Let's face it, there is a lot of MMA to choose from these days, and with the average event lasting anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, it's become more important than ever to cut out the riffraff and focus on the matches that will maximize the entertainment value and provide key bathroom and/or food breaks throughout the evening. So with that, we present the latest entry in our recurring series, Undercard Fights to Actually Care About: #UFC211 edition.
Joachim Christensen vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov -- UFC Fight Pass
Outside the inevitable Jones-Cormier rematch, the UFC's light heavyweight division is about as pretty to look at as a wet koala (Google it), matchups-wise. It is desperately in need of new blood, which makes emerging contenders like Misha Cirkunov all the more important to keep around. Luckily, the UFC might have found one such contender in Gadzhimurad Antigulov.
Currently riding a 13-fight win streak, the Dagestani standout will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time to take on Joachim Christensen, a hard-nosed vet who has split his first two UFC contests to Luis Henrique da Silva and Bojan Mihajlovic.
If Antigulov is able to implement his gameplan effectively, this will be a fight that is all but guaranteed to end within the opening frame. All but two of Antigulov's recent victories have come in the first round, with nine of them coming in the first two minutes, so chances are, this one will end with a highlight reel finish before you've even cracked your first beer.
Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter -- UFC Fight Pass
What do you get when you pair an 8-1 heavyweight with a 100% KO ratio against an 0-2 UFC vet coming off a KO loss? Well, you get basically the same thing that you can expect in any heavyweight fight, which is either A) a quick, brutal knockout or B) a sweat-drenched slog of a decision.
Luckily for us, I'd put my money on Rashad Coulter doing what he does best and pasting Sherman inside of three minutes. He may be stepping in as a last-second replacement for Dimitri Poberezhets, but he'll also be looking to make waves in his UFC debut with a big finish and will likely empty his arsenal (and his tank) early in an effort to do so.
Or, you know, he'll gas out immediately and make Sherman look like a world beater. Either way, fans of quick finishes rejoice!
Chas Skelly vs. Jason Knight -- FX
If you want to sound like the smartest person in the room at your UFC 211 viewing party, then Chas Skelly and Jason Knight are two guys that you should probably familiarize yourself with. Though their names don't carry a lot of value with casual fans, they're easily two of the most exciting up-and-comers in the lightweight division, having combined for nine UFC victories in 12 fights.
Skelly has put up two, straight wins, having submitted former King of Pancrase champion Maximo Blanco in 19 damn seconds before choking out Chris Gruetzemacher in February. Knight is riding a three-fight win streak and opened lot of people's eyes in submitting Alex Caceres back in January. Watch this fight. It will be worth it.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier -- FX
On any other card, Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier would be good enough to earn co-main, if not main event status. You can thank the ratings-hungry blowhards at UFC HQ (no offense) for forcing these two top lightweights to slum it on the FX prelims (no offense) in favor of the snoozer that will likely be Krzystof Jotko vs. David Branch (you know what, SOME offense) on the main card. Ridiculous.
Anyways, aside from the guaranteed barnburner implications of the fight itself, the real X-factor here will be to see how (or if) Alvarez bounces back from his latest setback. The former lightweight champion has seen plenty of ups and downs in his career before, but never has he suffered such a humiliating loss on the scale of his lightweight title fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 205, which came following weeks of heated buildup.
Though Alvarez has seemingly found the "freedom" in having his worst nightmare come true, his performance against the ever-dangerous Poirier will tell us a lot about just how much he truly has left in the tank.