UFC Orlando Start Time, Who Is Fighting Tonight!
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later TONIGHT (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) to stage UFC Orlando from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., airing on ESPN and streaming on ESPN+. Headlining the event is a pivotal Welterweight collision between Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland. In the co-main event, Rafael dos Anjos will battle Bryan Barberena in a Welterweight clash.
Shortly after getting rag-dolled by Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279, Kevin Holland announced his retirement in an effort to, well, only he knows why he did what he did. He ended that "retirement" but he is threatening to do it again if Chimaev gets a shot at the Middleweight title, which absolutely makes zero sense. But it had been proven that his retirement threats really don’t carry much weight. Fool me once, and all that. For now, “Trailblazer” is focusing all of his efforts in getting a win against longtime veteran, Stephen Thompson, who is hungry for a victory after suffering two straight defeats. Despite his setbacks, “Wonderboy” is still tied for the No. 6 position at Welterweight with Geoff Neal, but he still needs a win in the worst possible way if he wants to avoid a steep decline in the rankings.
This fight is bound to be a standup battle, neither man has shown to be an expert on the ground, though Holland does have six wins by way of submission. Still, his bread and butter is the standup department (example here), but going strike-for-strike against a karate expert like Thompson may not be the best path to victory. “Wonderboy” has collected a highlight reel of finishes through his UFC career, though his last knockout win came six years ago. At one point Thompson was a legit contender, and he showed promise early on after starting his career with an 8-1 mark inside the Octagon, which earned him two shots at the title against Tyron Woodley, fighting to a draw in the first fight before losing a majority decision four months later. Since then he has only been able to rack up a 3-4 mark, which hasn’t gotten him close to a shot at the title. And since his last win came two years ago, he is still far away from it. As for Holland, he’s not currently ranked, but a win over Thompson gets him closer. He just needs to pick a weight class, stick with it and quit jumping up and down if he wants to gain some traction.
In all honestly, this is a pretty good card and even if I tried to nitpick, there isn’t anything I can find to complain about here.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Tracy Cortez was forced out of her fight against Amanda Ribas after she fell ill shortly after the UFC weigh ins. As a result of the last-minute cancellation, Ribas will still be paid her show money for making weight.
Derek Brunson was in line to face Jack Hermansson, but an undisclosed injury forced him out of the fight, paving the way for Roman Dolidze to step in and fill the void.
Francis Marshall will make his first official walk to the Octagon to face off against Marcelo Rojo in a 145-pound scrap. Marshall earned his way to UFC by winning a contract on the Contender Series earlier this year. Undefeated at 6-0, Marshall is a young, up-and-coming prospect. In his way, however, is a man who is determined to turn his UFC luck around. In his first two fights. Rojo was knocked out by Charles Jourdain and then submitted by Kyler Philips earlier this year. Down 0-2 inside the Octagon is not a great start to his UFC career, but “Pitbull” has made some changes by joining a new team with Glory MMA (though he may need to change camps again) in hopes of seeing brighter days. If he suffers his third straight defeat, it could be the end of the UFC road for him.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Headlining the undercard is a 170-pound matchup between Niko Price and Philip Rowe. “The Hybrid” is coming in with a big win over Alex Oliveira, but that was well over a year ago after undergoing surgery to repair several injuries to his right knee. That was his first win since 2019, so I am sure he would love to keep the feeling going. Against Rowe, he is facing a man who is on a two-fight win streak, both technical knockout (TKO) wins.
In women’s strawweight action, No. 12-ranked Angela Hill is eying her first back-to-back wins since 2020 as she battles Emily Ducote, who is coming in on a four-fight win streak, though three of those victories came under the Invicta FC banner.
UFC’s original wild man, Clay Guida, is still chugging along after 16 years with the promotion. “The Carpenter” has been alternating wins and losses for three years now, so the level of winning consistency isn’t exactly his strong suit. Still, he is still as exciting as ever and he is out to put on a show against Scott Holtzman, who is trying to avoid a three-fight losing streak.
In the lightweight division, Michael Johnson will face Marc Diakiese in a bout that has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Between them, they have won five such post-fight bonus awards so they know how to put on a show. Johnson needs a win pretty badly here because he is coming off a loss to Jamie Mullarkey, which put him at 1-5 over his last six fights inside the Octagon. As for Diakiese, he has won two in a row and is looking for his first three-fight win streak in six years.
