Fight fans can look forward to another bumper month of mixed martial arts action in the UFC in November. Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights the five most-anticipated match-ups across three cards, with two titanic title bouts being chief among them.
Jailton Almeida v Derrick Lewis
Sunday, November 5 SA time
Brazil’s Almeida gets his chance to shine on home soil when he headlines the month’s first card against American knockout artist Lewis at Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo.
A heavyweight prospect supreme, Almeida has been dominance personified in the UFC, finishing all five of his opponents inside the Octagon in short order. Most recently, the grappling wizard forced Jairzinho Rozenstruik to tap out in his first main event in May and is planning another quick night in front of his home fans.
Lewis has the same idea as he seeks to play spoiler. Getting back on track in a big way with a 33-second knockout win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima in July, “The Black Beast” steps in for an injured Curtis Blaydes on short notice.
As a former two-time title challenger and the UFC’s all-time KO king, Lewis is as lethal as they come and presents a different challenge to Almeida altogether than wrestler Blaydes would have.
A finish is all but guaranteed but who’ll be the last man standing in this classic striker versus grappler battle? Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to find out.
Jiri Prochazka v Alex Pereira
Sunday, November 12 SA time
In what promises to be a barnburner, two of the best strikers in MMA battle it out for the vacant light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden.
Prochazka submitted Glover Teixeira in an absolute war last June to capture the title but was forced to vacate it after suffering a serious shoulder injury ahead of the scheduled rematch. Now back to 100%, he’s hell-bent on reclaiming the title he never lost inside the Octagon.
Pereira is pursuing his second title in as many weight classes after winning middleweight gold with a late TKO of long-time rival Israel Adesanya at the very Madison Square Garden last November.
The imposing Brazilian scored a hard-fought win over former 205-pound king Jan Blachowicz in his light heavyweight debut in July and can become the fastest fighter to capture gold in two divisions in what’ll be just his seventh UFC fight.
Described by UFC president Dana White as the “most exciting” and “scariest” fighters on the roster, the pair promise to put on a showcase of scintillating violence as they scrap for the strap.
Sergei Pavlovich v Tom Aspinall
Sunday, November 12 SA time
The co-headliner at the world’s most famous arena will see fierce finishers collide for the interim heavyweight title.
Heavyweight king Jon Jones and fellow great Stipe Miocic were originally scheduled to headline the event in a legacy fight, but “Bones” was on Wednesday forced to withdraw after suffering a serious injury in training.
The spotlight will now shine on the two brightest rising stars in the division, destructive forces who’ve torn through opponents with next-level power, speed and skills.
The epitome of a knockout artist, Pavlovich has stormed to six straight wins and wasted no time doing so, with all of his wins ending in first-round KOs. Stopping Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes and Tai Tuivasa in impressive fashion in his last three fights, the Russian is red-hot.
As for Aspinall, he boasts a 100% finish rate with 10 knockouts and three submissions. His only loss in the UFC was down to injury as he suffered a torn ACL against Blaydes in 2022.
The Brit, who’d won five straight before then including squashing Sergey Spivak and Alexander Volkov, returned in a big way with a quick KO of Marcin Tybura in July and now finds himself in his first title fight.
Jessica Andrade v Mackenzie Dern
Sunday, November 12 SA time
UFC 295 will also see former strawweight queen Andrade take on a fighter long touted as a future champion in Dern.
Andrade, one of the best female MMA fighters of all time, is looking to break out of the worst slump of her career, having lost her last three fights to top contenders, whereas fellow Brazilian Dern is determined to build on her victory over veteran Angela Hill in May and claim the biggest win of her career.
While she’s well-rounded, Andrade is best known and feared for her concussive striking prowess while Dern’s a former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, setting the stage for an ultra-compelling and crunch clash of styles between members of the strawweight elite.
Brendan Allen v Paul Craig
Sunday, November 19 SA time
Closing out the month, top-15 middleweights meet in the main event of UFC Vegas 82.
Allen has been on a tear, winning five on the trot, including four by finish to move up to ninth in the rankings. An exciting, all-action fighter, “All In” aims to make it 3-0 for the year after picking up back-to-back submission wins over Andre Muniz and, most recently, Bruno Silva in June.
Craig, who holds notable wins at light heavyweight over the likes of former champions Jamahal Hill and Mauricio Rua, made an immediate splash with an upset victory over Andre Muniz in his middleweight debut in July, which catapulted the Scot straight to No 12 in his new division.
One of the nastiest submission artists in the business with power in his hands to boot, “Bearjew” is a tricky and dangerous out for anyone and will be at his most intense, which is saying something, in what’s set to be his maiden main event.