Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know with our Guide to UFC on ESPN 35: Font vs. Vera.
UFC on ESPN 35
Date: April 30, 2022
Location: UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET, 45:30 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+
Bantamweights: #5 Rob Font vs. #8 Marlon Vera
Official Records: Font 19-5, Vera 20-7-1
UFC Records: Font 9-4, Vera 12-6
Last Fight: Aldo def. Font–UDec–UFC On ESPN 31 (12/4/21), Vera def. Edgar–R3 KO–UFC 268 (11/6/21)
Last Five Fights: Font 4-1, Vera 3-2
Betting Odds: Font -135, Vera +115
Background: The main event is an interesting bantamweight bout featuring two top-ten fighters getting the five-round exposure, one for the first time, as they each look to establish themselves in the title picture when Font takes on Vera. Font broke into headliner status in 2021 and fights in his third straight main event as he’s looking to rebound from a decision loss to Jose Aldo in December. That ended Font’s four-fight win streak, which included wins over Marlon Moraes and Cody Garbrandt, and kept him right outside of the title picture for the time being. Font has scored 12 of his 19 victories by stoppage. Vera gets his long-awaited first shot at headlining a UFC card, and he comes in on quite the run. He’s won two straight, including a third-round knockout of Frankie Edgar at Madison Square Garden in his last fight, and he’s also known as the only fighter to have a win over hot prospect Sean O’Malley. Vera has taken the long path to headliner status, as he started his UFC career with just a 4-4 record over his first eight bouts, but has gone 8-2 over his last ten. He’s got nine finishes at 135 lbs., which is the most in UFC bantamweight history.
How they match up: Font is a high-volume striker, landing nearly six significant strikes per minute, and he’s very light on his feet with good movement and knockout power in his hands. Vera doesn’t land as often as Font, but he is more accurate. Both men like to be aggressive on the feet, though Vera tends to start fights off slow. Font will look to take advantage of that and come out with a high-volume paced game plan. He’s going to need to be aware that Vera is going to be consistently coming forward, and Font should be prepared for moments where he’s going to have to fight off his back foot and with his back near the fence. If takedowns and grappling comes into play, Font is the better takedown artist, but both are solid on the mat. I don’t think it’ll go the mat, though. Font has proven over his last two fights that he has the conditioning to go 25 minutes, and while Vera has yet to go that length, everything suggests that he should be able to go that long. It’s going to come down to the battles on the feet and whether Vera can apply enough aggression and pressure to get Font out of rhythm. I see Font leaning on his main event experience and landing more on the feet en route to a decision win.
What’s at stake: The winner here is going to keep themselves inside that crowded title picture that the bantamweight division currently has. Whomever wins is going to definitely need one, and more likely two, more wins before a title shot, but the winner will end up against the likes of a Petr Yan or Merab Dvalishvili or Dominick Cruz or Cory Sandhagen type next. Font is likely more in need of a win as two straight losses would set him back for quite some time, and Vera is eager to show that he has truly fleshed out his skill set and is ready to contend for UFC gold. This is a solid fight as a headliner.
Heavyweights: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier
Official Records: Arlovski 33-20 2 NC, Collier 13-6
UFC Records: Arlovski 22-14 1 NC, Collier 5-5
Last Fight: Arlovski def. Vanderaa–SpDec–UFC 271 (2/12/22), Collier def. Sherman–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22)
Last Five Fights: Arlovski 4-1, Collier 3-2
Betting Odds: Arlovski -140, Collier +120
Background: A pair of heavyweights both getting back to action for the second time in 2022 battle here as Arlovski takes a short-notice offering against Collier in the co-main event. Collier was originally slated to fight Justin Tafa in this bout, but he pulled out due to undisclosed reasons, and Arlovski steps in with about three weeks’ notice. Arlovski, at age 43, just keeps trucking along and fighting pretty regularly as this will be his third fight in the last six months. It will also be the 38th fight of his UFC career, which will move him, for at least a week, into second place on the all-time list of most UFC bouts. He’s also showing no signs of slowing down, as he’s won three straight following his win over Jared Vanderaa in February, and five of his last six overall. Collier enters this fight looking to accomplish something he’s yet to do during his ten-fight UFC stint, and that is score a second straight win. In fact, he’s rotated losses-and-wins during those ten outings. Unfortunately, history isn’t on his side, as he’s coming in off a first-round submission win over Chase Sherman in January, so he’s looking to shake tradition and go on his first UFC win streak, while also looking for his tenth career finish.
