The former champion in last-chance saloon, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s OTHER cousin on the hunt for first UFC win and the showman who told fans NOT to bet on him! The fighters looking to steal the show from Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou on UFC 260 undercard
- UFC fans will be tuning in to see Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou at UFC 260
- However, Saturday’s big fight offers the chance for other stars to steal the show
- Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is looking to turn things around
- Bantamweight showman Sean O’Malley has told fans NOT to bet on him
- Meanwhile, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin is on the hunt for his first UFC win
Fans will naturally be tuning in to see Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou this weekend, but for those fighting on the undercard of UFC 260 is a real chance to steal the show.
Michael Chandler and Kelvin Gastelum have set the tone so far this year, with the former’s devastating win over Dan Hooker putting him in a strong position to challenge for the lightweight title, while the latter has booked a date with Robert Whittaker after seeing off Ian Heinisch.
Sportsmail gives you the rundown of the fights to look out for this weekend, with Tyron Woodley, Sean O’Malley and Abubakar Nurmagomedov all looking to impress at the UFC Apex.
Fans will be tuning in for Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou, but who else could steal the show?
Tyron Woodley v Vincente Luque
Tyron Woodley has been in a reflective mood heading into his welterweight clash with Vincente Luque.
‘Sometimes, in the past, I had to recognise that I didn’t run the organisation, whether I thought they should have promoted me in a certain way or did certain things, they’ve got 600 athletes to think about,’ he told reporters this week.
‘It wasn’t always about me. I may have figured that out a little too late in the game, but at the time, I never really trusted a lot of people.’
Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is in last chance saloon heading into UFC 260
The Chosen One has lost his last three fights and at 38, needs to turn the tide quickly
The former 170-pound king has seen his form slump since losing his title to Kamaru Usman in 2019. The 38-year-old has gone onto lose to Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington, and saw a London clash with Leon Edwards called off due to Covid-19.
The defeat against Covington in particular was a sad sight for fans, with The Chosen One breaking a rib and unleashing a discomforting cry of pain as the fight was called to an end.
‘I trained for those fights. I was ready for those fights, I was prepared for those fights. There’s nothing that happened, nothing that my opponents did that surprised me. I was just there. I was just watching myself lose and I’m tired of doing that s***.
Woodley says he is sick of seeing himself lose and wants to leave mixed martial arts on a high
‘It didn’t kill me. It didn’t decapitate me from the sport. I think the story’s better when someone comes back, when someone didn’t quit.
‘I’m still on top. I’m still fast. I’m still probably the best mind in our division, as far as knowing what’s going on.’
Woodley will be looking to do the talking with his fists on Saturday night as he takes on a confident Vincente Luque before the main event. The Brazilian has won his last two fights and will know that a win can catapult him among the top names in the division.
For the American, defeat would deal a catastrophic blow to his plans to going out on a high.
The American takes on fellow top 10 contender Vincente Luque (left) at the UFC Apex
Sean O’Malley v Thomas Almeida
If you are thinking about laying a few bets on Saturday’s action, it may be best to steer clear of this one.
That’s because eccentric showman Sean O’Malley has told fans not to bet on him against Thomas Almeida at the UFC Apex.
O’Malley, 26, is one of the most exciting talents in the UFC, building a record of 12 wins, no defeats with his devastating striking lighting up the bantamweight division.
Sean O’Malley has told fans not to bet on him ahead of his 135-pound fight this weekend
The American, 26, is tipped as one to watch, with his flamboyant style a welcome addition
However, the American was stopped in his tracks last time out, losing to Marlon Vera by TKO in a surprise result at UFC 252.
O’Malley revealed this week that fans still contact him to let him know that he lost them money following that result, and the 26-year-old has pleaded with fans not to bet his way this weekend.
‘I would tell you guys to bet on me, but I said that last time and I still get messages from people saying I owe them a thousand bucks.’ O’Malley told Helen Yee ahead of UFC 260. ‘So don’t bet on me. Bet on Thomas. Bet on Thomas to win. There you go.
