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UFC Vegas: Ribas vs Namajunas - Mar 23 🇺🇸


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Posted (edited)

Another weekend, another Apex card…


Amanda Ribas vs Rose Namajunas 

Karl Williams vs Justin Tafa 

Edmen Shahbazyan vs AJ Dobson 

Cameron Saaiman vs Payton Talbott 

Billy Quarantillo vs Youssef Zalal 

Luis Pajuelo vs Fernando Padilla 

Trey Ogden vs Kurt Holobaugh 

Ricardo Ramos vs Julian Erosa 

Miles Johns vs Cody Gibson 

Steven Nguyen vs Jarno Errens 

Montserrat Rendon vs Dariya Zheleznyakova 

Igor Severino vs Andre Lima

Mohammed Usman vs Mick Parkin  


Not even gonna moan at this point. The bout order is correct at the time I’m typing this, although it looks all to cock. Like all these Apex cards, you have to just cherry pick what you like from it. And to be fair, while the order looks off, there are some decent fights there. It’ll do.



Amanda Ribas vs Rose Namajunas is your 5 round main event this time. Not a bad fight but, I don’t know, I’m not really feeling it as a headliner. We’ve obviously had much worse at the Apex but I’m not in love with the prospect of 25 minutes of this. Still, at least it’s a break from the never ending Heavyweight and Middleweight headliners, right? Ribas is currently ranked #8 in the Flyweight division at the time of me typing this. Rose isn’t ranked, so this is her ticket into the Top 10 if she can get the W.


I’m a fan of Ribas and not just for the obvious reasons. She’s always been one of the more likeable fighters on the roster for me. Always seems happy and, for all her shortcomings in the cage, if nothing else she goes for it and puts the effort in. I don’t recall many of her fights falling into that pattern a lot of women’s fights do, where it ends up looking like a light spar. I mean, fuck, she actually dragged boring arse Katlyn Chookagian to the only FOTN of her career a couple of years ago. She has wins over Paige VanZant and Virna Jandiroba and she also handed Mackenzie Dern her first loss. She seemed to peak a while back though. She’s coming into this fight off a POTN winning stoppage win over Luana Pinheiro back in November.


That was the beginning of the end and she put Pinheiro away shortly after. She made hard work of getting there though. That finish came in the third round and, from my memory of the fight, she had a rough time early on. She does tend to take a fair bit of punishment in her fights, even the ones she wins. She’s only 30 but fighting that way obviously doesn’t lend itself to career longevity. She took a bad beating off Maycee Barber before the Pinheiro fight as well.


‘Thug’ Rose returns. Not sure what to think about her at this point. She’s still only 31, far from the scrapheap, but it’s felt like she’s been kind of half checked out of MMA for a while now to me. When you consider she’s been doing Taekwondo since she was a little kid, and made her pro MMA debut at just 18 years old, you can see why she might’ve gotten burnt out. Especially when she already reached the pinnacle of the sport twice, becoming Strawweight champion and knocking out both Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili to win those titles for good measure! Doesn’t really get any better. She’s only fought twice in the last couple of years though. One being that fucking rotten fight with Carla Esparza where she lost the title. Easily one of the worst title fights in UFC history. She took over a year off after that before finally returning last September on the Paris card. She moved up to Flyweight and took on rising contender Manon Fiorot in her backyard and lost a decision. Fair play to Rose for coming back and not only going up in weight but going straight in at the deep end against Fiorot, who was ranked #2 at the time. It didn’t pay off but I still think Flyweight might be a better weight class for her. If nothing else, the possibility of becoming a two-weight champ should give her renewed motivation. And obviously fighting at a more natural weight doesn’t hurt. So I’m glad to see she’s staying at Flyweight for now.


There’s your headliner. Yeah, not amazing but not terrible either. It should be enjoyable enough. You never know with Rose but I think Ribas being so in your face and, at times, reckless will force the action a bit more. If the best versions of both show up though, I’m confident Rose absolutely smokes her. She’s definitely the more skilled of the two. Pretty much everywhere as well. But I don’t know where her head is at these days. If she’s still got one foot out the door or what. This fight should give us a good idea of where Rose is at though, and maybe give us a read on where her level is at Flyweight, because it’s a fight she should really win if she’s on her game. If she looks bad, and especially if she loses, it doesn’t bode well and she can basically kiss goodbye to a shot at Flyweight gold anytime soon. Hopefully it’s a good fight anyway. I’d love to be proven wrong and they go out and have an unexpected corker. There’s definitely potential for it to be a fun one but I’ve got my doubts on whether Rose’s heart is really in it anymore. We’ll see.



