Getty Images

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington and Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval top UFC 296, but the undercard is arguably more intriguing than Saturday's two title fights.

The undercard took a bit of a hit during fight week when it was announced that Ian Machado Garry vs. Vicente Luque was canceled because Garry contracted pneumonia. But there are still plenty of fights worthy of fans' attention. Look no further than another welterweight showcase when Shavkat Rakhmonov takes on veteran Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. Rakhmonov is undefeated as a pro with all 17 of his wins coming by stoppage. Plus, rising star Paddy Pimblett is back in action when he takes on veteran Tony Ferguson at lightweight. 

Take a closer look at three non-title fights that deserve your attention at UFC 296, plus a pair of honorable mentions.

Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.

Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson

Rakhmonov might be the most compelling contender in all of mixed martial arts. Rakhmonov is a remarkable finisher, stopping all 17 of his opponents with a near-even split of knockouts and submissions. Thompson, 40, is an ageless wonder and remains one of MMA's best pure strikers despite his age. Expectations are that Rakhmonov will run through "Wonderboy," but getting a win over a former title challenger is an important step forward for the Kazakh fighter.

Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett

It's hard to look forward to any Ferguson fight these days. Ferguson, who is tied for the longest winning streak in UFC lightweight history, has lost six straight fights since his inspiring 12-fight run ended. But Ferguson vs. Pimblett is making the best of a bad situation. Pimblett is one of UFC's most popular rising stars but hasn't shown the skills required of an elite lightweight. Ferguson vs. Pimblett is the step back in competition that Ferguson needs and arguably the biggest draw that Pimblett could feasibly beat. The fight's quality is questionable, but its stakes give it an edge over the honorable mentions. The outcome will be a sigh of relief for the sentimental favorite or another promotional launching pad for Paddy "the Baddy."

Honorable mentions: Josh Emmett vs. Bryce Mitchell, Alonzo Menifield vs. Dustin Jacoby

Who wins UFC 296 Edwards vs. Covington, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 296, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.