UFC 296 Preview

Published on 15 December 2023 at 16:00

With the middle of December fast-approaching, the MMA community will witness the last UFC event of 2023 at the T-Mobile Arena. In what may be one of the most anticipated fight cards of the year, many fans are excited to spectate UFC 296. Leon Edwards and Colby Covington headline the event as the UFC Welterweight Championship is on the line whilst Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval come face-to-face for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Here is what you need to know before the last UFC event of 2023 occurs at Paradise, Nevada.


Early Prelims

Martin Buday vs Shamil Gaziev (UFC Heavyweight Bout) - Buday is the #15 Heavyweight contender as he entered the rankings after a first-round submission win over Josh Parisian at UFC Vegas 78. He remains undefeated in the UFC and only has one loss in his MMA career. 'Badys' will look to maintain his contender's sport in the Heavyweight division with another victory to his name.

Gaziev makes his UFC debut at the T-Mobile Arena after earning a contract from the Dana White Contender Series, winning by submission in the first round against Greg Velasco. Shamil has an undefeated MMA record and with a debut win against Martin Buday, he could enter the Heavyweight rankings on his debut.


Andre Fili vs Lucas Almeida (UFC Featherweight Bout) - Fili has been fighting in the UFC for ten years now and has faced such big UFC Featherweights such as Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez. His last win came against Bill Algeo by Unanimous Decision at UFC Vegas 60. After a decision loss in his last fight against Nathaniel Wood, Andre will aim to bounce back and be triumphant at UFC 296.

Almeida did not have much luck in his last fight after losing by submission to Pat Sabatini in the second round at UFC Vegas 75. The first time he was finished in his MMA career. Lucas won on his UFC debut at UFC Vegas 56 when he defeated Michael Trizano by TKO. All of the Brazilian fighter's wins have ended by KO/TKO or Submission so it would be a surprise if he does get a decision victory.


Tagir Ulanbekov vs Cody Durden (UFC Flyweight Bout) - Ulanbekov is the current #12 Flyweight contender and has four fights in the UFC with three wins and one loss. His most recent fight ended triumphantly with a first-round submission win over Nate Maness at UFC Vegas 64. The Russian fighter will aim to maintain his contender spot before moving on to a bigger Flyweight contender in the future.

Durden is on a four-fight winning streak with his last three fights ending by Unanimous Decision. Despite finishing 11 fighters with the 16 wins he has to his MMA record, Cody has only finished one fighter which was by TKO in the first round. The Georgia-born fighter will compete in his first UFC PPV event at UFC 296 and will look to try and make it a memorable one.


Preliminary Card

Casey O'Neil vs Ariane Lipski (UFC Women's Flyweight Bout) - O'Neil has had a very unfortunate 2023 with one loss which came at UFC 286, losing to Jennifer Maia and her unbeaten MMA record. With five UFC fights, #12 Flyweight contender as won four of them as two of those have ended by KO/TKO and one by submission. The Australian fighter has the opportunity to redeem herself in the last UFC event of the year.

Lipski has had a great 2023 with two wins, both ending by decision at UFC Fight Night 221 and UFC Vegas 76. Ariane has nine finishes in her MMA career however, she only has one finish in the UFC which happened at UFC Fight Island 2 where she submitted Luana Carolina in the first round. Not only could this be the best year for the Brazilian Flyweight, but she has the opportunity to enter the rankings at UFC 296.


Cody Garbrandt vs Brian Kelleher (UFC Bantamweight Bout) - Garbrandt redeemed his bad run of form at UFC 285 when he defeated Trevin Jones by Unanimous Decision. The former UFC Bantamweight champion has 10 knockouts out of the 13 wins he has. A win for 'No Love' could have the opportunity to enter the Bantamweight rankings with a win against Kelleher.

Kelleher has not fought this year due to injury which has stopped him competing so often. 'Boom' has not been very lucky in his most recent fights as he lost to Mario Bautista by submission at UFC Vegas 57 and Umar Nurmagomedov by submission at UFC 272. It is a must-need win for Brian in order to redeem his losing streak.


Irene Aldana vs Karol Rosa (UFC Women's Bantamweight Bout) - Aldana last fought at UFC 289 in the main event but fell short after failing to capture the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship against Amanda Nunes. Before her title loss, Irene won her previous two fights by knockout at UFC 264 and UFC 279. A victory for the Mexican fighter will not only maintain her rank but possibly put her closer to another title shot.

Rosa has had two fights this year with a Split Decision win against Yana Santos at UFC Vegas 76 and a loss against Norma Dumont at UFC Vegas 71 which ended by Unanimous Decision. The Brazilian Bantamweight is currently #9 in the rankings if victorious in Nevada, she will rise up to #5 and put the whole division on notice.


