UFC 203 continues the slate of fight cards that are coming our way every weekend for the next 6 weeks. The UFC are following-up arguably the biggest UFC card in history with another huge event. There are some huge stars on this card including a rather polarising one who found his fame elsewhere. Considering that the heavyweight championship is being defended in the headliner also, this could be one of the most pivotal events in 2016.
Unique flyweight Ian McCall returns to the octagon on this card. He was supposed to face Justin Scoggins on the UFC 201 card, however, a problem with Scoggins’ weight cut cancelled the fight. “Uncle Creepy” will now face Ray Borg, “The Tazmexican Devil” at UFC 203.
Two big names in the women’s bantamweight division square-off when Jessica Eye takes on Bethe Correia. Eye is ranked number ten in the official rankings with Correia taking the spot below her. It is important to note that Correia is a former title challenger. Therefore, if Eye can get past her it would be a great boon for her career. On the other hand, if Correia wins, she defeats the woman above her and progresses up the rankings.
In the women’s strawweight division another pair of important fighters throwdown. Although this is perhaps a more important bout as it deals with higher ranked fighters. Number six ranked Jessica Andrade faces Joanne Calderwood at number seven.
Both women are coming off of TKO wins and have picked up victories in every way you can over the course of their careers. This bout has the makings of an exciting strawweight encounter.
Legendary bantamweight Uriah Faber will take on Jimmie Rivera in his first fight since losing to champion and long-time rival, Dominick Cruz. Faber’s UFC 199 championship opportunity saw him lose a unanimous decision to a fighter he has feuded with for years.
The title match was the third in a trilogy, a rubber fight in which the adversaries were one win a piece going in. Faber will be looking to bounce back against Jimmie Rivera on September 10th. Rivera does not have the amount of experience that Faber has so this could be an easy comeback win for ‘The California Kid’.
Which brings us to the welterweight division and a rather controversial fight. Former WWE superstar CM Punk steps into the UFC octagon against new signee, Mickey Gall. Other than some experience with Jiu-Jitsu, Phill Brooks had virtually no martial arts experience before making the decision to join the fight game.
With that being said, Punk is training under one of the best MMA coaches out there in Duke Roufus. CM Punk is looking to prove the naysayers wrong when he stands across from hungry rising star, Mickey Gall.
The UFC are giving Brooks a trial by fire of sorts as his first fight is on the main card of a huge event. In the process, they are affording a fresh talent a huge opportunity to shoot to stardom. Gall has gone from fighting on the Fight Pass prelims of a Fight Night show to a high profile bout on one of the year’s biggest pay-per-views. He is only 2-0 himself.
The reason that the criticisms of Punk and the UFC are so silly is because every fighter has to debut sometime. Everyone had their first fight somewhere, it just so happens that Punk’s initial experience will be in the big leagues.
Personally, I am excited to see him fight, especially after watching the documentary series which shows a rarely seen side to him. There is a lot of expectation and pressure on both men’s shoulders going into this fight, time will tell how the hype pays off.
Fighting on the same card as the heavyweight championship he just lost might be difficult for Fabricio Werdum. But beating Travis Browne could be the first step towards a rematch. Travis ‘Hapa’ Browne is a really exciting heavyweight who has delivered some highlight reel knockouts in his career.
It seems odd that Cain Velasquez is not getting this opportunity to move up the rankings but the UFC may have something bigger in store for him. Like facing the winner of the main event maybe.
Speaking of the main event, we are getting a heavyweight championship bout. In his first title defence Stipe Miocic will face Alistair Overeem in his hometown of Cleveland. This heavyweight clash has all the gravitas of an epic showdown. It does not need to involve a grudge to make people interested. Just the makings of a good old fashioned brawl. I cannot see this one going to a decision. This could be an instant classic.