Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ready to return to ESPN+ for a “Fight Night” event on Thanksgiving weekend. UFC Vegas 15 — which goes down later tonight (Sat., Nov. 28, 2020) inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada — will feature a revamped main event between light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Devin Clark.
Clark was originally in line to face Shamil Gamzatov on this card, but after visa issues forced Gamzatov out of the fight, former 205-pound title contender, Anthony Smith, agreed to step in and fill the void.
Since fighting for the title against Jon Jones at UFC 235 back in 2019 (which he lost), Smith hasn’t had the best run. He did bounce back nicely with a submission win over Alexander Gustafsson right after his loss to “Bones,” but he then went on to drop two in a row to Glover Teixeira (in brutal fashion) and then Aleksandar Rakic, bringing him to 1-3 in his last four. Slowly but surely, Smith is dropping in the rankings and he needs a big win over Clark just to remain in the Top 10.
A fight against Clark — winner of two in a row — won’t be a walk in the park as Devin has proven to have a well-rounded attack, especially when it comes to trading blows. “Lionheart” still has the skills and talent to cause some damage, and his name value alone will keep him around the Octagon for a while, but a win here is crucial to give the promotion reason to give him bigger fights and to get back in the championship mix. For “Brown Bear,” a win over Smith will be the biggest for him to date and will get him a bigger share of the spotlight after going just 6-4 in his previous 10 UFC bouts.
This card wasn’t all the great to begin with, and losing the headlining bout between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes was the final blow. But there isn’t much we can ask for from the promotion during this time of year. It is Thanksgiving weekend and you can’t expect a lot of fighters to jump at the chance to cut weight during the holidays … especially big name combatants who can afford to turn down the offer to fight. That’s why you will see several names you may not recognize, or if you do, they haven’t got that much opportunity to shine. This is their moment. Plus, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. are set to thrown down in a boxing event tonight, as well, so there is no sense in competing with that.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
As mentioned earlier, the event was set to be headlined by a highly-anticipated Heavyweight bout between Lewis and Blaydes, but after “Razor” tested positive for COVID-19, the fight was scrapped and Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark was promoted to the headlining bout.
Kai Kamaka also agreed to step in and replace Sean Woodson against Jonathan Pearce after Woodson was forced out of the fight. Kamaka is currently riding a six-fight win streak and earned a nice win over Tony Kelley in his UFC debut a few months ago. Pearce, on the other hand, didn’t do so well in his Octagon debut, coming up short against long-time veteran, Joe Lauzon, more than one year ago. Renato Moicano was set to tango against Rafael Fiziev, but after he tested positive for COVID-19, the bout was moved to UFC 256 on Dec. 12.
Also, a scheduled Flyweight bout between Amir Albazi and Zhalgas Zhumagulov was scrapped after Zhumagulov’s passport didn’t arrive in time for him to make the flight out to “Sin City.”
No injuries reported for this event.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The “Prelims,” will be headlined by a bantamweight clash between Martin Day and Brazilian veteran Anderson dos Santos. Day is another fighter who is struggling mightily, losing his first two fights inside the Octagon. Interestingly enough, dos Santos is also on the same track, coming up short against Nad Narimani and Andre Ewell in his first two UFC fights. This could very well be a “loser leaves town” match.
Luke Sanders will make his long-awaited return to action as he is lined up to take on Joseph Maness in a catchweight bout of 140 pounds. Sanders hasn’t competed since February of 2019, as he was forced to bow out of a scheduled fight earlier this year for undisclosed reasons. Maness is looking to further impress in his sophomore effort inside the Octagon after making good in his debut by taking out Johnny Munoz Jr earlier this year.
After 22 months on the sidelines — part of it due to suspension for a failed drug test — Rachael Ostovich will make her return to action to face off against Gina Mazany. Ostovich has dropped two in a row at the hands of Paige VanZant and Montana De La Rosa with her lone win inside the Octagon coming against Karine Gevorgyan. She will look to pick up a much-needed win against Mazany, who is coming off a lightning-quick knockout loss to Julia Avila. She also is in need of a win since she is just 2-4 so far in her UFC career.
Parisian will look to impress in his official UFC debut when he takes on Porter in Heavyweight action. Parisian is on a nice six-fight win streak and wowed UFC president Dana White enough on the “Contender Series” with a first round knockout over Chad Johnson to get an invite to the big show. Ten of his 13 wins have come by way of knockout so it’s best not to blink when he starts swinging leather. Porter, on the other hand, is trying to get back on track after coming up short in his debut at UFC 252 against Chris Daukaus.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Smith just hasn’t been the same since losing to Jones at UFC 235. Granted, he did defeat Gustafsson soon thereafter, but after dropping two in a row, “Lionheart” could be in danger of a steep decline in the rankings if he loses his third in a row. It’s unlikely he’ll get cut, but he will say goodbye to the big, high-profile fights for a while until he gets his groove back.
Interest Level: 4/10
Again, it’s not the most stacked card but we will take what we can get while we’re still eating all of the Thanksgiving leftovers. This event should give a lot of fighters flying under the radar their chance to make a name for themselves.
Undefeated (8-0, 2-0 UFC) Welterweight prospect Miguel Baeza will look to keep it going when he faces Takashi Sato in the co-main event. Baeza — a “Contender Series” alum — has really impressed thus far, earning back-to-back technical knockout wins over Hector Aldana and Matt Brown. In fact, seven of his nine wins have come via knockout, so the man knows how to get after it. Sato is no slouch, either, as he has 11 wins via knockout on his resume. He is just 2-1 inside the Octagon so far and was last seen defeating Jason Witt over the summer.
Also, Bill Algeo will look to bounce back after coming up short in his UFC debut against Ricardo Lamas earlier this year. He will face off against Spike Carlyle, who is coming off a loss to Billy Quarantillo. Both of these up-and-comers need a win in order to avoid digging themselves in a deeper hole, and potentially avoid a pink slip as Dana White has made it known his roster is too bloated and some fat will be trimmed off in the coming months.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 15 Main Event:
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis Canceled (details)
205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark
UFC Vegas 15 Main Card on ESPN+/ESPN (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Miguel Baeza vs. Takashi Sato
265 lbs.: Josh Parisian vs. Parker Porter
145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. Spike Carlyle
135 lbs.: Norma Dumont vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
145 lbs.: Jonathan Pearce vs. Kai Kamaka
UFC Vegas 15 “Prelims” Undercard on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Martin Day vs. Anderson dos Santos
125 lbs.: Gina Mazany vs. Rachael Ostovich
125 lbs.: Malcolm Gordon vs. Su Mudaerji
140 lbs.: Nate Maness vs. Luke Sanders
***Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to drastic change because of the various global quarantine restrictions.***
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 15 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN 10 p.m. ET.
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