Lazzez faces Alves, targets 2nd straight UFC win; Villanueva takes on Moreira - GulfToday

Lazzez faces Alves, targets 2nd straight UFC win; Villanueva takes on Moreira


Mounir Lazzez, who became the first Arab fighter to make an UFC debut at UFC Fight Island on Yas Island in July last year, will face Warlley Alves’ challenge for his second win. File

Welterweights also man the co-main event slot on Wednesday fight card as Brazilian veteran Warlley Alves faces off with intriguing sophomore Mounir Lazzez. Projected as a potential title contender according to UFC, Alves raced out of the gate to start his UFC career, amassing a 10-0 record including a submission win over Colby Covington before suffering back-to-back losses in 2016. Since then, the 30-year-old has gone 3-2 in a string of entertaining bouts, earning stoppage victories over Sultan Aliev and Sergio Moraes, while landing on the unhappy side of the stoppage against James Krause and Randy Brown.

A professional MMA competitor since 2011, the Brazilian made a name for himself fighting at Jungle Fight.

In 2014 it was revealed that Alves was selected to be a participant on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, in which he defeated Wendell Oliveira by split decision to move into the Ultimate Fighter house, and become an official cast member.

Lazzez had MMA Twitter buzzing during his debut in July, as he weathered an early onslaught from Abdul Razak Alhassan before turning the tables and controlling the action over the final 12 minutes of the bout to earn a unanimous decision win.

The 31-year-old holds a prior win over fellow UFC prospect Sasha Palatnikov and showed a diverse offensive arsenal in his debut victory, so it will be interesting to see what he can do for an encore here.

According to UAF, this is a tremendous opportunity for both men, as Alves gets the chance to affirm his veteran status and get back into the win column against an emerging talent with a solid amount of hype, while Lazzez can potentially pick up a second straight UFC win by knocking off a divisional mainstay who will be making the walk to the Octagon for the 12th time in his career.

Villanueva, Moreira face off: Ike Villanueva and Vinicius Moreira meet in this light heavyweight matchup between action fighters looking to start fresh after struggling out of the gates in their UFC careers.

The 36-year-old Villanueva had won four straight before getting called to the Octagon in May for a clash with Chase Sherman. After getting stopped in the second by “The Vanilla Gorilla,” a nasty cut ended his sophomore appearance opposite Jordan Wright in 91 seconds, sending him into this week’s matchup with Moreira on a two-fight slide and in dire need of a strong performance.

After impressing on the Contender Series in 2018, “Mamute” has struggled through his first three UFC appearances, suffering consecutive first-round stoppage losses to Alonzo Menifield, Eryk Anders, and Paul Craig heading into this one. Moreira had a pair of assignments fall through in 2020, resulting in his clash with Villanueva being his first fight in 16 months. Both men had solid success before matriculating to the UFC cage and are under the gun to get back to their winning ways here, so don’t be surprised if they each come out with a sense of urgency and a hunger to get things finished in a hurry.

Tremendous opportunity: If sneaky-good fights with a strong potential of ending inside the distance are your thing, you’re in for a treat with this flyweight pairing between Matt Schnell and Tyson Nam.

The former MTV Caged star Schnell has only gone the distance twice in his 19-fight career and looks to get back on track after having his four-fight winning streak snapped by Brazilian contender Alexandre Pantoja.

While Nam has been to the cards a few more times than his opponent on Wednesday, he’s similarly inclined to handle his business without the help of the judges, as he’s finished his last two opponents and earned seven of his last nine wins by stoppage.

While things are a little more clearly delineated at the top of the men’s flyweight ranks, everything south of the title picture is wide open, meaning there is a tremendous opportunity for Schnell and Nam to stake a claim to a place in the Top 10 and put themselves in the thick of the chase with a strong showing on Wednesday.

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