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UFC Fight Night 174 Preview

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This weekends fight card sees the fourth edition of UFC Fight Island, headlined by an intriguing matchup between former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and middleweight newbie Darren Till. Whittaker is making his return after losing his belt to current champ Israel Adesanya while Till is making the walk for the second time at this weight after an impressive win over former title contender Kelvin Gastelum. The co-main event sees two legends of the sport going head to head for the third and final time with Shogun Rua taking on Antonio Nogueria.

Whittaker vs Till

Whittaker is making an eagerly waited return to the octagon and will be looking to re-affirm himself at the top of the division against Till. Whittaker hasn’t fought since last October when he lost via TKO to Adesanya on home soil. Before that he appeared to be the consensus number one middleweight in the world, winning and then defending his belt against the human wrecking ball known as Yoel Romero, in two of the gutsiest performances ever seen in the octagon.

Till meanwhile made the step up from welterweight to middleweight last November and shutdown contender Kelvin Gastelum with a unanimous decision win. Despite a couple of battles with the scales at  welterweight, Till had some big wins in the division against the likes of Donald Cerrone and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, proving his status as an elite fighter. His win against Gastelum will have caught the attention of the rest of the division and set him up for a shot at the former champ in a fight crucial to the future of the division.

Rua vs Noguiera

The co-main brings us a trilogy fight between Brazilian veterans Shogun Rua and Antonio Noguiera. While I think its fair to say that both men are in the twilight of their careers, both have still had some impressive wins in recent years. Shogun put on a phenomenal performance when he TKO’d light heaveyweight prospect Tyson Pedro and got the better of the always tough Corey Andrerson by split decision. Noguiera managed to do the same to another veteran in Sam Alvey and if their previous fights are anything to go by this should be another classic.

Gustafsson vs Werdum

A heavyweight fight that is worthy of PPV status, Alexander Gustafsson comes out of retirement to take on former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. Werdum himself recently came back after a 2 year absence earlier this year but was unsuccessful, dropping a split decision to Aleksei Olienik. Gustafsson made his name in the light heavyweight division where he challenged for the belt on a couple of occasions, producing 2 of the best title fights ever seen against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. It will be very interesting to see how Gustafsson handles the move up to heavyweight against one of the best the division has ever seen.

The Rest Of The Card

In other action, inaugural womens flyweight champ Carla Esparza takes on undefeated prospect Marina Rodriguez. Many counted out Esparza when she lost her belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk back in 2015 but has rallied back on track to ride a 3 fight win streak coming into this fight. Rodriguez got her big break with a TKO win on Dana White’s Contender Series and has already racked up wins over top flyweights Tecia Torres and Jessica Aguilar. No doubt she will be full of confidence coming into this fight and keen to add another big name to her list.

Further down the card the always entertaining Alex Oliveira takes on Peter Sobotta in what could be a potential fight of the night candidate. Oliveira is know as a wild man and can always be counted on to give the fans a show. Nathaniel Wood looks to bounce back after a TKO loss to bantamweight mainstay John Dodson when he takes on John Castenada. Wood was originally scheduled to welcome Umar Nurmagomedov to the UFC until Umar had to withdraw due to the passing of his uncle, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

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