How they match up: Arlovski is a much different fighter than during his younger days, and in many ways is more effective. He hasn’t finished an opponent in nearly seven years, and his style is more geared toward effectively land his strikes and take advantage of his opponents wearing themselves out looking for the knockout blow. He is definitely better on the feet than Collier, even though Collier tends to land with more volume, but Arlovski is patient and will just outbox his opponents. Collier is fast for a heavyweight, but he tends to be reckless when throwing, though that could be something that helps him find Arlovski’s chin with his right hand. He’s not going to out-point Arlovski, so he may need to use blitzes and his wrestling to take Arlovski out of his point fighting gameplan on the feet. I just don’t see Collier being good enough to get Arlovski to deviate from what’s brought him recent success, and this feels like another fight
What’s at stake: Arlovski is looking for his 23rd UFC win in this one, which would not only extend his heavyweight record, but it would tie Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone for first all-time on the UFC win-list. He’s also made it known that he still feels he can make a run at the title, and a fourth straight win would certainly help with that and likely get him into the rankings. He’s showing no signs of slowing down. Collier would like to get on a win streak and prove that he can be a threat at heavyweight. He doesn’t strike as someone who will ever be a title contender, but he can make his mark as a dangerous opponent for anyone with an impressive win here. A loss could mean he’s fighting for his job in his next outing.
Featherweights: Andre Fili vs. Joanderson Brito
Official Records: Fili 21-8 1 NC, Brito 12-3-1
UFC Records: Fili 9-7 1 NC, Brito 0-1
Last Fight: Fili NC Pineda–UFC On ESPN+ 48 (6/26/21), Algeo def. Brito–UDec–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22)
Last Five Fights: Fili 2-2 1 NC, Brito 4-1
Betting Odds: Fili -260, Brito +210
Background: A featherweight tilt that could bring a lot of action takes place here as Fili makes his 18th UFC appearance against Brito, who is making his second appearance inside the Octagon. Fili is looking to get back into the win column after going winless over his last two fights. He dropped a decision to Bryce Mitchell in October 2020, then went to a no contest with Daniel Pineda in June after an inadvertent eye poke by Fili rendered Pineda unable to compete. Fili has just one win over his last four fights, which came following a stretch where he won four of five. He’ll be looking for his 13th finish. Brito is an alumni of Dana White’s Contender Series, earning a contract on the show in August, and he made his UFC debut in January. It wasn’t a successful debut, as he dropped a decision to Bill Algeo, which ended his ten-fight win streak. Brito has scored ten of his twelve professional wins by stoppage.
How they match up: This should be a fun scrap on the feet. Brito is very aggressive and has a lot of early finishes, but the fight with Algeo showed that if you withstand an early onslaught, he slows down and gets flustered. Fili is a sharp kickboxer who often switches stances and comes at opponents from all sorts of different angles. He’s also sharp in the clinch and has solid takedowns, something Brito is going to have to worry about should he decide to punch himself into clinching situations. Fili should be able to take Brito down, and he could find himself locking in a submission with his experience in fighting tougher opponents on the mat. I see it staying mostly on the feet and Fili using his timing and sharp kickboxing skills to pick Brito apart, and Fili being able to avoid any kind of early onslaught from Brito to score either a late finish or win a decision.
What’s at stake: Both men want to get back into the win column and work their way up the featherweight ladder. This is an interesting match-up considering Fili has tons more UFC experience than Brito, but it’s also a chance for Brito to get an early win over a tough veteran. This has the potential to be the best fight on the card as both are action fighters, and Fili is really in a position where he could use a win as he wants to get back to fighting ranked opposition.
