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The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to San Antonio for the first time since 2014 this Saturday for UFC on ESPN 4. A number of ranked fighters are competing on the main card, so let’s take a look at them and the possible implications their fights could have on the rankings.
Headlining the card is a pivotal welterweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards. Dos Anjos (29-11) proved he still belonged at the top of the heap as he bounced back from a two-fight losing skid with an impressive submission win over Kevin Lee in May. Given that his only losses in the division were to current champion Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington, “RDA” is still highly-regarded. Sherdog rates the Brazilian as the fifth-best welterweight in the world, ESPN have him sixth, while the UFC rankings place him as the No. 4 contender in the division.
Edwards (17-3) will not be an easy task, however. The Birmingham native is on a seven-fight winning streak, having most recently outpointed Gunnar Nelson earlier this year. “Rocky” doesn’t make Sherdog’s Top 10, but ESPN have him as the 10th-best welterweight in the world, while he is No. 12 in the UFC rankings. Having called for a higher-ranked opponent for a while, Edwards will finally get his wish, and a win over dos Anjos could see him make huge strides up the rankings and into title contention.
Heavyweights collide in the co-main event as Alexey Oleynik meets Walt Harris. Oleynik (57-12-2) will be looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Alistair Overeem. However, it was on short notice, and the Ukraine-born Russian had previously won his last two, including a submission win over Mark Hunt. As of now, he is rated as the 10th-best heavyweight in the world by Sherdog as well as the No. 9 contender in the UFC rankings.
Harris (12-7, 1 NC) will be looking to take Oleynik’s spot in the rankings with arguably the biggest win of his career this weekend. “The Big Ticket” is coming off a TKO win over Sergey Spivak and hasn’t suffered defeat since late 2017. Currently ranked as the No. 14 contender in the UFC heavyweight rankings, a win over “The Boa Constrictor” could see Harris enter the Top 10.
James Vick returns to action when he takes on Dan Hooker in a lightweight bout on the main card. Vick (13-3) had been calling for higher-ranked opponents but has since, dropped his last two fights to Justin Gaethje and Paul Felder. “The Texecutioner” is still ranked No. 15 in the UFC rankings, however, and will look to start the climb up again.
He faces a very durable Hooker (17-8), coming off a brutal TKO defeat to Edson Barboza last year. It was the first time the New Zealander had been finished, who was previously on a four-fight winning streak. Getting back to winning ways against Vick could see him crack the Top 15.
Lastly, there is more ranked lightweight action as Alexander Hernandez meets Francisco Trinaldo. Hernandez (10-2) suffered his first loss in the UFC after getting finished by Donald Cerrone at the start of the year. It was a humbling experience for the 26-year-old, who will look to get back on the win column this weekend. Despite his first promotional setback, “The Great” is still ranked No. 13 in the UFC rankings, owing to his previous wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Trinaldo (23-6) will be looking to reenter the Top 15 with a win over Hernandez, however. Following an impressive seven-fight winning streak, the Brazilian has alternated between wins and losses in his last four fights. He was most recently victorious against Evan Dunham and will look to make it two in a row against Hernandez, potentially taking his No. 13 spot with a win.