Welcome to the second edition Fightful.com’s Matchmaker series! The second edition of UFC Fight Night at the Apex in Las Vegas wasn’t exactly the most hyped card due to the lack of name value, but the action absolutely went above and beyond the expectations. The card delivered in the first three fights, delivering three first round knockouts in the first minute. The action continued throughout the night, making this one of the most exciting cards of the year. Now that the lights have shut off at the Apex for moment, it’s time to shift our focus to what is next for the key fighters on the card. Let’s get into it.
Flyweight - #10 (SW) Cynthia Calvillo defeats #1 Jessica Eye via unanimous decision
Cynthia Calvillo - Katlyn Chookagian After making a huge statement by knocking off the top ranked Flyweight in her divisional debut, Calvillo should receive another difficult test against the best of the division. Chookagian made her desire to fight Calvillo known on Twitter shortly after the decision was announced, and this should prove to be a great matchup. It will likely be a classic striker versus grappler matchup, although we have seen Chookagian make significant strides in her wrestling during her last fight against Antonina Shevchenko. Calvillo will likely have a second consecutive fight against the number one contender. A win for either fighter would put them right into title contention in the shallow Flyweight division.
Jessica Eye - Montana De La Rosa This fight will halt the momentum that Eye had since moving down ten pounds, dropping two of her last three after winning her first three fights in the Flyweight division. While issues in the cage have appeared for the former title challenger, there is a more pressing issue outside of the Octagon. Eye has now missed the mark on the scale for her last two fights, tipping the scale at just a quarter pound over the 126 pound Flyweight limit for this bout, but missing the limit by an embarrassing five pounds in her win against Viviane Aruajo. Eye will probably give the difficult weight cut one more try, considering her less than stellar UFC record at Bantamweight. If she can make the weight, she will have to fight to maintain her Top 15 status against Montana De La Rosa. The TUF 26 alum is 4-1 in the UFC and will work to win her first fight against a ranked opponent, and she stands a fighting chance to do so against Eye.
Middleweight - Marvin Vettori defeats Karl Roberson via submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:17 of Round 1
Marvin Vettori - Winner of Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen After the bad blood boiled over prior to this fight, cooler heads prevailed, allowing Vettori to sink in a choke before the first round drew to a close. The Italian is now 5-2-1 in the UFC, his only losses coming against fourteenth ranked Antonio Carlos Junior and division champion Israel Adesanya. He looks to continue a three fight win streak against a ranked opponent, and his next challenge could very well be against the winner of this fight. Heinisch and Allen fight on the June 27th card in a battle for contendership. Heinisch is currently ranked thirteenth while a win for the streaking Allen would put him into the Top 15. Vettori appears to be ready to make the transition between prospect to contender, and this fight will be his next chance to do so.
Karl Roberson - Makhmud Muradov This was Roberson’s third loss in the UFC, his second in the Middleweight division. After beating two promising prospects, he couldn’t manage a win against his bitter rival Vettori. A new obstacle that appeared for Roberson in this fight was the weight cut. After making weight with relative ease in his prior UFC fights at 185, he failed to make the mark twice for this bout, one of the factors that resulted in the fight being initially canceled when it was scheduled in May. He missed weight by a whopping four and a half pounds for the fight on Saturday, raising a question mark of whether or not he will stay at Middleweight. He probably tries to make the weight one more time against Muradov. These two were scheduled to fight at UFC 249 before the Coronavirus canceled it. Since one of Roberson’s scrapped fights got rescheduled, they might as well hit the reset button on this matchup as well.
Lightweight - Charles Rosa defeats Kevin Aguilar via split decision
Charles Rosa - Loser of Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry Rosa successfully fought back back from his decisive loss against Bryce Mitchell a little over a month ago. While this win was a good one, he continues to alternate wins and loses in the UFC, moving to 4-4 in the promotion. His resume is filled with talented names, however, including the likes Yair Rodriguez and Shane Burgos. He will attempt to go on his first streak of any kind in his next Octagon appearance, and he will have the chance to do so against the loser of this fight. Amirkhani and Henry are set to throw down next month at UFC 251. The Finn and the Scot are looking to rebound from losses to ranked contenders, Shane Burgos and Dan Ige, respectively. The winner of this fight will be back in contention for another fight against a ranked fighter while the loser will find themselves on a two fight skid. The loser will try to avoid dropping a third fight against Rosa.
Kevin Aguilar - Nik Lentz Aguilar has now lost three fights in a row, dropping to 2-3 in the promotion. Although he lost this fight, he had his moments in what was a split decision loss. He likely needs a win in his next appearance to keep his spot on the UFC roster, and he would face a difficult test against a struggling veteran in Nik Lentz. Letz has lost his last two fights, falling to 2-3 since 2018. He has an impressive 14-8-1-1 record in the UFC, so he won’t be a cakewalk for Aguilar by any means. However, he will still be a significant step back for Aguilar. We will likely see some extra motivation for both fighters in this one.
