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UFC Vegas: Perez vs Taira - Jun 15 🇺🇸 💯


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Posted (edited)

Buckle up for a monumental occasion. A history making card for the UFC. A milestone event. Yes, the 100th UFC card to be held at the Apex is finally upon us! 🤢

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ESPN MAIN CARD
Alex Perez vs Tatsuro Taira 

Miles Johns vs Douglas Silva De Andrade

Lucas Almeida vs Timmy Cuamba 

Garrett Armfield vs Brady Hiestand

Assu Almabayev vs Jose Johnson 

Adam Fugitt vs Josh Quinlan 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Nate Maness vs Jimmy Flick 

Carli Judice vs Gabriella Fernandes 

Jeka Saragih vs Westin Wilson 

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs Melquizael Costa

Julia Polastri vs Josefine Knutsson 

 

 

Weird card and there’s really not much to like about it. For me it’s definitely a case of the Perez vs Taira and Ulanbekov vs Van fights carrying the load. They might only be Flyweights but they’re doing ALL the heavy lifting here. One or two other fights I don’t mind but, on the whole, aside from those two fights I’ve highlighted, I’m really not a fan of this.

 

 

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Alex Perez vs Tatsuro Taira headlines. I don’t hate it. An Apex card with a Flyweight main event instead of a Heavyweight plodder, a Middleweight dud or a Holly Holm snoozer? I’ll fucking take it! Although I wish they’d left the original fight with Taira vs Joshua Van alone. I was really looking forward to that. For some reason the matchmakers decided to split both Taira vs Van and Perez vs Ulanbekov fights up and swap them around. Still good fights but I preferred both the original matchups myself. Whatever, maybe they’ll still cross paths down the road somewhere. This should be fun regardless. A really good fight and I’m happy to see Taira finally getting a little bit of spotlight.

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Alex Perez has had a right disjointed, stop/start UFC career. He’s been on the roster since 2017 and in that time he’s had more fight cancellations than actual fights. He stopped Jussier Formiga in a round with leg kicks back in 2020, which was a bit of a surprise result at the time, and that bagged him a title shot against Deiveson Figueiredo. Unfortunately for Perez, Figgy pissed through him in a round. Between that and all the fight pullouts, it felt like Perez’s career might’ve peaked at that point. He was out about 18 months after the quick Figgy loss then came back and got steamrolled even quicker by Alexandre Pantoja. Obviously no shame losing to Figgy and Pantoja but they squashed him with such ease that it felt like they’d be difficult losses to bounce back from. In March this year he came back from another layoff and lost a lacklustre decision to Muhammad Mokaev. So that put him on a 3 fight losing streak after only having 3 fights in 4 years. I expected him to disappear for another year after that but, in fairness, he jumped straight back in on short notice against Matheus Nicolau in April and…

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Finally, Perez snapped that losing streak and got out of the slump. It was an enjoyable fight and by far the best performance out of Perez in years. Got to think the quick turnaround and staying more active was a major factor in that. Nicolau’s decent as well. I was happy to see Perez got himself booked almost immediately again after that win, making up for lost time, and there’s been a lot of lost time, and riding that little wave of momentum. He’s still only 32, he’s got a few years in him yet if all goes well. Hopefully he can stay healthy and active going forward. He was originally booked against Tagir Ulanbekov here and I think that was announced just days after the Nicolau win. Obviously they’ve reshuffled the matchups since and now he’s up against…

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Like I said, Taira was all set to fight Joshua Van on the Makhachev vs Poirier undercard earlier this month. I was buzzing for that and I’m still not quite sure why they switched things up. I’d even have been fine with that as main event for this card but they pulled the old switcheroo. Taira’s just 24 years old and undefeated at 15-0 with 11 finishes. He’s still very much a work in progress and not without his flaws but he’s learning on the job and I think he’s got potential. He’s certainly got time on his side. His bread and butter is his grappling, his striking needs a lot of work. But again, he’s got time. And he is making some gains in the striking.

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He knocked out Carlos Hernandez in his last fight back in December. The standup is still the weakest and most vulnerable area of his game though. He’s never gonna be a slick striker but hopefully he gets to a point where he’s competent enough for it to compliment his ground game and that will make him even more dangerous and more difficult to beat. With grapplers learning to strike, there’s always that danger that they’ll focus too much on that, fall in love with it and wanna test out their new skills too much and leave themselves open to getting walloped. Nate Marquardt vs Demian Maia is one example of many. But Taira seems to be doing the right things so far. Time will tell, I guess. I like him so far though. The only baffling thing for me was that, until now, he just never advanced up the card at all. He’s gone 5-0 in the UFC and 4 of them were on the Fight Pass prelims. The theory I read was that they placed him early on the cards so the Japanese audience could watch his fights at a reasonable time. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Of course, the more he racks up the wins, they’d have been left with no choice but to move him up the cards. And here we are.

