Top Heavyweight Contenders Headline UFC Debut in Raleigh

LAS VEGAS – For the first time ever, UFC® heads to PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. with a pivotal bout in the heavyweight division as No. 3 ranked contender Curtis Blaydes looks to secure the most important victory of his career when he takes on former UFC heavyweight champion and No. 4 ranked Junior Dos Santos. Also on the card, former UFC lightweight champion and featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar drops down for his first fight at bantamweight when he takes on top up-and-coming contender, No. 3 ranked Cory Sandhagen.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT ON ESPN+®: BLAYDES vs. DOS SANTOS will stream live from PNC Arena with all fights carried exclusively on ESPN+ in English and Spanish. The main card begins at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 25, with the prelims kicking off at 5 p.m. ET. Doors open at 4 p.m. ET.

The record-holder for most takedowns in UFC heavyweight history, Blaydes (12-2, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.) returns to action following a dominant victory over fellow top-ranked contender Shamil Abdurakhimov in September. Still one of the youngest heavyweights on the roster, Blaydes already holds a number of impressive victories over legendary names such as Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. He now looks to secure the first title shot of his career by taking out his first former champion.

Former champion and perennial fan favorite Dos Santos (21-6, fighting out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil) looks to get back into the title conversation with another signature knockout victory. The record-holder for the most knockdowns in UFC heavyweight history, Dos Santos has wins over some of the biggest names in the sport, including former UFC champions Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir, as well as current champion Stipe Miocic. He now aims to secure his 16th victory in the Octagon and stake his claim as the next title contender.

Undefeated in the UFC, Sandhagen (12-1, fighting out of Aurora, Colo.) goes for the most significant win of his young career. A professional mixed martial artist for less than five years, Sandhagen has already proven himself with wins over Raphael Assuncao, John Lineker and Iuri Alcantara. With his biggest challenge yet in front of him in former champion Edgar, Sandhagen looks to rise to the occasion and secure the next shot at the bantamweight title.

Always looking for a new challenge, Edgar (22-7, fighting out of Toms River, N.J.) wastes no time by jumping straight into the deep end of his new division. One of the biggest fan favorites on the roster, Edgar holds some of the most iconic wins in UFC history, including those over B.J. Penn, Gray Maynard and Urijah Faber. With a win over Sandhagen, Edgar looks to become the first athlete in UFC history to challenge for a title in three different weight classes.

Announced bouts on the card include:

Top featherweight contenders look to extend their win streaks and climb into the title conversation when No. 10 ranked Josh Emmett (15-2, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.) meets No. 14 Arnold Allen (15-1, fighting out of Trimley St. Martin, Suffolk, England)

Former Olympic silver medalist and No. 9 ranked women’s bantamweight contender Sara McMann (11-5, fighting out of Gaffney, S.C.) returns to the Octagon after almost two years off to take on No. 11 ranked Lina Lansberg (10-4, fighting out of Malmo, Sweden)

Dana White’s Contender Series veterans meet in a battle of ranked flyweights as No. 10 Jordan Espinosa (14-6, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) and No. 11 Alex Perez (22-5, fighting out of Lemoore, Calif.) look to break into the top of the division.

Hannah Cifers (10-3, fighting out of Durham, N.C.) aims to make her home state fans proud by snapping the win streak of former Invicta FC strawweight champion, Brianna Van Buren (9-2, fighting out of Gilroy, Calif.)

Debuting featherweights look to impress as Dana White’s Contender Series signee Herbert Burns (9-2, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by way of Lantana, Fla.) takes on Nate Landwehr (13-2, fighting out of Clarksville, Tenn.)

Brett Johns (15-2, fighting out of Swansea, Wales) intends to bounce back into the win column against debuting Dana White’s Contender Series signee Tony Gravely (19-5, fighting out of Radford, Va.)

Montel Jackson (9-1, fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc.) and Felipe Colares (9-1, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) meet in a clash of bantamweight prospects

Dana White’s Contender Series signee Jamahal Hill (6-0, fighting out of Kentwood, Mich.) looks to remain undefeated when he battles hard-hitting Darko Stosic (13-3, fighting out of Belgrade, Serbia)

Bevon Lewis (7-2, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) and Alen Amedovski (8-2, fighting out of Rome, Italy) look to snap their losing streaks in a critical middleweight bout

Women’s flyweight action sees Justine Kish (6-2, fighting out of Cramerton, N.C.) defend her home state against Lucie Pudilova (8-5, fighting out of Pribram, Czech Republic)

Author: Fight Game Asia

Robert Belen is a long-time combat sports writer for dSource Boxing. An avid sports fan, he knows no fear nor partiality in his reporting. If you have a problem with him, tell it to his face. (We bid you not.) You can follow him on Twitter @robertbelen

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