Lightweights: Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson
Official Records: Gordon 18-4, Dawson 17-1-1
UFC Records: Gordon 6-3, Dawson 5-0-1
Last Fight: Gordon def. Solecki–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 51 (10/2/21), Dawson DRAW Glenn–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21)
Last Five Fights: Gordon 4-1, Dawson 4-0-1
Betting Odds: Gordon +155, Dawson -180
Background: A lightweight bout that wasn’t originally slated for this card takes place here as Gordon takes on replacement Dawson in this one. Gordon was originally scheduled to fight Rafael Alves in this bout, but Alves had to pull out, and Dawson steps in on a month’s notice. Gordon is in the midst of the best run of his UFC career, as he enters this fight riding a three-fight win streak. He is coming off a decision win over Joe Solecki in October in what was his return to lightweight after a two-fight stint at featherweight that saw him miss weight in his last fight there. Gordon has a long story that has to be heard if you haven’t heard it already, and he continues his path to redemption looking to score his ninth stoppage win. Dawson is coming into this fight looking to rebound from his first setback since signing his UFC deal. He got a contract following an impressive win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2017 and promptly followed that with five straight wins to start his UFC career. He looked every bit of a contender, but suffered a swerve in the road in his last fight, which was a majority draw with Ricky Glenn in October. Overall, Dawson is unbeaten in his last nine fights, and has just one loss during his 19-fight career, which has seen him score four knockout wins and eleven submission wins.
How they match up: This is going to be a battle between two guys who like to wrestle and it presents an intriguing match-up. Dawson is a great chain wrestler who is able to get opponents down and control with long periods of top control. Gordon is a solid offensive wrestler, but for as good as he is as an offensive wrestler, he’s just as weak as a defensive wrestler. Gordon is aggressive on the feet and attacks with lots of volume and he does have heavy hands. Dawson is the more powerful striker, though, and he’s a big lightweight, while Gordon has fought at lower weight classes, even though he sometimes struggled to make the weight. It could come down to the conditioning and how much each guy wears the other out with the wrestling. Dawson has started strong often and faded late, and that hurt him in his fight with Glenn as Glenn dominated the third to win the round big and get a draw. Gordon gets stronger as the fight goes on and that could play off in the later stages. This one likely goes to the judges and it’ll come down to who wins the first two rounds. I think Dawson has more upside and talent and he’ll squeak out a narrow decision.
What’s at stake: Gordon would love to keep his win streak going and get a fight with a ranked opponent, both of which could happen with a win. He needs to show that he’s more comfortable at lightweight now than when he fought there previously, and handing Dawson his first UFC loss would be a huge confidence booster. Dawson had shown every bit of the title contender potential he’s had before his recent setback with Glenn, which raised a lot of questions about him. He’s still undefeated inside the Octagon, and would like to keep it that way, but Gordon is a tough out.
Featherweights: Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly
Official Records: Elkins 26-10, Connelly 14-7
UFC Records: Elkins 16-9, Connelly 1-1
Last Fight: Swanson def. Elkins–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 57 (12/18/21), Sabatini def. Connelly–UDec–UFC 261 (4/24/21)
Last Five Fights: Elkins 2-3, Connelly 4-1
Betting Odds: Elkins -170, Connelly +150
Background: A featherweight match-up that could produce fireworks takes place here as the always exciting Elkins makes that walk to the Octagon for the 26th time to take on Connelly. Elkins will be looking to get back into the win column after suffering a first-round knockout loss to Cub Swanson in December. Elkins has been in a roller coaster in recent years, as that loss ended a two-fight win streak, which came following a four-fight losing skid, which was preceded by a six-fight win streak. He is one of very few UFC fighters to have multiple win streaks of five or more, and he’ll be looking for his 17th UFC win here. Connelly makes his third UFC appearance as he returns to action for the first time in just over a year. He’s coming off a decision loss to Pat Sabatini at UFC 261 in April 2021. That loss ended a five-fight win streak, which included a short-notice UFC debut win over Michel Pereira in September 2019. Injuries have limited him to just the Sabatini fight in the 31 months since then, but he’s hoping to be more active starting here. He has scored 13 of his 14 wins by finish, with nine wins by submission.
