After a lackluster event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in which Jailton Almeida lay and prayed Derrick Lewis for five rounds, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to, “the world’s most famous arena,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., for UFC 295 (it also marks UFC’s 30th anniversary show). In the pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Jiri Prochazka takes on Alex Pereira for the vacant Light Heavyweight title, while Sergei Pavlovich locks horns with Tom Aspinall for the interim Heavyweight strap in UFC 295’s co-headliner.
While the card is pretty average for UFC’s 30th anniversary show, there are numerous fun fights up and down the card; therefore, before it all goes down tomorrow on ESPN+ PPV, let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime …
Main Event Switcher-Roo
Let’s get some obvious things out of the way. UFC 295 was originally supposed to be headlined by Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic; however, after “Bones” tore his pec off of the bone (watch it happen here), the fight was canceled. Prochazka vs. Pereira was elevated to the main event. The new co-main event became Pavlovich vs. Aspinall.
Backup Comes Through
Speaking of Pavlovich, he was the backup for the original main event. It is a rare occurrence that a backup fighter actually gets the call to fill in … and Pavlovich answered. Of course, he needed a dance partner, and Aspinall agreed to step up on short notice.
Up For Grabs
There will be two titles up for grabs at UFC 295. For the first time in UFC history, a vacant and interim title will be on the line. There have been 27 interim title fights in UFC history and 26 vacant title fights.
The Madman Returns
Prochazka finally makes his return to action after a 517-day layoff, the longest of his career. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is simply better when Prochazka is fighting. He was last in action at UFC 275 in an absolute classic against Glover Teixeira, in which he won the UFC Light Heavyweight championship (watch highlights). “Denisa” is riding a 13-fight win streak.
Prochazka and Pereira have less than 10 UFC fights between them, which is just strange to see. Prochazka has three fights in the promotion, while Pereira has six. Both men will compete in their third UFC main event this weekend.
Pereira has the chance to become the ninth fighter in UFC history to win titles in two divisions. And when you think about it, it is the ultimate revenge on Israel Adesanya. The pair of fighters have had a heated rivalry for several years, with Adesanya getting the better of Pereira in their last outing, knocking him unconscious at UFC 287 (watch it). But, if Pereira wins and becomes a two-division champion, he will have done something Adesanya failed to do. Of course, Adesanya had his shot at becoming “champ-champ,” but came up short against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Pereira defeated Blachowicz at UFC 291 to earn this opportunity.
Poatan @ MSG
One last thing about Pereira: he is undefeated (3-0) inside The Garden. He is also UFC’s only athlete to headline multiple events inside the iconic arena.
UFC 1 took place on Nov. 12, 1993. UFC 295 will be the 670th event in promotional history since that legendary night.
Changing The Game since 1993
— UFC (@ufc) January 1, 2023
United Kingdom … Stand Up!
Aspinall has the chance to become the third UFC fighter from the United Kingdom to become a champion. Michael Bisping did it first, knocking out Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 back in 2016, and then six years later, Leon Edwards won a title at UFC 278.
Most Active Fighter
Jessica Andrade becomes the first fighter to compete five times in 2023 this weekend as she takes on Mackenzie Dern. Unfortunately, after starting the year off in devastating fashion by battering Lauren Murphy, the former Strawweight champion has only been victorious once this year and has been finished three fights in a row (watch highlights).
Andrade has also been training at a new gym this training camp: Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.
Banger Of The Week
The main event could very well earn “Fight of the Night” when all is said and done; however, this week’s “Banger of the Week” is Matt Frevola vs. Benoit Saint-Denis.
This Lightweight fight will be complete madness for as long as it lasts. Frevola (11-3-1) is riding a three-fight knockout streak, finishing Drew Dober in his last outing (watch highlights). France’s Saint-Denis (12-1-1) has been perfect in his UFC career since getting battered in his UFC debut. “God of War” holds a 100 percent finish rate with nine submissions and three knockouts.
This is a fight where you can sit back with a smile on your face and just simply enjoy violence.
If you don’t know, now you know.
— danawhite (@danawhite) November 8, 2023
Welcome To UFC!
Only one fighter makes his UFC debut this weekend in “The Big Apple.”
Kevin Borjas (9-1) fights Joshua Van on the “Prelims” undercard. Borjas holds an 89 percent finish rate with eight knockouts and is coming off a contract-winning performance against Victor Dias on Contender Series. Funny enough, Borjas and Van were supposed to fight on week one of Contender Series for a UFC contract; however, Van got the call to UFC.
Welcome BACK To UFC
After being released from UFC in 2021, Roosevelt Roberts has returned to the promotion and is taking a fight against Mateusz Rebecki on less than one week’s notice. Roberts is riding a two-fight win streak since being brutally knocked out, which led to his release. “The Predator” also most recently competed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31, but lost in the semifinal round via split decision.
— ESPN (@espn) May 31, 2023
New Yorkers … In New York
During UFC 292 fight week, I was upset that there was no one from Boston fighting in … Boston. That is not the case for UFC 295. Four New Yorkers are fighting inside Madison Square Garden this weekend: Frevola, Jared Gordon, Nazim Sadykov and Dennis Buzukja.
Frevola, Sadykov and Buzukja are all teammates who represent Serra-Longo Fight Team.
Ranked Strawweights Buried On ‘Prelims’
On the “Prelims” portion of UFC 295 sits an interesting women’s strawweight fight that features Top 15-ranked athletes. No. 10-seeded Tabatha Ricci faces No. 13-ranked Loopy Godinez. Ricci is riding a four-fight win streak and coming off an impressive performance against Gillian Robertson. Godinez — who enters her fourth fight in 2023 — is coming off a demolition of Elise Reed at Noche UFC.
A showdown of rising strawweight stars goes down on this Saturday’s #UFC295 prelims as #10 Tabatha Ricci faces off against #13 Loopy Godinez.
— Women’s MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) November 5, 2023
Winners And Losers
Twenty-one fighters are coming off wins, while four are coming off losses. One fighter is coming off a “No Contest” (Jared Gordon).
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Heavyweight fight
- One Light Heavyweight fight
- Four Lightweight fights
- Two Featherweight fights
- One Bantamweight fights
- Two men’s Flyweight fights
- Two women’s Strawweight fights
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 295 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 295: “Prochazka vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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