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PREVIEW: UFC 271 Prelims and Main Card

UFC 271 takes place in the early hours of Sunday morning from the Toyota Center in Houston Texas, and the card will feature some exciting matchups.


UFC 271 takes place in the early hours of Sunday morning from the Toyota Center in Houston Texas, and the card will feature some exciting matchups.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

In the main event, Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title in a rematch against former champ Robert Whittaker. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, Derrick Lewis gets a hometown showdown with Tai Tuivasa in a heavyweight bout.

Elsewhere on the main card, we have a bout between middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier (No. 3) and Derek Brunson (No. 4), a bantamweight bout between Kyler Phillips and Marcelo Rojo, and a lightweight bout between Bobby Green and Nasrat Haqparast.

Even the prelim fights feature some interesting names like UFC veteran Ed Herman, Alex Perez and Roxanne Modafferi.

Sunday 13 February

Betting supplied by Hollywoodbets

Main Event – Israel Adesanya 32/100 vs Robert Whittaker 21/10 (Middleweight)

An exciting rematch between two of the best in the middleweight division makes for a very intriguing contest. Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker fought for the first time in October 2019 at UFC 243, which ultimately saw ‘The Last Stylebender’ knockout ‘The Reaper’ in front of 57,127 fans at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium to win the strap.

Since then, Adesanya has defended his title thrice against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori, before moving up to Light Heavyweight to challenge then-champion Jan Blachowicz, in which he was defeated via unanimous decision.

Whittaker, meanwhile, has bounced back well from his loss to Adesanya and claimed three straight wins over top contenders Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and, most recently, Kelvin Gastelum, producing a masterclass to earn his way back to a rematch against the 3rd-ranked pound-for-pound UFC fighter in the world.

Prior to facing ‘The Last Stylebender’ at UFC 243, Whittaker had won his last nine fights and was undefeated in the middleweight division (8-0) in a streak stretching back to June 2014.

As for Adesanya, the Nigerian-born New Zealand fighter has absolutely dominated the middleweight division since joining the premier MMA organisation. He has won all 10 of his octagon appearances at 185 pounds, and he’s largely done so in style.

But if there was one fighter in the division who could bring the skill, strategy, and toughness to push Adesanya to his limits, Robert ‘Bobby Knuckles’ Whittaker is the man that could do it. It’s also worth noting when Whittaker lost to Adesanya at UFC 243, he was coming off a 15-month layoff; he has been much more active recently with this being his fourth fight since the last time they met.

However, Adesanya will no doubt fancy his chances at having his arm raised when the pair collide inside the Toyota Center in Houston Texas. If so, he’ll move clear of Chris Weidman in second with four defences, behind only Anderson Silva who defended the title 10 times.

Verdict: Israel Adesanya (32/100)

Adesanya holds a 21-1 record in his professional MMA career so far, while Whittaker is 23-5. These two have been far and away the best 185-pound fighters competing in the octagon over the last five years. Adesanya goes into the fight as the favourite, while Whittaker is underdog for the first time since he fought Jacare Souza in 2017, where he won via second-round knockout. This is going to be a huge fight for the fans as both of them are fan favourites and interesting fighters to watch. Although it will be a close contest, we expect Adesanya to prove he is still the best at 185lbs and score a decision victory.

Co-mainDerrick Lewis 49/100 vs Tai Tuivasa 14/10 (Heavyweight)

UFC 271’s co-main event will be somewhat of a passing of the torch in the heavyweight division when Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa strap up those leather gloves and get locked in the octagon. The pair both possess personality and proven knockout power, including a signature fight winning celebration. A fan favourite fight in which we really don’t want anyone to face defeat. Houston Texas and beyond will be a buzz, and you know there is no blinking when these big boys take centre cage.

For Tuivasa (13-3), 12 of his 13 career wins have come by way of KO. More recently, the Australian native has taken his training to the UAE in which he has amassed a four-fight win streak, knocking out Stefan Struve, Harry Hunsucker, Greg Hardy and most recently in December of 2021, Augusto Sakai. Tuivasa is all about having fun fighting, and more recently has taken the training aspect into higher regard with the results extremely telling.