How they match up: There will be blood in this fight as Elkins has never truly been in a fight where he didn’t start bleeding. He bleeds so much that a light sneeze may start making him bleed. He also has an insane level of durability, is difficult to submit, but he can be finished if cracked with some hard shots. Connelly isn’t going to scare anyone on the feet as he prefers to grapple, which is right in the wheelhouse of Elkins. Elkins is a strong wrestler with a grinding style against the fence in the clinch, and whenever he is able to find top control. Elkins also doesn’t stop wrestling as he’ll constantly go for takedowns, and he’s scored 53 total takedowns during his UFC career. While Connelly’s strong suit is his wrestling, this isn’t a great match-up for him as he won’t be able to match the grit and determination that Elkins has. Elkins will control the wrestling and grind his way towards a gritty decision.
What’s at stake: These two are expected to have a fun fight and neither will be in danger of being cut with a loss. The loser, though, would find themselves in must-win territory in their next fight. Elkins is the type of fighter who could remain under a UFC deal until he decides to hang up the gloves because he’s always counted on to have entertaining fights, while Connelly is in more need of a win if he’s going to have a future with the promotion.
Middleweights: Krzysztof Jotko vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Official Records: Jotko 23-5, Meerschaert 34-14
UFC Records: Jotko 10-5, Meerschaert 9-6
Last Fight: Jotko def. Cirkunov–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 51 (10/2/21), Meerschaert def. Stoltzfus–R3 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 57 (12/18/21)
Last Five Fights: Jotko 4-1, Meerschaert 3-2
Betting Odds: Jotko -160, Meerschaert +140
Background: A middleweight bout between two UFC veterans looking to add to their recent wins kicks off the main card, and considering a lot of the match-ups on this card feature fighters coming off losses, this fight between Jotko and Meerschaert sticks out. Jotko is looking to score his second straight win after scoring a decision over Misha Cirkunov in October. Jotko has won four of his last five fights, with the lone loss coming to Sean Strickland, but he’s also looking to score his first finish win since June 2016. Meerschaert is coming into this one on a wave of momentum as he’s bounced back nicely from that 17-second knockout loss to Khamzat Chimaev to score three straight wins. Not only that, but the three wins over Bartosz Fabinski, Makhmud Muradov and Dustin Stoltzfus have all been by submission. Meerschaert has scored 32 of his 34 career wins via a finish, with 26 of those coming by submission.
How they match up: Jotko is a well-rounded fighter with solid striking and decent grappling. He hasn’t shown much in the way of finishing ability, though. He doesn’t attack with heavy volume, isn’t all that accurate on the feet and he’s far from the best offensive wrestler, though his takedown defense is very good, as is his striking defense. Meerschaert isn’t all that scary on the feet, but he absolutely is on the mat. He also fights smart and can withstand some heavy offensive attacks. He does have a questionable chin, but one that held up in 2021. Jotko is going to try and be the one pushing the pace over the 15 minutes, and he has the cardio to back it up. However, he likes to turn fights into weird grinds, and I think that plays into what Meerschaert is going to gameplan to find attacks. I see Jotko trying to clinch up against the fence, but Meerschaert turning the tables on him and getting him to the mat and finding a submission.
What’s at stake: The winner of this fight could be knocking on the door of the middleweight rankings, and also should get a ranked opponent next. Jotko has been ranked before, but a three-fight losing skid knocked him out, and his recent 4-1 run has put him on the cusp of being back inside the top 15. Meerschaert has never been in the rankings, and a four-fight win streak could open the door for that and some more high-profile fights. This is a decently big fight at middleweight.
Start Time: 4:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN2 & ESPN+
Heavyweights: Alexandr Romanov vs. Chase Sherman
Overall Records: Romanov 15-0, Sherman 15-9
UFC Records: Romanov 4-0 Sherman 3-8
Last Fight: Romanov def. Vanderaa–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 52 (10/9/21), Collier def. Sherman–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22)
Last Five Fights: Romanov 5-0, Sherman 2-3
Betting Odds: Romanov -22oo, Sherman +1100
Background: This is a fight that was supposed to take place last week, and didn’t even come together until Monday of last week, but a heavyweight showdown is upon us between Romanov and Sherman. Romanov was originally slated to fight Tanner Boser, a fight he took on about a month’s notice as a replacement. However, a late injury forced Boser out, and Sherman stepped in on a few days’ notice. However, a fight day medical issue for Sherman saw the fight scratched after the show had started, and it was pushed back to this week. Sherman actually wasn’t even under a UFC contract at the time, as his deal wasn’t renewed following his last fight, so he’s back under a new deal. Romanov is looking to remain undefeated as he comes in with a 15-0 record, including a 4-0 mark during his UFC tenure. He’s coming off a second-round finish of Jared Vanderaa in October. He’s scored 14 of his 15 wins via a finish. Sherman is looking to end a three-fight losing skid. He’s coming off a second-round submission loss to Jake Collier in January. It’s been almost two years since Sherman had his hand raised. 14 of his 15 wins have come by stoppage, but he’s been finished in five of his nine losses.
