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UFC Vegas: Rozenstruik vs Gaziev - Mar 2 🇺🇸


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Coming off 298 and the Mexico card…yep, we’re back at the Apex and it’s a Heavyweight headliner! Party.


Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Shamil Gaziev

Vitor Petrino vs Tyson Pedro 

Muhammad Mokaev vs Alex Perez 

Umar Nurmagomedov vs Bekzat Almakhan

Matt Schnell vs Steve Erceg 

Eryk Anders vs Jamie Pickett

Vinicius Oliveira vs Bernardo Sopaj

Javid Basharat vs Aiemann Zahabi

Christian Leroy Duncan vs Claudio Ribeiro

Ludovit Klein vs AJ Cunningham  

Loik Radzhabov vs Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady 


You know what? I actually don’t think this is that bad. It’s gonna get shat on because of the main event but there’s some solid matchups on there. And even the main event could be (hopefully) short and sweet. We’ve had worse. Couple of fights have dropped off, which is why there’s so few fights on there, but I don’t mind that at all. Apex cards being shorter works for me.

On a side note - this is the card that was originally supposed to be in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis put up a $20M site fee so, rightly, wanted something better than this! Apparently the plan is now to do the Saudi show in June. Trying to take a sodding Apex show over there was never gonna cut it, was it? The good news for us is, according to Marcel Dorff, it’s still gonna be on Saudi timezone. Prelims are currently set to kick off at 6:30pm UK time, with the main card from 9pm.




Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Shamil Gaziev headlines. Whether we like it or not. I guess this is what we get for moaning about all those Middleweight Apex main events. Now we’ve got 5 rounds of Fattyweight mediocrity to look forward to. Smashing. In fairness, this mightn’t be as bad as we think. As Heavyweight fights go, they actually could’ve given us a lot worse than this. But for the life of me I’ll never understand why the lower weight classes so rarely get these main event spots when they’re pretty much always way better actual fights than the 185 and up lot. Whatever. This is undeniably one of the weakest main events on the schedule but I’ll give it a chance.


I don’t mind Rozenstruik myself. I mean, he’s going nowhere and his fight announcements always seem to be met with groans and negativity, presumably because he’s not elite or something. But he’s an alright middle of the pack player. Seems quite likeable and he’s far, far from the worst or most boring in the division. He’s got a shitload of fight experience, 85 Kickboxing fights. Again, I often see that get shat on because of the level of opposition or whatever, no doubt there’s truth to that criticism but it’s all reps and experience in the bank. In MMA he’s gone 13-5 with 12 knockouts. He hit his ceiling a while back and has lost almost every time he’s stepped up a level. But he’s definitely had his moments. Stopped Arlovski early, stopped Overeem late, stopped JDS. There was a time when he was actually knocking on the door of being in the title mix. Any hopes of that seem to have fizzled out now though. He’s gone 2-3 in his last 5 and the wins were over Augusto Sakai and Chris Daukaus. We last saw him getting steamrolled by Jailton Almeida in May last year. He turns 36 a couple of weeks after this fight. So yeah, safe to say he’s found his level. Unlikely he’s gonna go on some surge at this stage of his career. But still, he packs a punch and he’s a decent enough test for an up and comer, I guess.


Gaziev is actually where my intrigue lies here. He’s from Bahrain, 34 years old and he’s undefeated at 12-0 with 11 inside the distance. He fought in the Brave CF and Ares FC promotions, scored a quick submission on DWCS back in September and made his Octagon debut at UFC 296 in December, getting a TKO finish over Martin Buday. I don’t remember being blown away by Gaziev’s performance that night but not bad for his debut. Better than a lot of the big useless slugs in the division and at least he goes for the finish. Granted, he could well turn out to be just as awful as the vast majority of the lumbering plodders stinking up the division but, for now, he’s been inoffensive enough.


That’s our main event then. Yeah, I know, not ideal. Pretty high possibility that this ends up being rotten to watch. But that’s always the case with Heavyweight. Especially over 5 rounds. I’m hoping they both stick to their usual approach and both come in looking for the early finish. Obviously, Rozey is a KO merchant. He’s gonna be looking to land a bomb from the off. But he’s weak in the grappling and I could definitely see Gaziev trying to exploit that. Looking at the rankings, Rozenstruik is currently at #12 so, while a win here wouldn’t exactly catapult Gaziev up the ladder, it would earn him a spot in the rankings just 2 fights into his UFC career. Yeah, expectations aren’t high for this but I hope it’s a pleasant surprise.



