After International Fight Week culminated with a thrilling UFC 290, the promotion gets right back to action this week at home in Las Vegas with UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Bueno Silva. The main event is a clash of veteran women’s bantamweight fighters as former divisional champion Holly Holm takes on Mayra Bueno Silva. Coming into this fight, Holm has been outspoken that if she wins that she wants another title shot, this time for the belt left vacant after Amanda Nunes retired. It would be Holm’s fourth win in her last five outings, the only blemish coming in a hotly contested split-decision loss to Ketlen Vieira. It will be no easy task to get past Bueno Silva, who is riding a three-fight winning streak of her own after returning to bantamweight. With Nunes gone and the title vacant, it is quite possible that whoever picks up a win this weekend may be one half of the next title fight at 135 pounds.
Also on the main card is a middleweight bout between Albert Duraev and Jun Yong Park. Park enters this main card bout having won five of his last six fights and scoring submission wins in his two most recent outings. Duraev also comes into this fight on the heels of a victory as he took a split-decision win over the always dangerous Chidi Njokuani.
Recently moved into the co-main event slot is Jack Della Maddalena vs. Bassil Hafez. The debuting Hafez will have a tough test in his first UFC performance as Della Maddalena has looked seemingly unstoppable since joining the promotion. This fight allows Della Maddalena to compete after several shakeups forced him out of a scheduled contest last week at UFC 290.
The event airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ and ESPN starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Mayra Bueno Silva has rattled off three consecutive wins; can she take out former champion Holly Holm to make it four straight?
Kuhl: Former champ Holly Holm is a far cry from her title days, as well as the prime of her career. She is still talented, likely still getting better in the skill department, but it is hard to stay 100-percent in the game when a fighter starts getting into her 40’s. I mean, when she knocked out Ronda Rousey for the UFC bantamweight title, she was already into her early 30’s and had retired from a 38-fight championship boxing career. She is now sitting at 5-6 since winning said title, and she is impressively 3-1 in her last four fights. However, her last win was over Yana Santos who has looked like a shell of her former self since returning from her maternity leave.
Mayra Bueno Silva is only 31 years old, and has arguably not gotten close to her prime yet. She moved from Chute Boxe in Brazil to the American Top Team headquarters in Florida last year. While Bueno Silva had already established herself as a submission threat, with four submissions in her 5-2-1 UFC career, she is also dangerous on the feet. She may not be quite at the skill level as Holm in the striking department, but with youth and momentum on her side, she can likely hang on the feet, until she gets the fight to the ground. IF Bueno Silva can get his one to the mat, which I suspect she will attempt to do, it could be a short night for Holm. However, I’m tending to lean towards the vet in this one.
Styles make fights, and Holm’s striking style is far superior to Bueno Silva’s. And, while Holm’s forte is by no means grappling, her striking makes it hard as hell to get her to the mat, and her size advantage will make it even harder to keep her there. Bueno Silva is coming in with disadvantages in both height and reach, and she will be walking into a buzzsaw every time she tries to close the distance. Speaking of distance, I have this one going all three rounds with Holm coming out a decision victor. This is just a bad match-up for Bueno Silva.
Petela: This fight honestly doesn’t belong atop a fight card. The only thing that makes this fight worthy of being a main event is the name value of Holly Holm, which she has been riding since defeating Ronda Rousey back at UFC 193. She is still very talented, but she doesn’t have the same fight-ending abilities that she once had. Her last finish came against Bethe Correira back in 2017, and, since then, her record is barely above .500. More power to her for capitalizing on the head kick heard around the world, but, honestly, outside of that one stellar performance, Holm has been a middle-of-the-pack fighter in the UFC.
That doesn’t mean she won’t get a win this weekend, as I expect that she will defeat Mayra Bueno Silva. My colleague laid it out well, Holm’s striking and takedown defense will stifle Bueno Silva from being able to get this fight to the mat, and she will pick the Brazilian apart for the duration of the fight. This one isn’t going to be the most exciting fight we have ever seen, but it will be another win for Holm, and she will likely use it to try and get another crack at the belt, where she will inevitably come up short again.
Jun Yong Park has put together a 5-1 record in his last six fights; does his momentum continue against Albert Duraev?
Petela: These two middleweights have both been flying under the radar, but have put together impressive runs of late. This is a matchup where the winner should earn a fight against a ranked opponent next. Honestly, it is a tough call to make on who comes away with the victory. Albert Duraev’s last performance against a very dangerous Chidi Njokuani impressed me mightily, but I will have to lean towards the “Iron Turtle” in this one.
