating Rose Namajunas and fighting Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Alexa Grasso, Jessica Andrade and a slew of other killers, though. Kowalkiewicz will be an interesting litmus test of whether Lucindo is ready for top-10, as Kowalkiewicz is putting her No. 13 ranking on the line.

Kowalkiewicz is entering the fight as a sizeable underdog, however, putting more pressure on Lucindo to prove herself.

Elves Brener vs. Myktybek Orolbai

Brener and Oralbai will meet in a battle of two dynamic finishers at lightweight.

Brener is 3-0 in the UFC after pulling off two huge upsets over Zubaira Tukhugov and Guram Kutateladze. He then finished Kaynan Kruschewsky. Brener has finished 14 of his 16 professional wins.

Orolbai is moving down from welterweight. He is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Uros Medic and Hayward Charles. The Kyrgzstani has finished 11 of 12 professional foes.

Suffice to say, the UFC knew what it was doing placing two men who go for the finish against one another. It would be a surprise if this one went the full 15. Brace yourself.

Jean Silva vs. William Gomis

The Brazilian, Silva, welcomes Frenchman Gomis to Rio de Janeiro. Silva finished Westin Wilson in the first round of his UFC debut. He’s finished 11 of his 12 professional opponents. The Brazilian crowd will look to get behind a man they hope can become a major prospect at featherweight.

Gomis will look to spoil Silva’s opportunity. Gomis has finished eight of his 13 pro wins – seven by T/KO – but has shown he can beat opponents over the course of a fight with five decision wins. He may need to weather a storm from Silva to secure a win, but Silva will likely be energized by the home crowd. Gomis could establish himself as someone to watch if he rains on Silva’s parade. He is 3-0 in the UFC with victories over Jarno Errens, Francis Marshall and Yanis Ghemmouri.

Joaquim Silva vs. Drakkar Klose

Klose is one of the better lightweights to not have a number next to his name. He has gone 8-2 in the Octagon, only losing to Beneil Dariush and David Teymur. His wins include Bobby Green, Joe Solecki, Lando Vannata, Marc Diakiese and Rafa Garcia. Now, he fights Brazilian “Netto BJJ” Silva.

Silva rebounded from a loss to lightweight standout Arman Tsarukyan (who just had a close victory over former champion Charles Oliveira) with a win over Clay Guida. Silva is the underdog here but could get the crowd fired up relatively early with a win over Klose, who should definitely fight a top-15 opponent if he gets past Silva.

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!

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