Vitor Petrino vs Tyson Pedro could be a banger but I get the feeling it’s gonna be a bit of a slaughter. I’ve been saying for a while I’m just not fully sold on Tyson Pedro. I like him, seems a sound bloke and against a certain level of opposition he looks solid. But I don’t know. I know he had that period of bad luck with the injuries and the massive layoff a few years ago but he had his shortcomings even before that. He lost to a washed up Shogun in the fight he got injured in and went into that layoff having lost 3 of his last 4. He finally came back after 3+ years on the shelf and he’s gone 3-1 since. But the wins were over Ike Villanueva, Harry Hunsucker and Anton Turkalj. The loss was against Modestas Bukauskas. I think Pedro’s getting battered here.


Vitor Petrino has looked like one of the better prospects to come out of Brazil in a while to me. He’s 26 years old and undefeated at 10-0 with 8 finishes. He got in off a TKO win on DWCS in 2022 and went 3-0 in the UFC last year. He hasn’t been beating a who’s who, hasn’t really been tested yet, it’s early days. But so far, so good. He’s ended fights by knockout and by submission, so he’s not a one trick pony. He’s finished fights early and he’s finished fights late. So despite his WWF Hasbro looking physique, he doesn’t seem to be the type of fighter who fades terribly if they don’t get the quick finish. He’s coming into this fight off a vicious knockout win over Pedro’s pal Bukauskas on the São Paulo card in November. He looks a handful. Not sure how much further he can go and there’s definitely still questions to be asked of him, but he’s looked the real deal so far. With his potential, his style and his look, he’s a guy who could become a bit of a star the likes the Brazilians haven’t really had come along in a while. He’s not ranked yet but if he wins this, I’d like to see him get a ranked opponent on that upcoming Brazil PPV in May next. Maybe Oezdemir or someone like that. I realise I’ve probably jinxed him now but he looks legit so far.



Muhammad Mokaev vs Alex Perez is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** this time. Genuinely wouldn’t have been upset if this was the main event, to be honest. Cracking fight. If it happens. And that’s the problem. I’ll give the UFC a little bit of an out here. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit but maybe part of the reason why this wasn’t given top billing is because of Perez’s track record of cancelled fights. Since signing with the UFC in 2017, Perez has had 9 fights. He’s also had, count ‘em, 12 fights cancelled. Fair enough, they weren’t always down to him pulling out. But Christ. He’s a decent fighter when he shows up. He stopped Jussier Formiga with leg kicks in a round back in 2020, a win which earned him a title shot against then champion Deiveson Figueiredo. That’s been the peak of his career so far. But Figgy made short work of him and subbed him in 2 minutes. Perez then got strangled in 90 seconds by Pantoja in his next fight and hasn’t been seen since. He’ll have been inactive about 18 months or so by the time he steps into the Octagon here. If he does.


Mokaev’s the pull here. He came into the UFC with hype and was widely considered to be one of the most promising prospects in the Flyweight division. He’s undoubtedly got talent and potential but, so far, I don’t think he’s quite delivered on the buzz he had coming in. That probably sounds harsh. He’s been winning, he’s undefeated, can’t fault him too much. But while the record looks great on Wikipedia, you watch him and he still looks so raw, sometimes even green. He’s fought 5 times in the UFC now, has gone 5-0 and won 4 of them by submission. But he always seems to have these moments in fights where it looks like it could all go tits up at any second. It’s only been his UFC debut against Cody Durden that’s been completely flawless and that’s because he just breezed through him in seconds. Since then he’s had shaky moments against Charles Johnson and Malcolm Gordon, had to gut through a horrific kneebar against Jafel Filho and in his last fight I had him 2 rounds down against Tim Elliott before he found the submission in the last round. Like I said, bags of potential and he’s still only 23. Time is on his side. But he seems hell bent on rushing straight up the rankings and I can’t help thinking it’s gonna backfire on him sooner rather than later. For as promising as he looks, he was 2 minutes away from losing a decision to Elliott last time. He keeps finding ways to win and that’s admirable but it’s only a matter of time before he just doesn’t find that late sub and takes the L. He’s already ranked #8 now. It’s all tough matchups from here on out. Hopefully he doesn’t crash and burn though because the Groundhog Day title picture at Flyweight could definitely do with some fresh faces.



