The UFC returns to Oklahoma this Sunday with an underwhelming main event, but solid stars throughout that make this a card to watch. The headliner between prospect lightweights Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee did get a lot of attention recently, when the two came to blows at the Summer Kick-off Press Conference.
The card also features former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks aiming to infiltrate the top fifteen at middleweight taking on middleweight mainstay Tim Boetsch, plus the Hawaiin legend BJ Penn fights for the second time in his most recent comeback.
Let’s take a closer look at the card going down at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Devin Powell (8-2) vs. Darrell Horcher (12-2)
After being discovered on the Dana White Looking for a Fight show, Devin Powell made his UFC debut with a loss to unbeaten prospect, Drakkar Klose. The former New England Fights Lightweight Champion will look to avoid sliding to 0-2 in the UFC with his matchup against Darrell Horcher. The “Saint” stepped in on short notice in his UFC debut to face Russian superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov and was stopped inside two rounds. Rightly so, Horcher is being given a second opportunity in the Octagon and the former CCFC lightweight champion will look to keep his place inside the UFC.
Carla Esparza (11-4) vs. Maryna Moroz (8-1)
The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 winner and former title holder, Carla Esparza looks to get back on the road to a rematch with strawweight queen, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. However, the “Cookie Monster” is coming off of a loss to Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night 105. She will face Ukrainian Maryna Moroz is six inches taller than Esparza and will have a four-inch reach advantage on the night. Her sole career loss came at the hands of Valerie Letourneau in 2015. Moroz has won three of four in the Octagon, including a surprising submission over Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut. The winner here will take a big step forward in the strawweight division.
Clay Guida (32-17) vs. Erik Koch (15-4)
Clay Guida returns to the lightweight division for the first time since 2012 in what will be his 50th professional MMA fight. The “Carpenter” has back-to-back defeats at featherweight to Brian Ortega and Thiago Tavares. The thirty-five year old has some impressive wins at lightweight, including Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos. Erik Koch has had five cancelled bout in the last two years due to injuries, and the “New Breed” at 28-years-old doesn’t seem like he has much left in his career. These two aggressive fighters will put on an entertaining bout here on the prelims, with the loser getting one step closer to the end of their waning career.
BJ Penn (16-11-2) vs. Dennis Siver (22-11)
BJ Penn is considered to be one of the all-time greats of mixed martial arts but has won just one fight in his last eight, with his only win back in November 2010 over Matt Hughes. He returned to fight prospect Yair Rodriguez after two and a half years out of action and was taken apart in just over two rounds, showing that the new generation has overtaken. While a fight with Siver, which was previously put together, looks like a hand picked opponent, it won’t be an easy fight for the thirty-eight-year-old former two division champion.
Germany’s Dennis Siver is also a man who hasn’t tasted victory for a number of years with his last win coming in 2014 in Stockholm over Charles Rosa. That win set him up for a bout against a rising UFC star, now known as Conor McGregor, which ended early in the second round. The 20-fight UFC veteran then lost to Tatsuya Kawajiri in Germany. Penn and Siver were meant to do battle at UFC 199, but Siver pulled out with an injury.
Penn did look to establish some of the boxing skills that helped set him apart from others, before getting stopped in his last bout. The inactiveness of these two make betting a tough pick, but I’d take the “Prodigy” to squeak out a decision in this three round bout.
Tim Means (26-8-1) vs. Alex Garcia (14-3)
Means makes his fifteenth Octagon outing and looks to return to winning ways following his defeat to Alex Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. ‘The Dominican Nightmare’ Garcia looks to follow up his impressive stoppage of Mike Pyle at UFC 207 in December. Only Neil Magny and Sean Strickland have managed to get the better of the Dominican in the UFC. Means however could have the upperhand if he keeps the distance with his reach and extends the fight to the later rounds, as Garcia has the tendency to tire late.
Joachim Christensen (14-5) vs. Dominick Reyes (6-0)
Joachim Christensen looks to avoid a second consecutive loss as he makes his second appearance in six weeks, looking to quickly bounce back from his submission loss to Gadzhimurad Antigulov at UFC 211. After previously competing across Europe, Christensen joined the UFC and made his debut in October 2016. With his UFC record of 1-2, he’ll look to even it up on Saturday night.
Dominick Reyes enters the Octagon as a short notice replacement for the injured Azamat Murzakanov. Reyes last fought just twenty-three days ago at LFA 13, winning in thirty-five seconds with a spectacular headkick. He holds a perfect 6-0 professional record following a perfect 5-0 amateur career, and has finished five of his six professional bouts inside the first round. What an opportunity this presents for the Californian.
Felice Herrig (12-6) vs. Justine Kish (6-0)
Felice Herrig looks to string together a trio of consecutive victories for the first team since joining the UFC to move within the top ten of the women’s 115 lb division. Defeating Alexa Grasso back in February and a performance of the night submission against Kailin Curran at UFC on Fox 20 leaves the 32-year-old in good form.
Unbeaten prospect Justine Kish also looks to make it a perfect three in the UFC after two decision victories over Amanda Nunes’ partner, Nina Ansaroff, and Ashley Yoder. A win would put her on the cusp of a ranking position. Kish already holds a win over #9 ranked strawweight Randa Markos and will look to add Herrig to her ever-growing list of victories.
Johny Hendricks (18-6) vs. Tim Boetsch (20-11)
Johny Hendricks has looked good in his move up to middleweight. “Bigg Rigg” is looking to win back-to-back fights for the first time since 2013, after outpointing perennial middleweight Hector Lombard at UFC Fight Night 105 in February. His last four Octagon wins have all come by way of decision.
Tim Boetsch will be looking to bounce back from his loss to Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza earlier this year at UFC 208 and ‘The Barbarian’ will have a five-inch reach advantage over his smaller opponent. Prior to his loss, Boetsch had won two straight bouts by TKO over Rafael Natal and the late Josh Samman.
Boetsch is the underdog on the night, but his size and punching power might be worth a play here. Check out the Betsafe Specials for betting for a good payoff for stoppages for either fighter, if you don’t see it going a full 15 minutes.
Michael Chiesa (14-2) vs. Kevin Lee (15-2)
This is a five round main event fight. Michael Chiesa will look to put his name inside the top five lightweights in the world with a victory over Lee this weekend, returning to the Octagon for the first time in over a year since his victory over Beneil Dariush at UFC on Fox 19.
Chiesa was the winner of the Ultimate Fight Season 15, beating Al Iaquinta in the final and has won five out of his seven UFC victories by way of submission.
Kevin Lee heads into the fight as the slight favorite, winning his last four. The Detroit raised fighter was last victorious at UFC Fight Night 106 in Brazil, submitting Francisco Trinaldo. Whilst the majority of Lee’s fights have gone the distance, he also has won his last two fights by submission, both in the second round.
Chiesa is a slight underdog, and with his ability to quickly end the fight with a submission, I like a play on the “Maverick” to get the win with a stoppage within the 25-minute bout.
About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is the founder of MMAViking.com, the premier source for daily mixed martial arts news in the Nordics. Established in 2008, the UFC credentialed media source has covered over 200 events cageside.