Bash Brothers Hit Kansas City
The UFC makes its first-ever trip to Missouri on Saturday
UFC on FOX 24 takes place at the Sprint Center in Kansas City with the main card airing on FOX with prelims on FOX and UFC Fight Pass.
The St. Louis area will be pulling for the Bash Brothers, Jake Collier, and Andrew Sanchez. While both grew up outside of the city, the pair cut their teeth as amateurs and young pros on the St. Louis MMA circuit. A friendship brewed between the two as they each climbed their way up the ranks in the RFA. Collier went first, winning the promotion's middleweight title in October 2014 before bolting for the UFC. Sanchez came in immediately behind him, winning the middleweight belt in August 2015 and using that to help land on Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter where he eventually won. When Sanchez is back in the St. Louis region, he can often be found with Collier and Patrick Smith at Smith Pitt MMA in Cuba.
Collier (10-3), who re-upend with the UFC before his last fight, is making a bump up in weight. 'The Prototype' has spent his entire pro career – including his 2-2 UFC run - as a middleweight. He is moving to light heavyweight and will face Devin Clark (7-1) on the Fight Pass portion of the card.
“To get down that far was getting brutal,” Collier said. “It was miserable and I was not the same fighter. When I look back at my two (UFC) loses, they came from a bad weight cut and being halfway around the world. Now, I'm not dying. I'm not Skeletor.”
Collier, 28, is coming off a second-round TKO win over Alberto Emiliano Pereira on May 2016 at UFC Fight Night 88. It was the eighth victory by finish in his career.
The six-foot-three Collier has a three-inch height and reach advantage over Clark. Clark was a high school state wrestling champion a Junior College national champion and much like Collier, he has gone from an off-the-map gym and promotions to first an RFA world championship and now the UFC. Clark is coming off a December 2016 unanimous decision win over Josh Stansbury. Clark lost in his UFC debut in July 2016 via KO late in the first round against Alex Nicholson.
Collier is looking forward to showcasing a more matured game against Clark. For the better or worse, Collier has always been prone to champ down and duke it out.
“I need to stay out of brawls,” Collier said. “The fans love it, I love it, but they're not good for my career.”
'I have him everywhere'
Andrew Sanchez has gotten all he can out of his first two UFC fights. Winning both by unanimous decision, Sanchez has logged 30 minutes worth of UFC cage time on his punch card.
Sanchez, a longtime talent in both wrestling and jiu-jitsu, faces middleweight Anthony Smith (26-12) who is on a 9-1 run. Smith has seen stops in Strikeforce, Bellator, and the RFA. To mix things up to prepare for Sanchez he stepped away from his hometown gym, Omaha's Academy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for a spell to the Englewood, Colo-based Factory X Muay Thai, home of many reputable fighters in various promotions. Sanchez calls Smith, 'weirdly calm,' and went on to add, “his wrestling is not up to par. His jiu-jitsu is tricky because of his long limbs.”
Sanchez (9-2) waves his hand at the discrepancy in their fight records and doesn't see experience as an advantage for Smith advantage.
“We're the same age but at 18-19 he was fighting while I was wrestling,” Sanchez said “I still have the edge when it comes to competition experience. I have him everywhere. He comes from a real good Muay Thai gym. I need to watch for the clinch, elbows, and knees.”
Sanchez has been holed up at K-Dojo, the grapple-heavy New Jersey gym that he has called home for the last couple of years. During camp, Sanchez got a call from Eric Spicely (a former TUF 23 housemate and whom Sanchez defeated to reach the finals) and a breath of fresh - yet still familiar - air was added to the mix.
“I'm not a keep-in-touch kind of guy but Eric is,” Sanchez said. “Once I get deep into camp I tend to stay in one place with the same small group. He travels a lot and offered to come down to help. So he came up and was a lot of help. He will be in my corner too.”
Don't expect Sanchez to wax poetic about he and Collier being on the same UFC card together.
“Honestly, I didn't think that much about it,” Sanchez said. “It's cool to have Jake and Pat there. The more support the better. I'm just glad that it's not out of the country.”
In the UFC on FOX 24 main event, perennial flyweight champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson (25-2-1) will attempt to tie Anderson Silva' record for the most consecutive title defenses. With nine in his pocket, 'Mighty Mouse' can tie 'The Spider' at 10. Johnson will face sixth-ranked Wilson Reis (22-6).
In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas (5-3) faces Michelle Waterson (14-4) in a women’s strawweight fight that has No. 1 contender status for the winner written all over it. Rounding out the main card is a middleweight fight between Ronaldo Souza (23-4) and Robert Whittaker (17-4), and a featherweight bout between Renato Moicano (10-0-1) and Jeremy Stephens (25-13). On the FOX broadcast prelims, Roy Nelson (22-13) will take on former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (27-6) in the featured fight. Tom DuQuesnoy (14-1) will make his UFC debut in a bantamweight fight against Patrick Williams (8-4); Bobby Green (23-7), a former opponent of St. Louis' Matt Ricehouse, takes on Rashid Magomedov (19-2) at lightweight; and to open the televised portion, Tim Elliott (13-7-1) meets Louis Smolka (11-3) at flyweight.
Joining Collier and Sanchez on the UFC Fight Pass-streamed prelims is: Augusto Mendes (6-1) vs. Aljamain Sterling (12-2, 4-2) at bantamweight; Nathan Coy (15-6, 1-1) vs. Zak Cummings (20-5) at welterweight; and the event gets underway with a women’s strawweight bout between Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-1) and Ketlen Vieira (7-0).
The UFC on FOX 24 card includes:
MAIN CARD (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)
Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis – for flyweight title
Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson
Ronaldo Souza vs. Robert Whittaker
Renato Moicano vs. Jeremy Stephens
PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX, 6 p.m. ET)
Roy Nelson vs. Alexander Volkov
Tom Duquesnoy vs. Patrick Williams
Bobby Green vs. Rashid Magomedov
Tim Elliott vs. Louis Smolka
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Devin Clark vs. Jake Collier
Andrew Sanchez vs. Anthony Smith
Augusto Mendes vs. Aljamain Sterling
Nathan Coy vs. Zak Cummings
Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Ketlen Vieira
Photo courtesy of Dakota Bush