Alex Perez Scores Knockout of Matheus Nicolau 

Alex Perez remains in the title hunt…

The 32-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist scored a scintillating second-round knockout of Matheus Nicolau in a battle of flyweights jockeying for title contention on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex.

Alex Perez Ranked No. 8 by the UFC, Perez (25-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC) stepped into the main event picture after Manel Kape had to pull out of the bout with a rib injury.

Perez put a dramatic halt to a three-fight skid, using a high-volume approach to eventually break through Nicolau’s guard and sink him with a thudding right hand at the 2:16 mark in the second round.

Perez was the busier fighter early on with constant movement and feints. Nicolau, the UFC’s No. 5-ranked flyweight entering the night, remained composed in the opening frame and defended well as Perez routinely launched into multi-punch combinations.

Perez managed to get through with a few body shots and a leg kick before Nicolau got his attention with a counter left hand.

But the sheer amount of activity kept Nicolau on his back foot and without an answer to Perez’s salvos.

Perez kept the volume going in the second round as Nicolau attempted to counter and close the distance. A short right hand clipped the Brazilian and sent him stumbling backward. Perez immediately went for the finish as he rushed forward and launched into another violent barrage of punches as Nicolau’s back was up against the fence. A right hand slipped through and caught the Brazilian flush, immediately crumpling him along the cage wall.

“It feels amazing,” Perez said following the victory. “Everyone counted me out after three losses.”

Perez, who was coming off a loss to Muhammad Mokaev in March, was originally slated to face Tagir Ulanbekov on June 15 but took the opportunity to climb back into the top of the division with a higher-ranked opponent. It was a significant risk, but Perez was up for the challenge and cashed out in a major way.

“I tell people I don’t get paid to sit on the couch, I get paid to fight and this is the reason why,” he said about taking the fight on three weeks’ notice. “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

Nicolau (19-5-1, 7-3 UFC) has dropped two in a row, both by knockout, after going on a four-fight winning streak. Saturday marked his first fight since a knockout loss to Brandon Royval last April.

With the win, Perez will keep a close eye on next week’s flyweight bout between Alexandre Pantoja and Steve Erceg at UFC 301. While a title fight might not be next, a victory of this magnitude will almost certainly land him a fight with title implications in the near future.

Alexandre Pantoja to Make Second Title Defense Against Steve Erceg at UFC 301

Alexandre Pantoja is going on the defensive again…

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and UFC flyweight champion will make his second title defense against Steve Erceg at UFC 301 on May 4 in Rio de Janeiro.

Alexandre PantojaUFC did not specify whether the 125-pound bout will headline the pay-per-view event.

UFC 301 will take place inside Farmasi Arena in the promotion’s first trip to Rio de Janeiro since January 2023.

Pantoja (27-5) was expected to appear on the card from the moment it was announced. He was born in Rio de Janeiro but has not fought in Brazil in his 14-fight UFC career. He trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. ESPN.com ranks Pantoja the No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Erceg (12-1) has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to claim the No. 1 contender spot. Fighting out of Perth, Australia, Erceg signed with UFC midway through last year. He is 3-0 in UFC, with two wins by decision and one finish — a TKO against Matt Schnell earlier this month at a UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.

Erceg, 28, has eight career finishes in 12 wins, including six by submission.

Jailton Almeida to Now Face Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night in November

Jailton Almeida has locked in a new opponent…

The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face off against Derrick Lewis in a UFC heavyweight battle next month.

Jailton AlmeidaAlmeida was originally schedule to fight Curtis Blaydes in the main event fight before Lewis was selected to replace him.

Lewis (27-11) just signed a new deal after fighting out his contract in July. The new heavyweight matchup will headline UFC Fight Night on November 4 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Almeida and Lewis are currently ranked as the Nos. 9 and 10 heavyweights, respectively, by UFC. Lewis is far more established, having fought in the UFC since 2014, and he holds the record for most knockouts in the promotion’s history.

Almeida (19-2), however, comes in riding a wave of momentum. He is 4-0 in the UFC with four finishes, three of which came in the opening round. Most recently, he submitted Jairzinho Rozenstruik in May.

Current heavyweight champion Jon Jones is scheduled to defend his title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 in November.

If Almeida wins, he would enter title contention, along with Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall.

Deiveson Figueiredo to Make Bantamweight Debut in December

Deiveson Figueiredo is movin’ on up…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist will make his long-awaited move up to bantamweight before the end of the year.

Deiveson FigueiredoThe former two-time UFC flyweight champion will face Rob Font in a contender bout at UFC Fight Night on December 2.

Figueiredo was first scheduled to return to flyweight over the summer, but he withdrew due to injury and decided to move up a division.

ESPN has Figueiredo ranked No. 4 in the world at flyweight and Font ranked No. 10 at bantamweight.

Figueiredo (21-3-1) has not fought since losing the flyweight title to Brandon Moreno via TKO last January at UFC 283. He went 1-2-1 against Moreno in their tetralogy. Figueiredo is tied with Demetrious Johnson for the most finishes in UFC flyweight history (7).

Font (20-7) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to top contender Cory Sandhagen on August 5. The 36-year-old Massachusetts native has dropped three of four.

Raul Rosas Jr. to Fight During Noche UFC, UFC’s Mexican Independence Day Show in Las Vegas

Raul Rosas Jr. will be heading to the Octagon next month.

The 18-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist, who was the youngest fighter signed to the UFC last year at 17 years old, will attempt to get back on track at the UFC‘s Mexican Independence Day show.

Raul Rosas Jr.Rosas Jr., a bantamweight, will face Terrence Mitchell at Noche UFC on September 16 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

ESPN DeportesCarlos Contreras Legaspi first reported the bout set for Noche UFC, which is a larger-sized UFC Fight Night card in celebration of the Mexican holiday at T-Mobile Arena.

Rosas Jr. (7-1) earned his way into the promotion from Dana White‘s Contender Series. Rosas Jr. won his UFC debut at UFC 282 in December but then fell to Christian Rodriguez via unanimous decision at UFC 287 in April.

Mitchell (14-3), a 33-year-old from Alaska who competed on “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2016, lost in his UFC debut to Cameron Saaiman by first-round TKO at UFC 290 last month.

Vicente Luque Defeats Rafael dos Anjos in First Fight Since Brain Bleed

Vicente Luque has made a triumphant return to the Octagon

The 31-year-old Brazilian-Chilean professional mixed martial artist pulled out his first victory since suffering a brain hemorrhage in a knockout loss in 2022.

Vicente LuqueLuque defeated Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) in the welterweight main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Luque smartly used strategic grappling, wrestling and clinching against the cage to outwork dos Anjos, the former UFC lightweight champion.

“I came back stronger than ever,” Luque said in his postfight interview. “I beat a former champion in his game.”

On August 6, 2022, Luque was knocked out by Geoff Neal and was later diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) needed extra medical documentation in order for Luque to be cleared to compete. He was licensed two weeks ago.

“For me, it’s a miracle to be here,” Luque said. “A lot of people know what happened to me a year ago. I never feared anything, but I feared not being able to do this again.”

Coming in, ESPN had dos Anjos ranked No. 10 in the world at lightweight. He made his return to welterweight in his last bout.

dos Anjos had success early, landing some hard straight left hands from the southpaw stance and a big Superman elbow. Luque was able to recover, counter a takedown attempt and land some hard ground-and-pound while dos Anjos was on his hands and knees.

Luque’s grappling and wrestling success continued throughout the fight, so much so that dos Anjos’ corner removed the fighter’s ankle sleeves after the third round because they felt Luque was using them to take dos Anjos down. Luque was active with submission attempts throughout and bloodied dos Anjos with punches, too.

“In the first round, I was afraid of getting hit,” Luque said. “It had been a year without fighting. I didn’t know how I would react.”

Luque landed a career-high eight takedowns, the second-most dos Anjos had allowed. Former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, a high-level wrestler, had 12 against dos Anjos in 2018.

Luque (22-9-1) snapped a two-fight losing streak. The Brazilian-Chilean fighter, who trains out of Florida, has won five of seven overall. Luque said he hopes to now be back in the title mix. He was +500 to win via decision, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

Dos Anjos (32-15) beat Bryan Barberena in his welterweight return last December via second-round submission. The Brazilian-born fighter had won three of his past four bouts. Dos Anjos, 38, held the UFC lightweight title in 2015 and 2016.

Jailton Almeida to Fight Curtis Blaydes in Upcoming UFC Fight Night

Jailton Almeida has locked in a new opponent. 

The 31-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face off against Curtis Blaydes in a marquee heavyweight matchup that will headline a UFC Fight Night in November, according to ESPN.Jailton AlmeidaContracts have not been issued, but both sides have verbally agreed to a five-round main event on November 4. The UFC has not yet announced the event; however, it is expected to take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Blaydes and Almeida are the Nos. 4 and 9 ranked heavyweights in the UFC, respectively. Although Blaydes has the more established résumé, there is a lot of hype building around Almeida, particularly after a first-round submission win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of a UFC on ABC card last month.

Almeida (19-2) is 5-0 in the UFC with five finishes. He has fought at light heavyweight and heavyweight, and he is best known for his submission skills on the ground.

Blaydes (17-4) has been one of the most consistent heavyweights of the past seven years, but he’s suffered major losses in key moments against names like Francis NgannouDerrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich. He lost to Pavlovich via first-round TKO in his most recent appearance in April.

Jon Jones is the UFC’s current heavyweight champion. There are expectations he might face Stipe Miocic in late 2023, however the UFC has not officially booked that matchup as of yet.

Irene Aldana to Fight Raquel Pennington in Rematch at UFC Fight Night in May

Irene Aldana is readying for a rematch…

The 35-year-old Mexican professional mixed martial artist will meet Raquel Pennington in a rematch on May 20 in the main event of a UFC Fight Night card in Las Vegas, with the next UFC women’s bantamweight No. 1 contender likely to be decided with that fight.

Irene AldanaAldana and Pennington fought in July 2019, with Pennington winning a split decision.

ESPN has Pennington ranked No. 3 and Aldana ranked No. 6 in the world at women’s bantamweight.

The champion in that weight class, Amanda Nunes, will defend her title in a trilogy fight with Julianna Peña at UFC 289 on June 10 in Vancouver.

The Pennington vs. Aldana winner will likely fight the victor in that bout.

Pennington (15-8) has won five straight. The Colorado native has not lost since a 2020 bout with former champ Holly Holm. Pennington, 34, has the most bouts in UFC women’s bantamweight history (16).

Aldana (14-6) has won two in a row and four of her past five. The Mexican-born fighter is coming off a knockout of Macy Chiasson at UFC 279 in September.

Aldana has won seven of her past nine fights overall.

Jailton Almeida to Face Jairzinho Rozenstruik in UFC Fight Night in May

Jailton Almeida headed to the Octagon

The 31-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a heavyweight matchup that will headline a UFC Fight Night on May 13, officials announced this week.

Jailton Almeida The event is scheduled to take place at Spectrum Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It will mark the UFC‘s fourth trip to Charlotte and its first since January 2018.

Rozenstruik (13-4) will look to stay in title contention, after a much-needed knockout of Chris Daukaus in 23 seconds in December. The quick finish was Rozenstruik’s first win since June 2021.

Almeida (18-2) enjoyed a breakout year in 2022, when he went 3-0 inside the Octagon with three first-round finishes. He kept that momentum going in his first appearance of 2023, knocking out Shamil Abdurakhimov in the second round in January.

Renato Moicano to Fight Arman Tsarukyan in UFC Fight Night

Renato Moicano is heading to the Octagon next month…

The UFC is finalizing a lightweight bout between Arman Tsarukyan and Renato Moicano as its headliner for a UFC Fight Night on April 29, sources confirmed to ESPN on Friday.

Renato MoicanoMoicano posted the news to his social media on Thursday, and sources told ESPN Tsarukyan has also agreed to the 155-pound bout. The UFC has not officially announced the pairing or a location for the event. MMA.Meta first reported the matchup.

Tsarukyan (19-3) is 6-2 overall in the UFC. His only losses have come against current champion Islam Makhachev in 2019 and Mateusz Gamrot last June. The 26-year-old is coming off a decision win against Damir Ismagulov in December.

Moicano (17-5-1) is a former featherweight, coming off a first-round submission win over Brad Riddell in November. Moicano has been with the UFC since 2014, and fought the likes of Jose AldoCub SwansonBrian Ortega, Rafael dos Anjos and Chan Sung Jung.

Tsarukyan and Moicano are the lightweights the UFC has ranked No. 8 and No. 13, respectively.