Saturday night, the UFC returns to Mexico for UFC Fight Night 98. Live on FOX Sports 1, the card is loaded with talent both domestic and foreign in what should be a great affair.
In the main offering, lightweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos, the former champion, and Tony Ferguson will meet in an important 155-pound scrap. Both men have their eyes on the title, especially dos Anjos, who is on the road to redemption to get his title back.
Also on the main card are names like Diego Sanchez, Alexa Grasso and Ricardo Lamas, among others. Overall, it should be a great night of fights. With that, let’s look at the preliminary card and scour it for some of the talent that you need to keep your eye on come fight night in Mexico.
When you have 23 professional MMA wins, you should have a considerable amount of hype behind you. When those 23 wins are accompanied by one loss, you should have even more consideration as a top fighter. That said, Douglas Andrade is that 23-1 athlete who should have some more hype behind him in the bantamweight division.
Andrade has suffered from a lack of activity, which has stymied his momentum since entering the UFC. He lost his debut to Zubaira Tukhugov in February of 2014, and followed that up by winning against Cody Gibson a year later to the month. He hasn’t fought since then, meaning he hasn’t fought in a year and nine months. That’s a long layoff for the big banger.
He is now tasked with taking on Henry Briones, a fighter representing Mexico in front of his country. It should be an absolute firefight on the feet, which should make for an entertaining night. Keep an eye on Andrade, though, as he could steal the show.
A loss in your UFC debut is not always telling of one’s talent. In fact, sometimes it can light a fire under the butt of a fighter who has the skill but shied away in that debut bout. That may be the case for Max Griffin, who makes his sophomore effort on this card.
In his UFC debut, Griffin was bested by Colby Covington, clearly a crack wrestler. It was a matchup that wasn’t exactly advantageous for him. Griffin is a striker, possessing powerful punches and good explosiveness. He is also pretty athletic, something he can use to his advantage against slower, more plodding opponents.
Griffin will have to take on a home country fighter in Erick Montano, a TUF Latin America winner who has a ton of potential and the striking to challenge Griffin. It should be a dynamite fight, but if Griffin pulls it out, he can assert himself as a solid prospect in the UFC welterweight division.
Mexico is on the up-and-up in terms of MMA talent, as the sport becomes more popular in the country. One of the home country’s best up-and-comers in recent times has been Marco Beltran, a bantamweight who has slowly-but-surely moving up the 135-pound ladder.
Beltran is a scrappy fighter, possessing solid boxing ability, a strong chin and underrated submission ability. That sub ability was on display in his last fight, as he tapped out BJJ black belt and TUF Brazil winner Reginaldo Vieira in the second round. That was his third UFC win in a row, following up victories against Guangyou Ning and Marlon Vera.
Beltran, who is a product of the Ultimate Fighter series, takes on former title challenger Joe Soto, who takes the fight on late notice. Both are exciting guys that should have styles that play off well against each other. If Beltran can get yet another win, he should be able to move up a tier in terms of competition level, though it won’t be easy against the aforementioned former title challenger.