How they match up: Props to Sherman for stepping up and getting another UFC contract out of this when he was back on the outside looking in, but this isn’t going to be a fun night for him. He’s durable, but he gets hit a lot and doesn’t have knockout power. Romanov is a big heavyweight, and he’s agile for his size. He’s got power in his hands, but his real strength is his wrestling and dominance on the mat. He’s scored multiple takedowns in each of his UFC fights, scoring 13 total overall. His conditioning is also good, and his finishing rate is extremely high. Sherman just lacks the overall skill to be able to hang with the level of Romanov, though Sherman can still compete with the low-level UFC heavyweights. Romanov is a big betting favorite for good reasons, and I see him taking Sherman down and ending it early.
What’s at stake: Romanov’s perfect record is at stake, but it feels like a pretty safe bet that it will remain in tact. Of course, anything can happen in this sport, but it’s favorable for him to win. After this, it’s probably time for him to fight a ranked opponent, or at least someone who is right there. He’s got the potential to be a title challenger, and if he moves to 5-0 as a UFC heavyweight, it’s time to test him against the higher level competition. Sherman is taking advantage of an opportunity that may have never came again, and while it’ll likely not end in his way, he’s going to get at least another fight after this one, and likely four fights.
Flyweights: Francisco Figueiredo vs. Daniel Lacerda
Official Records: Figueiredo 12-4-1 1 NC, Lacerda 11-2
UFC Records: Figueiredo 1-1, Lacerda 0-1
Last Fight: Gordon def. Figueiredo–UDec–UFC On ESPN 26 (7/17/21), Molina def. Lacerda–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21)
Last Five Fights: Figueiredo 3-1-1, Lacerda 3-2
Betting Odds: Figueiredo +100, Lacerda -120
Background: A flyweight bout takes place on the prelims as the older brother of the division’s champion fights for the third time inside the Octagon when Figueiredo battles Lacerda. Figueiredo was signed in late 2020 while his brother, Deiveson, was in the middle of his first reign as UFC Flyweight Champion, and Francisco enjoyed a solid UFC debut, scoring a win over Jerome Rivera on Fight Island in January 2021. He then had a couple of fights fall apart and returned in July, dropping a decision to Malcolm Gordon. He pulled out of a scheduled March bout, but returns here looking to get back into the win column. Lacerda is making his second UFC appearance and is hoping it goes better than the first time as he’s coming off a second-round knockout loss to Jeff Molina in October. It ended a three-fight win streak, and while it’s his second official loss, it’s his first real loss since his other one came due to a freak shoulder injury he suffered 40 seconds into a fight. Lacerda has won all eleven of his fights by stoppage.
How they match up: Lacerda did show one thing in his UFC debut- he’s a very accurate striker who doesn’t have good defense on the feet as he got hit a lot. Figueiredo isn’t as talented as his younger brother as he isn’t the athlete he is, nor does he have the power or ground game. He’s a solid fighter, but he’s going to give up some speed on the feet to Lacerda. Figueiredo is very low output on the feet, so it should give Lacerda some time to get comfortable on the feet. If Lacerda is as accurate on his feet as he was in the Molina fight, even though he lost that, he should pick Figueiredo apart on the feet. I don’t think this is going to be all that exciting of a fight, but I see Lacerda being effective enough and to do more than Figueiredo to score a decision.
What’s at stake: Firmly establishing a UFC future is what’s at stake for both men here. Two straight losses for either would put them in the danger zone of being near the chopping block, and would put either in a must-win fight if they’re retained. Luckily, the flyweight division still needs bodies, and with all of the craziness in the division, the winner will be in a solid spot for a solid fight in their next match-up.
