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UFC 236 Prelim Breakdown

UFC 236 is an outstanding card from top to bottom. Spearheaded by two interim title fights at the top, the card features many terrific fights in the lead-up, many of which include rising contenders, a former title challenger, and promising up-and-coming prospects.

Jalin Turner vs. Matt Frevola

A post shared by Jalin Turner (@thetarantulamma) on Mar 14, 2019 at 9:08pm PDT

The featured televised prelim on ESPN features a lightweight battle between the two best-nicknamed fighters on the card, The Tarantula vs. The Steamrolla. How awesome is that? In terms of the fight itself, the action will be non-stop from start to finish. The two Contender Series (DWTNCS) alumni have drawn eyeballs due to their most recent performances. Turner is coming off of a first-round knockout over Callan Potter at UFC 234 in February, while Frevola is coming off of a brawl with Lando Vannata at UFC 230 that resulted in a draw. This will be the third octagon appearance for both men.

Wilson Reis vs. Alexandre Pantoja

A post shared by Wilson Reis (@wilsonreis7) on Apr 8, 2019 at 12:46pm PDT

With the flyweight division seemingly on life support, this matchup between the #5 and 6 ranked 125lb fighters could be huge in determining the near future of the division, as well as possibly determining a shot at Henry Cejudo’s belt in the near future. Reis is a former title challenger with a high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pedigree, having won various BJJ competitions in the past. Reis is coming off of a decision win over future Rizin title challenger Ben Nguyen back in December. Pantoja is a former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, where he finished as a semifinalist after serving as the number 1 seed entering the competition. He currently rides a 2-fight winning streak over Brandon Moreno and Ulka Sasaki.

Max Griffin vs. Zelim Imadaev

A post shared by Max Griffin (@maxpainmma) on Apr 1, 2019 at 12:21pm PDT

This fight features two welterweight finishers heading in seemingly different directions. Dave Marinoble’s Griffin is coming off of a pair of consecutive losses at the hands of Curtis Millender and Thiago Alves, the latter of which was seen as a controversial decision in Brazil back in February. Griffin still carries a very sharp striking game, and even in his losses has been effective causing his opponents problems with his ability to keep distance. Imadaev is a UFC newcomer, and is 8-0 in his career thus far, with all wins occurring via knockout or TKO. While his career has been outstanding up to this point, Griffin will be an immense step up from his previous competition.

Boston Salmon vs. Khalid Taha

A post shared by Boston "Boom Boom" Salmon (@bostonboomboom) on Feb 7, 2019 at 7:02pm PST

An underrated “fight of the night” contender will open up the ESPN portion of the card with a pair of bantamweight kickboxers with dramatic flair. Salmon is making his long-awaited UFC debut after putting on a clinical striking performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in its inaugural episode of back in June 2017. Salmon has been slated to make his debut many times since, including this matchup with Taha originally booked for last November, but injuries have unfortunately pushed his debut back until now. This will be Taha’s second UFC appearance after dropping a decision to Nad Narimani at featherweight back in July. Taha is an experienced kickboxer from the Western European scene and holds 9 finishes in 12 professional wins.

Curtis Millender vs. Belal Muhammad

A post shared by Curtis Millender (@curtiouscurtis170) on Mar 15, 2019 at 2:41pm PDT

Headlining the UFC Fight Pass portion of the card will be a welterweight matchup between rising contenders looking to get back on track after having long winning streaks snapped in their most recent bouts. Millender was riding high on a 9-fight winning streak that included winning the LFA title and winning his first 3 UFC bouts, before he ran into the equally red-hot Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos back in March in Wichita, losing by way of first-round rear naked choke. He makes a quick turnaround to face Muhammad, who prior to his loss to Geoff Neal back in January in Brooklyn, was riding a 4-fight winning streak of his own that saw him on the verge of welterweight contendership. The big question now will both men respond to their first losses after being on long winning streaks?

Montel Jackson vs. Andre Soukhamthath

A post shared by Andre Soukhamthath (@andresoukmma) on Feb 25, 2019 at 4:40am PST

Another potential bantamweight fight of the night features an intriguing prospect in Jackson against an all-action fighter in Soukhamthath. Jackson will be making his third UFC appearance after defeating Brian Kelleher by first-round D’arce choke at UFC 232 in December. Soukhamthath will be making his sixth UFC walk, going 2-3 in his first 5 bouts, losing 2 by split decision and 1 by foolish decision after he decided to take down a limping Sean O’Malley. Okay, I kid. Despite his sub-.500 UFC record, Soukhamthath has been competitive in all of his UFC bouts thus far. Jackson, however, may be his toughest opponent yet.

Poliana Botelho vs. Lauren Mueller

A post shared by Poliana Botelho (@polianabotelho_ufc) on Mar 1, 2019 at 2:44am PST

The only women’s fight on the card features Brazilian kickboxer Botelho against DWTNCS alumnus Mueller. Both ladies are coming off of losses in their last respective bouts, with Botelho losing to Cynthia Calvillo in November in Buenos Aires and Mueller losing to Wu Yanan in November in Beijing. Botelho will be making her flyweight debut after fighting her first 3 UFC bouts at strawweight. It’s fair to assume that the weight cut to 115 was tough on Botelho, as she was the much larger fighter in each of her UFC strawweight contests. Mueller will be making her third UFC appearance and has shown plenty of promise thus far in her career. Botelho will be her toughest opponent to date.

Brandon Davis vs. Randy Costa

A post shared by Brandon Michael Davis (@brandondavisufc) on Apr 8, 2019 at 2:52pm PDT

Opening the night in Atlanta will be a bantamweight told between Mississippi brawler Davis moving down in weight to match up with New England-based debutant Costa. Davis is 1-3 in his UFC career up to this point, most recently losing via kneebar to wonder prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov back at UFC 228 in December. Despite losing the bout, Davis showed plenty of promise against the very dangerous Zabit while the fight was on the feet. Costa, as aforementioned, will be making his UFC debut. Sitting at 4-0, Costa has shown plenty of promise on the New England regional scene. Costa has a solid all-around base and has incredible mic skills should he win, but as I’ve mentioned with almost every prospect so far, this will be by far be his toughest test to date.

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