UFC on Fox 25: 3 Fights You Can't Miss in Long Island

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJuly 20, 2017

Chris Weidman
Chris WeidmanJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

I know, I can't believe it, either. But somehow, some way, MMA does continue to exist in the long, late-August shadow of newly minted boxer Conor McGregor.

UFC on Fox 25, which goes down this Saturday from Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York, is in the darkest part of that shadow. No titles or immediate title implications are in play, and most of the MMA world is focused more heavily on the following weekend's light heavyweight title grudge match between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.

But let's nevertheless pay a proper due to the action in front of us. In the main event, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman tries to clear the cobwebs after three consecutive knockout losses. He'll do so against a guy who knows a thing or two about delivering bad news on the end of his fistsKelvin Gastelum, who could have two straight knockout wins if not for a failed drug test.

And that's just one bout on a 12-fight slate. To help you with planning purposes, here are three fights you should make sure don't coincide with your bathroom breaks.

The card starts at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on UFC Fight Pass, with the main card kicking off at 8 p.m. Eastern on "big" Fox.

All fighter-record information courtesy of Sherdog. All betting odds courtesy of OddsShark and accurate as of July 19.

            

Middleweight

Chris Weidman (13-3) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2)

Odds: Weidman/Gastelum -110

Airs on: Fox

This card was tailor-made for Weidman, who was born on Long Island and still lives and trains there.

It wasn't so long ago that someone being told about a Weidman-based main event card would have assumed the involvement of a belt. But that time, at least for now, is gone.

Kelvin Gastelum
Kelvin GastelumChristian Palma/Associated Press

As he bulldozed through the division's lower reaches, the 33-year-old's blend of wrestling, striking and ferocious pressure had many observers tagging him as the future of the class. He proved them right—for a while. And he may well prove them right again.

First, though, he has to stop the bleeding. Luke Rockhold took his belt in late 2015; Yoel Romero and his flying knee put him on the wrong side of a 2016 highlight reel in Madison Square Garden; and then Gegard Mousasi used knees of his own and some bad refereeing to defeat him three months ago.

Weidman is eager to redeem himself following that refereeing debacle and the two other "clean" knockouts, but at this point you wonder about the matchmaking with him.

Someone somewhere in the process doesn't seem to like him very much. Gastelum is a dangerous pressure fighter in his own right, with lethal fists and an elite clinch game. Kudos to Weidman for taking every challenge, but he doesn't have to get thrown to the wolves every time, does he? 

The oddsmakers have this at a virtual dead heat. If Weidman can get well in front of a friendly crowd, no one will be able to say he did it the easy way. If he drops his fourth straight, particularly by knockout, the rapid dimming of what was once one of the UFC's brightest stars may continue.

               

Bantamweight

Jimmie Rivera (20-1) vs. Thomas Almeida (21-1)

Odds: Rivera -200

Airs on: Fox

It's tempting to throw in Darren Elkins versus Dennis Bermudez here, until you remember that the formerdespite his stirring comeback win over Mirsad Bektic in Marchis capable of waging a boring fight.

Even if you don't want to acknowledge that, you still have to realize what a big fight this is for the UFC bantamweight division. Although there may not be immediate title implications, with Rivera sitting at No. 4 and Almeida at No. 9 in the official rankings, a win would get either man—especially Rivera—very close.

The 41-2 combined pro record is eye-popping enough on its own. When you factor in that 26 of those wins came by stoppage, you've got a whole new animal. 

Until he lost last year to Cody Garbrandt, Almeida was the hottest prospect in the division—maybe the entire UFC. The Brazilian Chute Boxe trainee likes the spinning stuff, and he also enjoys the flying and jumping stuff. He hits like a truck and can throw from anywhere at any time. 

Jimmie Rivera (left) defeated Urijah Faber (right) in his last bout.
Jimmie Rivera (left) defeated Urijah Faber (right) in his last bout.Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

At 5'4", the American gives up three inches to Almeida, but he makes up for it with an ever-improving power striking game. Rivera is built like a fire hydrant and is difficult to take down as a result, so this one will play out on the feet.

If the kitchen gets too hot, Rivera may go to the clinch, but even so there should be plenty of exciting exchanges in a meaningful contest.

             

Welterweight

Lyman Good (19-3) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (16-5)

Odds: Good -230

Airs on: Fox

Thirty-five combined pro wins, 21 of them by knockout. This one probably isn't going to the judges.

Dos Santos' nickname is "Capoeira" for goodness' sake. It's an earned moniker, as you can see in the sweeping and swooping of his strike combinations. During his time in Bellator MMA, Good gained a reputation as a power-punching berserker, always reliable for a donnybrook.

Dos Santos has no ground game to speak of, and Good could take him down and make an immediate submission threat of himself.

Either way, with this serving as the lead-in to the main card, these two know why they were slotted here. They're supposed to siphon eyeballs to the main show. They'll do just that.

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