Welterweights: Gabe Green vs. Yohan Lainesse
Official Records: Green 10-3, Lainesse 8-0
UFC Records: Green 1-1, Lainesse 0-0
Last Fight: Green def. Rowe–UDec–UFC 258 (2/13/21), Lainesse def. Burlinson–R1 KO–Dana White’s Contender Series 46 (11/2/21)
Last Five Fights: Green 4-1, Lainesse 5-0
Betting Odds: Green -140, Lainesse +120
Background: A welterweight bout featuring a fighter in his third UFC fight against a debuting opponent happens here as Green welcomes Lainesse to the Octagon. Green is fighting for the first time in 14 months as he looks to make it two straight wins following a decision win over Phil Rowe at UFC 258 in February 2021. That bounced him back from a loss to Daniel Rodriguez in his UFC debut, and Green is 7-1 over his last eight bouts. He has also scored finishes in nine of his ten wins. Lainesse debuts with a perfect record, scoring wins in all eight of his professional fights. He earned his UFC contract on the final 2021 episode of Dana White’s Contender Series with an impressive first-round knockout of Justin Burlinson in November. He has scored six of his eight wins by knockout.
How they match up: Green is awkward on his feet but he is also a high-volume striker who pushes the pace in his fights. He also has suspect defense on the feet, though he is quite durable. Lainesse has power in his hands and is a big finisher, but he also tends to fade over the course of 15 minutes, especially if he can’t get that first-round finish. He’ll probably win the first round, but Green has the ability to take over from there. Green might not be the technically sound striker that Lainesse is, but he can outpace and outwork Lainesse after the first five minutes. This has the makings of an entertaining battle and is the best match-up on the prelims, and will come down to whether Lainesse can get that finish in the first. I don’t see it happening, and I see Green taking over during the final two rounds and getting the decision.
What’s at stake: Lainesse would love to keep his record perfect and Green is going to make that hard. These are both guys trying to move up a tough welterweight ladder, and the future at 170 lbs. is going to get harder for the winner. Both are solid, young talents who could make waves. This is an interesting fight and one to keep an eye on.
Lightweights: Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden
Official Records: Levy 6-1, Breeden 10-4
UFC Records: Levy 0-1, Breeden 0-1
Last Fight: Garcia def. Levy–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 56 (11/20/21), Hernandez def. Breeden–R1 KO–UFC On ES, PN+ 51 (10/2/21)
Last Five Fights: Levy 4-1, Breeden 3-2
Betting Odds: Levy -195, Breeden +165
Background: A pair of lightweight prospects making their second appearances each inside the Octagon battle here as Levy and Breeden both look for their first UFC triumph. Levy is coming in off the first loss of his career as he dropped a decision to Rafa Garcia in November. That ended the six-fight win streak Levy was on to start his career, which included a win on Dana White’s Contender Series to earn his UFC deal. He’s scored three wins by submission. Breeden makes his second appearance on a full training camp after debuting on short notice in October. It wasn’t a great debut as he was finished in just 80 seconds by Alexander Hernandez. Prior to that loss, Breeden had won five of six bouts. He’s scored eight of his ten professional wins by knockout.
How they match up: Levy is a great athlete with great power in his hands, and he’s someone who prefers to utilize a kicking strategy to set up the takedown. He’s a great offensive wrestler, which poses an issue for Breeden, who isn’t a great defensive wrestler. Breeden also has shown issues with checking the leg kick, which Levy is assuredly going to take advantage of. Levy will use the leg kicks effectively and get the takedowns, so it’ll be up to Breeden to get him uncomfortable on the feet. I don’t see Breeden being able to match the physicality of Levy, so his best bet is for Levy to tire himself out and Breeden taking advantage of that late. However, I don’t see it happening and I see Levy getting the decision.
What’s at stake: Levy has a lot of upside and potential and this will be only his eighth career fight, and if he wins, they’ll continue to build him up slowly. However, if he loses, it’ll be easy to write him off as a bust. Breeden might’ve been someone who never would’ve made it to UFC without a short notice opportunity, so this is his chance to show that he belongs in the big leagues. He’s got a full training camp behind him, so if he impresses and wins, it’s a good thing. A loss, though, and he’ll be near the chopping block.
