UFC 250 is here, with the promotion bringing a 12-fight card to the APEX Facility in Las Vegas anchored by Amanda Nunes taking on Felicia Spencer for her featherweight title.
The card figures to be a big deal for the bantamweight division as several key fights are set to go down. However, the potential for Nunes to become the first fighter to simultaneously defend the belts for different weight classes against Spencer is the main draw.
There are interesting fights to be found all over the card. The main card, of course, features most of the bouts of immediate consequence, but there's enough action here to satisfy the hardcore fan as well. From rising prospects to veterans looking to make a move up the rankings, there's a little something for everyone.
Here's a look at the complete schedule and one bout to watch for each portion of the card.
Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)
- Amanda Nunes (-650; Bet $650 to win $100) vs. Felicia Spencer (+475; $100 bet wins $475)
- Raphael Assuncao (+120) vs. Cody Garbrandt (-140)
- Aljamain Sterling (-115) vs. Cory Sandhagen (-105)
- Neil Magny (-135) vs. Anthony Rocco Martin (+115)
- Eddie Wineland (+400) vs. Sean O'Malley (-500)
Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)
- Alex Caceres (+165) vs. Chase Hooper (-185)
- Ian Heinisch (-130) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (+110)
- Cody Stamann (-260) vs. Brian Kelleher (+220)
- Charles Byrd (-175) vs Maki Pitolo (+155)
Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6 p.m. ET)
- Jussier Formiga (+115) vs. Alex Perez (-135)
- Alonzo Menifield (-230) vs. Devin Clark (+190)
- Evan Dunham (+190) vs. Herbert Burns (-230)
Odds via Caesars Palace
Early Prelims: Jussier Formiga vs. Alex Perez
It isn't often that you can tune into Fight Pass and watch two ranked competitors, but such is life in the flyweight division. No. 4-ranked Jussier Formiga and No. 9-ranked Alex Perez are set to finish off that portion of the evening in what should be a fun scrap.
Formiga might not be the flashiest flyweight or the biggest name, but he's still dangerous. He's dropped back-to-back fights, but he is the only person to beat Deiveson Figueiredo. He was able to neutralize the dangerous striker and put on a grappling clinic. He took a unanimous decision.
Now he gets Perez, a 28-year-old, whose only loss in the UFC is to Joseph Benavidez. Much like Formiga, Perez hasn't shown much stopping power. However, he's just as dangerous on the ground. He's only scored four TKO's in his career but has seven submission wins, including an arm-triangle in his last bout.
This one isn't likely to be a fast-paced brawl. There's a reason it isn't on TV. But if high-level grappling is what you're after, there should be some fun exchanges.
The flyweight division is one facing uncertainty with the retirement of Henry Cejudo. There's no champion, but the winner of this bout should be in the mix to get a top contender in their next bout for whatever that is still worth.
Prediction: Perez via decision
Prelims: Ian Heinisch vs. Gerald Meerschaert
In terms of size, this is generally a small card. Outside of the light heavyweight fight between Alonzo Menifield and Devin Clark in the early prelims, middleweight is as big as it gets, and the prelims feature an interesting 185-pound matchup in Ian Heinisch vs. Gerald Meerschaert.
This is particularly important for Heinisch. The 31-year-old got off to a good start in the UFC. Fresh off a first-round knockout in Dana White's Contender Series, he started by earning decisions over two former rising prospects in Cezar Ferreira and Antonio Carlos Junior.
But things turned out to be too much for him when he was given Derek Brunson in his next fight and then Omari Akhmedov. He lost to both by decision, but that doesn't show how close his bout with Akhmedov was. The two were separated by two significant strikes, and Heinisch scored one more takedown.
He'll have an interesting challenge in Meerschaert, who is most dangerous when he's hunting for a submission. He has more than 20 submission wins in his career, and while he doesn't necessarily do a lot to defend takedowns, he's a dangerous fighter in guard.
Much like Formiga vs. Perez, this might have a bit too much grappling to be considered for "Fight of the Night," but it does feel like a make-or-break spot for Heinisch and a collision of both fighters' strengths. Heinisch will look for top control but needs to be cautious when he is there.
One mistake against Meerschaert could prove to be fight-changing, and he simply can't afford that with losses in his last two fights. This will be a high-stakes chess match in the clinch, on the ground and wherever the fight may go.
Prediction: Heinisch via decision
Main Card: Cory Sandhagen vs. Aljamain Sterling
Yes, Amanda Nunes is defending her belt and is rightly the main event. Cody Garbrandt has the name recognition and he's a former champion, so his position on the card with Raphael Assuncao makes sense. However, the best matchup on the main card is Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen.
In it, you should have the next challenger for the currently vacant bantamweight championship. Whether that's after a Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo fight or not, it seems like one of these two should be fighting for the title before the year is out.
Sterling has always been a dangerous submission artist, but his striking has come along enough that he's dangerous everywhere. Sandhagen is a prodigious striker who utilizes his long frame and a high-volume attack to pick opponents apart from distance.
It's two opposite fighters who are on absolute tears right now fighting for a title shot. Sterling is 6-1 in his last seven fights. He's beaten Cody Stamann, Renan Barao and Jimmie Rivera in that span. Sandhagen is 5-0 in the UFC and seems to get better every time out.
This fight could play out in one of two ways: Either Sterling is going to have the breakout performance he's been searching for since debuting in 2014 as a fairly one-dimensional grappler, or Sandhagen is going to showcase an even higher ceiling.
Either way, the next exciting fighter in this division after Petr Yan will reveal themself through this matchup. The odds are close on this one, and it's because it's the biggest toss-up on the card.
Prediction: Sandhagen via decision