Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns for a special Fight Night event later TODAY (Sat., May 13, 2023), which will air live on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ from inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Headlining the event will be a Heavyweight bout between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Jailton Almeida. In the co-main event, Light Heavyweight sluggers, Anthony Smith and Johnny Walker, collide in what is sure-to-be a hard-hitting affair.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik never quite lived up to the hype he built up for himself early on in his UFC career. Coming in undefeated at 6-0 with five first-round knockouts,” Bigi Boy” made a splash right away inside the Octagon, racking up four consecutive knockout wins under the UFC banner, including a last-second mangling of Alistair Overeem (see it again here). Since then, however, Rozenstruik has dropped to 3-4, a downward spiral that began when former Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, gave him a taste of his own medicine and turned his lights out in 20 seconds. He went on to lose fights to Alexander Volkov, Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes, but he is coming off a knockout win over Chris Daukaus, so he did find a bit of his mojo. And he will need to keep that same energy because he is taking on an up-and-coming contender ready for his time to shine.
In Sept. 2021, Almeida made a splash on the Contender Series by submitting Nasrudin Nasrudinov, earning him a contract in the big leagues. And he has made the most of it so far, racking up four consecutive stoppage wins in 16 months. That has been good enough to lock him in at the No. 12 Heavyweight spot on the official UFC rankings, but he is looking for a move into the Top 10 with a win over “Bigi Boy.” Holding a black belt in jiu-jitsu, Almeida — who is on a 14-fight win streak — has the distinct advantage if the fight goes to the ground, which is exactly what he will likely look to do against a knockout artist like Rozenstruik. If he can’t close the distance, then the danger for a knockout defeat increases tenfold. Though Almeida has power, too, going blow-for-blow against “Bigi Boy” simply isn’t the best course of action if he wants to move up in the division. Either way, I don’t foresee this fight going the distance.
If we’re being honest, this card is not really lacking for a Fight Night event. It’s well-rounded from top to bottom and the main card has a lineup that should be the model for all ESPN+/ABC-streamed events moving forward. Even with the setbacks and cancellations, it’s still solid.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
The original card was set to feature a women’s Strawweight fight between Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill, but the fight was yanked from the card and will now take place next week as the main event for UFC Vegas 73. Also, Pete Rodriguez bailed on the pre-fight weigh ins and his fight against Natan Levy was ultimately scrapped.
Jake Matthews was forced out of his fight against Gabe Green with an undisclosed injury. Stepping in to fill the void is Bryan Battle, who is coming off a loss to Rinat Fakhretdinov. As for Green, he was last seen losing to Ian Garry at UFC 276. Battle came up short in his quest to hit the 171-pound weight limit and will now be forced to give up a percentage of his fight purse.
Tainara Lisboa will be the lone newcomer at this event as she gears up to battle Jessica-Rose Clark. Currently on a three-fight win streak, the Brazilian bomber made her pro MMA debut in 2016, but she hasn’t been overly active, only competing seven times during that span, racking up a 5-2 record. That said, all of her victories have come by way of stoppage with three technical knockouts (TKO) and two submissions. As for Clark, she is currently on a two-fight losing streak so a third straight defeat could be the end for her run inside the Octagon.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Let’s dive in to take a look at the other three matchups we have yet to touch on that will round out the underbelly of the event, shall we?
Headlining the “Prelims” will be a Welterweight showdown between Matt Brown and Court McGee, two of the most-experienced fighters on the roster. Brown has 29 fights inside the Octagon, while McGee has 20. Still, both men have seen better days with Brown going 1-3 in his last four fights, and McGee going 2-4 over his last six bouts. Both men bring the heat, so don’t be too surprised if this fight gets “Fight of the Night” honors.
In the Heavyweight division, Chase Sherman eyes a trip back to the winner’s circle after losing a decision to Waldo Cortes-Acosta. All told, “The Vanilla Gorilla” is 1-5 in his last six fights so he is also in danger of getting cut if he loses to Karl Williams. Speaking of which, Williams is currently riding a five-fight win streak and is coming off a successful UFC debut win over Lukasz Brzeski a little over a month ago.
