The UFC is back in the fight capital of Southeast Asia for a pay-per-view show headlined by several mixed martial artists determined to recapture past glories.
And while title defenses for light heavyweight Glover Teixeira and flyweight Valentina Shevchenko are the main attractions at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday, the rematch between strawweights Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk could prove to be the best fight of all.
The UFC stacked the top of the card for its fifth event in Singapore and just its second show abroad anywhere except the Abu Dhabi bubble since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The main event is the first title defense for the 42-year-old Teixeira, who became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history last October with his submission victory over Jan Blachowicz. He faces a daunting challenge from Jirí Procházka, the up-and-coming Czech bruiser in just his third UFC bout, but Teixeira overcame every other obstacle in a career that has culminated in his current six-fight winning streak.
"Every fight, every win, I become a champion," Teixeira said. "Great fighters, great warriors, they go over there and give it their all. It's hard for me to promote - to come over here and push guys and throw chairs and buses and stuff like that to promote a fight. But I'm a fighter. Everybody saw my fight. I'm going after a finish. And (for your) legacy, the more you win, the greater you become."
Shevchenko will take on Brazil's Taila Santos in the seventh title defense for the seemingly unbeatable 125-pound champion. But Shevchenko got a reminder that no reign lasts forever when Amanda Nunes, the only fighter to beat Shevchenko since 2010, shockingly lost her bantamweight belt last December to Julianna Peña.
Santos has talked an impressive game leading into her first title shot after four consecutive victories, but few fighters can match the talent, experience and intelligence of Shevchenko.
"I think she's kind of like hypnotizing herself, trying to convince herself of something," Shevchenko said of Santos. "All my opponents, they were saying the same over and over. It's like, 'No one is unbeatable. She has some holes in her game.' But once they step inside the octagon, they feel the opposite side. They feel the difference. ... She is wrong. It's not going to work for her."
The two title bouts in Singapore could be an anticlimax if the two former strawweight champions fighting right before them put on a worthy sequel to their first meeting.
Zhang and Jedrzejczyk first met at UFC 248 in March 2020, right before the pandemic began, and they produced a slugfest for the ages. Neither fighter backed down for five rounds, and Zhang emerged with a split-decision victory while Jedrzejczyk was left with outrage and a grotesque hematoma on her forehead.
The rematch is only a three-round bout, allowing both fighters to push even more aggressively if they choose. Jedrzejczyk still defiantly believes she won the first bout, while Zhang is eager for a victory that would catapult her back to another shot at the title.
UFC 275 is the promotion's first pay-per-view show from Southeast Asia, where it has increased its footprint during the rise of the Singapore-based One Championship promotion. The UFC's delegation won't include President Dana White, who is staying home for his son's 21st birthday.