On Sunday night the UFC returns to get your Memorial Day started right with two explosive and undefeated fighters coming out of the bantamweight division. Thomas “Thomasina” Almeida (21-0) faces Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (8-0) in the main event live from the Mandalay Bay Arena. This highly anticipated match up is the top of the icing for a six fight main card including former bantamweight champion Renan Barao moving up to featherweight to face the always exciting and hard hitting Jeremy Stephens. This is a very underrated night of fights for the UFC but as the full card will tell you it’s not one to miss. Even possible 135 contenders Aljamain Sterling and Bryan Caraway are squaring off in the Fight Pass prelims. MMA Wreckage’s full preview of the main card is listed below.
Since his entry into the UFC Thomas Almeida has shown the gifts of a champion by winning 3 of four fights with a finish. He is already regarded as one of the most talented strikers in the division and at the age of 24 the sky’s the limit. A win Sunday night will surely put him on the short list for a shot at the title but a pesky team Alpha Male fighter is standing in his way. Cody Garbrandt lept into the bantamweight class of the UFC with a devastating knockout of the always game Marcus Brimage. From there he has rattled off two straight and he also is at an age level where his future is extremely bright. The wrestling pedigree that is displayed at Team Alpha Male mixed with his hard pressed style makes this a spectacular fight for two athletes nowhere near their prime.
Renan Barao (33-3) has had a tough go as of late since falling twice to former champion T.J. Dillashaw. Even with a victory in between the always present issue with him making weight has pushed him into the featherweight division. He will be welcomed by the hard hitting Iowa native Jeremy “Lil Heathen Stephens (24-12) who always seems to be lurking on the outside of the top ten of the 145 weight class. If this fight goes to the ground we expect Renan to be the one to take it there even though he has no problem standing and trading. Similar to the main event there is a possibility this fight won’t last too long which for most fans is right up their alley.
There was a chance that the fight between Tarec Saffiedine (16-4) and Rick Story (18-8) would not happen. To the injury plagued Saffiedine it would not be anything unfamiliar. Though the fight is on and should make for an intriguing match up for two great welterweight competitors. The durable and powerhouse of a fighter in Story will have to deal with the leg kicks and technical savvy of Tarec who is 2-1 in his last three fights even though that number spans all the way back to 2012. Story himself is also 2-1 but has not been seen since his stellar comeback against Gunnar Nelson two years ago. No matter if both fighters are 100 percent or not you could expect some bloodshed before this one is over.
After his short notice loss to Jacare,Chris Camozzi (23-10) has won his last two fights including a first round KO of Joe Riggs. Still one of the more underappreciated middleweights in the division the always busy fighter looks to continue his resurgence since returning to the UFC. He faces the emerging Team Nogueira product Victor Miranda (12-4) who is a on a three fight winning streak since losing his debut fight in the promotion. Miranda is a finisher which could spell trouble for Camozzi who does not always come out to a fast start. Though if he does what he did against Riggs it could be Miranda staring up at the lights when this is all said and done.
A fight that should not fly under the radar is the welterweight scrap between Jorge Masvidal (29-10)l and Lorenz Larkin (16-5). Both gifted athletes look for the hands of Masvidal to do most of the work while the feet of Larkin will be at play. Normally Lorenz has some wild haircut but he has been all business since making the jump down to 170. If anyone can prove his toughness and grit it will be Jorge who has gone 3-2 in his last five fights. It’s possible this fight could go the distance but still will be an entertaining one to watch.
Just when you think Josh Burkman(28-12) may be once again exiting the UFC he goes out and puts on a very well rounded performance against K.J. Noons. Maybe he has found some life moving down to lightweight but man does he have quite the test in front of him. After going 10 -0 including winning his first two fights in the octagon Paul Felder (11-2) followed that up with two straight losses. Looking like a world beater upon his entry many people still feel he is only a few fights away from knocking on the title door. Facing the sturdy and durable Burkman will be a good test but don’t be surprised if this one ends prematurely.
The prelims also host a slew of great matchups including a contender level fight in the women’s bantamweight division between Jessica Eye and Sara McMann. The full fight card for UFC Fight Night 88 is listed below and look out for our full recap right here on MMA Wreckage.
135 lbs.: Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt
145 lbs.: Renan Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens
170 lbs.: Rick Story vs. Tarec Saffiedine
185 lbs.: Chris Camozzi vs. Vitor Miranda
170 lbs.: Jorge Masvidal vs. Lorenz Larkin
155 lbs.: Josh Burkman vs. Paul Felder
135 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Sara McMann
155 lbs.: Abel Trujillo vs. Jordan Rinaldi
185 lbs.: Alberto Uda vs. Jake Collier
155 lbs.: Erik Koch vs. Eric Campbell
135 lbs.: Aljamain Sterling vs. Bryan Caraway
265 lbs.: Chris DeLaRocha vs. Adam Milstead