A breakdown of the fights on the main card of Saturday’s UFC on Fox 30 card at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Eddie Alvarez (29-5, 1 No Contest) vs. Dustin Poirier (23-5, 1 No Contest)
Line: Poirier -165
Storyline: This had all the makings of an instant classic when they first stepped in the cage to fight one another in May 2017. Both landed big shots until Poirier dropped Alvarez only to have the former champion rally back to drop Poirier. Alvarez looked for the finish, but landed two illegal knees and the bout was declared a no-contest. Expect more fireworks in the rematch as the fight now has the added dimension of all the bad blood that has built since that night. Alvarez is one of the toughest lightweights on the planet and Poirier is an explosive athlete with power in his hands and a slick ground game.
Hill’s Pick: Poirier by fourth-round submission
Fang’s Pick: Poirier by third-round knockout
Jose Aldo (26-4) vs. Jeremy Stephens (28-14)
Line: Stephens -120
Storyline: Aldo is one of the most successful featherweights in mixed martial arts history. The last World Extreme Cagefighting champion entered the UFC as its first 145-pound champ and held the belt for more than four years before Conor McGregor ended his reign with one punch in December 2015. He won the vacant belt back with a virtuoso performance in a win over Frankie Edgar six months later only to drop back-to-back fights to Max Holloway. So while Aldo has lost three of his last four after starting his career 25-1, all of the setbacks have come against elite opponents. Stephens doesn’t quite fit that bill. While he’s powerful, incredibly durable and in the midst of a career resurgence since moving his training camps to Alliance in San Diego where he works with Dominick Cruz, Stephens still doesn’t have that marquee win on his resume. This is his big opportunity to get it, but it will be an uphill battle if Aldo looks like he did in the win over Edgar.
Hill’s Pick: Aldo by decision
Fang’s Pick: Stephens by decision
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2) vs. Tecia Torres (10-2)
Class: Women’s strawweight
Line: Jedrzejczyk -300
Storyline: Rose Namajunas made Jedrzejczyk look very human in her two title bout wins. It remains to be seen if other fighters in the division can exploit whatever weakness she was able to find. Jedrzejczyk insists it won’t happen. She asked for a fight immediately after losing the rematch against Namajunas and believes she will be in line for another title shot should she find a way to beat Torres decisively. It will be a bit of a different challenge. Torres is short even by strawweight standards, but she’s powerful and can throw punches from many different angles. She’s also very effective in the clinch and with her transitions as she’s able to exploit her low center-of-gravity. Jedrzejczyk has a lethal jab when she’s able to settle into a comfortable distance. It will be a very long night for Torres if she can’t get inside.
Hill’s Pick: Jedrzejczyk by second-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Jedrzejczyk by decision
Alexander Hernandez (9-1) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-2)
Line: Aubin-Mercier -125
Storyline: There wasn’t a whole lot known about Hernandez before he accepted a short-notice fight and laid waste to the heavily-favored Beneil Dariush in March. Now he gets a chance to show that spectacular performance was no fluke. Hernandez came out like he was shot from a barrel and overwhelmed Dariush. That’s about the exact opposite of how Aubin-Mercier likes to fight. He’s a phenomenal grappler who is fantastic in the clinch and can really wear opponents down when he gets top position on the ground. He will almost certainly look to grind the fight to a halt and see if Hernandez can be as effective with his frenetic style as the fight wears on. One of these fighters will make a huge move in the lightweight division in this showcase bout.
Hill’s Pick: Hernandez by second-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Aubin-Mercier by second-round submission