UFC Tampa preview: What to look for

The UFC returns to Tampa, Florida for UFC Fight Night 161 on ESPN+. The card is headlined by a women’s strawweight contender fight, Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Michelle Waterson. Here are some focal points outside of the main event:

Potential Fight of the Night

This one was too difficult to decide between the two, so I’ll give you both: Niko Price vs. James Vick and Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Tim Elliott.

Price (13-3, 5-3 UFC) is fresh off of a TKO loss to Geoff Neal at UFC 240. Don’t let that bother you here. Price is an exciting fighter who holds two “performance of the night” bonuses in his last four fights. Vick (13-4, 9-4 UFC) is attempting to get his career back on track while riding a current three fight losing streak. The streak should be taken lightly as all three opponents are current title contenders. This fight is headlining the prelims for good reason.

Figueiredo (16-1, 5-1 UFC) is coming off of a “fight of the night” bonus in his most recent fight, a win vs Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 240. The 125-pounder is shockingly powerful, finishing three of his first four UFC opponents with strikes. Former ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ winner Tim Elliott (15-8-1, 4-6 UFC) enters the card with two performance bonuses in his last three fights. These do not include the stiff competition he gave former champion Demetrious Johnson following his TUF victory. Elliott consistently looks for submission attempts throughout the fight and never disappoints.

Keep an Eye On

Ryan Spann (16-5, 3-0 UFC) is your flying-under-the-radar fighter for UFC Tampa. Nicknamed “Superman,” the 6’5” Spann has great size for the light heavyweight division. He currently has a 3-0 record since entering the UFC, including a knockout win over octagon legend Antonio “Lil Nog” Nogueira. Spann is the most intriguing prospect on the card.

A Bit of the Unknown

Kron Gracie (5-0, 1-0 UFC) will enter the cage to fight veteran Cub Swanson this Saturday, but how much do we know of his MMA ability? Kron’s career spans a total of five fights over five years, four of them coming outside of the UFC. Kron made his UFC debut in February 2019 with an impressive submission victory over Alex Caceres. Other than that lone fight, it is unclear how complete of a mixed martial arts fighter Gracie has transformed into. He will be looking to prove himself in the spotlight.

The Dern Return

Mackenzie Dern (7-0, 2-0 UFC) will make her return to the cage after a 17 month layoff due to the birth of her child. Prior to her hiatus, Dern was one of the UFC’s fastest rising stars due to her Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree. Dern, the daughter of highly decorated grappling competitor “Megaton” Dias, is a BJJ black belt with multiple championships. Dern will enter the octagon to face Amanda Ribas (7-1, 1-0 UFC) on Saturday night.


UFC Tampa can be watched on ESPN+ beginning with the prelims at 5PM ET. The main card will begin at 8PM ET.