Makhachev vs. Moisés, UFC Vegas 31

6 1/2 Under-The-Radar Storylines For UFC on ESPN: Makhachev vs. Moisés

After the biggest UFC pay-per-view of the year thus far, the promotion returns to the UFC Apex. In the main event, the new “boogeyman of the division,” Islam Makhachev fights in his first main event against Thiago Moisés, in what should be a good one. In the co-main event of the evening, Miesha Tate, YES, MIESHA TATE returns to action for the first in almost five years against Marion Reneau. However, if you look past the co-main and main events, there are some under-the-radar storylines.

The Return of Rodolfo Vieira

Remember earlier this year in February, when the four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion and one of the best over jiu-jitsu practitioners of all time got submitted in his last fight against a purple belt? It was a wild scene and completely unexpected. Vieira gassed out in his fight with Anthony Hernandez and got tapped. It was the first time in 20 years that an ADCC champion was submitted out in the UFC. Well, “The Black Belt Hunter” is back and ready to get back into the win column. He faces Dustin Stolzfus, who is looking to get his first UFC win. Both men love the ground, so it should be an entertaining grappling fight.

“I’ll follow you home” – Montserrat Ruiz’s second UFC fight

Ruiz returns to the octagon for the second time this weekend. In his last fight, she fought Cheyanne Buys on a week’s notice, and if you recall, beat her using numerous front headlocks. While it was not the most exciting performance, and it might have turned some people off, it was a great win on short notice against a thought opponent. After the fight, there were words said, and Buys threatened Ruiz that she would follow her home.  Ruiz returns to action against a tough Amanda Lemos, who has only been to the judge’s scorecards twice in seven years. A win over Lemos would put her into the top 15 strawweight rankings as she would take Lemos’ No. 14 spot.

Khalid Taha vs. Sergey Morozov

I will continue to give a weekly ‘banger alert.’ Last week it was Pereira vs. Price; the week prior, it was Barcelos vs. Valiev. You get the point. Both Taha and Morozov are coming off losses, and they will be looking to prove something. Taha is coming off a loss to Raoni Barcelos, while Morozov is coming off a loss to Umar Nurmagomedov. Taha and Morozov have 16 knockouts between them, and they both have only been to the judge’s scorecards a few times. Do not miss this fight.

Jeremy Stephens vs. Mateusz Gamrot

Another fight that has the potential to be fireworks is Stephens vs. Gamrot. Stephens will be moving up to lightweight for the first time since December 8, 2012. He was supposed to fight Drakkar Klose in April, but a push at weigh-ins scrapped that fight from taking place. Stephens is on a four-fight losing streak and needs a win. Gamrot is coming off a Performance of the Night TKO over Scott Holtzman. The Polish fighter is the real deal and is a future title contender. A win over Stephens should put him on many people’s radars.

Must Win

While Jeremy Stephens might be in a must-win scenario, there is a fighter that has to get a win, or he will be given a pink slip. Malcolm Gordon is fighting Francisco Figueiredo and is on a two-fight skid. He got finished by Amir Albazi in his UFC debut and then got knocked out in 42 seconds in her second UFC appearance by Su Mudaerji. “Malcolm X” has an 83% finish rate and knows his back is against the wall.

Billy Q & D-Rod

Two fan favorites are also fighting on this weekend’s card. Bill Quaratillo fights Gabriel Benitez, while Daniel Rodriguez fights Preston Parsons on short notice. Quaratillo is coming off his first UFC loss in which he had his eight-fight win streak snapped. He was originally supposed to fight Herbert Burns, but Burns withdrew. While Billy Q had his hype derailed a little bit, he is still really close to the featherweight top 15 rankings. His fight with Benitez should be very fun. Rodriguez, like Quarantillo, had an opponent change. “D-Rod” was supposed to fight Abubakar Nurmagomedov, but an injury halted the fight from going forward. Rodriguez is coming off a near-perfect performance when he battered Mike Perry for three rounds in April. Rodriguez has been on a roll since entering the UFC and has a lot of momentum behind him. A ranked opponent could be in his near future.

Quick hit

Rodriguez’s opponent Preston Parsons is making his UFC debut on a week’s notice. He is 9-2 and had a 100% finish rate. Parson is riding a four-fight win streak and is looking to take all of his opponent’s steam.



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