The UFC is back at UFC APEX, and the promotion has put together an AWESOME fight card. The return of former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is finally upon us, and he is set to face No. 2 ranked Cory Sandhagen in what should be an absolute thrilling fight. The fight is more than likely a No. 1 contender fight. In the co-main event, No. 3 ranked bantamweight Aspen Ladd also returns to action. She hasn’t been in action in 2019 because she tore her ACL and MCL. Ladd faces No. 9 ranked Macy Chiasson. However, if you look past the main and co-main events, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
Dr. Pepper vs. Reese’s
Adrian Yanez vs. Randy Costa is finally here, and it is also my ‘banger alert’ of the week. Two of the most exciting up-and-coming bantamweights will be in action, and the winner will be that much closer to a ranked opponent. Oh, and in case you are wondering, Dr. Pepper is Yanez’s favorite drink, and Reese’s is Costa’s favorite candy- both of the fighters have marketed the fight as Dr. Pepper vs. Reese’s, and it is awesome. Yanez is coming off a third-round KO of Gustavo Lopez and is perfect in the UFC thus far. Costa is riding a two-fight win streak since losing his UFC debut with two first-round knockouts. Costa has a 100% finish rate, and all of his wins have come in the first round.
Welcome to the UFC, Elise Reed
Reed will be making her UFC debut up a weight class against No. 13 ranked bantamweight Sijara Eubanks on relatively short notice. Eubanks was originally scheduled against Priscila Cachoeira. Reed comes into the fight with a 4-0 record and is the CFFC strawweight champion. She defended the belt twice since winning it at CFFC 83, where she upset Jasmine Jasudavicius and is coming off a second-round TKO win over Dana White Contender Series alumni Hilarie Rose. A win over a tough-ranked opponent will set Reed up very well in the promotion.
Puna is back
Punahele Soriano returns for his third UFC fight this weekend. He is coming off a first-round knockout win over Dusko Todorović, giving him his first loss. It was his return fight after being on the sidelines for all of 2020 with injuries. Soriano is undefeated with six first-round knockouts in his seven wins. The Hawaiian faces Brendan Allen, who, like his opponent, is a very bright prospect. Allen is coming off a submission over Karl Roberson at UFC 261. The winner of this fight will get a ranked opponent in their next fight.
Fear The Maverick
One of the best fights this weekend will be between No. 13 ranked flyweight Miranda Maverick vs. No. 14 ranked Maycee Barber. A few years ago, Barber was saying she would be the youngest champion in the UFC, and it was looking like it was plausible. Fast forward two years, and now she is on the verge of being cut. What a turn of events. Enter Maverick, who is a year older than Barber and is looking to take all over her hype and steam. She is undefeated in the UFC and riding a five-fight win streak. Maverick has said she wants to be fighting for the title sooner than later, and with a win over, Barber will really announce her presence in the division. A matchup with No. 7 Viviane Araujo could be in her future.
Two women looking for their first UFC win
Diana Belbita and Hannah Goldy are searching for their first UFC win when they face off this weekend. Belbita is 0-2 in the promotion and most likely fighting for her job. Her most recent loss came against Liana Jojua last year on ‘Fight Island.’ Goldy is 0-1, losing her UFC debut to Miranda Granger and hasn’t fought since with injuries plaguing her. She was supposed to make her return against Jessica Penne, but COVID halted that fight.
Other fighters to keep your eye on
Andre Ewell – Ewell is never in a boring fight and is coming off a loss that snapped his two-fight winning streak.
Nassourdine Imavov – The hype is real on this Russian fighter, and he faces former top 15 ranked Ian Heinisch.
Jordan Williams – Returns for his second UFC fight in a new division and at a new camp- Factory X.
Kyler Phillips – The Matrix was originally scheduled to face No.11 ranked bantamweight Raphael Assunção but now fights ranked flyweight Raulian Paiva. Phillips is absolutely must-watch television and has real star power.
MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.