After a wild night back on the road in Phoenix, Arizona, the UFC returns to the UFC Apex. A number one contender light heavyweight fight occurs in the main event, as No. 1 ranked Jan Blachowicz fights No. 3 Aleksander Rakic. The winner of this fight will most likely fight the winner of Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka. However, if you look past the main event of UFC Vegas 54, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
Superman vs. The Hulk
No, this isn’t a death battle you’d find on YouTube. In the co-main event, No. 13 ranked light heavyweight Ryan “Superman” Spann defends his ranking against Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba. They were supposed to fight in February at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Green; however, Spann pulled out of the fight. Cutelaba got back into the win column after a shaky few years, and looked good doing so. Spann is coming off his first UFC main event loss against Anthony Smith. This should not last more than a round.
Welcome back, Michael Johnson
It will be more than a year since Michael Johnson has last fought when he enters the octagon on Saturday. The UFC veteran was last in action against Clay Guida last February, way back at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov. There is no way to bullshit this, Johnson absolutely needs a win, or else his long UFC career will come to an end. Johnson is one of the more overlooked fighters in the division because of his record but the names on his resume are incredible – wins and losses. He was the first man to knockout Dustin Poirier and the first person to defeat Tony Ferguson in the UFC. All of that is awesome, but he needs a win. He faces Alan Patrick.
From the co-main to the curtain jerker?
Nick Maximov has had a very strange start to his UFC career so far. He made his UFC debut on relatively short notice; then, in his second UFC fight, he got a co-main event spot against Puna Sorino. Now, in his third fight with the promotion, he opens the card as the curtain jerker. What the hell, right? Is it because he and Nate Diaz are close, and the UFC isn’t too happy with Diaz at the moment? Who knows. Anyways, he fights Andre Petroski, who is 2-0 in the promotion as well.
Banger of the Week
Davey Grant vs. Louis Smolka is the banger of the week for UFC Vegas 54. The resurgence of Davey Grant as a striker has been glorious to watch. The 36-year-old started his MMA career as a submission artist submitting eight of his nine opponents. After suffering a few losses in the UFC, Grant came back and started knocking people out and getting into stand-up wars with Chito Vera and Adrian Yanez. Grant fights Smolka, who loves to stand and bang too. Eight of Smolka’s 17 wins are by knockout, and since moving up to bantamweight, he has liked to throw leather. Don’t expect this one to go to the scorecards.
Amanda Ribas title shot?
Amanda Ribas returns to flyweight this weekend, and she isn’t taking just any fight. She is fighting the No. 1 ranked flyweight Katlyn Chookagian. If Ribas wins on Saturday, there is a good chance that she could fight Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight championship. That is a big IF because Chookagian might be the best flyweight not named Shevchenko. Ribas got back into the win column in her last time out by defeating Virna Jandiroba via unanimous decision.
MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.