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UFC 273
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 273 Preview

UFC 273
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 273 Preview

Two title fights headline a stacked UFC 273 card along with a fight that could have title implications on the line featuring one of the UFC’s most dangerous prospects. The first title bout is a long-awaited rematch in the bantamweight division with the featherweight title on the line in the main event. Before the belts are on the line 10 other fights are going to go down with six ranked fighters set to make the walk to the octagon. UFC 273 will be live from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, April 9th. The prelims start at 6:00 PM ET on ESPN+ while the main card begins at 10:00 PM ET and can be seen on ESPN+ via PPV.

Main Card

Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs Chan Sung Jung (4) – Featherweight

One of the best featherweights we have seen recently is the champion Alexander Volkanovski. Since joining the UFC Volkanovski has yet to lose in 10 trips to the octagon extending his winning streak to 20. Volkanovski won the belt by beating Max Holloway at UFC 245 and has defended it twice beating Holloway in a rematch and then Brian Ortega last time out. Twice against Ortega, the champ looked in serious trouble from submission attempts that would have had any other fighter tap out. However, Volkanovski dominated the rest of the fight and ultimately won by unanimous decision. 

With his unbeaten start in the UFC reaching double-digits the second Australian champion has become only the fourth fighter to do so. He joins Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, and Royce Gracie, the UFC’s first-ever champion, on the list. Volkanovski’s last four fights have all gone to a decision, but he is still a very dangerous fighter with the ability to knock out anyone in the featherweight division.

Now he faces a very tough opponent in The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, who replaced Holloway after he had to pull out with an injury the day after that fight was announced. Jung has been a staple in the UFC for over a decade since making his debut in 2011. At UFC 273 he will be getting a second shot at the UFC title. In 2013, Jung fought featherweight legend Jose Aldo and lost via TKO in the fourth round. Since that fight, he has gone 4-2 with three first-round knockouts. His most recent fight was a decision win over Dan Ige.

A win for The Korean Zombie would make him the first-ever male champion from Asia which would be an incredible accomplishment and shows how much of a global sport MMA is. He would join former UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili as the only Asian to hold UFC gold.

Prediction

As good as Jung is, I don’t see him putting up too much of a fight for Volkanovski. Volkanovski is one of the best and most well-rounded fighters on the UFC roster and will show off his skill on Saturday. I have Volkanovski winning by decision.

Aljamain Sterling (c) vs Petr Yan (IC) – Bantamweight

The rematch we have all been waiting for is here: Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. The last time they fought Yan was the champion but lost the belt to Sterling after being DQ’d for an illegal knee to a downed opponent. The fight looked to be going Yan’s way as he was up two rounds to one on two of the three judges’ scorecards after round three. 

The pair were set to renew their rivalry at UFC 267, but Sterling had to withdraw because he was still suffering neck issues from Yan’s knee. Instead, Yan faced Cory Sandhagen for the UFC bantamweight interim title. Yan dominated Sandhagen for 25 minutes and won by unanimous decision to set up this fight with Sterling. Before the loss, Yan had been undefeated in the UFC at 7-0 and 15-1 overall. His one previous loss came against Magomed Magomedov whom he beat two fights later. This is the same situation ahead of his fight with Sterling.

Following the knee from Yan, there were lingering issues for Sterling that some fighters thought would prevent him from ever being able to step back into the octagon and fight again. Sterling has won his last six fights and submitted Sandhagen in the first round in his fight leading up to Yan. This streak came at the right time to propel him to the top after he lost 3 of his previous five fights. 

This fight will be a clash of styles once again as Sterling is an extremely dangerous grappler who has eight wins by submission. Yan on the other hand will want to keep the fight standing up as he only has one submission victory compared to his seven knockout wins. The hype surrounding this fight has been building up for a while and you will not want to miss this battle.

Prediction

After over a year we finally will find out who the best fighter at 135lbs truly is. If the first fight told us anything it is that Yan is not to be messed with and he looked even better in the fight with Sandhagen. I have Yan winning by knockout.

Gilbert Burns (2) vs Khamzat Chimaev (11) – Welterweight

Khamzat Chimaev is possibly the most dominant prospect we have ever seen in the UFC after only four fights. He is 10-0 overall and has never gone past the second round finishing all 10 of his opponents by either submission or knockout. In his last fight, he dominated Li Jingliang for the three minutes the fight lasted. After picking up Jingliang and carrying him over to where UFC president Dana White was sitting, while yelling at White the whole time, he smashed the Chinese fighter and ended up winning with a submission.

The craziest thing about Chimaev’s time in the UFC is that through four fights he has only been hit once and that came in his first fight against John Phillips. If you need a definition of perfection that is it. There are virtually no holes in his fighting style; he can finish fighters standing up as seen in his 17 second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert which was one of six knockout wins, but where he is even more dangerous is on the ground. He has four submission victories and just smothers opponents on the ground.

However, he isn’t fighting just anybody, at UFC 273 he will be stepping into the octagon with the #2 ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns. Burns won his last fight beating Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision. The win came after Burns fought Kamaru Usman for the belt but despite knocking down the pound-for-pound #1 fighter for the first time in his career Burns still lost by TKO.

