The MMA world will feature elite action from Inglewood, California, and Las Vegas on Saturday night as Bellator and the UFC share the combat spotlight.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire will take on A.J. McKee at The Forum in one of the biggest bouts in Bellator history. The fight is the finale of the promotion’s Featherweight World Grand Prix, and it features two stars who established themselves in Bellator, instead of being fighters who signed as free agents after stints in other promotions. The winner will win $1 million and be considered by some to be the best featherweight in the world, although UFC champ Alexander Volkanovski, among others, would argue that point.
What had been a respectful lead-up to the fight got heated Thursday during media activities as the fighters tried to get at each other.
The Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas will be headlined by a pair of middleweights on four-fight win streaks, as UFC No. 8-ranked Uriah Hall takes on No. 11 Sean Strickland. The winner will be looking to climb in the rankings and potentially face a top-five opponent next.
Marc Raimondi will be on hand at the Forum to provide results and analysis, while Brett Okamoto will cover the events unfolding at the UFC Apex. Stats are supplied by ESPN Stats & Info.
Watch the UFC card on ESPN+.
Fights in progress:
@TeamKhabib is such a legend, his fighter just knocked a guy into convulsions and while the team was celebrating the win. Khabib went over to help the paramedics tend to the opponent. #Respect #Bellator263
— Corey ‘Overtime’ Anderson (@CoreyA_MMA) August 1, 2021
Key stat: Rabadanov (16-4-2) dropped Carey with a huge left hook and then finished on the ground. Carey was on the ground for some time after the finish and taken out on a stretcher for precautionary reasons. UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in Rabadanov’s corner, helped tend to Carey on the ground. Rabadanov, a PFL veteran, has just one loss in his past 10 fights. Carey (7-5) has dropped two in a row and three of four.
Key stat: Gruetzemacher (15-4), who fights out of American Top Team in Florida, picks up his second win in three fights and cashes as the biggest underdog on the card at +260. He was +420 to win by decision at Caesars by William Hill. Garcia (12-1), of Mexico, signed with the UFC this year as an undefeated fighter, but he is now 0-2 in two UFC appearances.
Key stat: Magomedsharipov, the 20-year-old, blue-chip prospect brother of UFC featherweight star Zabit, was making his United States and Bellator debut. He moves to 6-0. Magomedsharipov trains with his brother out of coach Mark Henry’s camp in New Jersey. Quiroz (3-5), a 34-year-old Mexico native fighting out of California, has lost two straight and four of five.
Key stat: Kamaka (8-4-1) would have won the bout were it not for a point deduction in the second round for an accidental low blow. It is the third draw in UFC competition in 2021. Chavez is now winless in his past two fights, while Kamaka is winless in his past three.
Key stat: Jones (11-5), a 31-year-old veteran of the Southern California regional scene, has won two straight. The 41-year-old Cisneros (13-8), a popular fighter in the area who got a big reaction from the crowd, has dropped two of three.
Key stat: Frey (11-6), a former Invicta FC champion, evens her UFC record to 2-2 and does so as a +140 underdog at Caesars William Hill. Yoder (8-8, 3-7 UFC) has now lost four of her past five, and her seven career losses as a UFC strawweight are tied for third most in the division’s history.
Key stat: Karakhanyan (31-11-1), a 36-year-old Russia native fighting out of California, has won two straight and three of his past four. The 31-year-old Crosbie (8-3), an Ireland native, has dropped two straight following a two-fight winning streak. Crosbie fights out of SBG Ireland, the home of Conor McGregor, and had McGregor coach John Kavanagh and Bellator star James Gallagher in his corner.
Key stat: Moore, a 33-year-old teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG Ireland, won his third straight Bellator bout. Winski, a 32-year-old fighting out of Dan Henderson’s gym in California, had a two-fight winning streak snapped in his Bellator debut.
Great game plan by Adashev because if he didn’t take that calf out I see Benoit getting a TKO. Adashev has some nice footwork. He mad Benoit chase him around and Benoit did it on a compromised leg. Great fight! #UFCVegas33
— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) July 31, 2021
Key stat: Adashev snaps a 2-fight losing streak. Adashev joins Makhmud Muradov as the only fighters representing Uzbekistan to win in the UFC. Benoit drops his third straight fight.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 31, 2021
Key stat: Rowe has finishes in all eight of his wins and has won eight of nine. Rowe cashes as a +145 underdog at Caesars by William Hill. He was +550 to win by KO/TKO/DQ.
Still to come:
ESPN/ESPN+, 9 p.m. ET
ESPN/ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET
Bellator still to come:
Showtime, 10 p.m. ET
Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee | Men’s featherweight
Mads Burnell vs. Emmanuel Sanchez | Men’s featherweight
Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Manny Muro | Lightweight
Brent Primus vs. Islam Mamedov | Lightweight
Goiti Yamauchi vs. Chris Gonzalez | Lightweight