UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Gastelum Preview

The UFC APEX is the venue once more with Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum competing the the main event. Lightweight veteran Clay Guida takes on undefeated wrestling phenom Mark Madson in the co-main event at UFC Vegas 34 on Saturday night.

Both Cannonier and Gastelum could do with getting a win in this middleweight contest if they’re to have any hope of mounting a title challenge. With only one win in his last five fights, Gastelum truly needs this win more than his opponent. Kelvin has taken a lot of short notice fights really and that has played havoc on his record. Even this fight with Cannonier, he also jumped in as a replacement for Paulo Costa but I do feel he has had an adequate amount of time to prepare. One would have to wonder where Gastelum goes if he loses another fight, a possible move back down to welterweight? Let’s not get too far of ourselves just yet. This is a very winnable fight for the Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner and it’s up to Kevin to prove to himself and to the fans that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the 185-pound division.

Jared Cannonier found himself in the middleweight division having started his professional career as a heavyweight. The “Killa Gorilla” joined the UFC’s heavyweight ranks and went 1-1 before moving down to light heavyweight. At 205 pounds he wen 2-3 but fought the likes of Glover Teixeira, Jan Błachowicz and Dominik Reyes during that run. In 2018, Cannonier found his home in the 185-pound division and the Alaskan picked up a hat-trick of wins over David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson. That run put him into a title eliminator bout with Robert Whittaker, a fight that Whittaker won by decision without too much difficulty.

This Saturday night Cannonier will launch a fresh attack on the division and will look to start a title run when he faces Gastelum. Coming into this fight I think that we will see two different gameplans from both fighters. For Gastelum to engage in a stand-up war with his rival would be downright stupid, Cannonier’s striking credentials and raw power are not to be messed with, he will be doing everything in his power to keep this fight on the feet. Gastelum can mix it up on the feet but I do think the wise move for him is to mix up his striking and wrestling, especially in this fight. If Gastelum shows up and fights to his true potential, this should be a fantastic tactical battle. If Gastelum does choose to stand and bang, well, that will play into the hands of Cannonior and I can’t see any scenario other than the “Killa Gorilla’ getting his hands raised.

Clay Guida will storm towards the octagon for the 31st time on Saturday night when he takes on Denmark’s Mark Madsen. Guida snapped a three fight losing streak in his last outing when he beat TUF veteran Michael Johnson on the judges’ scorecards. Already in the UFC Hall of Fame for his legendary battle with Diego Sanchez, Guida is non stop in his forward movement and a notorious pressure fighter with high level grappling. Many fighters have struggled with The Carpenter’s wrestling in the past but this is something that is something Mark Madson shouldn’t have to worry about. Madson is an Olympic silver medalist, and four-time medalist at the World Wrestling Championships in Greco-Roman wrestling. This will be a great test in fighting a vastly more experienced opponent, and at 36-years old, time is ticking for Madson and he needs to move up the ladder. A win against Guida would be a good start.

Trevin Jones will welcome Saidyokub Kakhramonov into the UFC bantamweight ranks. Jones has finished both of his UFC fights and has wicked fight ending power. Chase Sherman and Parker Porter will clash in the heavyweight division. Sherman was defeated by former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in his last trip to the cage. Parker Porter picked up his first UFC win when he got the nod in his fight with Josh Parisian. Vinc Pichel has only been defeated by Gregor Gillespie in his past seven fights and is currently on a two-fight win streak. Pichel, a former TUF contestant, goes toe-to-toe with Austin Hubbard in the lightweight division. Hubbard was successful in his last encounter inside the octagon, he defeated Dakota Bush by unanimous decision.

The fight that I am most excited about on this card is the flyweight scrap between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval. Brazilian born, Alexandre Pantoja got over his disappointing defeat by the hands of Askar Askarov by picking up a comfortable decision victory over Mane Kape. His opponent, Brandon Royval returns after injuring his shoulder in his title eliminator bout with Brandon Moreno. This will be a tremendous fight, both fighters alway deliver and I expect no different this time around.

Austin Lingo will go up against Luis Saldana in the featured bout of the prelims card. Saldana has not been beaten in his past five fights, Ling has only one defeat in his last six. This should be a very interesting featherweight scrap. Brian “Boom” Kelleher returns to his natural weight class at 135-pounds, he faces off with Domingo Pilarte. Kelleher was left disappointed in his last outing, he was defeated by Ricky Simon by unanimous decision. Pilarte is still in search of his first UFC with having lost on his UFC debut.

Undefeated Bea Malecki in undefeated in her career, the Swede made her debut inside the octagon and also her second fight and looks to make it three-in-a-row when she squares off with Josiane Nunes in the women’s bantamweight division. Nunes will fight under the UFC banner for the first time. William Knight looks to get back into the win column when he goes up against Fabio Cherant at 205 pounds. After losing to Alonzo Menifield in his last outing, Cherant will also be eager to get his hands raised. Chilean born fighter Ignacio Bahamondes will be looking for his first UFC win, he takes on Roosevelt Roberts in a lightweight contest. Opening up the UFC on Vegas 35 card is a welterweight battle between Sasha Palatnikov and Ramiz Brahimaj. Check out the official fight card and start times below.

Main card (ESPN2 / ESPN+, 10 pm ET)

Middleweight: Jared Cannonier (13-5) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (17-7)

Lightweight: Clay Guida (36-20) vs. Mark Madsen (10-0)

Heavyweight: Chase Sherman (15-7) vs. Parker Porter (11-6)

Bantamweight: Trevin Jones (13-6) vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov (8-2)

Lightweight: Vinc Pichel (13-2) vs. Austin Hubbard (13-5)

Flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) vs. Brandon Royval (12-5)


Preliminary card (ESPN2 / ESPN+, 7PM ET)

Featherweight: Austin Lingo (8-1) vs. Luis Saldana (15-6)

Bantamweight: Brian Kelleher (22-12) vs. Domingo Pilarte (8-2)

Women’s Bantamweight: Bea Malecki (2-0) vs. Josiane Nunes (7-1)

Light Heavyweight: William Knight (9-2) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-2)

Lightweight: Roosevelt Roberts (10-2) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (11-4)

Welterweight: Sasha Palatnikov (6-3) vs. Ramiz Brahimaj (8-3)

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.