Knockout power unlike any other in the UFC, with the statistics to back it up, the most KOs in the history of the promotion – 13 and counting, Lewis (26-8-1NC) is thee ‘KO King’. After faltering to be crowned the heavyweight champion for a second time in his loss against Ciryl Gane, Derrick bounced back immediately to earn his 13th knockout, getting Chris Daukaus out the ring in 3:36 seconds of the first round. Fight of the nights, performances of the night, and breaking records, Houston City’s very own has arguably faltered when it mattered most, but it does not take away the dangerous knockout power he holds in hands at any given moment.

Verdict: Derrick Lewis (49/100)  

Don’t let that jiggle fool you, ‘Bam Bam’ is an explosive and strong heavyweight and even in all three of his losses, he wobbled the other fighter. With a win over an opponent like Lewis, Tuivasa can undoubtedly call himself a contender, but ‘The Black Beast’ is out for redemption in ‘H-Town’. With guys who love to throw down with most, if not all, caution to the wind, Lewis will come out on top via knockout to continue his reign as the undisputed knockout artist of the UFC.

Derek Brunson 27/20 vs Jared Cannonier 52/100 (Middleweight)

In the third fight of UFC 271’s main card, the two top-five middleweight contenders Derek Brunson (23-7 MMA, 14-5 UFC) and Jared Cannonier (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) will square off in what is sure to be a title eliminator, and the winner here could be in line for a crack at the 185-pound crown to face the winner of Adesanya vs. Whittaker.

Brunson, 38, hasn’t lost since getting stopped by Adesanya in the first round at UFC 230 back in November 2018. The number four ranked contender comes in riding a five-fight win streak, his second five-bout winning streak of his UFC tenure, and has looked better in every fight. The recent stretch of success includes victories over Elias Theodorou, Ian Heinisch, Edmen Shahbazyan, Kevin Holland and, most recently, Darren Till.

On the other side, Cannonier, 37, will look to build on a 4-1 resume at middleweight. Outside of a loss to former title-holder Robert Whittaker two fights ago, ‘The Killa Gorilla’ has racked up wins over David Branch, Anderson Silva, Jack Hermansson and, most recently, Kelvin Gastelum.

Cannonier is known for having big power and it’s helped him become one of the big names in the UFC’s middleweight division. Brunson, on the other hand, has been big on using his wrestling to get to the top of the division.

Verdict: Derek Brunson (27/20)

The winner of this fight would make an inarguable claim for a shot at gold, so the stakes are high. Brunson may be the underdog but we like his chances to cause an upset. He has the better all-around game and he’s the more experienced fighter. The key for Brunson here is to avoid Cannonier’s power shots and to grind him out with grappling. Cannonier has solid takedown defence but with persistence, Brunson can take this fight to the mat where it will be easier to win.

Kyler Phillips 24/100 vs Marcelo Rojo 26/10 (Bantamweight)

One of the most exciting up and coming bantamweights, Kyler Phillips gets to join the Argentine ‘Pitbull’ Marcelo Rojo. Both fighters come off the back of a loss and are in search of getting back to the win column. As we build up to the main event of the evening, this battle between the 135’ers might possibly be the fight of the night.

Phillips (9-2) is now 4-1 in his last five coming off a unanimous decision loss to Raulian Paiva, but he had his moments despite the loss. All the bantamweights are full of energy; however, Kyler brings something different to the octagon and all his flash has sting behind it with slick jiujitsu and dynamic striking.

On the other end of the octagon, Rojo at the age of 33 knows it’s time to get the wins rolling in. His last fight was in March of last year, and it’s been an uphill battle trying to book another fight after losing his UFC debut matchup in the promotion to Charles Jourdain. Rojo has crazy skills from his back, and a nasty right hook that can put anyone’s lights out in the division.