Karl Williams vs Justin Tafa co-main anyone? Christ. Yeah, I know, it’s only the Apex. I’m not expecting much from these cards but, still, a fight like this co-headlining anything is weak as piss. In a funny turn of events though, those pesky Tafa brothers have pulled another switcheroo! If you remember, at UFC 298 the other week, Justin was supposed to fight Marcos Rogerio De Lima but pulled out at the last minute and his younger brother Junior (despite already having this fight with Williams booked) stepped in on less than 24 hours notice and got crushed with leg kicks. Obviously, he’s not gonna be healthy again in time for this fight so who steps in? Big bro Justin.


It seems these days, if you sign a contract to fight a Tafa, it’s basically a coin flip which one is actually gonna show up. Maybe they literally just sign the bout agreements ‘TAFA’ with no first name. You could get Nanna Tafa for all you know. Regardless, this should pretty much be the same fight for Williams. Whichever Tafa you get, they’re both all striking. I don’t recall seeing any grappling from either of them. And wrestling is pretty much ALL Williams does. He’s 9-1 and has beat Lukasz Brzeski and Chase Sherman so far in the UFC. Can’t see him amounting to much myself if the Sherman fight is anything to go off. That was a matchup that felt like an absolute layup for Williams and he still somehow failed to look impressive in victory. You’d think this Tafa fight will be straightforward for him. Just get him down. I’m hoping Tafa whacks him but he’s probably got about a 5 second window of opportunity at the start of each round and nothing more.



Edmen Shahbazyan vs AJ Dobson is just there really, making up the numbers. I’m not sure I can remember the shine coming off a once hot prospect quite as bad as it did with Shahbazyan. There’s probably a few examples but he really did fizzle out big time. I remember when he signed with the UFC a few years back and he already had the built in hype due to his connections to Ronda Rousey, they were training together when teenage Edmen was starting out. On top of that, he was only like 19 or something and came in undefeated with a 100% finish rate. He won his first 4 fights in the UFC, taking him to 11-0, with the high point being his quick headkick KO against tough veteran Brad Tavares. His future seemed bright, until suddenly it wasn’t. He was thrown in with Derek Brunson in August 2020 and that was that. The unbeaten record in tatters. My memory is vague on the fight but I just recall it being really obvious that it was a step up Shahbazyan was clearly not ready for. Brunson really exposed him. So what did the matchmakers do? Put him in with Jack Hermansson. Nice one! He lost that one, then got stopped by Nassourdine Imavov. So he went from undefeated at 11-0 to losing 3 fights on the bounce. It’s a cruel sport sometimes, it really is. He clawed one back with his TKO win over Dalcha Lungiambula, but then got beat up and finished by Anthony Hernandez in his last fight in May. I don’t wanna write a guy off at just 26, but at 1-4 in his last 5, it’s not looking good. Dobson is a guy he really should be beating though. He’s 7-2-0-1, coming off a points win over Tafon Nchukwi but had lost his 2 fights before that. Nothing against the man but he’s a no hoper just clinging to his spot on the roster. If Shahbazyan can’t beat a guy like this, even at just 26 I think it’s fair to officially declare him a complete bust.



Cameron Saaiman vs Payton Talbott is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** on this card. I really like these prospect vs prospect matchups they’re doing on these Fight Nights lately. Similar with the Rodriguez vs Dulgarian fight on the card the week before, I’m a big fan of pitting these young up and comers against each other. I know some fans don’t like it and wanna ‘save’ these fights and build guys up but I’m all for just throwing them in there and seeing what’s what. They did the same with Dustin Poirier vs Max Holloway over 10 years ago and I don’t think it did them any harm. Plus you never know what’s gonna happen down the road. This might be the only time we get to see it, or they could potentially meet again in years to come with higher stakes.


