Preview: UFC Fight Night 234 Prelims

Cortes-Acosta vs. Arlovski

The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday kicks off its 2024 schedule with UFC Fight Night 234, which hits the UFC Apex in Las Vegas with a surprisingly solid preliminary slate. Former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski makes his 41st appearance inside the Octagon in the featured spot against the once-beaten Waldo Cortes-Acosta. Further down the card are some entertaining bantamweight bouts: Farid Basharat and Taylor Lapilus are rising talents who could turn a win into a charge up the rankings, while a pairing between Marcus McGhee and Gaston Bolanos should be an all-action affair. It all opens up with some top prospects. Australian lightweight Tom Nolan was a standout on the 2023 edition of Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his Octagon debut here, while flyweight Joshua Van looks to reaffirm his status as one of the most electric young martial artists in the sport.

Now to the UFC Fight Night “Ankalaev vs. Walker 2” prelims preview:



Waldo Cortes-Acosta (10-1, 3-1 UFC) vs. Andrei Arlovski (34-22, 23-16 UFC)

ODDS: Cortes-Acosta (-600), Arlovski (+440)

Is the end at hand for Arlovski? It is now nearly 18 years since Arlovski was the UFC’s heavyweight champion and nearly 13 years since a string of knockouts had most thinking that “The Pit Bull” should retire. However, Arlovski has persevered—he even got surprisingly close to a heavyweight title shot in 2015 upon his UFC return—and seemingly settled into a solid niche circa 2020. Any hopes of title contention were now long gone, but Arlovski’s veteran craft allowed him to outwork the many middling heavyweights on the UFC roster and keep cashing checks for the privilege. There was even a two-year stretch where Arlovski won six of seven fights—the lone loss came to Tom Aspinall—as part of his best run in years, but his last two fights have raised some worries that his career might finally be on its last legs. It was not necessarily a surprise to see Marcos Rogerio de Lima run Arlovski over late in 2022, but a subsequent loss to Don'Tale Mayes made it look a bit more like an omen. Mayes is the type of opponent Arlovski has historically been able to outpace, but instead, the former champ suddenly ate a second-round knockout. Arlovski’s late-career form has relied heavily on his ability to make it to the final horn, and his losing his durability for the last time feels like it would be a death knell for a near 45-year-old heavyweight. That makes this fight against Cortes-Acosta feel particularly important when it comes to Arlovski’s career going forward.

A late comer to mixed martial arts after a career in baseball, Cortes-Acosta is still all raw talent in need of experience at this point, though things have been coming together decently for “Salsa Boy” in recent years. For one, he has proven to have heavyweight-level durability, which has given him the margin of error to learn on the job; and after a few aimless performances, Cortes-Acosta put things together a bit better in 2023. Despite suffering his first career loss to Rogerio de Lima, Cortes-Acosta fought back from a rough start and took the fight to a decision. He looked a bit more aggressive in what wound up as a brutal knockout win over Lukasz Brzeski in August. Arlovski should win the balance of this fight, but Cortes-Acosta should clip him at some point; and with each man’s recent performances, that looks likelier than ever to wind up in a knockout victory for the Dominican. The pick is Cortes-Acosta via second-round knockout.

Continue Reading »
Cortes-Acosta vs. Arlovski
Semelsberger vs. Parsons
McGhee vs. Bolanos
Basharat vs. Lapilus
Silva vs. Wilson
Nolan vs. Motta
Van vs. Bunes
More Fight Odds

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Renan Ferreira