‘I’m healthy. I feel good. I’m so excited for this fight. I think it’s going to be a badass kickboxing fight,’ said O’Malley.
However, O’Malley lost his unbeaten record last time out (pictured), with fans contacting him to remind him that he lost them thousands of dollars
‘I don’t think he will try and come out and wrestle me. He’ll gas himself out. He’s not going to be able to take me down. I think it’s going to be a good kickboxing fight and I just don’t see how I don’t put his lights out.’
O’Malley remains confident that he has what it takes to become 135-pound champion, but he will be acutely aware that a defeat to Brazilian rival Almeida could seriously hamper his title run.
Almeida has lost four of his last five fights, having surrendered his undefeated record to Cody Garbrandt in 2016, and confidence would appear low heading into UFC 260.
‘Suga’ takes on Brazilian Thomas Almeida, who has lost four of his last five UFC fights
Gillian Robertson v Miranda Maverick
Valentina Shevchenko has her foot firmly placed on the throat of the women’s flyweight division, with the Kyrgyzstan fighter appearing unbeatable of late.
Miranda Maverick will believe she has the tools to dethrone the reigning 125-pound champion. The 23-year-old is an exciting upstart, impressing on her UFC debut after inflicting a nasty blow to Liana Jojua’s nose, resulting in a stoppage victory.
The American is a well-rounded fighter, but her specialty lies in grappling and submission, displaying the tendency to suffocate opponents with her high work rate and strength against the cage.
Flyweight hotshot Miranda Maverick (right) is looking to break into the division’s top fifteen
The American takes on Gillian Robertson (left) who is looking to iron out her inconsistencies
For Gillian Robertson, Saturday presents the chance to iron out the inconsistencies that have blighted her career thus far.
The 25-year-old enters this bout on the back of a loss, having enjoyed a two-fight winning run beforehand. Ranked No 15 in the flyweight division, Robertson will be hoping to look up and ascend the rankings, but will know that a loss to Maverick will likely see her dumped out of the top fifteen.
Robertson is confident hat she can get the job done at the Apex and make a statement in defeating Maverick.
Robertson insists that she accepted the challenge of Maverick and will make a statement
‘I wanted Miranda Maverick, I wanted that matchup. I didn’t want anybody to think I was ducking her or avoiding the fight,’ Robertson told Just Scrap Radio on BJPenn.com.
‘People needed to know I wanted that fight and I wasn’t trying to get out of it. She is the opponent I want and I will make a statement.’
Jared Gooden v Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Meanwhile, on the preliminary card we have a familiar name competing in Las Vegas this Saturday.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov has not enjoyed the best start to life in the UFC since arriving from the Professional Fighters League.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov is looking to clinch his first UFC win when he fights on Saturday
Abubakar is cousin of retired UFC superstar Khabib (left) and lost his debut bout back in 2019
The welterweight, cousin of former lightweight king Khabib, lost in his UFC debut to David Zawada via submission, a rare sight for the legion of fighters trained out of the mountains of Dagestan.
Like Khabib, Abubakar’s strength lies in grappling and wrestling, with a similar mauling style to that displayed by his undefeated cousin. However, Zawada’s armbar submission of the 31-year-old showed that fighters with the capacity to do harm from guard could cause him problems.
Nurmagomedov will be looking to bounce back from his debut disappointment against Jared Gooden, another welterweight that struggled on his UFC bow.
Nurmagomedov takes on fellow newcomer Jared Gooden, who has slammed his fighting style
The American lost to Alan Jouban via unanimous decision at UFC 255, but will be confident that he can stifle Nurmagomedov’s grappling game, with the 27-year-old strong in that department too.
Gooden has looked to pour fuel on the fire ahead of his meeting with Abubakar, after launching a tirade against the style of fighting that has reaped success for the Nurmagomedov family.
‘The Russians, they all fight the same,’ he told CurrentMMA. ‘Nothing against them, they found the system that works for them and it works… But I am going to go out there and I am going to change the game… and I am about to come unscathed.’
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