UFC Fight Night will see a unique contest in a significantly reorganised 11-event card which takes place at the UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters on Saturday night.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and injuries to fighters, the promotion has had to re-shuffle many of the fights calling up athletes to compete at short notice.
The light-heavyweight feature bout between former UFC championship challenger Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic is a short-notice fight, which will be contested over three rounds and not the regular five rounds of a main event.
The co-main event is a reworked welterweight bout between Neal Magny and former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who says he is happy to finally be back in the UFC Octagon.
Lawler (28-14 MMA, 13-8 UFC) vs Neil Magny (23-7 MMA, 16-6 UFC) is an interesting fight given the fact the Lawler is returning to the Octagon after a year-long hiatus.
“I’ve been looking to get back for a while and just couldn’t get anything together, then they just offered this one on a few weeks’ notice and I’m like, ‘All right, I guess I’m going to fight,’” Lawler said during Wednesday’s UFC virtual media day. “It is what it is. I’m going to fight. I haven’t fought for a while, so it’s nice to get back in there.”
At 38, Lawler is attempting a comeback have won just once in five attempts since losing the 170lb belt to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201 in July 2018.
“Right now I’m just competing,” Lawler said. “One step at a time. You have to get past this fight and showcase your skill and let people know who you are. Everyone at Sanford (MMA) has done a great job with me, and I’m excited to get out there.”
It may only be a three-rounder but expect America’s Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakićto put on a big fight, with the Austrian looking to rebound from his first UFC loss to Volkan Oezdemir last December.
“I’m ready for 15 minutes of hell, and I don’t want to predict I’m gonna knock him out in the first or the second or submit him,” Rakic told MMA Junkie.
“A fight is a fight — you never know. I’m ready for everything. I’ve been training my striking, my wrestling and my grappling, putting on a new level and also my cardio. So if it goes to the distance, I’m happy. If it’s a knockout or a submission, I’m also happy. I want to perform at the best and you’re gonna see Saturday what I’ve been doing the past two months.”
Smith recognises that Rakic is a dangerous opponent who he referred to as a “one-trick pony.”
The card also features two women’s bouts, the first between Americans Mallory Martin (MMA 9 fights -6 wins -3 losses) and Hannah Ciefers (16-10-6) in the straw weight division and another between Brazil’s Polyana Viana (14-10-4) and Portland, Oregan’s Emily Whitmore (7-4-3) in the flyweight category.
At A Glance
UFC Fight Night: Smith v Rakic
Saturday, Las Vegas, from 2am UAE, Sunday
Light-heavyweight: Anthony Smith v Aleksandar Rakic
Welterweight: Robbie Lawler v Neil Magny
Flyweight: Ji Yeon Kim v Alexa Grasso
Featherweight: Ricardo Lamas v Bill Algeo
Light-heavyweight: Magomed Ankalaev v Ion Cuțelaba
Middleweight: Maki Pitolo v Impa Kasanganay
Middleweight: Alessio Di Chirico v Zak Cummings
Featherweight: Alex Cacares v Austin Springer
Welterweight: Sean Brady v Christian Aguilera
Flyweight: Polyana Viana v Emily Whitmire
Strawweight: Mallory Martin v Hannah Cifers