Jun Yong Park has shown that he can grind out decisions like he did against veteran Eryk Anders and also that he can finish a fight in an instant as he did with rear-naked chokes against Denis Tiuliulin and Joseph Holmes. Don’t expect him to pick up a submission over Duraev, but he will be able to thwart the attempts Duraev makes to get the fight to the ground and turn this one into a methodical kickboxing contest where, over the course of 15 minutes, he will wear down the powerful Duraev and exhaust him en route to a late TKO that is more than partially caused by exhaustion.
Kuhl: Well, Korea’s Jun Yong Park is a submission machine, but, as my colleague pointed out, I wouldn’t expect that against Albert Duraev. The Russian trains out of Las Vegas with guys like Sean Strickland, so you know he is going hard and fast in the gym on the daily. I expect him to come out of the gates like a bull, and I think he will stop this one before we see the final bell. Park is a durable opponent, but Duraev is a complete monster.
What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?
Kuhl: There was some low-hanging fruit to answer this question, and it was in the form of Walt Harris. The 40-year-old Alabama native is on a three-fight losing streak, and one of those losses was to a non-juiced Alistair Overeem, who recently retired from all combat sports. Harris was supposed to face Josh Parisian, who has never won back-to-back fights in the UFC. A loss to Parisian would likely send Harris packing. However, Harris might have a bigger issue. A few days out from the event, he was flagged by USADA for a potential violation, and, at this point, a suspension will likely bounce him before he even gets another fight.
Petela: Tucker Lutz needs to pick up a win in the worst way. He has dropped two in a row and only has a 1-2 record in the UFC. He has losses to very talented fighters in Pat Sabatini and Daniel Pineda, so the promotion may cut him a little slack, but the 29-year-old has his back up against the wall this weekend. Expect the pressure to motivate him, and, not only will he come away victorious, but he picks up a finish for the first time since signing with the UFC.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Petela: Jack Della Maddalena vs. newcomer Bassil Hafez. Much was made of Della Maddalena’s unsuccessful attempts to stay on the UFC 290 fight card, with multiple opponents falling out before the event. He gets a chance to continue building momentum against a debuting fighter this weekend, and he will capitalize mightily on that opportunity. Della Maddalena will make short work of Hafez and remind fans of how immensely talented he is in the process.
Kuhl: I’m really intrigued by the battle between the Morocco-German Ottman Azaitar and Argentina’s Franciso Prado. The former BRAVE CF lightweight champ Azaitar was undefeated through 13 fights, until he lost his third UFC appearance to Matt Frevola last November by first-round knockout. Prior to that, most of his wins were by first-round stoppage. The 21-year-old former Samurai Fight House lightweight title holder Prado came into the UFC with an 11-0 record, but lost his promotional debut by unanimous decision to Jamie Mullarkey in Feb. 2023. Both of these guys are super talented finishing machines, and this fight should be a fantastic one.
Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?
Kuhl: Australia’s Jack Della Maddalena is walking home with a bonus for sure. Not only is the guy a complete wood chipper for just about any opponent, but after his fights with Sean Brady and short-notice replacement Josiah Harrell both fell apart last weekend, he is going to be coming in with a full head of steam against promotional newcomer Bassil Hafez. This one is going to be ugly.
Petela: Tyson Nam. His UFC run hasn’t exactly turned out the way that I thought it would, and he has struggled more on the big stage than I anticipated. However, he has shown that, when he gets his hands going, he can put any opponent to sleep. That’s what happens this weekend and he notches a fourteenth career knockout victory over Azat Maksum.
Pair this card with…
Petela: It is going to be a crabcake kind of night. Call me a homer if you will, but Maryland product Tucker Lutz gets back on track this weekend and picks up a much needed win. So celebrate with a staple of the Ground Control product’s hometown and fire up the broiler for some crab cakes. Just don’t take a shortcut and fry them.
Kuhl: In a tribute to the Argentinian fighters we have on the card, some good asado, which is essentially grilled meats, with a quality chimichurri to top it would really heat the spot. It can be hot, spicy and flavorful just like I expect this card to be.
Main Card (ESPN+/ESPN, 10 p.m. ET)
Women’s BW: Holly Holm vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
WW: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Bassil Hafez
LW: Ottman Azaitar vs. Francisco Prado
MW: Jun Yong Park vs. Albert Duraev
Women’s FW: Norma Dumont vs. Chelsea Chandler
LW: Terrance McKinney vs. Nazim Sadykhov
Preliminary Card (ESPN+/ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
FW: Tucker Lutz vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan
Women’s StrawW: Istela Nunes vs. Viktoriya Dudakova
FW: Austin Lingo vs. Melquizael Costa
LW: Genaro Valdez vs. Evan Elder
FlyW: Tyson Nam vs. Azat Maksum
LW: Carl Deaton III vs. Alex Munoz
Women’s BW: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Ailin Perez
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