Women’s Flyweights: Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young
Official Records: Mazany 7-5, Young 7-4
UFC Records: Mazany 2-5, Young 0-2
Last Fight: Cachoeira def. Mazany–R2 TKO–UFC 262 (5/15/21), Egger def. Young–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 51 (10/2/21)
Last Five Fights: Mazany 2-3, Young 2-3
Betting Odds: Mazany -180, Young +155
Background: Two women competing in the flyweight division looking to get back into the win column battle here as Mazany takes on Young. Mazany has struggled to garner some consistency during her two UFC stints as she has just a 2-5 record during her seven fights with the promotion. She’s coming off a second-round knockout loss to Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 262 in May. She has scored five of her seven career wins by stoppage. Young is making her third appearance inside the Octagon as she’s still in search of her first win. She’s suffered losses to Macy Chiasson and Stephanie Egger in her two UFC outings and is in search of her first win since November 2019. She’s scored four of her seven career wins by finish.
How they match up: Mazany has a clear path to a win here as her strong suit is Young’s weakest. Mazany has solid wrestling and likes to get fights to the mat and grind them out, and also likes to grind fights in the clinch against the fence. Young has struggled against the wrestling in her first two UFC bouts and she has a history of issues on the mat. Young can win this fight if she’s able to keep it on the feet and get Mazany to tire with her takedown attempts, but she doesn’t boast the finishing power that Cachoeira did in Mazany’s last fight. If Mazany can avoid gassing out early and establish dominance from the top, she should take this fight via a stoppage or on the scorecards.
What’s at stake: This feels like a loser leaves town type of fight. Mazany could be on the last fight of her contract, so the result of this one will determine her future. A win would likely secure her a new UFC deal, while a loss would likely send her back to the regional scene, and with this being her second UFC stint already, a third would be unlikely. Young definitely is in a must-win fight, as a loss moves her to 0-3 during her UFC career. She’d likely get a fourth fight just because that’s how they’ve done it lately, especially with the females, but it still makes this a must-win for her.
Flyweights: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario
Official Records: Taira 10-0, Candelario 8-1
UFC Records: Taira 0-0, Candelario 0-0
Last Fight: Taira def. Muaiad–R1 SUB–VTJ 2021 (11/6/21), Altamirano def. Candelario–SpDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 37 (8/31/21)
Last Five Fights: Taira 5-0, Candelario 4-1
Betting Odds: Taira -240, Candelario +195
Background: A pair of flyweight newcomers kick off the card in Las Vegas as undefeated Taira debuts against Candelario in a bout that could get this show off to a fun start. Taira is a highly-touted prospect who signed with UFC in early 2022, and he comes in with a lot of hype. He’s only 22-years-old, but he boasts a perfect 10-0 record, along with a perfect 9-0 amateur record prior to turning professional. His career is barely four years in, and he’s scored eight of his ten wins by finish, with three knockout wins and five submission wins. Candelario is a rare case in a fighter who got signed after a loss on Dana White’s Contender Series. He dropped a close decision to Victor Altamirano on the show in August in a great fight, and White was impressed enough that he decided to give him an opportunity, especially since he took that fight on just a few days’ notice. It was his second outing on the show, as he won during an August 2017 outing on there. The loss signaled his first career loss, and he’s still getting his wheels back in motion after being out of action for just over four years.
How they match up: Taira is still young in his career, but what he’s shown so far is that he’s accurate and patient on his feet, and that he’s an absolutely talented grappler. Candelario is a well-rounded fighter who has some solid experience, but he’s also been a victim of inactivity. Taira has fought ten times since he made his professional debut, and Candelario has just two fights in that same time frame. Candelario could easily outwork Taira on the feet, but his takedown defense leaves a lot to be desired, and Taira is going to exploit that. Taira has tons of potential and is going to show that as I see him getting Candelario down to the mat early and finding a submission, as that is his strong suit.
What’s at stake: Taira is an excellent signing, and the fact they signed him outright without putting him through the Contender Series shows there are high expectations for him. He’s only 22 and will have many years of development ahead of him, but this is a solid first test. Candelario was impressive in his last fight and benefitted from Dana White being in a great mood that night, but this is a tall order for his debut. He’s got good skills, and even if he comes up short here, he’s a solid addition to the flyweight roster.