Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ – UFC Denver Edition

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

UFC Fight Night 139 this weekend takes place in Denver, Colorado – the inaugural city where the UFC held their first event. The 25th anniversary show will feature ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung, who returns to action for the first time since February 2017, against Yair Rodriguez, who is stepping in on short notice to replace and injured Frankie Edgar. The co-main event will feature Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone against Mike Perry, a fight that will likely be getting the most attention this week leading up to fight night. This card is slightly underrated, and here some fights not to miss.

The featured bout of the FS1 prelims, strawweights Ashley Yoder and Amanda Bobby Cooper will lead us into the main card. Yoder is winless in her run with the UFC, losing to Justine Kish, former Invicta FC strawweight champ Angie Hill and most recently Brazilian star Mackenzie Dern. It’s safe to say a loss here will likely mean her release from the organization, so the pressure is on. Amanda Cooper has alternated wins and losses in her five fights with the UFC, most recently losing to Mackenzie Dern as well. Yoder and Cooper were also members of the Ultimate Fighter season 23. Both fighters are purple belts in BJJ, and primarily excel on the ground, so this fight should be a scrap, with both girls eager to prove their last fights were a fluke. My pick: Yoder finally cracks the UFC win column

Fighters on last season’s the Ultimate Fighter, winner Mike Trizano will take on Luis Peña, who was injured during the season after his quarter-finals win. Peña looked impressive in his UFC debut, shutting down Richie Smullen and making it known he wanted Trizano next, as this will be the ‘real’ final of the Ultimate Fighter. We will see if Trizano’s pressure and ground game can shut down the unorthodox movement of Peña, who is also no slouch on the ground. My pick: the ‘Violent Bob Ross’ Luis Peña

Debuting strawweights will feature on the main card as Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender winner Maycee Barber takes on Hannah Cifers, who is taking this fight on short notice. Barber went undefeated during her LFA run, finishing three of those four fights. In July, she finished Jamie Colleen on DWTNCS which scored her a UFC contract. Cifers is on a five-fight win streak of her own, scoring finishes in four of those fights as well. Cifers most recently fought in September. This should be a good test for the prospect Barber and also a great opportunity for the short-notice Cifers. My pick: Mayce ‘The Future’ Barber

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will be competing in his 29th UFC fight. Jim Miller holds the record at 30. 1-4 in his last fights, it would be good for Cowboy to pick up a win this weekend, though he shouldn’t in any danger of going anywhere if he fails to do so. His opponent is the controversial Mike Perry, who is coming off a split decision win against lightweight Paul Felder. Perry caught some flack for a marketing video leading up to the fight, depicting himself as a Native American looking for a ‘wanted’ Cerrone. Probably not the smartest move, you can see the video below. Cowboy went on an eight-fight win streak in the lightweight division from 2013 to 2015 concluding with a title fight loss and then moved up to welterweight and went on a four-fight win streak before hitting his current snag. Those losses came against contenders Jorge Masvidal and Darren Till, former champion Robbie Lawler and up-and-comer Leon Edwards. Cowboy is not afraid to fight anybody, and those list of killers continues with Perry, who has all of his wins by knockout save for his last. I can’t see this fight going the distance, and Cowboy will have to avoid Perry’s knockout power to get the win. My pick: Perry by KO

In the main event, the ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung makes his return to the octagon after injuries kept him out for nearly two years. Originally slated to face Frankie Edgar, injuries forced him out of the bout and Yair Rodriguez stepped in. I think we’re in for a more exciting fight, no offense to ‘The Answer’. Rodriguez’s last fight was a loss to Edgar back in May of last year. After a fight between Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov failed to come together (apparently due to problems on Rodriguez’s side) the UFC put out a statement that he had been released. It was a very surprising move considering Rodriguez was one of the UFC’s rising stars, but things worked themselves out and the fight was re-scheduled. Unfortunately, an injury delayed the fight again and Zabit was booked with another opponent. So now Rodriguez will step in on short notice to save the main event and look to get back in the win column after putting together a six-fight win streak before the loss. The ‘Korean Zombie’ was 13-3 riding a three-fight win streak when he faced former champ Jose Aldo in 2013. Jung lost that title fight in the fourth round after separating his shoulder; he then had to enlist in mandatory military service in South Korea and was out of the sport until early 2017. His comeback fight was an impressive first round knockout of Dennis Bermudez at UFC Fight Night 104 in Houston, Texas. Jung is looking to get back in title contention, and a win against Rodriguez can do just that in a stacked lightweight division. My pick: Rodriguez by decision

UFC Fight Night Denver: Korean Zombie Vs. Rodriguez begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

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