UFC 291: 5 Preliminary Card Fights to Watch

UFC 291: 5 Preliminary Card Fights to Watch

  • MMA News
  • juillet 28, 2023
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UFC 291 is bringing a stacked and action-packed card to Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday. The pay-per-view headliner is a rematch between lightweights Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje with the BMF Belt on the line. The belt hadn’t been fought for since Jorge Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz in November 2019.

Poirier defeated Gaethje via fourth-round TKO in what was widely considered the 2018 Fight of the Year. Gaethje will look for revenge while Poirier will look to re-accomplish the feat. Both men are former interim lightweight champions.

Former 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz and former middleweight champion Alex Pereira are set to duel with title implications at light heavyweight in the co-main event.

The main card is sure to bring the heat, but so will the prelims. The UFC 291 undercard boasts a former title challenger, action fighters, prospects, and more. Here are five prelim fights you can’t miss:

Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Former heavyweight title challenger Lewis takes on a rejuvenated Rogerio de Lima on the undercard. “The Black Beast” finds himself on the undercard in a stunning turn of events after having lost three straight and four of five. But his one-hit KO power and name value keep him as a must watch. It’s not often a recurring main eventer is on the prelims – Lewis hasn’t fought as a prelim since he beat Damian Grabowski in February 2016.

Lewis will look to snap his skid against Rogerio de Lima, who is 6-3 since moving up to heavyweight. “Pezao’s” resume includes wins over former champ Andrei Arlovski, the previously undefeated Waldo Cortes-Acosta, and Ben Rothwell. Lewis would undoubtedly be one of his two best wins.

Lewis, who fought Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight title and Cyril Gane for the interim heavyweight title, has an impressive list of scalps: former UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Alexander Volkov, Chris Daukaus, Aleksei Oleinik, Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Roy Nelson, and Ilir Latifi.

Lewis needs a win over Rogerio de Lima to stay relevant for one last title push, while “Pezao” can catapult himself into the land of bigger fights if he vanquishes “The Black Beast.” There’s a lot on the line.

Trevin Giles vs. Gabriel Bonfim

The undefeated welterweight prospect Bonfim, who is 14-0, will look to stay perfect against his toughest test yet in Giles.

Bonfim made good on his UFC debut, submitting Mounir Lazzez via mounted guillotine choke in just 49 seconds. Bonfim submitted Trey Waters via Von Flue choke on the Contender Series in under a round. He has solified himself as a blue chip to watch.

Giles will look to spoil the party. His wins include Roman Dolidze, James Krause, Louis Cosce and Preston Parsons. The Dolidze unanimous decision win sticks out the most – up a weight class against the current No. 9-ranked middleweight. Giles has shown flashes of being a dangerous player at 170, but he’ll need to put it all together to stop the surging Bonfim.

Matthew Semelsberger vs. Uros Medic

Medic, an intriguing prospect with stopping power (100% finish rate in eight pro wins), draws Semelsberger in his welterweight debut. Medic rebounded from his first loss to Jalin Turner – not a bad loss by any stretch of the imagination – with a TKO over Omar Morales. He draws a tough litmus test in Semelsberger, though.

Semelsberger has made a habit of turning away prospects. He handed AJ Fletcher his first defeat and Carlton Minus his second. He also took a win over Jake Matthews for his latest victory.

The underrated “Semi the Jedi” has made a habit of crashing hype trains, and he’ll look to turn away “The Doctor” in similar fashion. Simply put, Medic is legit if he makes his 170-pound debut and turns away Semelsberger.

Roman Kopylov vs. Claudio Ribeiro

Kopylov has re-established himself as someone to watch at 185 when he snapped a two-fight skid with two wins in a row over Punahele Soriano and Alessio di Chirico. His losses came at the hands of Albert Duraev and Karl Roberson.

Kopylov is an exciting finisher – all but one of his pro wins (his debut) have come via T/KO. Ribeiro will look to not only avoid the Russian’s highlight reel but add to his own. Ribeiro finished Joseph Holmes with ground and pound strikes, rebounding from a loss to Abdul Razak AlhassanAll of Ribeiro’s pro wins have come via T/KO. A win over Kopylov would be Ribeiro’s biggest yet.

In a fight between striking finishers, someone is likely going out in what should be a barn burner.

CJ Vergara vs. Vinicius Salvador

Vergara and Salvador will scrap in what should be a fun contest between two flyweights. Both men will look to get a crack at a top-15 125’er with a win.

Vergara is 2-2 in the UFC, having alternated wins and losses since joining off a Contender Series finish of Bruno Korea. His wins came over Daniel Lacerda and Kleydson Rodrigues, while his losses were to the highly-touted Tatsuro Taira and Ode Osbourne. Vergara has proven himself scrappy and hopes to start his first UFC winning streak at Salvador’s expense.

Salvador will be looking for his first UFC win after losing his debut to Victor Altamirano. All of Salvador’s wins have come via finish (13 T/KO, 1 submission), while Vergara has seven T/KOs in 11 victories. Fans should expect a stand-up affair full of high-paced action with a good possibility it doesn’t go the full 15.

Featured Image credit:Embed from Getty Images

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