The UFC returns to Canada after nearly a year away with UFC Fight Night 89, going down at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario. The card features a number of prominent Canadian fighters, including top-ranked welterweight Rory “Red King” MacDonald, who competes for the first time since his 2015 “Fight of the Year” bout against Robbie Lawler, taking on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a pivotal bout in the 170lbs division.
The main event is by far the best fight on the card but there are a lot of other things to look out for during this event as well. Here are the top five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 89.
1) Wonderboy Battles Red King In Likely No. 1 Contender’s Bout
The fans will be treated to an incredible fight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 89, as two of the best welterweight fighters on the planet meet for five rounds or less as Canada’s Rory “Red King” MacDonald takes on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. It’s been almost a year since MacDonald last competed, but his fight against Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 was one of the greatest title fights in UFC history and despite coming into this bout off of a loss, he actually has some momentum on his side considering how epic that fight was. Moreover, this is the last fight on his UFC contract, so you know MacDonald will want to go out on a win in an effort to maximize his value on the free-agent market. As for Thompson, he is coming off of a career-best victory over Johny Hendricks, who he TKOed at UFC Fight Night 82. Thompson is now on a six-fight win streak with four knockouts, and a win over MacDonald will likely earn him a welterweight title shot. Both MacDonald and Thompson are elite strikers and there’s a good chance this matchup wins “Fight of the Night,” if not “Fight of the Year.”
2) Veterans Cote, Cerrone Meet In Fun Welterweight Fight
Two veterans of the sport meet in the co-main event as Quebec’s Patrick “The Predator” Cote takes on American Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Since moving to welterweight, Cote has gone 5-1 and is coming off of an impressive TKO win over Ben Saunders. Although he’s 36, it’s fair to say he’s the most complete version of himself he’s ever been. Cerrone, meanwhile, moved up to 170 lbs after losing in his bid to become the lightweight champion last year, and in his welterweight debut, he submitted Alex Oliveira. Both Cote and Cerrone are known for their exciting fights and there is a good chance there will be bonus money to be had in this important bout, one which should shoot the winner into the top-15 of the welterweight division.
3) Calderwood, Letourneau Make History In First UFC Women’s Flyweight Bout
The first-ever women’s flyweight (125lbs) contest takes place at UFC Fight Night 89, as Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood battles Canadian Valerie Letourneau. Letourneau, who is 3-1 in the UFC, fought for the strawweight title against champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and although she survived the full five rounds, she lost a unanimous decision. Since that fight, Letourneau has told the tale of her struggle to make the weight, and it’s a blessing for her the UFC booked this fight at 125 lbs as Letourneau just isn’t healthy at 115 lbs. Calderwood, meanwhile, went 2-1 in the strawweight (115lbs) division but as one of the bigger strawweights, 125 lbs suits her better as well. The UFC has not committed to an entire flyweight division, so this is more of a test, but if Letourneau and Calderwood can put on a show, it’s possible the UFC will be open to creating a fully-fledged flyweight division by the end of the year.
4) Canadian Cirkunov Goes For Third-Straight Win In The Octagon
One of the top prospects from Canada is Misha Cirkunov, and the light heavyweight will look to make it 3-0 in the UFC when he takes on promotional newcomer Ion Cutelaba. Cirkunov was born in Latvia but grew up in Toronto and representing ‘the Six’ on the big stage will no doubt motivate him to put on a great performance. Cutelaba, from Romania, has won seven-straight fights by knockout or submission but Cirkunov is by far the toughest test of his career to date. It was surprising when Cirkunov wasn’t given a higher-ranked opponent, but Cutelaba is no joke, and this should be an exciting fight for as long as it lasts.
5) Theodorou, Alvey Collide In Exciting Fight Pass Fight
Two middleweights with great personalities meet in the featured Fight Pass prelim as Canadian Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou takes on American “Smilin'” Sam Alvey. Theodorou won TUF Nations and quickly emerged as a top prospect at 185 lbs, winning his first three UFC fights in impressive fashion. Unfortunately for Theodorou, he ran into the red-hot Thiago Santos in his last fight and suffered the first loss of his career. Theodorou says he’s learned from that experience and promises to look better than ever in this fight. Alvey, on the other hand, hasn’t fought in nearly a year since breaking his jaw in a TKO loss to Derek Brunson. That was the first stoppage loss of Alvey’s career and he says he wants to make Theodorou pay for it. Prior to that loss, Alvey went 3-1 in the UFC, with all three of his wins coming by way of brutal knockout. Theodorou is a grinder and Alvey is a knockout artist, and this fight has the potential to be really fun.