The UFC is heading to upstate New York for the first time in over 20 years, hitting Albany with an explosive card that includes some of the biggest names in combat sports.
It's an event that should, at minimum, sort out the state of the UFC's heavyweight division. What can fans expect to see on fight night? The Albany card will likely determine who's ready to be considered a legit contender and future challenger for Stipe Miocic's heavyweight championship.
On the heels of the UFC's successful Madison Square Garden debut, the promotion is making a quick turnaround to the "Big Apple," letting New York fight fans in on a special showcase for the biggest, baddest men on the planet. The thing is, heavyweights are known for their knockout power. That said, there's likely going to be at least a couple fast, brutal finishes on the main card of the Albany show.
On Dec. 9 at the Times Union Center, heavyweight talent Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis collides with Shamil Abdurakhimov in a fight with serious title implications. The 31-year-old Lewis is riding a four-fight win streak, with three of those four fights wrapping up via knockout. A win in Albany could earn "The Black Beast" a title shot, or at least put him on the fast track to a No. 1 contender fight sometime in the early part of 2017.
The co-main is another heavyweight barn-burner, with Anthony Hamilton taking on Francis Ngannou. While it's true that neither man is ranked in the top 10 in the division, a big knockout win by either fighter could help them climb the ladder and get in the good graces of the promotion's matchmaking team. Elsewhere on the main card, New York native Gian Villante goes toe-to-toe with Saparbek Safarov (8-0) in the swing fight of the night.
Additionally, Corey Anderson fights Sean O'Connell at light heavyweight. Fight fans in upstate New York are going to want to be in Albany on Dec. 9. It's shaping up to be a great night of high-level MMA action.