Saaiman is South African, just turned 23 years old in December and he’s 9-1 with 7 of his wins coming inside the distance. He turned pro just days before his 19th birthday and fought exclusively for the EFC promotion in South Africa in his early fights. He went 5-0 in EFC and won their Bantamweight title in just his 5th professional fight in June 2022. That got him a call to appear on DWCS in the August and he won his fight on there with a third round KO. He made his UFC debut in December 2022 and beat Steven Koslow and Mana Martinez in his first 2 Octagon appearances. My main memory of those fights is that he looked really promising but he was fouling left and right in both fights. I didn’t think it was deliberate but there were a few of them. He finally got his first ‘clean UFC win’ in July last year, blasting through Terrence Mitchell in a round. In October though, he suffered his first defeat, dropping a decision to Christian Rodriguez in a fantastic fight that nobody talks about from last year. There was the asterisk of Rodriguez missing weight but regardless, Saaiman fought well in defeat and he’s got time to bounce back.


Payton Talbott makes his second walk to the Octagon here. He’s 25 years old, undefeated at 7-0 with 6 finishes and he had a successful UFC debut back in November with a third round submission over Nick Aguirre. He’d won a decision on DWCS in his previous fight and before that he’d been fighting on Urijah Faber’s A1 Combat shows in California. I’d never seen a full fight of his before his UFC debut but I remember he was immediately put on the main card so I knew the matchmakers must see something in him. I looked up a few clips and he seemed like an exciting fighter. He lived up to that in his UFC debut. OK, Aguirre is a nothing win in the big picture but I liked the performance from Talbott. It’s hard to really rate him off one fight but I don’t really see him as some huge prospect, just because there were points in the Aguirre fight when he looked a bit iffy. I remember thinking there were some weaknesses exposed there which better opposition would’ve been able to exploit. But if nothing else, Talbott got through those dicey moments and came through with the late finish. He looked good on the whole and I liked his swagger and confidence. This is gonna be a much tougher fight for him than Aguirre though. Really interested to see how this plays out.



Billy Quarantillo vs Youssef Zalal could be fun. Quarantillo genuinely seems to be allergic to having bad fights. Results don’t always go his way but he’s one of the more consistently exciting fighters on the roster and doesn’t get nearly the love he deserves for that. Not just from fans, looking back over his record now, I feel like he should’ve got more POTN and FOTN bonuses as well. Although his absolute belter against Shane Burgos was unlucky to fall on the same night as Gaethje vs Chandler, so there’s that. Win or lose, Billy Q brings it. He’s coming into this fight off a decision win over Damon Jackson in August, in another cracker. Zalal is stepping in on short notice here, filling in for Gabriel Miranda.


He’s Moroccan, 27 years old and has a record of 13-5-1. He was in the UFC a couple of years ago but ended up going 3-3-1 and was let go. The main thing I remember him for is that he was Ilia Topuria’s debut opponent in the UFC. They went the distance but Topuria won clearly. Since leaving the UFC, Zalal’s gone 3-0 with 3 first round finishes in a promotion called Sparta Combat League. I remember him being decent to watch as well so it’s nice to see he’s earned his way back. Tough return fight for him though. Especially on short notice.



Luis Pajuelo vs Fernando Padilla sounds alright. Never seen Pajuelo before, this’ll be his UFC debut, but he doesn’t sound like a bad signing. He’s Peruvian, 29 years old and has a record of 8-1 with 7 knockouts. He’s on a 5 fight winning streak and got a first round TKO win in his last fight on DWCS in August. Padilla’s Mexican, 27 years old and he’s 15-5 with 13 finishes. He fought in LFA and Fury FC before making his UFC debut last April, knocking out Julian Erosa in about 90 seconds. That immediately got my attention because Erosa has been in some battles yet Padilla put him away quick. He lost on points to Kyle Nelson in his last fight in September though.



Trey Ogden vs Kurt Holobaugh isn’t setting the world alight for me but it might be alright. Holobaugh is decent to watch at least, from what I remember. He had a disastrous UFC run back in 2018/19 which saw him go 0-3 but he was matched up tough, to be fair. He got released, went away and won a couple of fights but he wasn’t that active until he went on TUF last year. He ended up winning the thing, submitting Austin Hubbard in the finals at UFC 292 in August.


