With a logjam on the prime of the heavyweight division, Curtis Blaydes has no recourse however to get again into the octagon and defend his spot within the rankings.

On Saturday, Blaydes meets Alexander Volkov in the primary occasion of UFC on ESPN 11. It’s something however a “keep busy” battle for both man as it’ll go a great distance in direction of displaying who has higher rounded out their video games. Can Blaydes keep away from Volkov’s rangy standup and impose his wrestling on the matchup? Does Volkov have sufficient takedown protection to keep away from spending 5 rounds on his again?

The winner will get the subsequent title shot after Francis Ngannou.

The co-main occasion is pure enjoyable as featherweight contenders Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos face off. It’s unlucky that one in all these crowd-pleasers will take a step again within the rankings, however it’s additionally tremendous lucky for us watching at residence that we actually don’t have to fret about that and might simply deal with the face-punchy goodness these two are assured to ship.

In different major card motion, one-time bantamweight title challenger Raquel Pennington fights Marion Reneau, Belal Muhammad meets Lyman Good in a welterweight contest, and light-weight lifer Jim Miller fights Roosevelt Roberts in a 160-pound catchweight bout.

What: UFC on ESPN 11

The place: UFC APEX in Las Vegas

When: Saturday, June 20. Your complete occasion will air on ESPN and ESPN+, with the seven-fight preliminaries beginning at 5 p.m. ET, and the five-fight major card beginning at eight p.m. ET.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov

It’s a must to admire Curtis Blaydes’ honesty.

You would name it gamesmanship, however extra probably Blaydes is critical when he says he needs no a part of Alexander Volkov’s hanging. As a lot energy as he has and as improved as his hanging is, the most effective path to victory for “Razor” is to shoot early and sometimes and drag Volkov to the mat.

Volkov has glorious footwork and his protection will forestall him from simply being a coaching dummy for Blaydes, however the towering Russian hasn’t confronted a wrestler of Blaydes’ caliber within the UFC. Till you’ve confronted an opponent able to placing unrelenting grappling stress on you want Blaydes can, there’s no technique to simulate the expertise.

Blaydes is correct. It’s not going to be a 25-minute standup conflict. It’s not prone to be a 25-minute something for that matter as a result of he’ll get the end with ground-and-pound within the third spherical or later.

Choose: Blaydes

Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos

Any considerations I’ve about Shane Burgos’s hittability are solely amplified by the smaller octagon presently in use on the UFC APEX. When you have got somebody like Josh Emmett strolling you down, you want all of the house you may get to remain out of the way in which of his Howitzer fingers.

Burgos additionally likes to return ahead for 15 minutes, which is why that is arguably probably the most highly-anticipated battle within the card. He has nice footwork and head motion, however he’s additionally going to be wanting to step into the pocket with Emmett and throw. His cardio is a contact above Emmett’s, so his technique might be to push the tempo early and work for a late end.

Once more, had been this battle happening within the bigger octagon, I’d in all probability lean in direction of Burgos, however Emmett having knockout potential in each fists is tough to disregard. He’s going to have a better time getting inside than ordinary although he’s giving up half a foot of attain to Burgos and he can do main harm as soon as he will get there.

Pretty much as good as Burgos’s chin is, I don’t see it holding as much as too many punches from Emmett. If Emmett can battle strategically sufficient to keep away from catching a giant shot himself, he’ll discover the off-switch first.

Choose: Emmett

Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau

I don’t like Marion Reneau’s possibilities of holding Raquel Pennington off of her for 3 rounds. Whereas it was Pennington who acquired a lesson in clinch work in her most up-to-date battle in opposition to Holly Holm, the one-time UFC title challenger is aware of bully opponents in opposition to the cage and that’s a technique she ought to make the most of right here in opposition to the explosive Reneau.

There’s some sleeper Combat of the Evening potential right here if Reneau is the one who establishes the vary. Her hanging is pleasurable to look at when it will get going, however discovering a rhythm in opposition to the gritty Pennington is a problem. It’s extra probably that Pennington makes this one ugly, urgent in every time Reneau begins to get her fingers going and piecing the 43-year-old up with soiled boxing. Pennington will commerce if the event requires it too and she or he has the standup to make Reneau respect her.

This has all of the makings of a grueling three-round battle, one that ought to see Pennington stroll out with a win on factors.

Choose: Pennington

Belal Muhammad vs. Lyman Good

I favor the facility of Lyman Good over the busy, unorthodox hanging of Belal Muhammad on this matchup. Muhammad’s standup sport is unquestionably a puzzle, however as with the Emmett-Burgos pairing above, Good will profit from having a smaller cage to navigate.

Muhammad does a tremendous job of hanging from distance, throwing straight punches whereas additionally mixing in winging photographs from angles that some fighters wouldn’t think about. This enables him to always be scoring factors. He’s additionally a sensible fighter who rapidly adapts throughout fights and is aware of combine in takedowns.

Good tends to be extra conventional together with his hanging method, which is the place that adaptability of Muhammad turns into an necessary issue. Can Muhammad discover a technique to throw Good off of his sport or is Good simply going to select him aside?

It’s the ending means of Good that provides him the sting right here. He places Muhammad away inside the space.

Choose: Good

Jim Miller vs. Roosevelt Roberts

Usually, I’d be vital of a fighter like Roosevelt Roberts competing once more on short-notice (that is Roberts’ second battle in three weeks) particularly in opposition to such a veteran opponent like Jim Miller. However Roberts shined in opposition to Brok Weaver in his most up-to-date outing and it’d truly be a good suggestion for him get again into the cage ASAP to construct on that efficiency.

The bodily presents of Roberts are plain, the query is whether or not he has the talents to knock off somebody like Miller who has actually confronted each doable fight situation in his profession. It’s a must to give the sting to Miller on the bottom. No UFC light-weight has recorded extra submission victories (9) than him and he has solely been submitted himself thrice in his 46-fight profession. Until Roberts hurts Miller on the ft first, rolling with Miller may show to be an enormous mistake.

I like Roberts to indicate off his evolving standup on this matchup, getting out to an early lead and forcing Miller to should take extra probabilities because the battle goes on. He’s going to make life tough for Roberts regardless of the place the battle goes and would possibly even catch Roberts in some scary submission predicaments, however the prospect’s standup abilities ought to prevail in the long run.

Roberts by resolution.

Choose: Roberts


Bobby Inexperienced def. Clay Guida

Tecia Torres def. Brianna Van Buren

Oskar Piechota def. Marc-Andre Barriault

Gillian Robertson def. Cortney Casey

Justin Jaynes def. Frank Camacho

Lauren Murphy def. Roxanne Modafferi

Max Rohskopf def. Austin Hubbard