The fact that those "top stars" seem to either be dealing with legal issues, or moving onto other things altogether has provided an opportunity for lesser known fighters to earn some extra dough by advancing to the main card of pay per views, or even receiving title shots that they wouldn't have otherwise received. To borrow a line from The Sound of Music, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." That window is opportunity, and a lot of guys in recent memory have used that opportunity to cash in on their big breaks.
This show's main event is probably the greatest example of that, and I love how the UFC always seems to keep things interesting by throwing new stars into the top mix, thus creating new faces in each respective division.
Saturday's card should be a good one. Let's take a look...
Phil "CM Punk" Brooks (0-1-0) vs. Mike "The Truth" Jackson (0-1-0)
This is the one fight on the card that most MMA fans will look at on paper, and think "What a waste of money." But as a wrestling fan, I am curious to see exactly how much Phil Brooks has improved since his last fight in 2016. Actually, neither of these guys have fought since 2016, and they were both submitted in the first round by the same fighter, Mickey Gall. The one advantage that Jackson has is that he has fought outside of the promotion, and has been through three rounds. I think Brooks will need to end this fight as quickly as possible if he hopes to win, and hopefully his recent trial hasn't interfered with his training too much. This is a better match-up for Brooks than his last one, but I'm still not confident enough in his abilities to think he'll walk away with a win here. I'll take Jackson to get the Unanimous Decision.
Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski (27-15-0) vs. Tai "Bam Bam" Tuivasa (7-0-0)
Tuivasa is walking into this fight undefeated, and actually finished all of his fights by knockout. But will that be enough to stop a legend? Arlovski thinks not. Granted, this is not the same Andrei Arlovski who ruled the heavyweight division once upon a time, and he has had a few birthdays since then, but I find that his fights are always hard to predict, because you never know which version of Arlovski will show up. Having said that, I think it's safe to say that Tuivasa knows a lot more about him than Arlovski knows about Tuivasa, so I'm picking Tuivasa to get his biggest win yet. I'll take Tuivasa by TKO.
Holly "The Preacher's Daughter" Holm (11-4-0) vs. Megan Anderson (8-2-0)
This is the Invicta fighter's first step into The Octagon, so needless to say, the pressure's on. I'm not so sure this is a great match-up for Anderson. Let us not forget that Holm was the one who took The Bantamweight Title from Ronda Rousey, and also went the distance with Cris Cyborg. Those are two things that nobody else can claim, and I think it will serve Anderson well to end things quickly, but I don't see it happening. I'll take Holm to get the Unanimous Decision.
Rafael dos Anjos (28-9-0) vs. Colby "Chaos" Covington (13-1-0)
It seems like dos Anjos has gotten back to his winning ways after dropping the Lightweight Title to Eddie Alvarez back in 2015. Moving up to 170 might have been the best move for his career, as he hopes to win his fourth straight fight here, and recently won a decision over former Welterweight Champ Robbie Lawler. But Covington is no pushover. He won his last five fights, most recently defeating former welterweight contender Demian Maia. It'll be tough to pick a winner here, as both of these guys are still in their prime, both are well rounded, and both have certainly been tested by the division's best. I can definitely see this one going the distance, and since dos Anjos has more big fight experience, not to mention overall experience, I'd have to pick him to get the Unanimous Decision.
Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker (19-4-0) vs. Yoel "Soldier of God" Romero (13-2-0) for the UFC Middleweight Championship
Not making weight seems to be the story of Romero's life these days. Despite that, he is one of the division's best, and definitely the most deserving of this title opportunity. Whittaker isn't as impressed though, and not only has the champion's advantage in this fight, but knowing that he's already defeated Romero in a previous bout gives him an even greater edge heading into this one. Even in victory, Romero will likely never be able to live down the shame of not making weight for this title bout, which could adversely affect his performance. It didn't have any effect on his mentality when he knocked out Luke Rockhold to earn this opportunity, but Whittaker is a horse of an entirely different colour, so to speak. I can't envision either of these guys being stopped, and if it does go the distance, I'd have to pick the champ to retain by Split Decision.
So there you have it!
Who are you picking?