UFC 292: 5 Preliminary Fights to Watch
UFC 292 is set for Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston.
Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will look to defend his title against “Sugar” Sean O’Malley in the main event. “The Funkmaster” has made three title defenses against Petr Yan, T.J. Dillashaw, and Henry Cejudo and will look to add O’Malley to his resume. Sterling, win or lose, will likely move up to featherweight to make room for his friend and training partner, Merab Dvalishvili.
O’Malley took a split decision over Yan in his last fight to set up the title shot. His resume also features wins over Eddie Wineland, Raulian Paiva and Kris Moutinho.
In the co-main event, China’s Weili Zhang will defend her strawweight title against Amanda Lemos. Zhang has been on a tear, KO’ing former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a spinning back elbow and then submitting another former champion in Carla Esparza with a crucifix rear naked choke.
Lemos’s ledger includes wins over Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Angela Hill.
The main card also features Neil Magny vs. Ian Machado Garry, Mario Bautista vs. Da’Mon Blackshear and Marlon Vera vs. Pedro Munhoz.
While the main card is loaded, the prelims are stacked, too. The undercard boasts a former champion, exciting prospects, and the lightweight finale of The Ultimate Fighter.
Here are five UFC 292 prelims to watch:
Chris Weidman vs. Brad Tavares
Former middleweight king Chris Weidman returns for the first time since a gruesome leg break he suffered against Uriah Hall in April 2021. “The All American” will meet Brad Tavares in the prelim headliner. UFC 292 will mark Weidman’s first appearance on the prelims since he submitted Tom Lawlor with a D’Arce choke at UFC 139 in November 2011.
Weidman, a four-time UFC title winner, won the belt against Anderson Silva and then defended it when Silva broke his leg. Weidman defended it twice more against Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort before losing it to Luke Rockhold. Weidman has won twice since: against Kelvin Gastelum on his native Long Island and Omari Akhmedov.
He needs a win over Tavares if he wants a chance of restoring his former glory.
Tavares is looking to snap a two-fight skid after his own win over Akhmedov. Tavares’s other UFC wins include Antonio Carlos Junior, Krzysztof Jotko, Thales Leites, Elias Theodorou, Nate Marquardt and Lorenz Larkin. He has also competed against the likes of middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, former champion Robert Whittaker, former title challenger Yoel Romero, and potential future challenger Dricus du Plessis. A win over Weidman would be a former champion on his ledger.
Weidman, meanwhile, has all eyes on him as he returns from injury and looks to make one last run at gold.
Gregory Rodrigues vs. Denis Tiuliulin
Rodrigues vs. Tiuliulin features a high probability of someone getting finished. The majority of finishes for both men have come via knockout, as both possess fearsome power.
Rodrigues has had more UFC success so far, going 4-2 in the promotion and picking up wins over Chidi Njokuani, Julian Marquez, Jun Yong Park and Dusko Todorovic. While it would be exciting if Rodrigues stood with Tiuliulin, many would like to see him use the grappling skills that secured him four submissions on the regional scene, especially coming off a KO loss to Brunno Ferreira.
Tiuliulin was submitted by Park in his last outing. He is 1-2 in the UFC, with his win coming over Jamie Pickett. A win over Rodrigues would be the biggest of his career. For “Robocop,” it’s an opportunity to possibly get a ranked fighter next.
Kurt Holobaugh vs. Austin Hubbard (TUF Lightweight Winner)
Holobaugh and Hubbard, two initial Team Michael Chandler members on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, will duke it out for the season’s lightweight championship. Both competed in the UFC, with Holobaugh going 0-4 and Hubbard going 3-4.
Holobaugh submitted Lee Hammond and TKO’d Jason Knight to secure his spot, while Hubbard took decisions over Aaron McKenzie and Roosevelt Roberts.
Both men like to throw hands in what should make for an exciting TUF lightweight finale.
Cody Gibson vs. Brad Katona (TUF Bantamweight Winner)
Gibson and Katona were also both members of Team Chandler. Katona won Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter before losing to Merab Dvalishvili and fellow TUF 31 contestant Hunter Azure. As it turned out, a loss to Dvalishvili is no shame at all, and Katona finds himself in a position to win two TUF seasons. He went 2-2 in the UFC.
Gibson went 1-3 in the UFC in 2014 and 2015, beating Johnny Bedford. One of his losses came to bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Again, no shame in that.
On the show, Katona beat Carlos Vera and Timur Valiev, both by decision. Gibson defeated Mando Gutierrez via Round 1 TKO and Rico DiSciullo via Round 1 submission.
Katona will likely need to blend in his grappling to beat Gibson in what is an interesting stylistic match-up.
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Andre Petroski
Middleweight prospect Petroski gets his biggest name and test yet in Meerschaert. The 9-1 Petroski is 4-0 in the UFC, but he’ll have to fend off a submission artist to stay undefeated.
Meerschaert has derailed prospects with hype before, taking care of business against Makhmud Muradov, Trevon Giles, Deron Winn, and Oskar Piechota. Joe Pyfer bested him in his last fight, proving he was ready for the next step up. He has also gone against the likes of Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Jack Hermansson. Petroski will look to position himself for a crack at the top-15 sooner rather than later with a win over Meerschaert.
Petroski has wins over Wellington Turman and Nick Maximov. Meerschaert would be his biggest yet.
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