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UFC Fight Night 203
(Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Fight Night 203 Preview

UFC Fight Night 203
(Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Fight Night 203 Preview

It is the sixth weekend of fights in a row and the UFC returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Fight Night 203. This card is headlined by two light heavyweights with a possible title shot on the line. But before that, there are 13 more fights that include a few fights that have fight of the night potential. The preliminary fights begin at 4:00 PM ET and the six-fight main card gets underway at 7:00 PM ET, all the fights will be shown on ESPN+.

Main Card

Thiago Santos (5) vs Magomed Ankalaev (6) – Light Heavyweight

UFC Fight Night 203 closes out with two fighters that could use a win to propel them into title contention. Thiago Santos had climbed up to No. 1 in the light heavyweight rankings before a three-fight losing streak that started with a split decision loss in a title fight with arguable UFC GOAT Jon Jones. After losing to Jones, losses to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic dropped Santos to fifth in the rankings. In his last fight of 2021, Santos ended the losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker. Off of a win last time out, Santos looks to keep the momentum going when he fights the man ranked one spot below him in Magomed Ankalaev.

Ankalaev has been on a tear since losing his UFC debut to Paul Craig by submission in early 2018. The Russian has gone on a seven-fight win streak since losing the only fight of his professional career. He now sits with a record of 16-1 and hopes that a win against Santos will put him next in line for a title shot. The UFC light heavyweight belt will be fought for at UFC 275 between the champion Glover Teixeira and No. 2 ranked Jiri Prochazka. 

This fight will likely be kept on the feet as Santos only has one submission victory while Ankalaev has never won a fight by submission. Comparatively, Santos has 15 knockout wins and Ankalaev has nine.

Prediction

Santos has the ability to make this fight go his way, but Ankalaev is the biggest betting favorite on the entire UFC Fight Night 203 card at -450 for a reason. I have Ankalaev winning this fight by decision.

Marlon Moraes (10) vs Song Yadong (14) – Bantamweight

This fight involves a pair of fighters that are trending in completely opposite directions. Former title challenger Marlon Moraes comes into this fight on a three-fight losing streak and losses in four of his last five fights all by TKO. This cold streak began in June 2019 with a loss against Henry Cejudo in a fight for the vacant UFC bantamweight belt. The last win for Moraes came in the following fight against Jose Aldo, whom he beat by split decision. His most recent fight was a loss against Merab Dvalishvili last September.

On the other side will be Song Yadong. The No. 14 ranked fighter has made his way into the rankings by going 7-1-1 in the UFC and has won two fights in a row. During his recent win streak, the Chinese fighter beat Casey Kenney by decision and then Julio Arce by TKO. At 24 years of age, Yadong has shown potential to make a challenge atop the stacked bantamweight division in the future and that could start with a win against Moraes at UFC Fight Night 203.

Prediction

Similar to the main event this fight could be won by either fighter, but I do not see Moraes getting back to winning ways against the storming Yadong. I have Yadong by knockout.

Sodiq Yusuff (12) vs Alex Caceres (15) – Featherweight

Nigeria’s Sodiq Yusuff looks to start another long win streak with a fight against Alex Caceres. In his last fight, Yusuff ended a six-fight winning streak with a decision loss to Arnold Allen. This was the second loss of his career and both times the loss ended a winning streak of at least five. Yusuff’s last win came in a decision win over Andre Fili. With a record of 11-2, Yusuff has won just over half of his fights by knockout. His style will be contrasting with Caceres who has seven of his 19 wins by submission.

The Miami-born fighter has been on the best streak of his career having won five straight. His most recent win came by submission against Seung Woo Choi in the second round after Choi was penalized in the first round because of an illegal knee. That was the second win in his last three to come by a rear-naked choke submission. His last loss came the same way against Kron Gracie, a member of the Gracie family.

Prediction

This fight is one of contrasting styles and that gives advantages to each fighter depending on where the fight goes. If it stays on the feet advantage Yusuff, but on the ground, Caceres has the advantage. I have Caceres winning by decision.

Drew Dober vs Terrance McKinney – Lightweight

For the second time in three weeks, Terrance “T.Wrecks” McKinney will be fighting. This time he will be looking to extend his win streak to six when he takes on Drew Dober. At UFC Vegas 49 McKinney needed only 2:11 of the first round to submit Fares Ziam. This was the 11th time McKinney won in the first round and the fifth straight time, even though this took slightly longer than his seven-second finish of Matt Frevola. McKinney took this fight at UFC Fight Night 203 on short notice after Ricky Glenn pulled out due to a torn groin a week before.

Dober cracked the top 15 in the lightweight division, but 2021 was not one for him to remember as he lost both of his fights last year. First, he fought Islam Makhachev and made it into the third round before being submitted. Then he lost to 14th ranked Brad Riddell by unanimous decision at UFC 263 last year. Dober could turn things around and has shown that he belongs at lightweight having won six of seven fights before the recent skid. A win over McKinney could be what he needs to make another move towards the rankings.

Prediction

The biggest question surrounding McKinney is how he will do if the fight goes past one round and that is something we have yet to see in the UFC. If Dober can use his experience to drag out the fight he has a very good chance of returning to the win column. Unfortunately for him, McKinney is too hot at the moment and will do what only one person has previously, knock Dober out.

Alex Pereira vs Bruno Silva – Middleweight

There has been so much hype surrounding Alex Pereira in his young MMA career since he is the only person to have knocked out Israel Adesanya when they fought in kickboxing. That was the second time that the Brazilian beat Adesanya. After a successful kickboxing career, the switch to MMA has been a smooth one as Pereira sits at 4-1. His lone loss came in his first MMA fight back in 2015. But since then he has gone on a four-fight win streak with four knockouts to go with it. The only fight of 2021 for Pereira was his UFC debut where he beat Andreas Michailidis by TKO 18 seconds into the second round.

Standing across from him at UFC Fight Night 203 will be another Brazilian in Bruno Silva. Silva took the UFC by storm in 2021 winning all three of his fights by TKO. After having to wait two years for him to debut in the UFC due to a suspension for violating an anti-doping policy in 2019, Silva proved that he was worth the wait. His style of fighting results in exciting fights and lots of knockouts. Silva comes in on a seven-fight win streak with all wins coming by knockout.

Prediction

This fight will end with a knockout one way or another and should be nonstop action. I have Pereira winning by knockout. 

Prelim to Watch

Kris Moutinho vs Guido Cannetti – Bantamweight

There are a few prelim fights that could be worth watching, but this one stands out the most. In his UFC debut, Kris Moutinho stepped in on short notice to fight Sean O’Malley who had been running through the bantamweight division with ease. Mourinho gave him all he could ask for and lasted until the final 30 seconds of round three before being finished by TKO. Moutinho will look to win his first UFC fight against veteran fighter, Guido Cannetti.

Cannetti is now 42 years old and has lost five of his seven UFC fights including three straight leading into UFC Fight Night 203. In his last fight, Cannetti went the distance with Mana Martinez but came out on the wrong side of a split decision. The last win for Cannetti came in 2018 against Diego Rivas.

Prediction

This fight could be the best of the night with two guys who go all out and leave everything they have in the octagon. Moutinho showed great durability against O’Malley who landed 230 strikes during the three-round fight. For that reason I have Moutinho winning this fight by decision.

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