After spending almost two years on the sidelines, Leon Edwards will make his return to the Octagon in the main event at UFC Vegas 21 to face Belal Muhammad in a high-risk fight.
Edwards was originally scheduled to fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 21, but the Swedish-Chechen star had to withdraw from the bout due to lingering COVID symptoms. Less than a week after beating Dhiego Lima at UFC 258, Muhammad agreed to step in as a replacement on four weeks’ notice. The fight was also offered to Colby Covington, but he turned it down.
UFC Vegas 21 also features a light heavyweight co-main event between Misha Cirkunov and Ryan Spann, a featherweight fight between Dan Ige and Gavin Tucker, a flyweight contest between Manel Kape and Matheus Nicolau, and a middleweight bout between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart.
Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad
Leon Edwards last fought in 2019 against Rafael dos Anjos, beating him via unanimous decision. Since then, he has struggled to land a fight mainly due to COVID. In contrast, Belal Muhammad has fought thrice since his opponent’s last fight, which means he’ll be entering the Octagon with the momentum on his side. However, there’s a lot more to this fight than the two fighters’ recent run of form.
Edwards is one of the most prolific strikers in the UFC welterweight division, with extremely underrated grappling skills. On the other hand, Muhammad is a wrestling-heavy fighter, who uses his striking as a means to his end goal, which is taking his opponents down and beating them there. However, doing so against Edwards won’t be an easy task, because he’s a hard man to take down and control.
The Brit has the advantage of the feet. He’s faster, more accurate, and moves well around the Octagon. Muhammad will have to pressure his opponent, and try and land some big takedowns to win this fight. Both fighters aren’t known to finish fights, therefore, we should expect this one to go the distance.
Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann
Misha Cirkunov was supposed to be the next big thing in the UFC light heavyweight division, but his career slumped after he was knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir. He is 2-2 since his loss to the Swiss, and his inconsistency has hurt his prospects of moving higher up in the division and potentially fighting for the title. On the other hand, Spann has only lost once in his last nine fights, with his most recent fight ending in a KO loss to Johnny Walker.
Cirkunov has a decent striking but an excellent submission game, but Spann has had a nice blend of knockouts and submissions over the past few years. This one has all the tools to be a competitive fight.
Dan Ige vs Gavin Tucker
Dan Ige was originally scheduled to fight ‘The Wizard’ Ryan Hall, but the latter was forced to withdraw due to injury. Gavin Tucker was also booked to fight Cub Swanson in May but he ended up fighting a little earlier.
Both fighters are very well-rounded, and there aren’t a lot of disparities between them. Ige has a judo base and is a black belt in BJJ, but he is solid everywhere. Tucker also mixes his striking and grappling up well, and he might use his grappling to steal rounds as the two are very well-matched on the feet, but Ige isn’t a slouch on the mat. All in all, Ige vs Tucker is a great fight and should deliver.
Matheus Nicolau vs Manel Kape
Manel Kape’s UFC debut at UFC Vegas 18 last month didn’t go as planned as he lost to Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision. Nevertheless, the Angolan now has a second chance to impress the UFC and the fans and prove to the world that he belongs here.
In fact, both fighters have a lot to prove. Kape and Nicolau are both fantastic strikers, with a fairly decent ground game. Fans should expect fireworks, regardless of if the fight stays on the feet, or goes to the mat. Kape and Nicolau are very well-matched against each other.
Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart
Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart are both coming off a loss and will be looking to turn things around when they enter the Octagon at UFC Vegas 21.
Anders offers a good mix of kickboxing and BJJ, whereas Stewart comes from a taekwondo background, with solid experience in BJJ as well. As far as striking is concerned, Stewart has the edge over his opponent.‘The Dentist’ is also in a slightly better form. There isn’t a huge disparity between them as far as grappling is concerned.
Other Fights On The Card
- Jonathan Martinez vs Davey Grant
- Angela Hill vs Ashley Yoder
- Charles Jourdain vs Marcelo Rojo
- Rani Yahya vs Ray Rodriguez
- Nasrat Haqparast vs Rafa García
- Cortney Casey vs JJ Aldrich
- Jinh Yu Frey vs Gloria de Paula
- Matthew Semelsberger vs Jason Witt
What are your predictions for UFC Vegas 21, headlined by Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad?
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