UFC Austin headliners Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett – No. 7 and No. 8 at featherweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings – May not be a UFC title shot for next in line, but both could take a significant step toward that goal with statement win on Saturday.
Kattar has already proven he has made sterile stuff by bouncing back from a devastating loss at the hands of Max Holloway to drub Giga Chikadze this past January, and Emmett is on a four-fight win streak with some impressive knockout wins on his resume.
Unfortunately for Kattar, his recent loss to Holloway might preclude him from advancing much higher in the division until he proves to be one of the big featherweight fours – Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, Brian Ortega, Yair Rodriguez – while Emmett has yet to His shot at anyone that could quartet and look at a freshman challenger depends on how a pair of upcoming matchups consist of the aforementioned four play out. The matchmakers should book a chance to have a fun banger, but it could also give them another option to consider in the future.
In the co-main event, Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon meet in a matchup featuring UFC lightweight legends who will have a combined 66 octagon appearances between them by the end of the night (38 for Cerrone, 28 for Lauzon). It was scheduled to take place at UFC 274 this past May, after a mysterious illness forced Cerrone to withdraw and now these fan favorites get a second chance to add their eye-popping legacies.
It’s a good thing too because even with Cerrone vowing to compete until he hits 50 combined UFC / WEC appearances, you get the sense that a bad night could convince him to hang up earlier than expected. As for Lauzon, he has essentially had a foot out the door for the past few years and when he feels comfortable hanging up the gloves, he’ll do it with no regrets. Cherish these moments while we have them, that’s what I’m saying.
In other main card action, Tim Means provides a tough test for Kevin Holland as he navigates welterweight waters, Joaquin Buckley fights Albert Duraev in a middleweight bout, Damir Ismagulov and Guram Kutateladze meet in a duel of fast-rising lightweights, and middleweights Julian Marquez And Gregory Rodrigues looks to kick off the show with what promises to be a chaotic contest.
What: UFC Austin
Where: Moody Center in Austin, Texas
When: Saturday, June 18. The three-fight early preliminary card airs on ESPNEWS and ESPN + starts at 4 pm ET, followed by five preliminary bouts at 5 pm on ESPN2 and ESPN +. The six-fight main card airs on ESPN and ESPN + at 7 pm ET.
VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Josh Emmett
Calvin Kattar deserves respect.
“The Boston Finisher” looked like a freshman in his recent win over Giga Chikadze, living proof that a year away from competition can be incredibly beneficial for a fighter if that time is spent wisely. Kattar used those 12 months to elevate his game and get his mind where it needed to jump right back into contention. He ‘s the favorite heading into this headliner with good reason.
Josh Emmett is right behind Kattar in the contender rankings, so expect this one to be a touch-and-go in the earlier rounds. He only needed one shot to put a man down and if he mixes his wrestling offensively, it could set Kattar up for a KO strike. As it stands, I expect Kattar to use his footwork and boxing to get ahead on the scorecards, sending Emmett into desperation mode in the championship rounds. This could work out well for Kattar as it would present him with his own opportunities to finish, but turning it into a dogfight could also tilt the action into Emmett’s favor due to his power advantage.
I expect Kattar’s technique to prevail here, though there will be plenty of tense moments. Kattar by decision.
VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Joe Lauzon
Historically slow starter vs. first-round finisher? Give me Joe Lauzon in that equation.
At their peaks, I’ve picked Donald Cerrone to win against a fellow UFC lifer, but the latter stages of his careers tell a different story. Cerrone has struggled to make it past the first five minutes without taking significant damage and now he has to deal with an aggressive Lauzon breathing down his neck. Even if Lauzon doesn’t seal the deal in Round 1, he could hurt Cerrone and set up a finish in Round 2. Or we’re getting a three-round war between two fighters who have already put in an absurd amount of money. cage time.
Lauzon’s long layoff of about 1,000 days has concerned me, as did his inability to show up at Friday’s ceremonial weigh-ins due to cramps, but it’s not as if the intangibles surrounding Cerrone are doing any favors. “Cowboy” has been out for over 400 days himself, has not won a fight in three years, and has spent seemingly more time talking about his latest direct-to-steaming movie than his matchup with Lauzon. Maybe Cerrone will fight in front of a crowd, but enough to push him past a swarming Lauzon? Doubtful.