Umar Nurmagomedov vs Bekzat Almakhan then. Really odd booking this. As I type, Umar’s undefeated and ranked #13 in the Bantamweight division. He was all set to headline the Nashville card in August against Cory Sandhagen, dropped out with a shoulder injury…and now this? Baffling. I keep hearing claims that everyone’s ducking Umar, and a matchup like this being made would usually make me think that the top contenders didn’t want any. But Sandhagen was all in on fighting him last time. Why couldn’t we just get that one rescheduled? Oh well. At this point I’m just glad Umar’s back in the game.


28 years old, 16-0. Hopefully the setbacks and layoffs are behind him now and we can see what he’s about. Because so far, he’s looked the business. The problem has been that we haven’t seen him properly tested at the top level yet. That Sandhagen fight would’ve been the perfect way to get all the answers on him. A 5 rounder against a top contender like Sandhagen would’ve been the ultimate litmus test. Had Umar fought and won that fight, he’d probably be right in the thick of the little unofficial Bantamweight tournament that’s going on at the moment with O’Malley, Chito, Merab, Cejudo, Yan, Song etc. Instead, here he is facing a UFC newcomer. It’s all very strange. Almakhan is Kazakh, 26 years old and 14-1 with 13 finishes. Nothing jumps off the page looking at his record but he’s coming off a couple of knockout wins, one being a 7 second headkick KO last July! You never know with these guys. And the Kazakh fighters we’ve seen so far in the UFC have been hard as nails. Could be a potential banana skin for Umar. He might’ve just been better off trying to get that Sandhagen fight back on because the risk/reward aspect here isn’t in his favour.



Matt Schnell vs Steve Erceg should be good if it happens. I say that because, like Alex Perez, Schnell has a habit of not showing up. Shit, this fight with Erceg was originally supposed to go down at UFC 295 at MSG back in November but, true to form, Schnell rang in sick. When he does show up he’s usually decent to watch. Patchy results but he’s had some good fights. I absolutely loved his batshit crazy scrap against Su Mudaerji in July 2022.


Legitimately one of my favourite fights that year. If you missed it, get it watched. Schnell got the win, choking Mudaerji unconscious and leaving him in a pool of his own blood. He had to walk through fire to get that win though. Tremendous fight. But Schnell got knocked out by Matheus Nicolau in his next fight and then was inactive the whole of 2023. So the momentum he had coming off that Mudaerji war just evaporated. Typical Schnell. Aussie Erceg is 11-1 and on a 10 fight winning streak. He beat Alessandro Costa on the MSG card after Schnell dropped out. Before that he won his UFC debut, outpointing David Dvorak. I remember him looking pretty good in both fights.



Eryk Anders vs Jamie Pickett. Doing sod all for me this. Both just reek of ‘making up the numbers’ matchmaking at this point. Anders has been on the roster for what feels like an age and I can probably count on one hand the fights that I’ve even half enjoyed. He didn’t have the worst start to his career. Beat Brendan Allen in LFA and had a really close decision with Lyoto Machida in 2018 that many actually felt he won. Not much else of note though other than taking a split decision off our Gerald. Shitbag. He’s coming into this fight having lost 3 of his last 4. In fairness, I recall his last fight against Marc-Andre Barriault being decent. But yeah, again a loss. Pickett’s doing even worse. He’s 13-10 and has lost his last 4 fights on the trot. He got fed to Bo Nickal in Bo’s UFC debut, got squashed, then lost his next fight to Josh Fremd in August. Nothing to see here. Should be a ‘loser (and winner) leaves’ match.



