After a week off, the UFC returned to the UFC Apex and they brought a very slept-on card. The prelims were fantastic and the main card delivered. We got a No. 1 contender for the flyweight title and a knockout of the year contender as well. There were three knockouts, two submissions, and six decisions
Cannonier defeated Kelvin Gastelum via a unanimous decision to get back in the win column. The “Killa Gorilla” came into the fight ranked No. 3 in the middleweight division and is very close to the title shot. In all honesty, he could probably just sit and wait for the winner of Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker but who knows when the fight will actually happen. Another option is to fight the winner of Marvin Vettori vs. Paulo Costa. Maybe even the winner of Derek Brunson vs. Darren Till. So many options and I am fence riding.
Mark O. Madsen
Madsen defeated UFC legend Clay Guida via split decision. You have to feel some emotion for this win. In the past year and a half, he broke his jaw, caught COVID, lost his house, and his wife was diagnosed with MS. So his win was great to see. He is now 3-0 in the UFC, but he is not a spring chicken. Madsen called out Gregor Gillespie, which would be awesome, but it makes no sense for Gillespie. Thiago Moises, coming off a main event loss, would be an intriguing fight for Madsen.
Porter defeated Chase Sherman via unanimous decision. That is two straight wins for Porter since he lost his UFC debut. I need to stop sleeping on him because he has shut me up twice now. He should fight Rodrigo Nascimento for his next fight, who is coming off a TKO win over Alan Baudot.
Welcome to the UFC, Saidyokub Kakhramonov. He pulled the upset and come back as he submitted Trevin Jones in the third round. Kakhramonov was in Uzbekistan five days ago. It took him 20 hours to make it to Las Vegas to take this fight on short notice. He did miss weight for the first time in his career, which he says will not happen again. Kakhramonov is a great name to add to the already absolutely stacked bantamweight division. Khalid Taha is a name that Kakhramonov should look to fight next.
Pichel won the battle of Colorado as he defeated Austin Hubbard via unanimous decision. Pichel is 7-2 in the UFC and is on a three-fight win straight. There is no doubt that the 38-year old is one of the most underrated lightweights in the division. In his post-fight interview, he said he wants a rematch with Gregor Gillespie down the line. As for his next fight, he should fight another Colorado fighter, Drew Dober.
Pantoja defeated Brandon Royval in a very exciting matchup and set himself up with a title match with flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. Pantoja and Moreno basically verbally agreed to fight in December. The pair have fought twice, with the Brazilian getting the better of Moreno twice. The trilogy will be fun. Ah, that was easy matchmaking.
Lingo defeated Luis Saldana via unanimous decision, handing him his first UFC loss. Lingo is now on a two-fight win streak since losing his UFC debut to Youssef Zalal. If Lingo can get another win, he will be upwards of the top 30. Melsik Baghdasaryan is someone Lingo should look to fight next. Both men throw bombs, and someone will be going to sleep.
Kelleher got back into the win column as he dominated Domingo Pilarte via unanimous decision. In his post-fight interview, Kelleher called out Sean O’Malley, which I absolutely love, but I doubt he gets that fight. Instead, he should fight one of his teammates, Casey Kenney. Kenney is coming off a decision loss to Song Yadong.
Welcome to the UFC, Josiane Nunes. The Brazilan made a statement as she knocked out Bea Malecki, becoming the first to defeat her. Nunes is now riding a seven-fight winning streak with six of those wins by stoppage. It is always nice to get fresh blood in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. For her next fight, Julia Avila would be an awesome next opponent. Those women would THROWDOWN.
The battle of New England goes to William Knight, as he knocked out Fabio Cherant in the first round. Knight is now 2-1 in the UFC, and he keeps getting better. The UFC needs to rebook Knight vs. Alonzo Menifield. That’s the fight.
Bahamondes inserted himself into the knockout of the year conversation as he landed a spinning heel kick that put Roosevelt Roberts’ lights out. Bahamondes must-watch television. Both of his fights have been insane, and he will be a fan favorite for years to come. “La Jaula” should fight Fares Ziam next. Ziam is riding a two-fight win streak, most recently at UFC 263.
Brahimaj picked up his first UFC as he put Sasha Palatnikov to sleep in the first round. Brahimaj continues his submission streak, with all nine of his wins coming by way of first-round submission. Incredible stuff, and he is one to watch. As for who should be next, Jason Witt would be a fun fight for Brahimaj. Witt is coming off a win over Bryan Barberana.
Kelvin Gastelum – Brad Tavares
Clay Guida – Jordan Leavitt
Chase Sherman – Justin Tafa
Trevin Jones – Randy Costa (rebook)
Austin Hubbard – Matt Frevola
Brandon Royval – Sumudaerji
Luis Saldana – Gabriel Benitez
Domingo Pilarte – outside of the UFC
Fabio Cherant – Ike Villanueva
Roosevelt Roberts – Rafa Garcia or outside of the UFC
Sasha Palatnikov – Orion Cosce