On Saturday night, The Apex played host to another UFC Fight Night, with the headline fight being contested between two Lightweight Rafael’s. At UFC Vegas 58, former Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos took on the electrifying Rafael Fiziev.
This was by far the Azerbaijani’s toughest test so far in the Octagon, and a win would solidify him as a definitive title challenger, moving him to just outside of the top five.
Let’s take a look at the possible match-ups for Saturday nights winners.
“Ataman” became the first fighter inside the UFC to represent the country of Azerbaijan at UFC Vegas 58, and he did it with his biggest win to date. Coming into the bout, there were question marks over his ability when the fight reaches the latter stages. Not only that, but bizarrely enough, there were question marks over his ability to stuff takedowns, despite him boasting the second highest takedown defense percentage in the UFC.
As imagined, RDA’s game-plan for this bout was to get the Muay Thai specialist against the cage to nullify his striking prowess. Rounds 1 and 2 went the Azerbaijani’s way as the fight played out in the middle of the cage. In the third round, Dos Anjos began utilizing his grappling credentials and started making the fight more difficult for Fiziev. At the start of the championship rounds, Fiziev’s questionable gas tank was put under the spotlight, and in round 4 found himself being controlled against the cage again.
In the final round, Fiziev put the doubts to sleep, showing that his power and speed does carry on through to the latter stages of a fight, knocking RDA out with a powerful left hook, followed by a hammer fist to the already dazed Dos Anjos.
With Fiziev showing that he can hold his own against one of the best grapplers at 155lbs, it’s clear that he has the skill and adaptability to cause a problem for anyone in the top 5 of the division. “Ataman” took the chance in the post fight press conference to call his shot, and the man he wants next is Justin Gaethje, and that’s a fight any fan would love to see.
Fiziev’s Next Fight: Justin Gaethje
The Contender Series alumni came into the bout knowing he was facing a superior striker and that he could find success leaning on his Jiu-Jitsu acumen.
The longstanding training partner of Demian Maia, is a BJJ Black-Belt under Wagner Mota, and his skill in that department was utilised in all three rounds against Petrosyan. The Brazilian dominated on the ground, and comfortably sailed to a unanimous decision victory over the dangerous Armenian striker.
In his Octagon interview, “The Natural” had a name locked and loaded for who he wants to dance with next. That name being Dricus Du Plessis. The 14th ranked Middleweight is coming off the back of a war against Brad Tavares at UFC 276, making it 3 wins from 3 under the UFC banner.
The jump to a ranked opponent may be too soon for Borralho, but someone i’d like to see him face is 28-year-old, Anthony Hernandez.
Borralho’s Next Fight: Anthony Hernandez
The extremely talented Bantamweight division was on full show again on Saturday, as Said Nurmagomedov beat Silva De Andrade.
The Russian once again showed that as well as being able to be dominant on the mat, he possesses an arsenal of stand-up striking that is as elite as they come. Nurmagomedov comfortably cruised to a unanimous decision victory possibly setting himself up for a ranked competitor in his next outing.
Depending on what the promotion decide to do with Adrian Yanez and Sean O’Malley, and whether they match the two up now or later, I think a fight between Yanez and Said Nurmagomedov would go down a treat. If the UFC decide to match Yanez up with O’Malley instead, then Said Nurmagomedov vs Kyler Phillips would also be fireworks.
Nurmagomedov’s Next Fight: Adrian Yanez or Kyler Phillips
Heavyweight’s collided on the main card, with Chase Sherman facing off against Jared Vanderaa. “The Vanilla Gorilla” got back to winning ways coming in off the back of four losses, with his most recent loss coming to the extremely promising contender, Alexander Romanov.
Sherman scored the late stoppage win over Vanderaa after looking like the more crisp of the two after 2 and a half rounds. Despite looking the more comfortable of the two, the scorecards had it 1-1 going into the final round. The 32-year-old made sure the scorecards weren’t needed though, as in the final two minutes he put together a powerful flurry of punches, subsequently dropping Vanderaa to get the finish.
It’s fair to say that Sherman needs to put together a few more wins to gain some momentum in a Heavyweight division in which it’s tough to do just that. A match-up that suits both is Sherman vs Parisian.
Sherman’s Next Fight: Josh Parisian
The Canadian moved to 9-2 on Saturday night with a win over the eccentric, Ricky Turcios. The Ultimate Fighter product, Turcios, was the one initiating the exchanges throughout the fight but just couldn’t seem to put anything together, landing only 11% of his strikes thrown.
Zahabi’s counter striking became a theme of this fight, and it enabled him to comfortably secure the unanimous decision victory. A match-up with Mana Martinez could suit both parties next.
Zahabi’s next fight: Mana Martinez
The Australian Lightweight took the win in what was the Fight of the Night against veteran, Michael Johnson.
Despite picking up the win, it was one that divided opinion with UFC fans as round 1 was an extremely close affair with both men being dropped. Round 2 was a clear round for Mullarkey, with round 3 being Johnson’s round. Derek Cleary and Anthony Manness were in agreement, with Mike Bell swinging in favour of “The Menace”.
Alexander Hernandez will be looking to bounce back from his last loss to Moicano and his last three losses have came to top contenders in the division. A bout between the two is one I can see in the not so distant future.
Mullarkey’s next fight: Alexander Hernandez