Sunday's UFC Fight Night card on FS1 may not have a lot of household names on it, but it very well could be the most stacked card of the summer in terms of good matchups pitting top contenders against one another. There are preliminary bouts on this card that deserve to be on pay-per-view main cards, and exciting fighters from top to bottom.
Below are the top five reasons I'll be watching. Read on, and then let us know what you're most looking forward to!
Thomas Almeida's return
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Given his undefeated record and that he's won his past three UFC bouts by TKO or KO, Thomas Almeida has been annointed by some as the heir apparent to the bantamweight throne. The 24-year-old has had to wait since November for another fight, however, to continue to move toward title contention.
At his age, Almeida may be getting better between each fight, so it will be interesting to see if he's added any new wrinkles to game against Cody Garbrandt. For his part, Garbrandt has less pro experience than the Brazilian, but has claimed that he's had the tougher resume of opponents.
The Team Alpha Male fighter gets his chance to prove that Almeida is overrated, and Almeida gets his toughest test to date on the biggest stage he's ever had. A win for either man will likely mean stardom and a title shot in the near future.
Aljamain Sterling's star
It is downright bizarre that a card headlined by bantamweights would put two other bantamweights, who are higher-ranked, so far down the bill. Aljamain Sterling once more is being relegated to UFC Fight Pass preliminary status, but he's taking on another top bantamweight contender in Bryan Caraway.
The winner of this fight may be able to argue for a title shot next. Caraway is a tough out and almost impossible to look good against.
If anyone can do it, I believe the Serra/Longo-trained Sterling can. The "Funkmaster" has won all four of his UFC fights and finished the past three of them.
He has the speed on the feet and wrestling and submission ability to beat anyone in the world on any given night. So far, he's far outshined the meager spotlight given to him by the UFC, and I'll be watching to see if he does it again Sunday.
Renan Barao's comeback
Renan Barao once reigned atop the bantamweight division, having not lost in nearly 10 years. Heading into his Sunday fight against Jeremy Stephens, however, he's coming off a near-year long layoff and has lost two of his past three bouts.
The time off was sorely needed for Barao, after brutal losses to TJ Dillashaw and weight-cutting health scares. Now he moves up to featherweight and hopefully this means he'll be healthier and stronger.
The time off to rest, heal and improve should help produce an entertaining fight with fellow banger Stephens. Stephens is a real threat at featherweight, so Barao gets a chance to prove he can get it done against real competition at 145 pounds.
Stephens gets the opportunity to beat a former world champ and show he's ready for the best at featherweight.
Masvidal vs. Larkin
Jorge Masvidal looks to be up at welterweight for good. The size difference here may be huge -- in favor of his opponent Lorenz Larkin -- but Masvidal has the gameness, skill and experience to compensate.
I'm curious to see if Larkin will play a more conservative strategy using clinch work against the cage, or if he will trade shots in the free-standing range with Masvidal. Both men are well-rounded, but I could see them each deciding to throw until the other falls.
If that happens, you won't want to blink. This could end up being a boxing match with four-ounce gloves.
Camozzi vs. Miranda
If you like skilled kickboxing, this is the fight for you Sunday. Both men are red-hot middleweights.
Chris Camozzi has won his last two, and Vitor Miranda has finished his past three UFC opponents. More than that, however, both men have real striking power and skill.
Camozzi has struggled only when he's faced opponents who wanted to stifle his excellent stand-up striking with grapling. He should have a willing kickboxing-minded opponent in Miranda, and that means we'll all want to be watching for fireworks.