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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 20 May, 2019

Six reasons to tune in tonight for the best UFC card of the year

There are two world titles on the line at UFC 187 in Las Vegas.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING Championship started its 2015 schedule with an excellent card for UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier on 3 January.

UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos on 14 March had a superb line-up too, but tonight’s UFC 187 bill is the organisation’s best offering of the year so far. Here’s why…

Despite losing two of its biggest stars, the card is packed full of quality from top to bottom

Giants Athletics Spring Baseball UFC light-heavyweight Daniel Cormier. Source: Eric Risberg

Jon Jones is no longer this evening’s main attraction after his latest brush with the law, and Khabib Nurmagomedov also had to withdraw due to injury, but the UFC have still managed to make this an unmissable event. The middleweight and light-heavyweight titles are at stake, while the prelims are stronger than most main cards we’ve seen lately. From the first fight to the last, this event will be worth staying up for. A couple of power-naps over the course of the weekend and you’ll still be as fresh as a daisy by the time The Sunday Game starts tomorrow night.

A successor to Jon Jones will be crowned

The UFC’s light-heavyweight title is currently vacant while Jones works through his aforementioned legal issues. He was due to defend the belt this weekend against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, but Daniel Cormier has stepped into the breach for his second bite at the cherry. Cormier was comprehensively beaten by Jones in January but the bookmakers have him as a narrow favourite to clinch the gold this time. It’ll be a contest of contrasting styles when he takes on Johnson, and one that’s sure to deliver value for money.

We’ll find out if Vitor Belfort, at the age of 38, can still compete at the top without the help of TRT

UFC Testosterone Belfort Mixed Martial Arts UFC middleweight title challenger Vitor Belfort. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Having lost to Anderson Silva in 2011, Belfort will make his second attempt to win the UFC’s middleweight title when he faces defending champion Chris Weidman. The Brazilian has been reliant on an exemption for TRT (testerone replacement therapy) use in the past and withdrew from a bout against Weidman last year after TRT was banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Belfort, a former UFC light-heavyweight champion, has previously failed tests for steroid use and elevated testosterone but, by all accounts thus far, tests taken in the build-up to this weekend’s fight have shown up negative. Can a clean Vitor Belfort produce the goods?

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone

Why? Because he’s Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Due to his all-action style and willingness to take an all-comers (this will be Cerrone’s tenth fight in the space of two years) the 32-year-old Colorado native is a fan-favourite in the UFC. The eagerly-anticipated bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov will have to wait for another day, unfortunately, but replacement opponent John Makdessi will still bring the best out of ‘Cowboy’. A win for Cerrone should set him up for a shot at reigning UFC lightweight world champion Rafael dos Anjos.

It’s an important night for the flyweight division

UFC Chicago Mixed Martial Arts John Dodson is aiming to earn another shot at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Source: Nam Y. Huh

Demetrious Johnson has established Ronda Rousey levels of dominance in the UFC at 125lbs, so the division is desperately in need of challengers. There are three exciting flyweight bouts scheduled for UFC 187, featuring four of the division’s top-ten-ranked fighters. The winners of the Benavidez versus Moraga and Dodson versus Makovsky bouts will each fancy their chances of another shot at the champion — Makovsky is the only one of the four who hasn’t yet had the opportunity — but don’t ignore the very first fight of the night either. He might be coming in on the back of consecutive losses, but Justin Scoggins is still one of the most exciting young fighters in the game. We expect the 23-year-old to return to winning ways against Josh Sampo, who was last seen in Dublin back in July when he was submitted by Ireland’s Paddy Holohan.

There’s a highly-regarded prospect making his debut

Earlier this month we picked out Dagestani lightweight Islam Makhachev as one to watch in May, and he’ll have his first taste of the octagon tonight when he takes on fellow debutant Leo Kuntz. A compatriot of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev has also been in the US lately to train at AKA. He remained undefeated while competing against some of the best opposition available on the European circuit and we expect his transition to the next level to be seamless.

Source: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship/YouTube

UFC 187

Main card (BT Sport 1, 3am)

Anthony Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
Donald Cerrone vs. John Makdessi
Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne
Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga

TV prelims (BT Sport 1, 1am)

John Dodson vs. Zach Makovsky
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Josh Burkman
Uriah Hall vs. Rafael Natal
Rose Namajunas vs. Nina Ansaroff

Fight Pass prelims (, 11.30pm)

Mike Pyle vs. Colby Covington
Islam Makhachev vs. Leo Kuntz
Justin Scoggins vs. Josh Sampo

UFC boss confirms that there’s a title shot waiting for Jon Jones

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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