Darren Elkins will return to face Jonathan Pearce in another interesting fight at 145 pounds. Elkins has quietly gone 3-1 over his last four fights, so another win will give him a huge push toward the Top 15. As for Pearce, he has won four in a row since losing his UFC debut against Joe Lauzon.
Genaro Valdez lost in his UFC debut against Matt Frevola at the beginning of this year, so he is looking for his first UFC win under the UFC banner when he takes on Natan Levy, who picked up his first win inside the Octagon against Mike Breeden after throwing up a dud against Rafa Garcia in his own debut.
In women’s strawweight action, Yazmin Jauregui returns for her UFC sophomore effort to tango with Istela Nunes. Jauregui, who is undefeated at 6-0, 1-0 UFC, made a memorable splash in her debut with the promotion when she went toe-to-toe against Iasmin Lucindo this past August in a “Fight of the Night” affair in San Diego. She became an instant fan-favorite for her efforts and now hopes to keep that going against Nunes, who is in desperate need of a win after starting her UFC career at 0-2.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Eryk Anders already has one three-fight losing streak inside the Octagon, but he is now facing his second such skid as he heads into his fight against Kyle Daukaus in a main-card middleweight affair. Anders has dropped his last two fights against Andre Muniz and Jun Yong Park, and a third straight loss could send him tumbling down the 185-pound ladder. He is facing a determined Daukaus who is returning after a tough loss against Roman Dolidze in a fight in which he suffered several facial fractures merely five months ago.
Interest Level: 7.5 of 10
It’s a really solid card with a well-rounded mixture of intriguing and crucial fights in several weight classes. In heavyweight action, Tai Tuivasa will look to bounce back and earn a trip to the winner’s podium just two months removed from his TKO loss to Cyril Gane at UFC Paris. That loss snapped “Bam Bam’s” five-fight win streak and, for the time being, ended his championship run. A win over Sergei Pavlovich would help him erase that memory and get some newfound confidence back. Speaking of which, Pavlovich is riding high on confidence since he has won his last four fights inside the Octagon, including his latest win over Derrick Lewis, knocking him out in the very first round at UFC 277.
In another stellar matchup, Rafael dos Anjos will battle Bryan Barberena in a crucial welterweight co-main event. “RDA” has one of the most impressive UFC resumes around, taking on the best of the best at both lightweight and welterweight. The former UFC 155-pound champion is coming off a loss to Rafael Fiziev, but he has bounced back before after adversity and he is determined to do it once more. Against Barberena, he is facing a willing opponent who loves a good old-fashioned slug-fest and who isn’t afraid to make it dirty. He is eyeing his fourth straight win in order to crack the Top 15.
In the men’s flyweight division, Matheus Nicolau will battle Matt Schnell, who had to literally shave off his hair in order to make weight. Nicolau has won five in a row and currently owns the No. 6 spot at 125 pounds. One more win should get him into the Top 5 and closer to a shot at the title. As for Schnell, he is coming off a win over Su Madaerji, his first victory in nearly two years.
In the 185-pound weight class, Jack Hermansson is hoping to pick up his first back-to-back win streak since 2019 when he battles heavy-handed, Roman Dolidze, at 185 pounds. “Joker” — ranked No. 8 — is fresh off a win over Chris Curtis, while Dolidze has won three straight.
We should be in for an exciting night of fights!
UFC Orlando Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
170 lbs.: Stephen Thompson vs. Kevin Holland
UFC Orlando Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Rafael dos Anjos
265 lbs.: Sergei Pavlovich vs. Tai Tuivasa
125 lbs.: Matheus Nicolau vs. Matt Schnell
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Roman Dolidze
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Kyle Daukaus
UFC Orlando ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Niko Price vs. Phil Rowe
115 lbs.: Emily Ducote vs. Angela Hill
155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Scott Holtzman
155 lbs.: Michael Johnson vs. Marc Diakiese
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Jonathan Pearce
125 lbs.: Tracy Cortez vs. Amanda Ribas (CANCELED)
155 lbs.: Natan Levy vs. Genaro Valdez
145 lbs.: Francis Marshall vs. Marcelo Rojo
115 lbs.: Yazmin Jauregui vs. Istela Nunes
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Orlando fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Orlando news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the updated and finalized “Thompson vs. Holland” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ line up click here.