The UFC will hold its first ever event in Russia on Saturday, when UFC Fight Night 136 goes down in Moscow. But, with UFC 228 having taken place this past weekend, and with UFC 229 right around the corner, is Saturday’s card going to pull a lot of viewers?
This is likely a card that the hardest of the hardcore fans are buzzing about, particularly die hard fans who monitor the European regional circuit. After all, undefeated Russian middleweight, Adam Yandiev , will make his promotional debut against Jordan Johnson. In addition, heralded light-heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev, will look to rebound from the first loss of his career (a late, submission loss to Paul Craig in March), against Marcin Prachnio.
In addition, there’s also several other, very intriguing bouts for the hardcore base. Russian bantamweight prospect Petr Yan is booked to fight Jin Soo Son, Mairbek Taisumov, who has won five in a row in the Octagon, will battle the always tough, Desmond Green, and in another interesting bout at lightweight, Rustam Khabilov will face Kajan Johnson.
But, when you consider the prelims will begin at 10:30 AM/EST here in North America, grabbing main stream eyes could be a tall order. Especially since there’s no mainstream names really on the prelim card. For some perspective, the prelims for UFC 228 last weekend, reportedly averaged just 560,000 viewers, which are the lowest numbers for UFC prelims since UFC 215 last September.
The Main Card
The main card certainly won’t draw any comparisons to UFC 229, in terms of all-star names and depth, but there’s some compelling action booked. For starters, M-1 Global welterweight champ Alexey Kunchenko is making his Octagon debut against former contender, Thiago Alves. To learn more about Kunchenko, click here.
In a heavyweight bout, which could very likely feature some short and violent striking exchanges, Andrei Arlovski will face Shamil Abdurakhimov. It’s a pivotal bout for both men. Arlovski is coming off a decision loss to Tai Tuivasa in June, after winning back-t0-back bouts. Abdurakhimov, meanwhile, quickly took out Chase Sherman in his last outing, and a win over a legend like Arlovski would be a big addition to his resume.
The co-main event will feature the Octagon return of Nikita Krylov, who will face light-heavyweight contender, Jan Blachowicz. Krylov went 4-0 after exiting from the UFC in 2016, and all four of his wins, not surprisingly, were via KO, TKO or submission.
In the headliner, the fan favorite Mark Hunt, will square off with rugged vet, and one of the most dangerous submission artists in the game, Aleksei Oleinik. It’s an intriguing fight, with a clear cut, striker vs. grappler angle, in addition to the rankings implications tied to it. Hunt is sitting in the #8 spot at heavyweight, while Oleinik is #11.
But will UFC Moscow generate much mainstream interest? It would be pretty, pretty surprising if it did. Folks love to watch Hunt and his walk off knockouts, but, aside from the main event, there’s not many names that will pull MMA lite fans.