Vinicius Oliveira vs Bernardo Sopaj. Not a clue. This was supposed to be Oliveira against Yanis Ghemmouri, who I was only slightly more familiar with than these guys. But Ghemmouri is out. Now it’s a battle of UFC newcomers that I’ve never seen before so I’m going in completely blind here. Sherdog it is. Oliveira’s 28 years old and has a record of 19-3 and 17 finishes. He’s coming off a first round knockout win on DWCS in September. Sopaj steps in on literally a few days notice. He’s Albanian, only 23 years old and he’s 11-2 with 10 wins inside the distance. He’s coming into this fight having finished his last 3 fights.



Javid Basharat vs Aiemann Zahabi is another sneaky good bit of matchmaking that’ll probably go under the radar. Really like this pairing. Although I’m fully rooting for Basharat’s downfall now. I kind of took a liking to him and his brother Farid when they first got in the UFC. Javid turned heel for me though after his last fight. He kicked Victor Henry in the balls in Abu Dhabi back in October, resulting in their fight being stopped and ruled a No Contest. Unfortunate but it happens. An occupational hazard of the worst kind. It was accidental. It was the way Basharat went on post-fight that made him look a right tit.


Went from saying Henry quit to denying the kick hit him low at all. Josh Barnett, who trains Henry and was in his corner that night, went to the hospital with him and said, and I quote, that his balls had “swollen to the size of a satsuma”. Basharat was even going back and forth arguing with Barnett on Twitter, denying the low blow and calling Henry a quitter. Proper bellend. Hoping Helwani’s doppelgänger chins him here. Not really confident he does though. As much as I’ve soured on Basharat, he’d looked decent in his previous fights I saw and was 14-0 going into that Henry fight. Zahabi is alright and is on a 3 fight win streak but he’s 36 years old and has been so inactive and stop/start in his career that I don’t really have any faith in him.



Christian Leroy Duncan vs Claudio Ribeiro could be pure fireworks. Should be a nasty striking battle. CLD didn’t get off to the most ideal start in the UFC. He came in with a bit of buzz about him as an undefeated Cage Warriors champion and made his Octagon debut on the London card last March. It all seemed to be lining up for him to have a great debut on home soil in the UK but his opponent suffered a knee injury 2 minutes into the fight and that was that. He then followed that by suffering his first defeat in a frustrating fight against Armen Petrosyan in June. He finally got that first real satisfying UFC win in his last fight in November though…


Beautiful. Just crushed poor Denis Tiuliulin with that brutal finishing sequence. Hopefully we see more of this out of CLD going forward. On paper, Ribeiro seems like the ideal opponent for him to showcase his striking against. But at the same time, he can’t afford to get too reckless. Ribeiro’s nothing special but he’s definitely a finisher. He’s 11-4 and all 11 wins came by knockout. 8 in the first round. He seems like a proper ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ type. He got knocked out in his UFC debut by Abdul Razak Alhassan, bounced back with a TKO win over Joseph Holmes, then got headkicked into oblivion by Roman Kopylov last time out. I’d expect Duncan to come out on top here. It’s almost certainly gonna be a standup battle and Duncan’s the more skilled striker. But you can never count out a big hitter like Ribeiro.



Ludovit Klein vs AJ Cunningham has been thrown together last minute. Klein was originally supposed to fight Joel Alvarez but Alvarez dropped out and has already been rebooked for a fight in April, which is a bit weird. Klein stays on the card against late replacement Cunningham. This’ll be Cunningham’s UFC debut, he’s 29 years old and has a record of 11-3 with 8 finishes. He’s fought in LFA and Fury FC, lost on DWCS in September but rebounded with a first round TKO in his last fight in December. Slovakia’s Klein is 20-4-1 with 16 finishes and is coming off a decision win over Ignacio Bahamondes in a fight I expected good things from but, for whatever reason, fell a bit flat on the night. Shame that Alvarez fight went tits up, I was looking forward to that. 



Loik Radzhabov vs Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady might be worth tuning in early for. I’ve enjoyed the limited footage I’ve seen of Radzhabov so far. He trains with Gilbert Burns and was supposed to appear on the McGregor vs Chandler season of TUF but got replaced by one of Conor’s boys from what I remember. He wound up making his UFC debut anyway on the Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane undercard last March and beat Esteban Ribovics in a fantastic little hidden gem of a fight. Unfortunately for him, he ran into Mateusz Rebecki in his next fight and got fucked up with leg kicks and knocked out.


