The event formally known as UFC 196 may be a colossal mess that is injury plagued and perhaps cursed (catch up on all of the injury drama here ), but this card still has some intriguing matches for fight fans, and is more than worth your time tuning in. After the former main event of Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez fell through last Sunday, and a suitable replacement could not be found, the event was moved from Pay-Per-View to Fox Sports 1 where it will now air for free. And if free fights aren’t enough to get you to tune in, check out these top reasons to watch UFC Fight Night 82 this Saturday.
A Solid Fight Card
Even without a heavyweight championship fight for a main even, UFC Fight Night 82 is still a solid card with great fighters. The card features rising stars like Stephen Thompson and Oliver Saint Preux, as well as established stars like former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, as well as perennial title contender Joseph Benavidez and fan-favorite Roy Nelson, who will round out what should still be a pretty entertaining fight card.
We May Finally Learn Who C.M. Punk is Fighting
It may seem weird that one of the main selling points of UFC Fight Night 82 is a 1-0 fighter, fighting on the Fight Pass prelims, but there are a lot of eyes on Mickey Gall right now. Gall impressed Dana White during an episode of the UFC’s reality show, Dana White: Looking For A Fight, with a first round submission win over Ron Templeton in his pro debut during a Dead Serious MMA event. Following his victory, Gall got on the microphone, and proceeded to call out Punk.
White was definitely impressed. “I like where your head’s at.” White told Gall after the fight, and later stated “I’m interested (in Gall).” White later announced that instead of instantly booking Gall for Punk’s debut, Gall would instead face Mike Jackson at UFC Fight Night 82, and with a win, would face Punk later in the year.
Fans have long wondered who would be Punk’s first opponent since the former WWE champion signed with the UFC back in December of 2014. And after 15 months of speculation, the UFC may finally have the first opponent for Punk.
For fans of highlight reel knockouts, UFC Fight Night 82 has got you covered, because several fighters on the card are well known for their one-punch knockout power. There’s of course, Hendricks, who literally sends guys flying across the Octagon when he hits them. Roy Nelson has long since been considered to be one of the heaviest hitters in the heavyweight division, and fellow heavyweight, Derek Lewis, has also made a name for himself as a knockout artist. Rafael Cavalcante has all but one of his professional wins coming by knockout, and opening the event is the Ultimate Fighter season 22 runner-up, Artem Lobov, who recently collected two very powerful knockouts while on the show.
A Possible Welterweight Title Eliminator
UFC Fight Night 82 will be headlined by “Big Rigg” Hendricks and the “Wonderboy” Thompson, in what could possibly be a welterweight title eliminator. While it’s likely that either Tyron Woodley or Carlos Condit will get the next title shot against Robbie Lawler, we can never tell how these things will turn out, and anything is possible.
Hendricks is still the number two ranked welterweight, with his only recent losses being a razor-thin split decision loss to the greatest welterweight ever, Georges St-Pierre, and another close split decision loss to the current champion, Lawler. Since losing the title to Lawler last December, Hendricks earned a unanimous decision victory over Matt Brown, and could have earned the next shot at Lawler had he not pulled out of the fight against Woodley, due to an intestinal blockage and kidney stone attack suffered by Hendricks during the weight cut.
Thompson is also a top welterweight that has been on a pretty good run as of late. The former kickboxing world champion, is on a five-fight win streak, and is most recently coming off of an amazing spinning hook kick knockout of Jake Ellenberger. But Hendricks is a huge step-up in competition for Thompson, in what will be his first five-round fight. And a win for either man could potentially result in a title shot.