The UFC moves to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for UFC 203. Northeast Ohio is home to current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic ($10,000), as he looks to hold off Alistair Overeem ($9,600) and keep his belt.
The Miocic-Overeem battle is not the only interesting battle on the card, as the heavyweight bout and rematch between Travis Browne ($8,700) and Fabricio Werdum ($10,700) should be a very entertaining bout despite the fact it appears to be a mismatch if you look at the DFS salaries alone. UFC 203 also features the debut of CM Punk ($8,000), as the former WWE standout takes on heavily favored Mickey Gall ($11,400). In a bantamweight bout, Urijah Faber ($9,700) steps in to face Jimmie Rivera ($9,700) in what will be the biggest test to date for Rivera. Ohio’s own Jessica Eye ($10,100) will take on Brazil’s Bethe Correia ($9,300) in what could be a very testy bout if the weigh-in and shoving match is any indication.
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Nik Lentz ($10,200 vs. Michael McBride): Lentz (-425) is heavily favored to beat McBride, who takes this fight on short notice after Mairbek Taisumov was pulled from the card due to undisclosed reasons. It will be McBride’s UFC debut. Lentz returned to the lightweight division back in December, topping Danny Castillo at UFC on FOX 17 in a split decision victory. ‘The Carny’ has impressive wins in his career against Manvel Gamburyan and Hacran Dias, and will make McBride’s debut an unsuccessful one.
Stipe Miocic ($10,000 vs. Alistair Overeem): Hometown boy Miocic makes his title defense in ‘The Land’ against a very experienced and confident Overeem. Miocic is very calm and collected, but he has to be careful not to let emotions and a supercharged crowd force him to be sloppy like Brazil’s Fabricio Werdum was in their last match when he tried to do too much in Curitiba, falling to Miocic. After being knocked out by Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 50, Overeem recorded three KO/TKOs to give him a title shot. One thing about Overeem is, win or lose, that his fights usually do not go to the card. That’s good news for Miocic, who should have enough to push aside Overeem.
Fabricio Werdum ($10,700 vs. Travis Browne): ‘Vai Cavalo’ looks to rebound after falling to Miocic in front of his home fans, a disappointing way to lose the heavyweight belt. He will meet Browne, who takes this fight on short notice after Ben Rothwell was forced out due to injury. Werdum topped Browne back in April 2014 by unanimous decision in a fight that wasn’t very close. This could be a similar fate for Browne, who has won just twice over his past five bouts, getting knocked out in two of the losses, including last time out to Cain Velasquez. ‘Hapa’ has the tools to beat Werdum, but it isn’t going to happen as Werdum is refocused and ready to make his ascension back to the top of the heavyweight ladder.
Sean Spencer ($8,900 vs. Yancy Medeiros): Medeiros will make his welterweight debut at UFC 203, and he is a slight favorite (-130) over Spencer. Three of the past four bouts for Spencer have resulted in losses, but that should not dissuade you from using him. Spencer is a solid striker and that gives him a great chance against the equally adept Medeiros. While Medeiros holds a slight edge in his work on the mat, Spencer is solid at takedown defense and won’t go to the mat or up against the fence easily. Spencer will come out and match the intensity of Medeiros, who can be a whirling dervish, tiring himself out early.
Brad Tavares ($9,800 vs. Caio Magalhaes): Tavares has dropped three of his past four bouts, including knockout losses against Robert Whittaker at Fight Night May 9, 2015, and against Tim Boetsch at UFC Fight Night 47 back on Aug. 16, 2014. Tavares has had a long layoff after battling a rib injury. Magalhaes is the perfect opponent for Tavares, as the Brazilians was submitted by Josh Samman for the first loss of his career. Now, Tavares will send him to his first-career losing streak as long as he can avoid the powerful punches of Magalhaes. Tavares has the upper hand if this bout spends a majority of time on the mat, as he is the superior wrestler here.