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4/6/16: Top Preliminary Card Fights For April 2016
Last week in this spot we looked at the best overall fights on the schedule in April, and two of those have already been felled due to injury. So instead of trying to replace them overall, today we’ll take a look at five of the best preliminary card fights set for the rest of the month of April in MMA.
5. Bethe Correia vs. Raquel Pennington (UFC on Fox 19): Correia took too great a leap in competition from Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler for the Ronda Rousey fight last summer, and she gets back into action here next week in a very competitive fight against what is her next toughest competition outside of the former champ. The Brazilian’s striking had been her edge against lesser competition, but she was taken out early by Rousey, and has a lot to prove in this return fight. Pennington is as tough as they come in the division, and she’s coming off an impressive win over Jessica Andrade herself. A win her vaults her up the ladder from an attention stand point, and it should make for a good UFC Fight Pass closer next week before the Fox event.
4. Sergio Pettis vs. Chris Kelades (UFC 197): Sergio’s older brother made last week’s list for best fights in the month overall, but the younger Pettis brother should entertain on the April 23 prelims as well. Pettis scored an important win over Chris Cariaso last October, and has to continue impressing to keep carving out his own spot on the UFC’s roster. Kelades has been in three fairly entertaining fights so far in his UFC run, edging two of them by decision, and he’ll be another formidable test for the Roufusport fighter.
3. Beneil Dariush vs. Michael Chiesa (UFC on Fox 19): Dariush’s five fight winning streak comes with a significant asterisk after the highly questionable decision he picked up over Michael Johnson. However, he’s highly entertaining to watch more often than not, an attribute shared by former TUF winner Chiesa. This fight itself has the potential to not be pretty, but Dariush and Chiesa are likely to leave everything in the cage for an important win, and that could make this a really good fight.
2. Carla Esparza vs. Juliana Lima (UFC 197): Former champ Esparza returning to the cage as an injury replacement? Yeah, this one’s got plenty of interest and intrigue. A win for Esparza gets her back into possible contention for the 115 lb. title, while a loss keeps her firmly in the back of the line. The stakes are extremely high for both, and it makes for quite the fight on April 23.
1. John Dodson vs. Manny Gamburyan (UFC on Fox 19): Dodson’s return to the bantamweight division is extremely intriguing. Sure, he lost twice to UFC Flyweight Champ Demetrious Johnson, but “Might Mouse” is one of the best fighters in the world today. On top of that, Dodson holds a knockout over one of the bantamweight division’s best in former Champ T.J. Dillashaw. A win over Gamburyan marks his return as a contender at 135 lbs., and it’s the best prelim fight on the docket this month.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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