UFC Rio Rancho: Top 5 fights to watch

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Photo: Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
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Rio Rancho — Tonight, Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz will rematch in a 5-round main event at UFC on ESPN+ 25 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

These are my top 5 fights to watch tonight.

Scott Holtzman (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) vs. Jim Miller (31-13 MMA, 20-12 UFC), lightweight bout.

This is a fight between two game opponents who both have elite striking and grappling skills.

Tonight, Jim Miller will tie the record for having the most fights in the UFC (33) in this fight against Holtzman. Miller, 36, is a long-time veteran of the UFC and despite his older age, has many tricks up his sleeve that Holtzman may have never seen before. He is currently on a two fight winstreak, it would be a great night for him if he can extend his streak to three while simultaneously tieing the record for the most fights in the UFC.

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Holtzman, also 36, has a little less than half the fight experience that Miller has. Despite them being the same age, it’s no secret that Holtzman holds the strength and physical advantage in this fight. However, he will be lacking in experience and skill against Miller. Holtzman is 1-1 in his last two fights, winning his last fight. He looks to get a streak of his own started tonight with a victory over Miller.

John Dodson (20-11 MMA, 9-6 UFC) vs. Nathaniel Wood (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC), bantamweight bout.

This fight has a lot on the line tonight.

In this contest, you have someone fighting to stay in the UFC in Dodson, and someone who’s trying to break through and become a top contender in the division in Wood.

Former two-time flyweight title challenger, John Dodson is fighting in his homestate of New Mexico tonight. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak, losing to top contenders of the bantamweight division, Petr Yan and Jimmie Rivera. The UFC has thrown Dodson another highly talented prospect in Wood, who’s finished his last eight fights. Dodson, 35, is in the tail end of his career. Having already fought for the title and coming short twice, the UFC may choose to cut ties from him as they are so well-known for doing if a fighter loses three in a row.

Due to dealing with a broken arm injury, Nathaniel Wood has been out of competition for almost a year. In his first fight back, he’s taking on a veteran of the UFC in Dodson. Wood has finished his last eight opponents. During this streak, he’s TKO’d four opponents and submitted the other four. Wood, 26, looks to use this fight to propel him into the upper end of the division where he can get a fight against an opponent in the top ten or top five.

Yancy Medeiros (15-6 MMA, 6-6 UFC) vs. Lando Vannata (10-4-2 MMA, 2-4-2 UFC), lightweight bout

Another fight with a lot on the line.

In this contest, you have Yancy Medeiros who is coming of off two consecutive losses, and you have Vannata who is coming off a loss in his last fight, and fighting in his homestate.

Medeiros is a training partner for UFC superstar, Nate Diaz and is a teammate of former UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway. Medeiros is a long, rangey fighter that posseses a similar style of fighting to the Diaz brothers, mixed with a little bit of a better kicking game. Medeiros will have the height and reach advantage in this fight.

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Vannata has had a rough go since entering the UFC back in 2016. He’s taken on the who’s who of the UFC’s lightweight division, fighting Tony Ferguson, David Teymur, Bobby Green, Drakkar Klose, and more. With a 2-4-2 record in the UFC, it puts Vannata in a weird spot. He is a highly talented fighter with a very creative and flashy striking style, while also possessing a NCAA Division-1 wrestling background. Vannata holds the advantage in the grappling and possibly the striking in this fight.

Medeiros is a slow starter at times so it will be interesting to see how this fight plays out.

Diego Sanchez (29-12 MMA, 18-12 UFC) vs. Michel Perreira (23-10 MMA, 1-1 UFC), welterweight bout.

This is a fight between a long-time UFC veteran in Diego Sanchez, and a UFC newcomer with a lot of hype and expectations in Michel Perreira.

Sanchez, 38, believes that he’s got a lot of fighting left in his future. This is a home fight for the UFC veteran, and he pointed out during fight week that he is undefeated on New Mexico’s soil, and that he plans on leaving the arena still undefeated after his fight with Perreira. Despite his lack in height and reach, never count out Sanchez. Look for him to use a very pressure heavy approach against Perreira, who likes to use a lot of flashy kicks and punches.

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Perreira came into the UFC with a lot of hype, earning a highlight reel knockout in his debut that went viral, he became almost a house hold name overnight in the MMA community. Following that performance, he had a bit of a nightmare in the next fight. While missing weight, he also had to deal with a last minute change of opponent as well as missing some of his corner members for the fight. He lost by decision in that contest. Since then, he has hopefully corrected a lot of those mistakes that were made and is back to the the condition he was in when he entered the UFC.

Jan Blachowicz (25-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) vs. Corey Anderson (13-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), light heavyweight bout.

The main event. This fight took place back in 2015 and these two look to run it back tonight, this time with a potential title shot on the line.

Blachowicz lost to Anderson in their first fight by unanimous decision. Since then, he has gone on a tear. In his last seven fights, he is 7-1. He looks to get revenge on Anderson tonight and call for that title shot in his post-fight interview. Blachowicz may hold the striking advantage in this fight but it is very close between the two.

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Anderson is currently on a four-fight winstreak. Defeating top competition in all four of those fights, he has been calling for a title shot for quite some time. Getting a victory over Blachowicz in their last fight, Anderson comes into tonight with the confidence knowing he can beat his opponent. At the time that they fought, Anderson was still young in his career and gave up the experience advantage in that fight. Now the playing field is a lot more even in the experience category. This will show who’s improved more over the past five years and who is next for to fight Jon Jones for the light heavyweight championship.

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