UFC Fight Night 124 Preview: 3 Can't-Miss Fights

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2018

Dooho Choi
Dooho ChoiJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Tucked between two sizable pay-per-view cards is UFC Fight Night 124, going down Sunday from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

It's customary to seek the good in a UFC card, particularly those that may otherwise be overlooked. In this instance, this 13-fight slate is a bit of a slog, particularly the five contests scheduled for UFC Fight Pass.

That said, the main card and much of the televised undercard is pretty spicy, with a real thunderbolt of a main event. Here's a look at three of the fights you can't miss on Sunday's lineup.

       

Featherweight

Dooho Choi (14-2) vs. Jeremy Stephens (26-14)

Odds courtesy of OddsShark: Choi -160, Stephens +140

Airs on: Fox Sports 1

They can't all be curveballs, you know. Choi and Stephens make for a terrific main event that seems likely to end violently. 

Fans are still recovering from Choi's 2016 epic with Cub Swanson, but the Korean Superboy has plenty of action-fighting pedigree tracing back to his early days on the Asian circuits. He's 26 years old but looks 13, adding some delightful cognitive dissonance to those crushing punch combinations.

Jeremy Stephens (top) pounds Gilbert Melendez.
Jeremy Stephens (top) pounds Gilbert Melendez.Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Stephens has been a staple of the UFC lightweight and featherweight stables for more than a decade. His first UFC opponent? Din Thomas. Sixteen career knockouts speak to how he gets most of his wins.

Both of these guys not only go for knockouts but tend to use their fists. The battleworn 31-year-old Stephens has lost steam of late, struggling for consistency in his last few bouts. His last fight was a win, but it was over an even more worn-looking Gilbert Melendez. 

Soak up the Superboy while you can, as he will soon begin the military service that is mandatory in his native South Korea.

        

Middleweight

Uriah Hall (13-8) vs. Vitor Belfort (26-13)

Odds: Hall -325, Belfort +265

Airs on: Fox Sports 1

Even before Belfort announced his retirement after this fight, the co-main event was still plum MMA viewing.

Uriah Hall
Uriah HallJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Hall is inconsistent and enigmatic as a fighter. For every highlight-reel knockout that sends fans to their feet, a basic lapse of grappling or overall fight IQ sends them to the bottle. After three straight losses, though, a bonus-winning knockout of Krzysztof Jotko got him back on the sunny side of the street.

The New Yorker has a winnable fight here against the 40-year-old Belfort. He suffered a serious string of setbacks over the past couple of years, only to rebound last year against Nate Marquardt, who is now retired.

Belfort was a great fighter in his prime, but his game relied on hand speed and preternatural power. Those things fade with age. We'll see if he can summon the fountain of youth in one last performance.

      

Featherweight

Darren Elkins (23-5) vs. Michael Johnson (17-12)

Odds: Johnson -155, Elkins +135

Airs on: Fox Sports 1

Darren Elkins
Darren ElkinsJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Elkins was long considered a consummate journeyman. When he won, it was often ugly and involved a split decision. That was not the case last March over Mirsad Bektic in a knockout that can be counted among the greatest comeback wins in UFC history. All he did since then was beat Dennis Bermudez. By split decision, of course. It ran his winning streak to five.

He gets a big step up against Johnson, who has dropped four of five—but did so against the elite of the lightweight division. Here, he tries his luck at 145 pounds. We'll see if the steeper weight cut made an impact on his power or stamina. Even more so, we'll see if Elkins' pressure can punch his ticket to contender status.

Related

    Khabib Is Conor's Biggest Nightmare

    MMA logo
    MMA

    Khabib Is Conor's Biggest Nightmare

    Scott Harris
    via Bleacher Report

    Dana Rips Trump's Immigration Policy

    MMA logo
    MMA

    Dana Rips Trump's Immigration Policy

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Edwards Ready to Become Face of UK MMA

    MMA logo
    MMA

    Edwards Ready to Become Face of UK MMA

    Damon Martin
    via MMAnytt.com

    UFC Veteran Jake Ellenberger: ‘I Know I’m Not Done Fighting’

    MMA logo
    MMA

    UFC Veteran Jake Ellenberger: ‘I Know I’m Not Done Fighting’

    Bloody Elbow
    via Bloody Elbow