Preview: UFC on ESPN 27 ‘Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw’

Phillips vs. Paiva

By Tom Feely Jul 23, 2021

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Bantamweights

#14 BW | Kyler Phillips (9-1, 3-0 UFC) vs. #12 FLW | Raulian Paiva (20-3, 2-2 UFC)

ODDS: Phillips (-270), Paiva (+230)

Phillips has certainly made up for lost time. While still early in his career, he traveled a long road to his UFC debut. “The Matrix” did not earn a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017 or “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2018, and once Phillips finally got the call for his Octagon debut in 2019, he suffered an injury that kept him out of action for another year. Phillips showed some promise in 2020 with wins over Gabriel Silva and Cameron Else, but it seemed like he was being thrown to the wolves with a major step up in competition against Yadong Song in March. Instead, Phillips stole all the shine from one of the top prospects in the sport, as everything about his game clicked perfectly. His combination of movement-heavy striking and wrestling kept the powerful Song on his toes, and Phillips showed the requisite durability to survive any moments of danger. Phillips figured to get another step up in competition against Raphael Assuncao, but with the Brazilian veteran hurt, he will now face Paiva, who is looking to make his new home at 135 pounds.

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL and “The Ultimate Fighter” live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

It will be interesting to see how Paiva fares at bantamweight. While he was an obvious talent at 125 pounds, he was also helped by having a long frame for the division. Thanks to repeated issues on the scale, Paiva was looking to move up to bantamweight even before this late-notice opportunity presented itself. Paiva has some fast hands, which, when combined with his reach, could cause some issues for Phillips, but with a chance at a knockout seemingly low, this should be the MMA Lab rep’s fight to lose. He is fast and mobile in his own right and should be the harder hitter, along with having the wrestling advantage if all else fails. The pick is Phillips via decision.

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