Al-Selwady makes his UFC debut here. He’s 28 years old, 15-3 with 10 finishes, was the Brave CF and Fury FC Lightweight champion and beat Cage Warriors champ George Hardwick on DWCS in August. I remember a fair few having high hopes for Hardwick going in and pretty much assuming he was UFC bound but Selwady messed plans up. Interested to see how he looks here. Radzhabov isn’t an outrageous debut opponent for him but he’s a tough bastard from the couple of fights I’ve seen. Not exactly like they’re easing Selwady in gently.



We’re off to Saudi Ara…the Apex. 


Edited by wandshogun09
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I'm probably disproportionally invested in seeing Aiemann Zahabi win. I just like his style; really clean, accurate, compact, technical striking - first saw it in his win over Vieira. He reminded me a bit of Mark Hominick in this regard.

He hasn't been the most active, true, but he's only got two losses to his name, back-to-back. I'd like to see him build on this streak.

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The UFC should have pulled the trigger on a Mokaev/Perez main event here. Will they ever get a better chance to give both guys a crack at 5 rounds before a possible title fight? add in they are ranked #7 and #8 respectively in their division and you have the most deserving fight on the card to sit on top it off in terms of rankings. It's also a fight that will likely need 5 rounds to properly seperate them.

Instead we get two heavyweight's that don't need 5 rounds, and is guaranteed to suck if it goes 5 rounds, just makes no sense.

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Absolutely. And you’ve gotta think, if they’d had Rozey/Gaziev as a 3 round co-main or something, you’re more likely to get a watchable fight out of them because they’re more likely to go for the kill if they know they’ve only got 3 rounds to do. I feel like by putting these big lumps in 5 rounders, you’re maximising the chances of a dud. Either they’ll just plod around doing fuck all because they need to conserve energy for the later rounds, or they might go for the early finish and fail and we’ve got 2 fat, gassed lumps stinking the joint out for the following 4 rounds. Nobody needs that shit. The fighters, the crowd, us, no-one.

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So this fight got binned from last night’s Mexico card right before they were set to fight. Rosas came down with an illness so it’s been pushed back a week and rebooked for this card. 

Definitely helps this card, although it’s a shame Rosas never got to fight in Mexico. Hopefully we get to see it this time. 

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Seems I jumped the gun on Rosas vs Turcios getting rebooked for this card. A rare inaccurate report from Big Marcel but, to be fair, he got it from Dana announcing it himself and Dana should be as credible a source as it gets 🤣

Turcios has since said nothing has been signed yet. Yet again Dana announcing fights that aren’t finalised. Stick to Power Slap you pink fuck.


Edited by wandshogun09
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Quite interested to see Nurmagamedov's opponent Bezkat Almakhan. Umar is a sickengly wide favorite but there's some talk on twitter that Almakhan is way better than those odds suggest. There's also a lot of uncertainty about the guys record, bit like that shady Mozorov character who fought a while back. Adds a bit of intrigue.

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Yeah I saw that stuff as well. Don’t know what to make of him but them throwing him straight in with Umar should give us some instant answers on what he’s about. That’s become one of the most interesting fights on the card for me now. Umar probably ends up steamrolling him and all this talk will look silly but Almakhan definitely sounds like a potential banana skin. Especially with Umar coming off a year plus layoff. 

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Seeing some chatter that if Mokaev wins he may get Pantoja at 301 in Brazil. Think that puts him on course to beat Jon Jones to being the UFC's youngest Champ.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah that would make sense, to be honest. He’s the only fresh face who’s staying active, making weight and winning fights. If he wins tonight and comes through it healthy, I think they’ll do it. Pantoja’s even mentioned Mokaev as his potential next challenger and I think I read Royval’s injured after last week’s fight with Moreno anyway. Not that Pantoja vs Royval 3 would be ideal anyway. Watch Perez go and mess it up now!

Start times…



Edited by wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

It really was. The break in his voice is near-constant.

EDIT: I just found out from his Wiki that his father was a promoter and a major exponent of MMA in Australia - and that his name is John. Waiting for John Lineker's kid Tyson Lineker to show up in a couple of decades.


Edited by Carbomb
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