In a catchweight bout of 140 pounds, Bantamweight contenders, Cody Stamann and Douglas Silva de Andrade, will collide in a fight that has fireworks written all over it. Andrade hasn’t seen action since losing to Said Nurmagomedov almost a year ago, so he is itching to get back into the cage. Stamann, meanwhile, also has a loss to Nurmagomedov but is currently riding a two-fight win streak after taking out Eddie Wineland and Luan Lacerda in back-to-back fights.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Ji Yeon Kim’s run inside the Octagon has been less than stellar, racking up a 3-6 record. To make matters worse, she has lost her last four fights (all via decision) and heads into her bout against Mandy Bohm with the risk of losing her spot on the roster with a fifth straight defeat. As for Bohm, she hasn’t been all that hot lately, either, having lost her last two. In fact, this could very well be a loser leaves town match.
Interest Level: 7/10
The co-main event will feature a highly-intriguing 205-pound showdown between former title challenger, Anthony Smith, and Johnny Walker (full preview here). Smith is currently ranked No. 5 in the division and is coming off a tough loss to Magomed Ankalaev a little under a year ago. Prior to the defeat, “Lionheart” was on a three-fight win streak and was on the cusp of earning his second title shot. But now he will look to get his steam back against Walker, who is riding high after consecutive victories over Ion Cutelaba and Paul Craig. Ranked at No. 7, Walker could sneak into the top five with a win. Walker has the reach advantage, so it’s in his best interest to try and use it. But the lanky Brazilian power-puncher tends to get a little overzealous and sloppy at times, so he will have to keep his cool and take a calm approach if he wants to pull out the win.
One of the more intriguing bouts is a Welterweight bout between Ian Garry and Daniel Rodriguez. Garry is the Toast of the Town currently and is being thought of as one of UFC’s next poster boys. He is undefeated at 11-0, which includes four straight wins inside the Octagon. He is coming off a knockout win over Song Kenan earlier this year, and is one more win away from breaking into the Top 15. Speaking of which, Rodriguez currently holds the No. 15 spot, though he is coming off a loss to Neil Magny in Nov. 2022, snapping his four-fight win streak. If he can be the one to halt the Garry hype train, it would be huge for his stock moving forward.
Carlos Ulberg hasn’t stepped foot inside the cage in over six months since stopping Nicolae Negumereanu in the very first round at UFC 281. He burst onto the scene with a knockout win over Bruno Oliveira on the Contender Series, though he did come out of the gates slowly, losing his UFC debut to Kennedy Nzechukwu. He has since bounced back strong with three straight victories and is going for number four against Ihor Potieria, who is coming off a knockout win over living legend, Mauricio Rua, and is 16-1 in his last 17 fights.
Kicking off the main card will be a Welterweight bout between Tim Means and Alex Morono. Means is in need of a win after suffering back-to-back losses to Kevin Holland and Max Griffin. The longtime UFC veteran has been in the game for some time now, but he has yet to get close to title contention. You should never say never, but “Dirty Bird” fights in one the toughest divisions in the game where he currently remains unranked. But just because a fighter may never reach a title fight doesn’t mean he isn’t talented or has the will to win. Means is a gamer and can give anyone standing in front of him trouble. As for Morono, he was riding high with a four-fight win streak — the longest of his UFC career — before he ran into Santiago Ponzinibbio, who knocked him out in the very first round at UFC 282.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC Charlotte Fight Card:
UFC Charlotte Main Event On ABC/ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida
UFC Charlotte Main Card Bouts On ABC/ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Johnny Walker
170 lbs.: Ian Machado Garry vs. Daniel Rodriguez
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill— rebooked for UFC Vegas 73 (details here)
205 lbs.: Ihor Potieria vs. Carlos Ulberg
170 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Alex Morono
UFC Charlotte Prelims Bouts On ESPN/ESPN+ (12 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Matt Brown vs. Court McGee
265 lbs.: Karl Williams vs. Chase Sherman
140 lbs.: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Cody Stamann
155 lbs.: Natan Levy vs. Pete Rodriguez— CANCELED (details here)
125 lbs.: Mandy Bohm vs. Ji Yeon Kim
170 lbs.: Bryan Battle vs. Gabe Green
135 lbs.: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Tainara Lisboa
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Charlotte fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Charlotte: “Rozenstruik vs. Almeida” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
This story originally appeared on MMA Mania