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UFC Fight Night: Eye vs Calvillo complete main card preview

Main card action for this one may not be for the casuals, but has the potential to pay off for the dedicated fan.

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UFC Fight Night: Eye vs Calvillo has a really good main card, albeit one that doesn’t have as much star power as some fans would want. But, this is how stars are made, and the hot prospects on both the prelims and the main card are some of the better ones to keep your eye on.

Jordan Espinoza vs Mark De La Rosa

Espinoza (14-7) came into the UFC with some hype due to the quality of his finishes on the regional scene, which include at least three D’Arce chokes. It took two bites of the apple at Contender Series against Nick Urso and a buzzer-beating knockout of Rilley Dutro for him to get the contract, and he got to making an impression by defeating Eric Shelton by decision. He’s got a lot going on with his hard striking, even late in a fight as evidenced in the linked video above. More than that, he’s got scrambly wrestling defense, but might get outpaced by a busier fighter that can actually work takedowns against him.

So that brings us to the question of whether or not Mark De La Rosa (11-4) is the person to do that. With effective boxing, good wrestling and no problems with getting into a shootout, Mark could pressure Espinoza effectively and outhustle him standing. A size and reach disadvantage may prevent this, and Mark may also slow down sooner than Jordan down the line.

Worth noting, this is truly a must-win for both. Espinoza has lost two in a row, and De La Rosa has lost three. Even in a division as small as flyweight, the loser here could end up plying their trade elsewhere.

Andre Fili vs Charles Jourdain

Andre Fili (20-7) has been a fun yet frustrating fighter to watch for a long time now. Aggressive striking, good reversals, good cardio and a propensity to draw and engage fighters into a good brawl are assets he’s used to varying degrees of success. It’s possible we may not have seen his full potential as a fighter overall, but he’s still putting things together. A recent loss to Sodiq Yussuf isn’t really a knock against him, and his decimation of striking specialist Sheymon Moraes saw some more technical shine from Fili.

Jourdain (10-2) is just a different cat from what he’s used to. Another hard striker that always finds a way to be in superior position and loves chokes? Charles is one of the brightest prospects in the division that no one is talking about, even after his sensational display against Korean Superboy Doo Ho Choi, shutting his lights off with the left-hand circuit breaker. Fili might find himself on the back foot here, and could beat back the younger and hungrier fighter with clinchwork and at range. He may be outgunned in this one, with Jourdain having more ways to do damage whether it’s in close quarters or top position on the ground.

Merab Dvashvili vs Gustavo Lopez

Merab (10-4) is a problem in a division full of talented grapplers. With a relaxed and composed boxing game and good phase shifting from striking to grappling, he’s got the tools to win fights against so many other bantamweights. Most of his game is ground control, and it’s punishing, even if not the most aesthetically pleasing approach.

This will make this bout something of a baptism by fire for the another newcomer on the card, Gustavo Lopez (11-4). Replacing Ray Borg, he’s an Xtreme Couture product and protégé of the late Robert Follis, Lopez was a mainstay for Combate Americas and clearly a fighter that had a lot of shine to him. When he got his crack at the inaugural title against John Castañeda in 2016, the fight became a non-title affair due to his opponent missing weight. To add to that heartbreak, he suffered a tough loss. After racking up some more wins, he had back to back losses to a pre-UFC Andre Ewell in King of the Cage, followed by a split decision loss to Jose Alday. Once again, he turned it all around to go three in a row with a Von Flue finish over Vicente Marquez, redemption against Alday in a rematch for the bantamweight title, and literally stiffening Joey Ruquet to end the fight. He can wrestle, and he’s got faster hands than ever with solid power behind them. Will he be able to deal with a heftier power grappler like Dvashvili? Yes, and it’s going to take a lot of work to play it safe and keep the fight where he wants it. Truly one of the more interesting matchups of the evening.

Karl Roberson vs Marvin Vettori

Kind of hard to look at Roberson’s Contender Series debut and not think this guy is capable of wildly unpredictable violence. While it’s never good too assume too much of a fighter making a splash like that early, he’s at least backed up by his performances on the regional level with the tough proving grounds of CFFC. Karl’s (9-2) wins over Darren Stewart, Jack Marshman and Wellington Turman showed an experience deficit is nothing to him, although he bit off a bit more than he could chew against Cezar Ferreira and Glover Teixeira (what were they thinking?). Sharp striking and a great submission game from almost anywhere is always a good combo, and it’s clear with their matchmaking that the UFC believes in him, as they should.

But the task at hand is Marvin Vettori (14-3, 1 draw), a durable kickboxer with a knack for guillotine chokes that can slow the pace to a crawl and eke out tough and gritty wins. The story of this fight is more about the bad blood that exists between the two due to Roberson having to pull out due to illness. That led to... whatever this is. Expect a tough but fun fight, don’t expect them to be cordial.

Jessica Eye vs Cynthia Calvillo

Fresh off a devastating loss to Valentina Shevchenko, Eye (15-7) got back on the horse to earn a decision win over Viviane Araujo in December. Her boxing has always been the strongest element of her game, outworking opponents with pace and pressure. It’s what led her to the wins against Katlyn Chookagian, Jessica Rose-Clark and Kalindra Faria, the streak that earned her the title shot. With a size and strength advantage, she presents various problems for the less-experienced Calvillo.

But Cynthia (8-1, 1 draw) is scrappy, has tight and quick striking with a good wrestling game. The problem will be contending with Eye’s reach and size advantage, as well as testing Eye’s takedown defense, which could be hit or miss. The change of scenery after leaving Alpha Male also adds another question mark here, but this could be where she gets to show she’s found her footing and beat a former title challenger.

UFC Fight Night: Eye vs Calvillo takes place this Saturday night and streams exclusively on ESPN+ starting at 6:00pm EST.