UFC Fight Night 35 may not be the sexiest of cards, but it’s still one of the most fun lineups you’ll get with a Wednesday night MMA event. None of the fighters who walk away with a victory on Wednesday will be next in-line for a title shot, but there are still plenty of reasons for you to dedicate your time to the UFC.
Here are the top five reasons to watch UFC Fight Night 35:
1. The Rebirth and Fall of a Middleweight Contender
At one point in time Luke Rockhold and Costa Philippou were two of the most intriguing prospects at 185 pounds. That all changed after both men came up short in their last bouts. MMA is a funny sport as one day a fighter will be heralded as the next champion, but the following day be known as a fighter who was never that good. Both Rockhold and Philippou will be desperate for a win this Wednesday to avoid being known as a never-been fighter.
A win for either man means a great deal as they will be inching closer to the title shot they were on the cusp of receiving. A loss plunges either competitor into a world of disappointment and irrelevance. Who will get back on the road to the title and who will be forgotten by the MMA world? There’s only one way to find out: Tune in this Wednesday to Fox Sports 1.
2. The UFC’s Stars of Tomorrow…Today
UFC Fight Night 35 features a plethora of quality fighters under the age of thirty. Each of these fighters are exciting additions to their respective divisions and could be the fighters that you will be paying $59.99 to watch on pay-per-view in the near future. The youth movement on the card is headlined by Lorenz Larkin, Brad Tavares, and TJ Dillashaw.
Larkin is mostly remembered for his run in StrikeForce where he beat the likes of Gian Villante and Robbie Lawler before moving to the UFC. Larkin brings a fan friendly striking style into the cage that could turn him into a superstar should he string together a few solid wins.
Larkin’s opponent on Wednesday is 26 year old Brad Tavares. MMA fans first saw Brad Tavares when he was a member of Team Liddell on season eleven of The Ultimate Fighter. Even though he lost on the show, Tavares has been the most impressive of any Season 11 alum. Since leaving the show, Tavares has racked up six UFC wins and will be looking to make it five straight against Larkin. If Tavares can get past Larkin he will set himself on the fast-track to UFC stardom.
Outside of the two surging middleweights in the co-main event, 27 year old T.J Dillashaw is also one of the young guns to look out for on the card. Dillashaw has shown all of the skills to become a champion. His wrestling is top-knotch, his striking is ever improving under Duane Ludwig, and he has some of the best submission skills in the 135 pound weight class. If Dillashaw beats Mike Easton this Wednesday, the ten fight veteran may only be two or three fights away from a title shot.
3. A 36 Year Old Prospect
Yes, UFC Fight Night 35 is a primarily youth driven card but the top prospect to watch this Wednesday is 36 year old Yoel Romero. It’s not every day that a 36 year old man makes his UFC debut after only five fights, but Romero has captivated the MMA fan base with his ability to finish fights at any moment. Romero is a former Olympic Wrestling silver medalist and one of the only men to ever beat wrestling legend Cael Sanderson in freestyle competition.
Romero’s wrestling chops are far and away some of the best in the UFC, but he rarely uses it inside the cage. Since making his UFC debut, Romero has treated fans to spectacular knockouts of Clifford Starks and Ronny Markes. If Romero makes it three knockouts in a row against Derek Brunson, he may find himself catapulted into the division’s elite due to his age. A star could be born this Wednesday. Don’t miss it.
4. A Guaranteed Slugfest
When Middleweights Trevor Smith and Brian Houston step into the cage this Wednesday, you will not want to miss it. Smith is coming off an absolute war with Ed Herman which was one of the most fun fights of 2013. Houston on the other hand is 4-1 in his MMA career but three of his wins have come by knockout in less than two minutes. The fists will fly in this bout which is my pick for Fight of the Night. Make sure to watch it on the preliminary card portion on Fox Sports One.
5. The Return of a Spaniard
Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman was one of the UFC’s feel good stories until a 1-3 streak led to his release. Since then, Brenneman has dropped from welterweight to lightweight and looked great on the regional circuit. Only time will tell if Brenneman will regain the same momentum he had in 2011 after beating Rick Story but his first step towards regaining relevance comes this Wednesday.
Make sure to be tuned into UFC Fight Pass at 4 PM ET/1 PM PT to see what the future holds for Brenneman.