UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Till Preview

UFC Vegas 35 will go down at an earlier that usual start time this Saturday, September 4 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. UK”s own Dareen Till goes up against Derek Brunson in the main event. Also in the co-main event is UK based heavyweight Tom Aspinall, he takes on short notice replacment Sergey Spivak.

We are entering make or break territory coming into this main event on Saturday night. A win for either Till or Brunson will put them in pole position for a crack at Israel Adesanya’s title and there is a lot at stake for both middleweights. Till is only with one win in his last four and has had a run of 4 canceled fights in a row due to injuries and visa issues. The Liverpudlian is hungry and confident in getting the job done over a much improved Derek Brunson. His last win came over Kelvin Gastelum in 2019, Till was involved in a technical striking battle in his last outing against Robert Whittaker, a fight in which he lost by split decision. That result left Till at 1-1 at 185 pounds an he needs this win more than Brunson so I’m excited to see what “The Gorilla” has to offer.

Derek Brunson has had a steady rise through the middleweight ranks in recent years, he picked up the first win of his current 4-fight win streak in 2019 beating Elias Theodorou to a decision. Ian Heinisch also suffered a decision defeat by the hands of Brunson later that year. The Sanford MMA standout won his only fight in 2020 when he dismantled Edmen Shahbazyan and TKO the rising prospect in round 3. Brunson then beat another rising prospect in Kevin Holland, a fight which took place in March 2021. That win has set him up with a showdown with Till for all the marbles.

The level of competition that Brunson and Till have faced over the past few years isn’t really comparable. In years gone by, Brunson would have taken on the upper echelon of the division, he has played the part of a gatekeeper recently and he will be facing much higher opposition when he steps in to take on his UK rival. There will be massive pressure for Till to perform and he is not shy about adding extra pressure to himself whilst predicting the fight will be over inside one round. This fight will be a clash of styles, I feel that Brunson is going to want to put Till on his back and keep him there. For Till, he will want to sprawl and brawl, the smaller cage will hinder his in and out movement but not enough to have a major impact on the outcome of this encounter. I’m not expecting a blowout from either fighter here, this fight should be a close fought fight, Till does have the power advantage but the threat of the takedown may just make him hold back ever so slightly. I’m excited to see how this fight unfolds.

Tom Aspinall has had to deal with a late opponent change as Sergey Spivak steps in at short notice to take on Liverpool based heavyweight. Aspinall took out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in his last stand-out performance inside the octagon. Tom is known for his striking and even more so for his boxing credentials, he showcased his slick skills on the mat when he locked in a rear naked choke on Arlovski and forced the tap seconds into round two of their clash. His opponent, Sergey Spivak beat heavyweight veteran Aleksei Oleinik when he last stepped foot inside the cage. The Moldovan is on a three-fight win streak and you must give him credit for taking this opportunity against a high level guy at such short notice.

Alex Morono will look to build upon his knockout of Cowboy Cerrone when he steps in to take on German standout David Zawada in the welterweight division. Zawada was beaten by split decision in his last tussle when he took on Ramazan Emeev, Morono will provide just as tough of a challenge as he looks to build on the biggest win of his career. This should be a fun fight as both guys like to move forward an set a solid pace. Modestas Bukauskas has not had it all his own way having lost both of his previous fights. The light-heavyweight is set to lock horns with striking phenom Khalil Rountree Jr. who on his day can cause problems to any 205-pounder. I expect some heavy leather to be thrown in this fight and I’m curious to see if Modestas can hang with Rountree Jr. on the feet.

Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett will make in long awaited, highly anticipated UFC debut when he takes on Luigi Vendramini in a lightweight contest that is set to open up the main card. The former Cage Warriors champion has been flirting with the UFC brass for years now, on Saturday night we finally get to see the Merseyside man in action inside the octagon. Pimblett comes into the promotion on a two-fight win-streak and has a tough but winnable matchup against Brazilian born Vendramini. Fighting out of Federal District, Brazil, Vendramini sits at 1-2 in the lightweight division, he will be just as eager to get back into the win column. For more on Paddy Pimblett check out Brad Wharton’s excellent piece called “Where’s Your Head At? – Paddy Pimblett, House Parties & Triangles”.

Another Merseysider will take part in the featured headliner as Molly McCann returns to action to take on Ji Yeon Kim in the women’s flyweight division. Having lost in her last two trips to the octagon another loss would be detrimental to progressing in the 125-pound division. Ji Yeon Kim is coming off the back of a defeat so I expect two hungry fighters coming in looking for the win, that in itself will make this an intriguing battle. Welshman Jack Shore will puts his undefeated record on the line as he faces off with Liudvik Sholinian. Shore is one on the best prospects in the bantamweight division and a win for “Tank” would surely see him matched with a ranked opponent next. I always look forward to watch Shore fight, he is a top, top talent.

Julian Erosa and Charles Jourdain will clash in the lightweight on the prelims section of the card. Erosa was left disappointed by Seung Woo Choi who put a halt to the three-fight win-streak that “Juicy J” had built up. Jourdain, who fights out of Quebec Canada, finished Marcelo Rojo with strikes that last time he made the trip to the cage. If Erosa win’s he has got to call out Paddy Pimblett for a rematch, he has a solid test ahead in Jourdain who is a very dangerous competitor with big power. Dalcha Lungiambula, who was born in the Congo and now fights out of South Africa, will square off with Marc-André Barriault in the 185-pound division. A bantamweight clash will kick things off when Jonathan Martinez and Marcelo Rojo in the curtain jerker. Check out the official start times and card below, remember we have an earlier start time so don’t moss out on any of the action.

Main Card (ESPN+, BT Sports, 9pm GMT)

Middleweight: Derek Brunson (22-7) vs. Darren Till (18-3-1)

Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall (10-2) vs. Sergey Spivak (13-2)

Welterweight: Alex Morono (19-7) vs. David Zawada (17-6)

Light Heavyweight: Modestas Bukauskas (11-4) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (8-5)

Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett (16-3) vs. Luigi Vendramini (9-2)

Preliminary Card (ESPN+, BT Sports, 6:30 GMT)

Women’s Flyweight: Molly McCann (10-4) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (9-3-2)

Bantamweight: Jack Shore (14-0) vs. Liudvik Sholinian (9-1-1)

Featherweight: Julian Erosa (25-9) vs. Charles Jourdain (11-3-1)

Middleweight: Dalcha Lungiambula (11-2) vs. Marc-André Barriault (12-4)

Bantamweight: Jonathan Martinez (13-4) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-7)

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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