Updated: Jul 7, 2021
With all the star-power that Conor McGregor brings to every time he steps into the octagon, most eyes are on the trilogy fight between Conor and Dustin Poirier, while the majority of the card doesn't get the attention it deserves. Everything from a former WEC champion on a winning streak to a very interesting bout between two featherweight prospects all found on the free ESPN preliminary card. Here are the bouts that you should pencil down and watch before you regret not doing so.
Ryan Hall V.S Ilia Topuria
Ilia Topuria has been on many MMA outlet's lists of “Top Prospects of 2021,” and for good reason. He came into his UFC debut with a perfect 100% finishing rate with 6 submissions and a single knockout and beat down another prospect Youssef Zalah on UFC Fight Night 179 for a clean 29-28 over the scorecards. But his next bout against Damon Jackson really added the highlight-reel knockout in the UFC you need to build up your case. However, Ryan Hall, after he won the 22nd season of The Ultimate Fighter, has gone a clean 3-0 in the promotion with a heel hook finish over legend BJ Penn. So when this fight comes up on your TV Saturday night, you’ll be missing a spectacular fight that guarantees a finish.
Max Griffin V.S Carlos Condit
Besides having one of the coolest nicknames of all of MMA, The Natural Born Killer had not done much killing up until the chance to fight on Fight Island, where he picked up two wins in a span of four months over Matt Brown and Court McGee, respectively. Max “Pain” Griffin has inflicted more than enough pain in his past 2 fights, both by KO/TKO, including a highlight finish over Song Kenan. This fight could mean massive implications with the logjam known as the UFC welterweight division, with a dominant finish that could lead to a possible matchup into the top 15. Does the Natural Born Killer carry on his late-career resurgence with another win, or will Max “Pain” keep Condit in his tracks and boost his own stock? This is why you watch the prelims to find these things out.
Sean O’Malley V.S Kris Moutinho
The next installment of the Sugar Show will take place against basically an unknown fighter after Louis Smolka drops out due to a staph infection. Kris Moutinho, a CES veteran, holds a record of 9-4 with 4 finishes, but I wouldn't count him out completely. Some of the fighters making UFC debuts without much traction had done great things in their fights this year, such as Terrence McKinney's 7-second knockout and Jeremiah Wells flatlining Warlley Alves, so don't count out Moutinho completely. However, there is a reason why O’Malley is a -900 betting favorite. His wins and marketability making the Sugar Show must-watch TV no matter who he is facing.