August’s full of epic UFC fights to look forward to across four cards. Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights the five most-anticipated match-ups, with two title tilts being chief among them.
Cory Sandhagen v Rob Font
Sunday, August 6 SA time
The first main event of the month from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville highlights Sandhagen’s fighting spirit and willingness to take on all comers in his pursuit of bantamweight gold.
Originally set to face Umar Nurmagomedov, “The Sandman” was left stranded after the undefeated Dagestani was forced out of the fight due to injury last Thursday.
Eager to continue his championship quest, he called upon a fresh foe and fellow top contender Font stepped up to the plate, setting up an exciting clash that’ll be contested at a catchweight of 140 pounds.
A former interim title challenger, Sandhagen’s a diverse striker of the highest order with highlight-reel knockouts of Marlon Moraes and Hall of Famer Frankie Edgar.
In Font, he faces a ferocious boxer with serious knockout power. Will Sandhagen stand tall, or will Font pull off a smash and grab?
Vicente Luque v Rafael do Anjos
Sunday, August 13 SA time
UFC Vegas 78’s headliner is a crunch clash in the welterweight division.
Luque’s looking to get back on track after suffering back-to-back losses to Belal Muhammad and Geoff Neal, while Dos Anjos aims to make it two wins in a row in his second stint at welterweight.
A pure predator, Luque was closing in on a title fight following a string of four stoppage wins before running into Muhammad and seeks to return to his savage ways against the former lightweight champion.
Dos Anjos marked his return to the 170-pound division in style by submitting Bryan Barberena in December. Now the well-rounded veteran jumps back into the deep end of the shark-infested welterweight pool where a victory will see him make a big splash.
Aljamain Sterling v Sean O’Malley (Bantamweight Championship)
Sunday, August 20 SA time
The bantamweight belt hangs in the balance in the biggest and most anticipated fight of the month.
Sterling heads into the UFC 292 headliner at the TD Garden in Boston having defended the title a record three times. “The Funkmaster” most recently defeated a returning Henry Cejudo by split decision in May.
The former Olympic gold medallist wrestler and two-division UFC champion had come out of retirement looking to reclaim the title he never lost, but instead, Sterling cemented himself as the 135-pound king and put his name in the conversation for bantamweight GOAT status.
Despite this, the powerful wrestler and slick submission artist still isn’t getting much love from the fans, who’ll be firmly in the popular and colourful challenger’s corner. With his charisma, flashy striking and showmanship, many compare O’Malley to a young Conor McGregor.
Casual fans love the exciting, unpredictable “Suga” whereas hard-core fans still question whether he’s truly among the elite, especially after his controversial decision win over former champion Petr Yan last time out, which earned him this maiden title shot.
This is his chance to silence the doubters once and for all. Will a star be born, or will the champion continue his record-setting reign?
Zhang Weili v Amanda Lemos (Strawweight Championship)
Sunday, August 20 SA time
In the co-main event of UFC 292, Zhang makes the first defence of her second strawweight title reign against hungry challenger Lemos.
A fierce finisher, Zhang crushed Carla Esparza back in November to reclaim the gold and plans on lowering the boom on her Brazilian opponent. Super-aggressive and highly skilled with dynamite in her hands, “Magnum” is a must-watch fighter.
Lemos is a savage in her own right. Stoppage wins over Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Marina Rodriguez have her set to challenge for her first world title at the age of 36.
“Amandinha” is one of the best and most dangerous strikers in the division and is absolutely fearless. Willing to go blow for blow with the first-ever Chinese UFC champion, she’s set to be a great dance partner for Zhang in what should be a thriller.
Max Holloway v The Korean Zombie
Saturday, August 26 SA time
Featherweight legends face off in a dream match in the month’s final main event in Singapore.
Holloway, the former champion and one of the greatest 145-pounders of all time, is a ruthless striker with an endless gas tank, while Chan Sung Jung, known as “The Korean Zombie”, is one of the toughest men to ever step foot inside the Octagon, setting the stage for what promises to be a barnburner.
Both men are looking to earn another shot at the title and have to go through each other to bolster that process. Will “Blessed” once again prove he’s the next-best featherweight in the world after rival Alexander Volkanovski, or will the Singapore crowd inspire local favourite Jung to the biggest win of his career?