Sweet finish. He’s 37 years old now so this is his last chance to put a bit of a run together. He’s not gonna be making waves in the title mix, especially in the Lightweight division, but hey he won the Hubbard fight so this UFC run is already going better than his last one. Ogden’s 16-6-0-1 with 11 submissions. He’s coming off a loss and a No Contest in his last 2 fights but did manage to get a win over Daniel Zellhuber in 2022. Not the worst fight this but not exactly counting the days to it.



Ricardo Ramos vs Julian Erosa will most likely be an entertaining scrap. They both plateaued a long time ago and settled in as permanent undercard fighters but they’ve both been fairly reliable for having decent-good fights. Ramos has had a patchy as fuck UFC run. He’s 16-5 overall, 7-4 in the UFC and he’s been on a win one/lose one streak since 2019 now. In that time he’s scored 2 spinning elbow finishes, got a couple of POTN bonuses but he’s also lost every time he’s stepped up a level. Erosa’s 28-11 with 23 finishes, he’s been in the UFC since 2018 and has scored wins over the likes of Nate Landwehr, Charles Jourdain and Hakeem Dawodu. Also subbed Sean Woodson in a tremendous hidden gem of a fight back in 2020. But he’s also gone 6-6 in the UFC and that kind of sums his UFC stint up. Whatever happens, I can’t see it being dull.



Miles Johns vs Cody Gibson is another card change. Was supposed to be Gibson against Davey Grant but Grant’s dropped out unfortunately. Gutted about that, to be honest. On a card like this which isn’t the strongest on paper, losing Grant is a blow. Johns steps in on just a couple of weeks notice. He’s had a mixed bag of a UFC run. He’s 13-2-0-1 with 6 finishes and is coming off a No Contest against Dan Argueta in September, a fight Johns initially won on points but then failed a drug test so it got overturned. He’s scored a couple of big KOs but also had a rotten fight here or there. Gibson’s 36 and coming off a decision loss in a really good fight against Brad Katona in the TUF finals in August. This is his second stint in the UFC. Can’t say I’m particularly arsed about this. Grant withdrawing has pretty much killed my interest.



Steven Nguyen vs Jarno Errens. Don’t know enough about these two to really care one way or another. Nguyen’s making his UFC debut, he’s 30 years old and has a record of 9-1 with 7 finishes. He’s coming off 3 wins and just stopped AJ Cunningham on DWCS in September. That was his second stab at DWCS, he lost on there back in 2019. Errens has fought twice in the UFC and has gone 0-2 to William Gomis and Seung Woo Choi. So he’s going for his first Octagon win here. We’ll see how it goes but this Nguyen fella doesn’t sound like an easy rebound fight.



Montserrat Rendon vs Dariya Zheleznyakova. Another fight I’m going in blind on. Rendon’s Mexican, 34 years old and undefeated at 6-0 - all decisions. She made her UFC debut in September and won a split against Tamires Vidal. She fought mostly in Combate Global and Invicta previously. Zheleznyakova makes her debut. She’s Russian, 28 years old and 8-1 with 5 by KO/TKO. The lone loss was to current UFC fighter, Coventry’s Melissa Dixon. She rebounded with a first round TKO win on an Ares FC card last April. Not much else out there on either woman. Hopefully they’re decent because I don’t need to tell you again how desperately the Bantamweight division needs new blood.



Igor Severino vs Andre Lima. Never seen or heard of either guy but they’re both Brazilian, both making their UFC debuts here and both are undefeated. Severino is only 20 years old and 8-0, all finishes. Couldn’t have got off to a better start in his young career. He won his fight on DWCS by TKO back in September. Lima’s 25 years old and 7-0 with 5 knockouts. He was also on DWCS (who hasn’t been on there at this point?) and won by decision in October. Worth a look. ‘Someone’s O has gotta go’ etc etc. Think I’m gonna have to root for Severino though because I read he’s Chute Boxe affiliated.



