After being sidetracked by Conor McGregor’s attempt at boxing, we return to actual MMA fighting this Saturday with UFC 215, the organization’s first-ever visit to Edmonton. The five-fight main card from Rogers Place is expected to begin at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. Here’s a look at those bouts and their Sports Interaction MMA odds.
UPDATE: From the UFC.com “Due to a viral illness to UFC flyweight contender Ray Borg, the main event bout against champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 215 has been cancelled. Borg was deemed unfit to compete by the UFC medical team.
UFC 215, which is now headlined by the women’s bantamweight championship between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, will proceed as scheduled with 11 bouts at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada. Moving to the Pay-Per-View main card will be the flyweight bout between Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis. Additionally, the Mitch Clarke and Alex White lightweight contest will now kick off the FS1 prelims.
With the removal of Johnson vs. Borg, customers may request a full refund of purchased tickets at point of sale.”
CANCELLED: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg
Records: Johnson (26-2-1), Borg (11-2)
UFC Odds: N/A
Prediction: Johnson by submission
Johnson is rated as the top pound-for-pound fighter by the UFC – McGregor is second – and “Mighty Mouse” puts his flyweight championship on the line against the fellow American Borg. One of the most significant records in UFC history is on the line here as Johnson has made 10 consecutive successful title defenses. That’s a record for any division, tied with the legendary Anderson Silva. Canada’s Georges St-Pierre is just below Johnson and Silva on the list with nine. The other 10 current UFC champions have a combined 13 successful defenses.
Johnson is the only UFC fighter ever with at least 10 takedowns in three separate fights. The guy is a fighting genius but because he’s a flyweight (125 pounds) is overlooked a bit. Johnson’s two losses, to Dominick Cruz in 2011 and Brad Pickett in 2010, were at 135 pounds. Johnson comes off a third-round submission of Wilson Reis in which Johnson had 135 total strikes to just 18 for Reis. Borg is 5-2 since joining the UFC and coming off a unanimous decision win over Jussier da Silva in March. Borg is rated as the No. 3 contender in the division.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
Records: Nunes (14-4), Shevchenko (14-2)
Division: Women’s bantamweight
UFC Odds: Shevchenko -120, Nunes -110
Prediction: Nunes by KO/TKO
Nunes puts her bantamweight title on the line against the division’s No. 1 contender. Nunes needs a good performance to get back in the good graces of UFC president Dana White. These two were to fight in the main event of UFC 213, but Nunes pulled out due to some vague medical reasons (turned out to be sinusitis). White was furious that the card lost its main event and added that Nunes was cleared to fight by a doctor but was pulled because “she said she didn’t want to fight.”
Nunes won her belt with a first-round destruction of Ronda Rousey last December and this is her first time back in the Octagon since. Nunes beat Shevchenko at UFC 196 in March 2016 by unanimous decision. Shevchenko, who was dominating Nunes late in that fight, is 2-0 since then.
Neil Magny vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Records: Magny (19-6), dos Anjos (26-9)
UFC Odds: Dos Anjos -205, Magny +155
Prediction: dos Anjos by decision
Dos Anjos is a former lightweight champion but ranked only 10th in the welterweight division. The Brazilian lost the 155-pound belt last July by first-round knockout to Eddie Alvarez and then lost again a few months later to Tony Ferguson. Dos Anjos decided to move up to welterweight (170 pounds) and beat Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision in June. Sometimes fighters just can’t cut weight any longer and need to move up a division.
Magny is ranked No. 6 in the division. He had a three-fight winning streak snapped last August against Lorenz Larkin but rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Johny Hendricks that December.
Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
Records: Latifi (13-5), Pedro (6-0)
Division: Light heavyweight
UFC Odds: Latifi -130, Pedro +100
Prediction: Vote for Pedro (by submission)
Latifi is a Swede ranked 10th in the division who hasn’t fought since a second-round knockout loss to Ryan Bader last September. “The Sledgehammer” was scheduled to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in June, but Nogueira had to withdraw to due injury. No. 13 Pedro is an Aussie making only his third UFC appearance and his seventh fight overall. He has yet to see the second round of a single one. “I train so I can have short fights, I don’t want to go in there for 15 minutes,” he has said. Pedro will have five inches of height and six inches of reach on Latifi.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Gilbert Melendez
Records: Stephens (25-13), Melendez (22-6)
UFC Odds: Stephens -120, Melendez -110
Prediction: Stephens by KO/TKO
Stephens is the eighth-ranked fighter in the featherweight division despite losing five of his past seven bouts, including losses to big names such as Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway. The “Lil’ Heathen” comes off a split decision defeat against Renato Carneiro in April. Stephens is a former lightweight who dropped to the 145-pound weight class four years ago. Melendez is also a former lightweight making the drop but for the first time in more than a decade. “El Nino” has lost three straight and four of five. He hasn’t fought since last July’s unanimous decision loss to Edson Barboza because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery.