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UFC Vegas: Kara-France vs Albazi - Jun 3 🇺🇸

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Kai Kara-France vs Amir Albazi 

Alex Caceres vs Daniel Pineda 

Jim Miller vs Jesse Butler

Tim Elliott vs Victor Altamirano 

Karine Silva vs Ketlen Souza 

Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos vs Abubakar Nurmagomedov 

Daniel Santos vs Johnny Munoz Jr 

Andrei Arlovski vs Don’Tale Mayes 

John Castaneda vs Muin Gafurov 

Jamie Mullarkey vs Muhammadjon Naimov 

Jinh Yu Frey vs Elise Reed 

Luan Lacerda vs Da’Mon Blackshear

Maxim Grishin vs Philipe Lins 

As we’ve come to expect from the Apex…not great. But to be honest, I like this better than a lot of the Apex cards we usually get. The usual dross in places but I’m a fan of that main event and you’ve got undercard favourites like Bruce Leroy and Jim Miller on there. I think there’s a bit more to like on this one than your typical Apex show but maybe that’s just me.



Kai Kara-France vs Amir Albazi is your main event. I really like this fight. One of the better Apex main events we’ve had in some time. Nice to see the Flyweights get top billing as well. It wasn’t the original plan. Jack Hermansson vs Brendan Allen was supposed to headline this card but Hermansson withdrew. I think I actually prefer this fight anyway, to be honest.


It’s been a minute since we last saw Kai Kara-France. He took on Brandon Moreno for the interim title at UFC 277 last July. It was a good fight but Moreno was just a step ahead throughout and forced a TKO stoppage in the third round. KKF had been on a nice little 3 fight win streak prior to that. He stopped Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt, both inside a round, then beat Askar Askarov on points. He really seemed to be building some momentum but that loss to Moreno and the near year long layoff since has him almost starting again from scratch here. Not literally. He’s still ranked #3 in the division as I type this. But he’s 0-2 down to Moreno now so unless we get a new champ soon, KKF’s gonna be waiting a while before he sees another crack at the gold no matter what he does. A win here is crucial regardless though. If he loses this one, he’s well out of the running.


Amir Albazi has been sneaking up on the top players of the division for a bit now. He’s worked his way up to a #7 ranking but he’s gone under the radar for some reason up to now. I’ve liked what I’ve seen of him so far. Looks a handful. He’s Iraqi but fights out of London Shootfighters, 29 years old and has a record of 16-1 with 14 finishes. He’s got a really strong grappling game and most of his finishes are via submission but he’s been improving in the striking as well. We saw evidence of that in his last fight in December when he knocked out Alessandro Costa…


He’s also submitted Malcolm Gordon and Francisco Figueiredo and won a decision off Zhalgas Zhumagulov in the UFC. He’s looked the business so far but we just needed to see him have a step up. This is that step up. His first UFC main event, his first ever 5 rounder and he’s in against a guy who’s fought the current champ twice and trains alongside the likes of Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski. It’s a real test for Albazi this. But it’s one where he kind of has everything to gain. It’s Kara-France who’s taking the real risk here. Like I said, he’s 0-2 to Moreno now, coming off a loss in an interim title fight and nearly a year out and he’s taking on a guy like Albazi who we really don’t know how good he is yet. Ballsy. Got a feeling Albazi rises to the occasion here as well for some reason. He’s looked a real threat so far but also very calm and collected in there. I don’t think he’s gonna be rattled by the main event billing, 5 rounds etc. And it wasn’t that long ago we saw Kai get subbed by Royval. I wouldn’t be shocked if Albazi is able to catch him as well. Good fight. Too good for the Apex really but I’ll take it.



Alex Caceres vs Daniel Pineda will be worth checking out solely because it involves Alex Caceres. Doesn’t really matter who he’s fighting. If he’s on a card I’m watching his fight. Maybe my favourite MMA journeyman. Been on the roster forever. He was on the season of TUF coached by GSP and Josh Koscheck, for fuck’s sake! Feels like a lifetime ago now. There’s a reason they’ve kept him around despite the iffy win/loss ratio. OK part of it is because he’s probably not costing them that much. But he’s also usually a highlight of whatever card he’s on. And to be fair, he has won 6 of his last 7. It’s not like he’s a Sam Alvey type who’s stealing a paycheque and boring everyone shitless.


There he is knocking out Julian Erosa with a sweet headkick in his last fight in December. Love the way he disguised the kick behind the left hand. Crafty little fuck. He’s 20-13-0-1 now and turns 35 years old just after this fight. Enjoy him while he’s here. We were supposed to see him against Nate Landwehr on one of the recent cards but he had to pull out. Really hope they can get that one rebooked before one of them retires or gets released. It needs to happen. Pineda I’m neither her nor there on. He’s had a right up and down career. Just in his last 6 fights he’s had wins, losses, an eyepoke No Contest and two fights in PFL overturned because he failed a drug test. He is coming off a POTN winning submission over Tucker Lutz last time out. This’ll be decent at worst though. If you can’t have a good fight with Bruce Leroy, there’s something wrong with you.



Jim Miller vs Jesse Butler then. Jesus wept. This is the third scheduled opponent now for Miller on this card. Originally he was facing Ludovit Klein but Klein dropped out. Then Jared Gordon stepped in but now he’s out as well. Not sure why but he did mention suffering a concussion from that nasty headbutt in the Bobby Green fight in April so I’m guessing that might be the reason. Got to hand it to Miller. Game as fuck. Agreeing to not only a replacement but then a replacement for the replacement just 2 days out from the fight?


Big fan of Miller. He turns 40 in August and has been an absolute trooper over the years. Think he still holds the record for having the most fights in UFC history. He’s 35-17-1 now and he’s been consistently entertaining to watch over the course of his 15 years on the roster. He’s said a few times that his goal is to fight at UFC 300 and call it a day there. He fought at UFCs 100 and 200 so if he can make it to 300 that’s history that nobody else will ever be able to replicate. Would be a really cool bit of trivia if he can do it. By my estimation, UFC 300 should be sometime around spring/summer 2024. It’s doable. I think Jim’s got another 2-3 fights in him easy. Never heard of Butler but Sherdog tells me he’s 31 years old with a 12-1 record, 9 finishes, mostly submissions. It’s really an ‘everything to gain’ opportunity for him. He’s taken the fight on 2 days notice, up at 155 when he’s apparently usually a 145er and against a guy with vastly more experience than him. If he loses then the odds were against him anyway but if he wins, beating a respected veteran like Miller on such short notice, it’ll be a hell of a way to make his debut.



Tim Elliott vs Victor Altamirano then. Decent fight on paper. Elliott is rarely involved in a dull fight. At 36 years old he’s probably on borrowed time as a Flyweight. But he’s usually great fun to watch. Let’s face it though, there’s only one reason anyone’s gonna be talking about this fight and it’s nothing to do with Elliott’s skills as a fighter.



Apparently, his wife (ex UFC fighter Gina Mazany) and his friend and teammate (ex UFC fighter Kevin Croom) were shagging around behind Tim’s back. On the wedding night no less! What in the Jerry Springer is this? RIP Jerry. Of course we’ve only got one side of it. But the fact Mazany has been silent on it and Croom was liking tweets that backed the story up…whatever. Elliott is a good little scrapper. People forget but he actually gave Mighty Mouse a really good fight during Mouse’s UFC title reign. The result wasn’t in doubt, the decision was clear for DJ, but Elliott fought his arse off and it was one of DJ’s best title defences to watch. Elliott’s fought and lost to most of the top Flyweights since the division started. He’s coming off a points win in a great fight against Tagir Ulanbekov but that was over a year ago now. Not sure how he’ll look here coming off a long spell of inactivity and with all the messy personal shite he’s got going on now. Altamirano is 12-2 and coming off UFC wins over Daniel Lacerda and Vinicius Salvador. Can’t remember much about him.



Karine Silva vs Ketlen Souza might be alright. I’ve only seen Silva fight once, in her UFC debut last June. So it’ll be a whole year on the shelf for her by the time she steps into the Octagon here. But I remember quite liking her debut. She got a first round submission over Poliana Botelho that night, which earned her a POTN bonus. She’s 15-4 now with all 15 of her wins coming inside the distance and she’s on a 6 fight winning streak. Souza is making her own debut here. She’s 27 years old with a 13-3 record and 9 finishes. Don’t know much about her but, looking at her record, she’s gone 5 rounds a few times and she won the Invicta belt in her last fight. I’ll give it a whirl.



Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos vs Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Not gonna pretend I’m too fussed about this one. I like Dos Santos, to be fair. He’s always reminded me of a bit of a pound shop RDA. He did once knock out Sean Strickland though so he’s always gonna be alright in my book. He’s 36 now and he’s pretty much found his level as a mid level guy at 170. He’ll look good to a point but he hits a ceiling past that. His recent losses were Muslim Salikhov in a close fight and a TKO loss to Li Jingliang. Abubakar is cack though. Just never rated him at all. He’s 17-3-1 and beat Gadzhi Omargadzhiev on the Oliveira vs Makhachev undercard in Abu Dhabi in October. But the fight was awful, just rotten shit. One of those fights where even a win doesn’t raise your stock at all. He’s arse. Hoping Dos Santos chins him.



Daniel Santos vs Johnny Munoz Jr should be a fun one. Santos is usually in exciting fights anyway. He’s a Chute Boxe guy so…enough said really. He’s also a friend and teammate of Charles Oliveira, basically a poor man’s version of Oliveira. And I genuinely don’t even mean that as a knock. He’s the prelim version of Charlie Olives.


He’s 11-2 with 8 finishes now but he’s gone 1-1 so far in the UFC. He’s coming off a TKO win in a cracking little fight against John Castaneda last October. I remember loving that fight actually. One of 2022’s forgotten gems. Munoz is 12-2 and beat Liudvik Sholinian on points in his last fight. He got stopped by Tony Gravely before that. Mixed results again. Can’t say I remember that much about Munoz but Santos is the kind of fighter who’s gonna be hard to have a bad fight with.



Andrei Arlovski vs Don’Tale Mayes is happening. Because no Apex card can go by without a big dollop or two of Heavyweight shite. I think the whole MMA fanbase has a bit of a soft spot for Arlovski. Which is probably why nobody really gives him any stick despite being boring to watch for years now. I think most MMA fans just accept it as the cost for Big Andrei getting another payday every few months.


Bless him. He’s provided some great memories over the years. He fights a lot differently now than he did back then but I can’t begrudge it. When you think back to that time when he was getting knocked out cold seemingly every other fight, it looked like he was shot back in 2009/10. The fact he’s been able to make adjustments and squeeze another 13/14 years out of his career is crazy. You’d never have believed that after, say, Brett Rogers waffled him. Fair play. But yeah, I haven’t enjoyed watching him in a long time. Not expecting much out of this either. Mayes isn’t much good. He’s 9-5-0-1 and his best wins are Josh Parisian and Roque Martinez. So yeah. Rooting for Arlovski here. I’d say at 44 he’s got to be close to retirement now but, the way he fights these days, he could probably keep going to 50 basically sparring these fat ham and eggers.



John Castaneda vs Muin Gafurov is yet another card change. Was gonna be Castaneda vs Mateus Mendonca, the blue haired Brazilian who debuted on the Rio PPV in January. That’s off. Not sure what to make of this one. Castaneda’s looked decent the few times I’ve seen him. He looked really good in his submission win over Miles Johns last year and, even in defeat, he had his moments in the Daniel Santos fight and that was a fantastic little scrap. Gafurov is a decent replacement and a solid signing by the looks of it. Can’t recall if I’ve ever actually seen him fight but his name looked familiar and looking at his record I see he’s fought in LFA, ONE, DWCS and ACB. Record of 18-4 with 17 inside the distance. He actually went the distance with John Lineker in ONE in 2019 as well. Anyone tough enough to be taking 3 rounds worth of that little bastards punches is worth at least a look.



Jamie Mullarkey vs Muhammadjon Naimov is another late switch up. Was supposed to be Mullarkey taking on Guram Kutateladze, a fight I was really looking forward to and was my ‘one to watch’ on this card. But because we can’t have anything nice these days, that went in the bin as well. I rate Kutateladze but the fucker barely fights. It’s frustrating. Apparently this time it was Visa issues though and he’s looking to get another fight booked ASAP. So hopefully not another layoff for him. Anyway, Mullarkey is usually decent to watch. You generally know what you’re getting when you see his name on a card. It’s not the most intelligent way to fight but it’s his style and it’s fun to watch. He’s still only 28 but he’s squeezed a fair bit into his 16-5 career. He fought Volkanovski back in 2016 when they were both still on the Australian circuit. Obviously he got chinned in that one. He also had a corker of a UFC debut against Brad Riddell in 2019. If you missed it at the time give it a look. One of those fights that’s not pretty technically, just a barmy scrap. He’s coming into this fight off back-to-back wins over Michael Johnson and Francisco Prado. Naimov jumps in on a few days notice. Don’t know anything about him so Sherdog it is. He’s 28 and 8-2 with 6 finishes. Really nothing else stands out about his record.



Jinh Yu Frey vs Elise Reed is shite, isn’t it? Frey’s 38 years old with an 11-8 record, has lost 4 of her last 6 and got sparked in less than a minute by Polyana Viana in her last fight. Proper laid out stiff she was. She is a former Invicta Atomweight champ but, even then, she got stripped of the belt for missing weight. It’s just not happening for her in the UFC either. Another loss here surely spells the end for her. Reed is younger at 30 but she really isn’t doing much better. She’s 6-3 and has been on a win one/lose one merry go round in her last 6 fights. Standard Apex bollocks. Easy skip fodder.



Luan Lacerda vs Da’Mon Blackshear is one of those fights where I’m just not familiar enough with either fighter to big up or slag off the matchup. Lacerda’s Brazilian, 30 years old, 12-2 with 10 submissions and reps Nova Uniao. Don’t hear much about them anymore but they were one of the top gyms back when Aldo and Barao were on top of the world. Blackshear is 28 with a record of 12-5-1 and 9 finishes. He’s gone winless in his couple of UFC outings so far. Drew with Youssef Zalal and lost to Farid Basharat. Lacerda lost a decision against Cody Stamann in his UFC debut on the Brazil show in January but I do remember him having spells of looking really decent. In particular I recall some really nice body punching from him.



Maxim Grishin vs Philipe Lins currently sits in the curtain jerk spot. Which is all it deserves, in my opinion. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and have a banger but I most likely won’t be tuning in early to see this. Grishin’s 39 years old and 32-9-2 with 22 finishes. He’s coming off a decision win over William Knight over a year ago and I don’t recall enjoying watching him even once. Lins is 37 with a record of 16-5 and knocked out the empty shell of Ovince Saint Preux in his last fight. Just can’t find a fuck to give about either of these two or the matchup itself.




Edited by wandshogun09
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Great write up Wand! Not a bad card, would be much better in front of a crowd!

Unfortunately Klein is out of his fight with Jim Miller.

Jim Miller is now facing Jared Gordon at an event a week or two later. Per John Morgan on Twitter.

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Yeah just saw that. Not really a fan of that, to be honest. It’s a decent fight and a pretty good save. Nice fight for Gordon as well coming off recent disappointing results. But the Klein fight not only sounded like a better fight to watch, I think it was more winnable for Miller.  

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Finally got around to updating the opening post with all the latest changes and, what I think is the current bout order. Still over 24 hours to go though so I’m sure there’s more to come.

It’s taken a bunch of hits but I’m not as down on this one as I am most Apex cards for some reason. Well, I really like the main event so I guess that’s the main reason I feel more positive about it. Then you look down the card and see Caceres, Miller, Elliott, Santos and Mullarkey who are all fairly reliable for having fun fights. It’s not bad.

While I’m here, I never really took any more notice of the whole Tim Elliott drama with Gina Mazany/Kevin Croom after the initial tweet he put out. Naturally with Tim being on this card it’s came up in interviews though. We’re only getting his side at the moment but if it’s true then fucking hell. Here’s a little 5 minute interview on the whole thing. MMA fighters being what they are, I was fully expecting Tim to be outed as a domestic abuser or some shit in retaliation but the fact it’s been so silent on the Mazany/Croom side does make it seem like Tim’s version is legit.

Poor get. Hard not to root for him after hearing that. 

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