Alonzo Menifield vs Dustin Jacoby (UFC Light Heavyweight Bout) - Menifield has had a very interesting 2023 with two fights, both against Jimmy Crute with the first fight ending in a Majority Draw at UFC 284 and the rematch successfully ending by submission in the second round at UFC 290. 'Atomic' has finished all of his opponents apart from one with 10 knockouts and three submissions so another one would not hurt at UFC 296.

Jacoby redeemed a two-fight losing streak in his last fight, winning by TKO against Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC Nashville. The #15 Light Heavyweight contender's last 10 fights in the UFC have not looked so bad with seven wins, 2 losses and one draw which have clearly made him a challenging competitor. A win at the T-Mobile Arena could see him step up in the Light Heavyweight rankings.


Main card

Josh Emmett vs Bryce Mitchell (UFC Featherweight Bout) - Emmett has been very unfortunate losing to Yair Rodriguez, by submission, at UFC 284 for the Interim UFC Featherweight title and the main event of UFC Jacksonville against Ilia Topuria. AS the #6 Featherweight contender, Josh will look to bounce back with redemption with not only adding a win to his record, but having a bigger possibility of facing the Featherweight champion. 

Mitchell has only had one fight this year, defeating Dan Ige by Unanimous Decision at UFC Vegas 79. 'Thug Nasty' was originally on a six-fight winning streak in 2022 before he lost it after submitting to Ilia Topuria at UFC 282. The #10 Featherweight contender has come in on short notice, replacing Giga Chikadze due to injury, as he will want to start a winning streak and rise up the Featherweight rankings.


Tony Ferguson vs Paddy Pimblett (UFC Lightweight Bout) - Ferguson has not been triumphant for the past three years as he currently has a six-fight losing streak. The last fight which he did win came at UFC 238 when he defeated Donald Cerrone by second-round TKO in June 2019. A win in Las Vegas would be a big relief for the former Interim UFC Lightweight champion.

Pimblett is currently unbeaten in the UFC as he currently holds an active six-fight winning streak in his career. His last fight ended successfully, defeating Jared Gordon by Unanimous Decision at UFC 282. A victory for ‘The Baddy’ could put him very close to the Lightweight rankings if he beats ‘El Cucuy’ and create a bigger legacy for himself.


Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Stephen Thompson (UFC Welterweight Bout) - Rakhmonov las fought at UFC 285, defeating Geoff Neal by third-round submission in what was one of the most entertaining fights of the year. ‘Nomad’ is currently undefeated and has a 100% finish rate with the 17 wins he has in his career. The #5 Welterweight contender has a big opportunity to fight for the belt if he is triumphant at UFC 296.

Thompson’s most recent fight ended in successful fashion when he defeated Kevin Holland by TKO, after the fourth round, at UFC Orlando. ‘Wonderboy’ has been fighting in the UFC since 2012 and has only ever been finished once in his career which occurred against Anthony Pettis, losing by knockout in 2020. The #6 Welterweight contender at age 40 is still looking like a prime fighter and may get a shocking win if he defeats the Kazakhstan fighter.


Co-Main Event: Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval (UFC Flyweight Title Bout) - Pantoja has been living the dream as the UFC Flyweight champion after he defeated Brandon Moreno at UFC 290 to clinch the title. The champion has been on an impressive four-fight winning streak and has never been finished in his career. ‘The Cannibal’ looks to make his first successful title defence and impress the crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

Royval has only fought once this year but won in magnificent fashion when he knocked out Matheus Nicolau in the first round at UFC Kansas City. Royval has stopped 13 of his 15 opponents when he has been victorious with nine knockouts and four submissions. The ‘Raw Dawg’ has the biggest opportunity in his MMA career as he looks to become the King of the Flyweights.


Main Event: Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington (UFC Welterweight Title Bout) - Edwards has been successful as Welterweight champion as he defended his title at UFC 286 against former champion, Kamaru Usman, and won by Unanimous Decision. ‘Rocky’ is currently on a 11-fight winning streak and has never been stopped in his career. The Welterweight King looks to make another successful title defence and try to become one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.

Covington has not fought since April 2022 when he defeated Jorge Masvidal by Unanimous Decision at UFC 272. Covington has fought for the undisputed Welterweight title twice but losy both times which were against Kamaru Usman. This could be the #3 Welterweight contender’s last opportunity to win UFC gold and put himself in UFC history books.

Who comes out of the Main Event as UFC Welterweight Champion? Will there be a new King of the Flyweights?

What are your predictions?


Featured Image: Flickr, bashu group, Working Ment, Gage Skidmore

Written by Charlie Oxtoby


Instagram: charlie_oxtoby

MMA Instagram: undisputed._.mma

Twitter: Charlie_Oxtoby1

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