This fight with Chimaev is lining up to be one of the fights of the year and a win could see Burns get another shot at Usman or a shot at Leon Edwards for the welterweight belt. For Chimaev a win would set up a fight with Colby Covington according to White.

Prediction

Every ounce of me wants to believe that Burns can win this fight, but Chimaev is just a monster in every single way. The strength he showed in his grappling match with UFC middleweight Jack Hermansson was incredible as he won 8-0. I think Chimaev will be too much for Burns and will win by knockout.

Mackenzie Dern (5) vs Tecia Torres (7) – Women’s Strawweight

Two fighters that are looking to move closer to a title shot face off at UFC 273. Mackenzie Dern started her UFC career 6-1 but lost her last fight to make it 6-2. Last time out Dern faced Marina Rodriguez and went the full five rounds before losing the decision. Dern’s last victory came against Nina Nunes whom she submitted late in the first round.

Across from her is a fighter that has fought the best in the division. There have been five champions in the UFC’s strawweight division and Tecia Torres has fought four of them losing each time. She had been on a four-fight losing streak that saw her fall to Jéssica Andrade, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Zhang Weili, and Rodriguez but has turned it around winning her last three fights. Her last fight came against Angela Hill in August 2021 and Torres came out the winner after going to a decision.

A win for Torres solidifies her as a title contender at strawweight and may even earn her a title shot later this year. For Dern, a win gets her back on track, but she will still need at least one more win to get her chance to fight for UFC gold.

Prediction

Between the two fighters, there has only ever been one knockout win compared to 15 decision wins. This looks to be a fight that will stay on the feet as Dern is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Torres is a black belt in karate and taekwondo. I have Torres keeping the momentum going and winning by decision.

Vinc Pichel vs Mark Madsen – Lightweight

This is the only fight on the main card not to feature a ranked fighter, but should still be a war as two UFC veterans take the octagon. Vinc Pichel has won three straight fights all by unanimous decision. He last fought Austin Hubbard in late August last year. The now 39-year-old has not lost since 2018 when he was submitted by Gregor Gillespie who is now ranked #8 in the lightweight division. At 14-2, Pichel looks to move into the top 15 with a win over Mark Madsen.

Madsen won Olympic silver in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2016 Summer Olympics and then made the move to MMA. In his return to MMA in 2018 Madsen was a man possessed as he won all four of his fights that year. The Danish fighter has kept that unbeaten streak going into the UFC with wins in all three of his UFC bouts extending his record to 11-0. He made his UFC debut in September 2019 against Danilo Belluardo and won with a first-round TKO. Since then he has had two decision wins over Hubbard in 2020 and Clay Guida in 2021.

Madsen is an extremely good wrestler and that is seen in his accomplishments outside of the octagon. In addition to winning an Olympic medal, Madsen has also won 11 Danish Championships in Greco-Roman Wrestling and six Nordic Championships. 

Prediction

This will be a clash of styles at UFC 273 as Pichel has never had a submission win while Madsen made a name for himself wrestling. I have Madsen staying undefeated and winning by submission.

Prelims to watch 

Ian Garry vs Darian Weeks – Welterweight

The second coming of the Irish takeover is being led by Ian Garry. Garry is 8-0 and won his UFC debut last time out. With one second remaining in the first round Garry knocked out Jordan Williams at UFC 268 to start a promising UFC career. Before moving to the UFC Garry was a stud in Cage Warriors finishing 7-0 in the promotion with four knockouts. He will look to keep things rolling against Darian Weeks.

Weeks had started his MMA career 5-0 but lost his UFC debut last time out. The lone loss of his career came against Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision. Weeks did step into that fight on short notice after Matt Brown tested positive for Covid-19. In his unbeaten run before that Weeks had won four of five by knockout. His last win was a TKO victory over Craig Fairley.

Prediction

This fight should see fists flying and almost guarantees a knockout. I think the hype from his first fight is well deserved for Garry and I have him winning by knockout.

Aspen Ladd (4) vs Raquel Pennington (7) – Women’s Bantamweight

Stepping in on short notice to fight Aspen Ladd is Raquel Pennington in a top 10 matchup in the women’s bantamweight division. Ladd was originally scheduled to face Irene Aldana who pulled out for unknown reasons. Ladd will still be looking to bounce back from a unanimous decision loss to Norma Dumont. Before her last fight, she was 9-1 in MMA and coming off a TKO win against Yana Kunitskaya. She is now 9-2 and has a chance to move into the title conversation with a win at UFC 273.

Pennington has had much more success as of late winning four of her last five and three straight. Her last fight was a submission win against Macy Chiasson in the last event of 2021. The submission win snapped a run of fights going to a decision. Before that, she had lost two straight beginning with a loss to then-champion Amanda Nunes. Against Nunes, Pennington pushed Nunes to a fifth-round before being knocked out. She has a chance to get a win over a top-four opponent and move her way up the rankings.

Prediction

Pennington is the older fighter with a bit more experience and that will be noticeable at UFC 273. I have Pennington winning by decision.

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