Verdict: Kyler Phillips (24/100)

I think the odds don’t justify Marcelo Rojo, he is a talented individual and both fighters are coming off losses. Kyler faced his second loss in crazy fashion after dominating the first round and will have learned a lot about his opponent, but the 26-year-old has unorthodox movement that can outdo Rojo.

Nasrat Haqparast 11/10 vs Bobby Green 63/100 (Lightweight)

The opening bout of the main card is Nasrat Haqparast (13-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) against Bobby Green (28-12-1 MMA, 13-8-1 UFC), which should be a wild affair between the two lightweights.

Haqparast most recently competed at UFC 266 in September when he lost a unanimous decision to top contender Dan Hooker. Prior to that setback, the 26-year-old from Hamburg, Germany had earned back-to-back wins over Rafa Garcia and Alexander Munoz.

Haqparast made his promotional debut back in 2017 against Marcin Held, dropping a unanimous decision but coming back strong with three straight wins over Marc Diakiese, Thibault Gouti and Joaquim Silva. The lone knockout loss of his career came to Drew Dober, whom he faced after Silva.

On the other side, Green is a seasoned veteran who has been on the UFC roster since 2013. The 35-year-old American fighter was going through a difficult period after a pair of decision losses to Thiago Moises and Rafael Fiziev, but ‘King’ bounced back impressively in his last outing with a dominant win over former title challenger Al Iaquinta.

Green is looking to climb up the ladder in the UFC lightweight division, and a win here would certainly move him up the ladder a little bit in his quest to crack the stacked 145-pound Top 15 rankings.

Verdict: Bobby Green (63/100)

Green has all the tools to defeat Haqparast. The experience edge is what puts him in front here – he has the ability to control this fight and push the pace wherever it may go. Haqparast is still talented and has a huge future, but this could be a bridge too far. Green by unanimous decision.

Fight of the Night

UFC 271’s absolutely stacked, the main card has fight of the night fighters in abundance that are unique in the ring from the ‘The Last Stylebender’ Israel Adesanya, to Bam Bam Tai Tuivasa right down to the opening fight in Bobby Green as well as blonde-haired Brunson. There’s no denying the talent and personality the card possesses, but a matchup where both fighters are energetic and able to excel on the ground and the feet, coupled with a need to get back to winning ways we are in for fireworks when Kyler ‘The Matrix’ Phillips matches up with Marcelo ‘Pitbull’ Rojo.

Full card predictions:

Main Card: 05:00 CAT, Sunday 13 February

  • Israel Adesanya (c) vs Robert Whittaker: Israel Adesanya (32/100)
  • Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa: Derrick Lewis (49/100)
  • Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson: Derek Brunson (27/20)
  • Kyler Phillips vs Marcelo Rojo: Kyler Phillips (24/100)
  • Bobby Green vs Nasrat Haqparast: Bobby Green (63/100)

Prelims: 03:00 CAT

  • Andrei Arlovski (62/100) vs Jared Vanderaa (23/20): Andrei Arlovski
  • Roxanne Modafferi (51/20) vs Casey O’Neill (1/4): Casey O’Neill
  • Alex Perez (23/100) vs Matt Schnell (26/10): Matt Schnell
  • William Knight (13/10) vs Maxim Grishin (53/100): William Knight

Early Prelims: 00:00 CAT

  • Mana Martinez (21/100) vs Ronnie Lawrence (32/100): Mana Martinez
  • Alexander Hernandez (27/20) vs Renato Moicano (53/100): Alexander Hernandez
  • Carlos Ulberg (39/100) vs Fabio Cherant (18/10): Carlos Ulberg
  • AJ Dobson (77/100) vs Jacob Malkoun (94/100): Jacob Malkoun
  • Douglas Silva de Andrade (33/20) vs Sergey Morozov (43/100): Sergey Morozov
  • Jeremiah Wells (41/100) vs Mike Mathetha (17/10): Jeremiah Wells
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