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The fight week of all fight weeks wraps up this Saturday night when UFC 194 gets underway at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card features the most anticipated matchup of the year for the Featherweight Championship, as well as a Middleweight title fight featuring two fighters in their athletic primes.
The UFC will hold 3 fight cards this week in Las Vegas, but UFC 194 is the card everyone has been looking forward to since July. Fans from Brazil, Ireland and the United States will be tuning into one of the biggest nights in the sport’s history.
Jose Aldo (25-1) vs. Conor McGregor (18-2) – UFC Featherweight Championship
The most anticipated featherweight fight of all time finally takes place this Saturday when interim champ“The Notorious” Conor McGregor finally gets a chance to back up his trash talk that has lasted for years. Jose Aldo has been the featherweight king for 6 years going back to the WEC, but McGregor brings a skill set to the Octagon that the champ has not seen before.
Although McGregor is known for his brash personality and flashiness, he has been a dominant fighter to say the least. He not only knocks out his opponents, he usually picks the round in which he will do it. His precision striking includes a devastating left hand that has been a puzzle for his previous opponents. McGregor’s personality has made him a polarizing figure in the MMA world, with fans that either love him or hate him.
Aldo is being underestimated in this fight by fans and media alike, which is somewhat surprising. He has dominated many of his opponents inside the Octagon with a combination of striking and world-class takedown defense. This matchup will surely bring out the best in Aldo, and a victory would bring McGregor’s plans for dominance to a grinding halt.
Chris Weidman (13-0) vs. Luke Rockhold (14-2) – UFC Middleweight Championship
Chris Weidman will defend his middleweight belt for the fourth time this Saturday when he faces former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold in the Co-Main Event. This fight has gone under the radar for the most part, but has all the ingredients to be even greater than the main event.
Weidman is one of the most dominant champions that the UFC has, but he has not found his stride when it comes to marketability. He is undefeated, beat Anderson Silva twice, but still does not get the respect that some think he deserves.
Defeating Rockhold on Saturday night can certainly help his cause, although Rockhold is as hungry for this fight as anybody. He carries a dangerous stand-up game that can really threaten the champion. He has dismantled the likes of Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping in recent fights and has his sights set on UFC gold. Weidman may need to resort to his strong jiu jitsu early on if he hopes to keep his belt.
Ronaldo Souza (22-3, 1NC) vs. Yoel Romero (10-1)
Ronaldo “Jacre” Souza will face Yoel Romero in what is most likely a title eliminator matchup in the middleweight division.
Souza is another product of Strikeforce that has had immediate success in the UFC with a dominant Brazilian jiu jitsu game. He has defeated the likes of Gegard Mousasi and Francis Carmont in recent bouts and his last loss came against Rockhold.
Romero has become a strong middleweight contender in recent years, and seemingly out of nowhere. The 2-time Olympic wrestler has not lost since 2011 and has developed some dangerous striking to go along with his world class wrestling. His most impressive performance came against Machida in June when he finished him in round 3.
Demian Maia (21-6) vs. Gunnar Nelson (14-1-1)
In an important fight for the welterweight division, UFC veteran Demian Maia looks for his fourth win in a row against the talented Gunnar Nelson.
Maia’s last win against rising star Neil Magny was one of the most impressive of his career considering Magny’s winning streak at the time. It was also the first submission win in nearly 3 years for the BJJ black belt.
Nelson is a black belt in BJJ himself so it may come down to who is the better striker. Nelson’s only blemish in his career was a close split decision loss to Rick Story last year and has finished many of his opponents. Defeating an experienced fighter like Maia will not be easy as Nelson looks to continue his climb up the welterweight ranks.
Max Holloway (14-3) vs. Jeremy Stephens (24-11)
Max Hollaway looks to cement himself as a serious featherweight contender when he takes on veteran Jeremy Stephens.
Hollaway is one of the more underrated fighters in the UFC right now with his last loss coming against McGregor in 2013. Ever since then he has dominated 7 straight opponents including Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira.
Stephens has had an up and down career in recent years, but his flying knee knockout of Dennis Bermudez at UFC 189 certainly helped regain some of his former glory. However, he may have a tough time against Holloway who seems to be on his way to a title shot in the near future.
Here is a look at the rest of the card:
Preliminary Card: Fox Sports 1
Urijah Faber (32-8) vs. Frankie Saenz (11-2)
Tecia Torres (6-0) vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-1)
Warlley Alves (10-0) vs. Colby Covington (8-0)
Leonardo Santos (14-4-1) vs. Kevin Lee (11-1)
Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass
Joe Proctor (11-3) vs. Magomed Mustafaev (12-1)
John Makdessi (12-4) vs. Yancy Medeiros (11-3, 1NC)
Court McGee (16-4) vs. Marcio Alexandre (13-2)