Mohammed Usman vs Mick Parkin…yeah, I’m really not looking forward to this. Usman’s 34 now, 10-2 with 6 finishes and he’s 3-0 in the UFC so far, following his TUF win back in 2022. Sounds good as long as you didn’t actually watch the fights. Haven’t enjoyed watching him much at all. I know this is harsh but I think it speaks volumes that when you Google Mohammed Usman, it simply says ‘Kamaru Usman’s brother’. That’s his claim to fame and more noteworthy than anything he’s done in his own career sadly. Parkin’s from London and is 28 years old. Pretty much a baby in Heavyweight years. He’s undefeated at 8-0 with 6 finishes. Again, looks good until you watch the fights. I’ve seen people bigging him up as some great UK prospect but I’m not seeing it so far. At all. He’s had 2 fights in the UFC, he won decisions off Jamal Pogues and Caio Machado in 2023. Both were shite to watch. I know he’s young and has time to improve but if he’s really anything special, he should be beating this level of opposition much more impressively than he has been. Yeah, not feeling this one.


Yeah, it’ll do. 


Edited by wandshogun09
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Despite your preview posts, I just think there's so many UFC shows these days that it's almost impossible to look foward to or highly anticipate a Fight Night card. When they happen, I watch and enjoy, but there's rarely anything memorable on them and I don't really look foward to them. Maybe that's the perfect business model for the UFC though. 

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17 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Absolutely zero interest in this then 🤣 it’s actually not a bad card compared to a lot of the Apex ones. 



The Apex is dead to me. Like @Bruce85, first time it dawned on me about this card was this morning, when having breakfast I noticed Dana White saying somebody was getting the boot for biting their opponent on the show. 

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Just like last week, this was a fun show, and an easy watch for a Sunday. The first four fights were really good, and worth going out of your way to watch. Talbotts performance and Shahbayan's come from behind win were the highlights of the card. The first two fights were real solid too.

Zoned out of the Ribas/Rose match fairly quickly. I did see that they popped up some persons twitter post that had it 3-0 for Ribas going into R4, which was mental. Dont know how anyone on earth could of scored it 3-0 in this one. As I said, I was skipping ahead frequently in this one from around R3 onwards. Just didnt grip me.

Skipped through the Tafa fight whenever it got to the ground too, as it was clear early on that Tafa had nothing on the ground.

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Prelims were a good watch, and it wasn't a bad card overall, although for me the main and co main were a bit of a let down. 

That bite was ridiculous. Didn't look like much at first but when you saw the damage... He absolutely deserved a DQ and being cut. 

Lima isn't bitter about it though after a 25k bite bonus! 


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I actually watched this last night. I managed to get to this point without knowing any of the results, apart from someone being bitten.

Honestly, though, can you imagine a card like this in a proper arena? Who's paying UFC ticket prices to see this? No one. It belongs behind closed doors at the Apex.

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10 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

All it would take is a slight shuffling of the deck and they could hold every show in front of an audience again. They've done it before.

The problem is that they're liable for an incredible number of shows now. It's not just the fighters; think about the team behind the scenes needed to put these shows on almost weekly. Then throw in the dealing with various athletic commissions and so forth.

As a happy medium, I'm guessing they could strike up some sort of deal with a Vegas casino to run shows in one of their smaller ballroom-type arenas like they used to do. That would maybe limit the expense.

I'm definitely a fan of the "contender" type shows that Apex events are, as they're somewhere for up-and-comers to get started and for fading vets to get a final chance, but even a small audience would do wonders, I think.

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That's the thing though, they are running the same amount of shows now that they were running in 2014, same schedule.


I dont have any issue with the contender style cards either, its the just the setting that sucks. Remember the Pearl at the Palms shows in Vegas? Put them back in there if they have to stay in Vegas, a little cauldron like atmosphere, with proper fans watching. There has to be thousands of venues like that in America the UFC can utilise.

Do this:


Instead, we get this:


Its just depressing. More and more fighters are speaking out now, people have had enough. Keep the Apex for TUF and the actual Contender Series.

Also, the UFC hasn't been in Milwaukee since 2018. You stick home town fighter Rose Namajunas on there and tweak the undercard and i'm sure they sell it out, the arena there holds 10,000

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The fighters, en masse, need to turn down fights that get offered to them for Apex cards. That's just not going to happen though. Just let that call go to voicemail first - find out what they're looking. "A Vegas date? Sorry fella, barred from Vegas by the PD. You know I would if I could. That date in Cali two weeks later though? Sign me up". 

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