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Preview: UFC 295 Prelims

Erceg vs. Costa


The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s annual visit to New York offers a solid slate of prelims, even if there is not the intersection of high action and high stakes that has marked many of the best Madison Square Garden events. Flyweight Steve Erceg looks to defend his newly earned ranking against Alessandro Costa in the featured slot, but the most important bout of the bunch falls one spot below, where strawweights Tabatha Ricci and Lupita Godinez each hunt a breakthrough win that can earn them some prime opportunities at 115 pounds. Some well-matched lightweight affairs should provide some entertainment: Mateusz Rebecki has quickly become a must-see attraction, while Nazim Sadykhov’s pairing with Viacheslav Borshchev could turn into a war. Add in a bantamweight sleeper pitting John Castaneda against Kyung Ho Kang, along with the return of top flyweight prospect Joshua Van, and this should get interesting in a hurry.

Now to the preview for the UFC 295 prelims:

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Flyweights

#14 FLW | Steve Erceg (10-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Alessandro Costa (13-3, 1-1 UFC)

ODDS: Erceg (-166), Costa (+140)

It remains unclear if he can forge a path to title contention, but Erceg has already overachieved one fight into his UFC career. A top flyweight talent out of Australia, “Astro Boy” was an interesting addition to the promotional ranks earlier this year. His striking may have looked stiff, but Erceg appeared to be a crafty grappler, even when adjusting for the level of his opposition. Some late shuffling led to his getting a tough debut assignment against David Dvorak, but Erceg impressed in the best performance of his career, particularly since a lot of his victory hinged on his ability to outstrike the Czech Republic native over 15 minutes. Initially slated to face Matt Schnell in a potential barnburner, Erceg instead draws Costa for a sophomore effort in a fight that should answer some questions about both men. Brazil’s Costa certainly has some knockout power, but some of his higher-profile performances have been a bit frustrating, with “Nono” taking a low-volume approach that relies a lot on him landing one big shot. Since signing with the UFC in 2022, Costa’s level has been a bit hard to calibrate. A late-notice debut against Amir Albazi never looked particularly winnable, while submission specialist Jimmy Flick had little to offer in what turned out to be a one-sided Costa win. This is certainly a dangerous fight for Erceg, who is still relatively hittable and could be the victim of some particularly brutal leg kicks, but as long as he survives, he should be able to win rounds through sheer work rate. The pick is Erceg via decision.

Jump To »
Erceg vs. Costa
Godinez vs. Ricci
Rebecki vs. Roberts
Sadykhov vs. Borshchev
Gordon vs. Madsen
Castaneda vs. Kang
Van vs. Borjas
Emmers vs. Buzukja

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