The UFC is back at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas after an epic event last weekend at UFC 261. While the fans in the stands may be gone, the fights are still going to be epic. This week the UFC on ESPN event has put on a fantastic main event between two top-five ranked light heavyweights. No. 5 ranked Jiri Prochazka makes his second UFC appearance against former two-time title challenger. No. 3 ranked Dominick Reyes. The co-main sees UFC veteran Cub Swanson take on another prospect in Giga Chikadze. However, if you look past the main event, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
The Debut of Luana Pinheiro
The next ‘Ronda Rousey’ is making her UFC debut this weekend. Well, that is what she is being compared to. Pinheiro is 8-1 and riding a six-fight win streak with six finishes. She punched her ticket to the UFC on season four of Dana White’s Contender Series by knocking out her opponent in the first round. Pinheiro is a judo specialist like Rousey and has said that the former bantamweight champion was a big inspiration. The ceiling can be very high for Pinheiro. Watch for her.
Loma Lookboonmee’s first fight in 2021
Lookboonmee makes her first appearance in 2021 against Sam Hughes. Fun Fact that I just learned – Lookboonmee’s real name is Suphisara Konlak. Crazy right? Anyways, Lookboonmee is a prospect in the strawweight division that is very fun to watch. She was the first Thai fighter to be signed to the UFC and has focused solely on MMA after fighting in kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai. She suffered her first UFC loss last year against current ranked No. 12 ranked Angela Hill. Lookboonmee would rebound and put on a clinic against Jinh Yu Frey last October. She has another tough opponent in front of her in Hughes, but it should be a fun contest.
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann – Third Time Is A Charm?
Dvalishvili and Stamann will finally fight this weekend. FINGERS CROSSED. They have been scheduled twice before, but injuries and COVID stopped it from happening. The pair was first scheduled on Oct. 22, but Stamann pulled out due to undisclosed injuries. They were rebooked for Feb. of this year, but Dvalishvili caught COVID, and the fight was canceled. Andre Ewell and Askar Askar both jumped in on short notice to fight Stamann, but both fighters didn’t make it to the date, leaving Stamann without a fight. Well, the ranked bantamweight will finally meet this weekend. It should be grapplers delight, and I cannot wait. The winner of this fight will be set up with a huge fight next.
Sean Strickland At Middleweight Could Be The Real Deal
Santiago Ponzinibbio, Kamaru Usman, and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Those are the only names to defeat Strickland. Stickland moved up a weight class to middleweight last year, after a two-year layoff due to a horrific motorcycle accident, and has looked fantastic. While it wasn’t a beautiful performance, he beat the breaks off of Jack Marshman in his middleweight debut and talked trash the whole match while doing it. He would jump back into the octagon two weeks later and be the first to defeat Brendan Allen in the UFC, doing so via TKO in the second round. Strickland faces Krzysztof Jotko this weekend, who is on a three-fight win streak. A win over Jotko will prove he is a force at this division and will get him a fight with a top 10 opponent in his next fight.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby
This fight is awesome. Plain and simple. Jacoby has looked awesome since coming back to MMA after a three-year break to kickbox. After an eight-year absence, he returned to the UFC by winning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. Jacoby seems refocused and ready to climb the ladder. The man he is facing is Cutelaba, who is coming in with something to prove after losing to Magomed Ankalaev twice last year, and in the second fight was flatlined. This will be an old fashion rock em sock em fight, and whoever lands the harder shot first wins.
Andreas Michailidis & KB Bhullar Looking To Forget Their Debuts.
Both Michailidis and Bhullar had memorable debuts for all the wrong reasons. Bhullar leapfrogged Dana White’s Contender Series and went straight to the UFC; unfortunately, he ran into Tom Breese, who himself was coming off an embarrassing loss. Breese would finish Bhullar in less than two minutes and taking his undefeated record. Michailidis was riding a three-fight win streak with three first-round finishes coming into this UFC debut. In his debut, after surviving the first round by getting elbowed in the head by Modestas Bukauskas, the referee asked him to stand up, but he fell through the cage door, prompting the referee to call off the fight. Michailidis and Bhullar will be looking to get their first UFC win and make us forget their debuts.