Top-five ranked Bantamweight contenders will headline the Fight Night card Saturday. Former Champion Petr Yan will look to rebound after back-to-back split decision losses. Surging contender Merab Dvalishvili is on an 8-fight winning streak and has looked unstoppable in recent contests. The Co-main Event will feature an exciting clash of styles between Heavyweights Alexander Volkov (35-10) and Alexandr Romanov (16-1). Volkov is a lengthy kickboxer who holds impressive stoppage wins over Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alistair Overeem. Romanov is a dominant grappler who uses his physical strength to overpower his opponents on the ground. Also on the UFC Fight Night 221 Main Card, top ten ranked Light Heavyweights collide as Nikita Krylov (29-9) faces Ryan Spann (21-7).
#2 Petr Yan (16-4) vs #3 Merab Dvalishvili (15-4)
This weekend’s Bantamweight Main Event is one of the best headliners in Fight Night history. Former Champion Petr Yan is set to return after his controversial decision loss to Sean O’Malley in October 2022. Yan has fallen on hard times recently, losing two in a row but could be back in title contention with a win this Saturday. Georgian-born fighter Merab Dvalishvili trains out of Team Serra-Longo in New York with Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling and has not lost since 2018. On Dvalishvili’s win streak, he holds impressive victories over UFC Hall of Famer Jose Aldo and former title challenger Marlon Moraes.
Dvalishvili pushed a relentless pace on his opponents and was a silver medalist in the 2019 Combat Sambo World Championships. Yan is a feared striker who has seven knockouts on his professional record. Yan captured the Bantamweight title against Jose Aldo but immediately lost his belt by disqualification due to an illegal knee to the head. Since losing his belt, Yan is 1-2 and needs to win this Saturday to keep his championship hopes alive. Yan has out-struck respected fighters Cory Sandhagen, Jose Aldo, and Urijah Faber in his career and will have an advantage on the feet in this fight.
Odds and Prediction
This is a highly competitive matchup between two world-class fighters. Yan is the betting favorite (-270) at online sportsbooks but will have his hands full over five rounds with the well-conditioned Dvalishvili. The question in this contest is whether Dvalishvili can land takedowns on Yan. The game plan for Yan will be to stay on his feet and utilize his superior boxing and defensive movement. If I had to make a prediction, I would side with Yan by decision (+120). Yan surprisingly possesses outstanding takedown defense and may pick apart Dvalishvili on the feet. Dvalishvili is as tough as they come and will be extremely hard to finish. This is an incredible Main Event that MMA fans should pay attention to.
#8 Alexander Volkov (35-10) vs #14 Alexandr Romanov (16-1)
In the Co-Main event, two massive Heavyweights clash as Alexander Volkov takes on Alexandr Romanov. Volkov is a (6’7) Russian kickboxer who is the former Bellator Heavyweight Champion and is (10-4) in the UFC. Romanov is a relative newcomer to the promotion who started (5-0) in his UFC career. In his last fight, Romanov ran into seasoned veteran Marcin Tybura and was handed his first professional loss by decision. Romanov has nine knockouts and six submissions on his record and uses his takedowns to overwhelm opponents on the ground.
This is an exciting clash of styles between striker vs grappler. As the fight goes longer, it should favor Romanov, who will look to utilize his strength and take Volkov to the ground. Romanov could very quickly grind out a decision win. Volkov has struggled with wrestlers in his career getting submitted by Tom Aspinall last March. Volkov could also find great success in this contest if he can defend takedowns, as he will have a significant advantage in striking.
#6 Nikita Krylov (29-9) vs #8 Ryan Spann (21-7)
After their original bout was canceled due to an illness, ranked Light Heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann will finally compete this weekend. Two weeks ago, this fight was scheduled to headline a UFC Fight Night card from the Apex. Krylov is a well-rounded fighter with impressive karate techniques and is proficient on the ground with submissions. In his career, Krylov has fifteen submissions and twelve knockouts on his professional record. Spann is a highly athletic prospect for the division, who recently knocked out former title challenger Dominick Reyes in stunning fashion.
Spann has tremendous power in his hands and is a physical force at 205 pounds. At (6’5) Spann is a rangy and explosive athlete who will come into this matchup with a two-inch reach advantage. Krylov has won back-to-back fights over former title challengers Volkan Oezdemir and Alexander Gustafsson. Krylov could win this fight, but he must be careful when exchanging with Spann on the feet.
UFC Fight Night 221 Prelims:
The UFC Fight Night 221 Prelims are set with many potentially entertaining fights. Said Nurmagomedov (17-2) would look to add to his four-fight winning streak against the very dangerous Jonathan Martinez (17-4). Nurmagomedov is an exciting prospect at 135 pounds, showing impressive kickboxing while standing and exceptional sambo skills on the ground. Martinez trains out of FactoryX and is also on a four-fight winning streak.
Also on the Prelims, former top contender Raphael Assuncao (28-9) will look to return to his winning ways after going (1-4) in his last five fights. Assuncao will be facing British brawler Davey Grant (14-6), who has recently put on highly entertaining contests. Grant has faced top-flight competition recently in Adrian Yanez and Marlon Vera.
The UFC Fight Night 221 Prelims will start at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN+.
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