“J-Lau” gets this one done early.
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Tim Means
Is Kevin Holland serious about contending at 170 pounds? We’ll find out soon enough if he can get past Tim Means recently defeating Alex Oliveira, another solid veteran. Those are two respectable welterweight marks to collect, guys who might not be household names but who can bring the fight to anyone in their division. I like how Holland is being built up.
Then again, that ‘s all a moot point if Means upsets Holland on Saturday. “The Dirty Bird” has the firepower to make Holland’s life miserable for as long as the fight lasts and you can bet that Holland will oblige a standup battle, at least early on. After getting stung a few times. Holland may decide to change tactics.
Although Holland’s wrestling defense is still a question mark, his grappling offense is an effective weapon. He should consider finding a way to get the action to the ground where his size and length will cause major problems for Means.
If Means can keep it on the feet, it should have the edge. I like controlling his chances at the distance and winning points.
FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Albert Duraev
Movement and footwork will be key to deciding who walks out with the W here.
Buckley showed in his narrow decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan that he was more of a highlight hunter. He knows how to stick to a game plan, which will be essential against the dangerous and disciplined Albert Duraev. The Russian fighter has great wrestling and a big right hand that he’ll throw whenever Buckley is in range.
However, Buckley’s speed will allow him to stay on the outside and get in and out to score points. He should look to frustrate Duraev until he finds one of his highlight-reel techniques. On the other side, Duraev can take Buckley out of the fight early if he maintains constant pressure and prevents Buckley from finding a rhythm.
This could be a riveting chess match, one that I see starting off slow and then picking up in the second where Buckley will add Duraev to his collection of KOs.
Rayo Vallecano vs. Salamanca Guram Kutateladze
Bravo to the matchmakers for throwing two promising lightweights right into the fire. Both Damir Ismagulov and Guram Kutateladze have fascinating striking styles, so no matter who ends up scoring the win here they could both end up earning a Fight of the Night award bonus.
Ismagulov is just so fundamentally solid when it comes to his hands. He thrives on figuring out his opponent’s timing and then setting up effective combos. He’s deceptively powerful, scoring knockdowns with precision rather than swinging like a madman. On the other side, Kutateladze has some wildness in his game, but he also throws with purpose especially when it comes to his kick attacks.
I’m higher on Ismagulov as a potential contender just based off of his resume, though Kutateladze eking out a win over Mateusz Gamrot immediately put him on the map. Still, when two fighters are this closely matched skill-wise, I’ll go with the experience for the tiebreaker.
Ismagulov by decision.
VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Gregory Rodrigues
When we talk about ideal main card openers, we’re talking matchups like Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues. Both men are extremely skilled fighters who have a tendency to lose their minds once the action escalates, much to the benefit of the fans. Marquez should have the foot on the edge and Rodrigues should have the edge on the ground, but once the leather starts flying, who knows what these two will do?
I’ve been waiting for Rodrigues to show off his elite jiu-jitsu, something he hasn’t done much since falling in love with his natural knockout power. He’s in danger of going full Jorge Gurgel here and forgetting his base, but I still believe he can break it out when necessary. That’s why I see him indulging himself early on by engaging with Marquez on the feet and then mixing in more grappling as the fight progresses.
Marquez has submission skills, but he can’t hang with Rodrigues on the ground defensively. I don’t know if Rodrigues has the wrestling to take the fight there especially if his gas tank ebbs later in the contest, so if he does find a submission, he’ll be hurting Marquez on the feet. Let’s go Rodrigues by club and sub.
Adrian Yanez def. Tony Kelley
Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Natalia Silva
Jeremiah Wells def. Court McGee
Ricardo Ramos def. Danny Chavez
Gloria de Paula def. Maria Oliveira
Cody Stamann def. Eddie Wineland
Deron Winn def. Phil Hawes
Kyle Daukaus def. Roman Dolidze