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By Matt ten-Hoeve on 3/29/2024 5:28 PM

UFC Fight Night: Blanchfield vs. Fiorot Preview

Tomorrow (Saturday, March 30), the UFC returns to Atlantic City with a showcase of two top tier women’s Flyweights in a fight that may determine the next title contender. Despite some card rearrangements, the UFC is presenting a solid Fight Night card that will actually be outside of the Apex and airing on ESPN proper, along with ESPN+. It’ll also have fans cheering on some relatively local names. Let’s check out what the UFC has in store for us in Atlantic City…

Main Card (10 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN+)

Erin Blanchfield vs. Manon Fiorot; Flyweights

Vicente Luque vs. Joaquin Buckley; Welterweights

Chris Weidman vs. Bruno Silva; Middleweights

Nursulton Ruziboev vs. Sedriques Dumas; Middleweights

Bill Algeo vs. Kyle Nelson; Featherweights

Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee; Welterweights

Preliminary Card (7 PM EST on ESPN2/ESPN+)

Nate Landwehr vs. Jamall Emmers; Featherweights

Virna Jandiroba vs. Loopy Godinez; Strawweights

Julio Arce vs. Herbert Burns; Featherweights

Dennis Buzukja vs. Connor Matthews; Featherweights

Ibo Aslan vs. Anton Turkalj; Light Heavyweights

Viktoriia Dudakova vs. Melissa Gatto; Flyweights

Andre Petroski vs. Jacob Malkoun; Middleweights

Angel Pacheco vs. Caolan Loughran; Bantamweights

The Prelims

As I always like to say, the Prelims should not be skipped. There tends to be fun or interesting things in these fights. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

Andre Petroski vs. Jacob Malkoun - both of these men love to fight and go after it. With both men coming off of a loss (with Malkoun’s being an illegal strike), they will both be looking for a big win here to get back on track. Petroski is the somewhat-local boy, fighting out of the Philadelphia area. Not having to travel too far may be a help to go along with some fans in the crowd.

I’m curious to see how Viktoriia Dudakova does in a slight move up in competition. She has three nice wins in the UFC (one on Dana White’s Contender Series) and comes in as the underdog against a tough Melissa Gatto. This should be a fun prospect fight.

Connor Matthews got some love from the UFC this week with a short behind the scenes look at his life story on YouTube. It was a nice feature and sets him up as a betting underdog that people will cheer for.

Herbert Burns, the brother of Gilbert, returns after almost two years and two losses to face a very tough Julio Arce. Both men have something to prove in this fight.

I highly suggest keeping an eye on Loopy Godinez. She is all action in her fights and is surging through the division. Virna Jandiroba is so tough, though, and will be a very interesting matchup for Loopy. I actually can’t wait for this one!

Nate Landwehr vs. Jamall Emmers is probably going to be fun. Both men go after it, despite having different styles. The clash of styles could create some posturing, but I expect both men to try and set up an impressive finish.

Bill Algeo vs. Kyle Nelson

This is the type of fight that might not be super important to the rankings, but it could get fight fans on their feet. Both men have “Fight of the Night” potential and I expect nothing less here. Don’t blink!

Nursulton Ruziboev vs. Sedriques Dumas

This matchup of kickboxers should end up being hard-hitting. Ruziboev has a ton of experience outside of the UFC and looked impressive in his first fight with the promotion. Dumas has a few wins in the company, but is still looking for that highlight reel finish that will keep him in the minds of fight fans.

Chris Weidman vs. Bruno Silva

Many people were speculating that this could be Weidman’s last fight. It would be a good story - leaving his gloves in the Octagon after fighting one last time close to home. Weidman admits that he’s thought about it, but will be listening to his body. So far in this camp, Chris claims that he feels better than previous fight camps. Either way, his fighting style and experience poses a threat to anyone he faces off with. The man he’ll be staring at from across the Octagon this time is Bruno Silva, who is in desperate need of an impressive win. After winning 7 straight fights from 2017 to 2021, he is 1-4 since, with that one win sandwiched between two straight losses on both sides. Both of these men are well-rounded fighters with a lot of experience. It should be a fun fight.

Vicente Luque vs. Joaquin Buckley

Buckley replaces Sean Brady here, which Buckley was clamoring for - he was calling out Luque, Kevin Holland, among others and their uncles. He was just trying to fight. Buckley has had some nice wins and highlights over the years, but just can’t get to that next step in the division. He’ll be looking to do so against Luque tomorrow. Of course, Luque won’t make that easy. He will be looking to get back towards title talks with his second fight since coming off a major brain injury scare. He has had some bad luck with fights, having a fight against Ian Garry in December canceled late and having a second opponent for this fight. However, the extra time may benefit him when it comes to preparation. Luque was born in New Jersey before moving to Brazil, so he will have some family and friends in the crowd. 

Erin Blanchfield vs. Manon Fiorot

All due respect to Manon Fiorot, but I can’t help but pull for Erin Blanchfield here. Since I am not an official reporter and just do this for fun, I am more than willing to admit that. Blanchfield fights out of my hometown in North Jersey, so I’d be super happy to see her get a big win here and have a chance at the title. However, to put my “Possible Future Reporter Hat” on here, Manon Fiorot has all the abilities to crush those hopes. Both of these women are surging through the Flyweight Division. In fact, Fiorot’s only loss was in the first fight of her career back in 2018. She has gone 11-0 since. A lot of the other women in the division claim that both Blanchfield and Fiorot are “too boring” to fight for a title. Although the UFC does lean towards the entertainment aspect of featured fights sometimes, you also cannot deny wins - and whoever wins this fight will have a major claim to being the next challenger. They may have to wait until The Ultimate Fighter is over, as the division’s champion and next title challenger are wrapped up in that. Therefore, will the Blanchfield/Fiorot winner wait or take another fight to prove their claim? Only time will tell, but a win here is what is most important to prove their worth in the present.

Overall, this looks to be a really fun Fight Night. I am excited that there will be fans for this one. I considered being one of those fans with Atlantic City being about two and a half hours away from me. However, it would create a super long day and the ticket prices were a bit out of my range. While it would have been nice to see fights live again, I think the best seat for me this weekend is on the couch.

Anyway, here are my picks. Let’s hope I can get back on track after last week’s horrible outing…

Main Card

Erin Blanchfield

Vicente Luque

Chris Weidman

Nursulton Ruziboev

Bill Algeo

Chidi Njokuani

Preliminary Card

Jamall Emmers

Loopy Godinez

Julio Arce

Connor Matthews

Ibo Aslan

Viktoriia Dudakova

Andre Petroski

Caolan Loughran

How’s this card looking to you? Are you planning to watch? If so, who do you have winning? Let me know at I’ll be back next week to talk about this show’s results and also go over both cards for the PFL and UFC next week. See you then!