Featherweight - Andre Fili defeats Charles Jourdain via split decision
Andre Fili - Jeremy Stephens Andre Fili asked for a big name in his post-fight interview with Paul Felder, and after winning five of his last seven fights, a big name he will receive. Fili displayed great resilience in this fight, bouncing back from an early knock down to earn the decision win. Meanwhile, Jeremy Stephens has lost four of his last five fights, along with fifteen second no contest eye poke in his first matchup against Yair Rodriguez. Despite these setbacks, Stephens remains in the Top 15. His spot will be challenged by Andre Fili. Although a certain Irishman may dispute Stephen’s notability in the promotion, he has definitely marked his place among the division’s elite, and a win for Fili would boost his status in the decision.
Charles Jourdain - Winner of Sean Woodson vs. Kyle Nelson Jourdain had a lot of expectations coming into this fight after his win against Doo Ho Choi, but he was unable to live up to them in this fight, losing on two of the three judge’s scorecards. He should see a little bit easier competition in his next fight, which might be the victor in the above fight. Woodson and Nelson face off at the end of the month. Nelson is 1-2 in his UFC career while Woodson won his first UFC fight. Jourdain will stand a great chance to get back into the win column in this fight.
Bantamweight - Jordan Espinosa defeats Mark De La Rosa via unanimous decision
Jordan Espinosa - Tyson Nam After both fighters earned impressive wins on this card, Espinosa called him out on the mic. While I initially slated Nam to fight Jussier Formiga, giving him a Top 15 fighter after moving to 1-2 in the promotion. Meanwhile, Espinosa moves to 2-2 in the UFC. A matchup against Espinosa is much more logical, so ignore my prediction from last week and go with this week’s matchup.
Mark De La Rosa - Release from the UFC De La Rosa has now lost four consecutive fights and falls to 2-5 in the UFC. While the Flyweight division can use all of the fighters it can get, it doesn’t make business sense for the UFC to keep him around. Mark is still only 25 years-old, so he still has a bright future ahead of him. If he can win a few fights in a row outside of the promotion, he can make his return to the UFC in no time at all.
Flyweight - Mariya Agapova defeats Hannah Cifers via submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:42 of Round 1
Mariya Agapova - Shana Dobson Agapova was very impressive in her UFC debut, drawing comparisons to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She utilized her size advantage to perfection, something that she will probably have in many fights. After the fight, she called for a fight against TUF 26 graduate Shana Dobson. Dobson has had a rough go of things in the UFC, dropping three of four fights, causing her pro record to sink below the .500 mark. I’m unsure of any prior instances of Dobson running from Agapova, which she indicated in the interview, but this should prove to be a fun fight.
Hannah Cifers - Move to Invicta Cifers has now lost three fights in a row, falling to 2-4 in the promotion. While her will to fight is admirable, taking this fight on two weeks notice against a much larger opponent. However, she just doesn’t quite seem to be ready for the UFC at the moment. She would benefit from a few fights in Invicta to develop her skills. It worked wonders for Agapova after losing against Tracy Cortez in the Contender Series. Just like Mark De La Rosa, some fights against lesser competition would be greatly beneficial for Cifers' career.
140 lb Catchweight - Merab Dvalishvili defeats Gustavo Lopez via unanimous decision
Merab Dvalishvili - John Dodson After dropping his first two UFC fights, Merab has won four straight fights. This puts him into position to fight for a spot in the rankings, an opportunity that will come against John Dodson. Dodson, currently the thirteenth ranked contender in the Bantamweight division, will have an obvious speed edge in this fight, but it will be interesting to see how Dvalishvili combats that disadvantage. This will be another exciting matchup between fighters battling for a spot in the Top 15. Only one can emerge with a rank next to their name.
Gustavo Lopez - Brad Katona Stepping up on incredibly short notice is always a tough task, let alone in your UFC debut, but Lopez performed very admirably. While he was still handily defeated, he should still be rewarded for showing up like he did. He would receive this reward in a challenging fight against Brad Katona. Katona is 2-2 in the UFC, and like Lopez, dropped a unanimous decision against Dvalishvili. Katona will be looking to gain traction in the division while Lopez will be looking for his first UFC win.
Bantamweight - Julia Avila defeats Gina Mazany via TKO (knee and punches) at 0:22 of Round 1
Julia Avila - Lina Lansberg Avila now moves to 8-1 in her pro career, and if it were not for a nasty broken finger, she could very well be undefeated. The Raging Panda is ready for a challenge in the shallow Bantamweight division, and that would come against a ranked contender in Lina Lansberg. Lansberg, the eleventh ranked contender, is an even 4-4 in the promotion and is coming off of a loss against Sara McMann. She beat Mazany back in 2018, so this would be a good test for Avila against a ranked opponent.
Gina Mazany - Liana Jojua Mazany didn’t exactly get her second UFC stint started with a bang, getting put away while only getting off two strikes. There aren’t a whole bunch of other fighters on par with Mazany in the division other than Jojua. Jojua seemed outmatched in her only Octagon appearance against Sara Moras, losing via TKO in the second round. It seemed like the nerves got to her really bad in her first appearance, so hopefully she can get more comfortable as she gains experience. Meanwhile, for Mazany, she will be looking just to get her feet underneath of her in the Octagon, falling to 1-4 in the promotion after this fight.
That concludes this edition of Fightful.com’s Matchmaker Series. Whether you think I think I have some good ideas or if I’m crazy, sound off in the comments with your ideas. Only time will tell what truly awaits these fighters.