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Good stuff. Taira getting that step up. He’s in there with a Top 10 ranked guy and, not only is he getting on his first UFC main card, he’s the main event! Big opportunity for him. And Perez, it’s actually kind of crazy when you consider he’s going from fighting 3 times in 4 years to 3 times in 4 months! What a turnaround. This is gonna be an interesting litmus test for Taira. He’s up against a (finally) in form Perez and this is also Taira’s first 5 rounder. Perez has done 5 rounds once, although it was way back in 2015 before he was in the UFC. But he’s had a couple of fights that were scheduled for 5, including his last one against Nicolau. He doesn’t have the perfect, pretty unbeaten record like Taira does but he’s been facing a higher level of opposition so he’s got more experience against better quality competition. I can see a scenario where he cracks Taira on the feet and it changes the course of the fight. But then again, we’ve seen Perez get undone by strong grapplers in the past and I wouldn’t be majorly shocked if Taira snatches his neck early doors either. If he can sub Perez, especially early, he puts himself in position to be compared with Figgy and Pantoja, and that’s no bad thing. Good fight.

 

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Miles Johns vs Douglas Silva De Andrade is whatever. Not a bad fight, not a great fight, just a typical Fight Night filler matchup. Inoffensive enough. Johns is 14-2-0-1 and coming off a points win over Cody Gibson in March. His fight prior to that he got his decision win over Dan Argueta overturned to a NC because he popped for PEDs. He’s had a forgettable stint on the roster. Apart from his cracker of a one punch KO over Anderson Dos Santos a few years back, none of it’s jumping off the page at me. De Andrade’s been better to watch. He’s 29-5-0-1 with 22 finishes. Been in with the likes of Petr Yan, Rob Font and Lerone Murphy but lost at that level. He does have wins over Chito Vera and a shot Renan Barao though. Had a forgotten banger with Sergey Morozov a couple of years ago that’s worth a watch if you’ve never seen it as well. He beat Cody Stamann in May last year but hasn’t fought since for whatever reason. With USADA no longer in the mix, I’m fully expecting a 38 year old mulleted De Andrade to somehow turn up even more shredded than before.

 

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Lucas Almeida vs Timmy Cuamba might be alright. Can’t say I’ve seen enough of either to give much of an opinion one way or another. And that’s gonna be a running theme on this card. So many names I’m drawing a bit of a blank on. Almeida’s Brazilian, 33 years old and 14-3 with all 14 wins coming inside the distance. I do remember really enjoying his UFC debut against Mike Trizano, and Almeida won by TKO. He’s since been stopped himself by Pat Sabatini and Andre Fili in back-to-back fights. Cuamba’s 25, fights out of Xtreme Couture and has a record of 8-2 with 4 finishes. He made his Octagon debut back in February, losing on points to fellow UFC newcomer Bolaji Oki. I remember there being a fair bit of buzz on Oki but the fight was a bit flat. It was thrown together last minute in fairness though. This should be a fairer fight to judge Cuamba on, at least he’ll have had an actual training camp this time.

 

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Garrett Armfield vs Brady Hiestand is opening the main card apparently. Gonna sound harsh but this just feels like the same guy twice. Like if you put them both in front of me and asked me to point to which one was Armfield and which one was Hiestand…I’d be guessing. Nothing against them but they just look like if the UFC had a machine that manufactures cookie cutter fighters to fill up Apex prelims. Oh wait, that’s DWCS! Anyway, going through the motions here. Armfield’s 27 and has a record of 10-3 with 8 finishes. He’s coming off a win over Brad Katona in January, which was a mild surprise. Hiestand is 25 years old and 7-2 with 5 finishes. He’s won two in a row but against bottom rung opposition and he hasn’t fought for over a year now.

 

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Assu Almabayev vs Jose Johnson. Again, dunno. I’ve seen both but I’m not massively familiar with either of them. Almabayev looks solid from what I remember. He’s 30 years old, from Kazakhstan and 19-2 with 12 finishes. Before signing with the UFC he lost to Tagir Ulanbekov in 2017 and beat Zach Makovsky on a Brave card in 2022. So a couple of notable names there. He made his debut last August, subbing Ode Osbourne and then beat CJ Vergara on points at UFC 299 in March. Seem to recall him talking a big game post-fight, claiming he’d be UFC champ by 2025. Not gonna happen but I admire the self belief. Johnson’s 29 years old with a 16-8 record. He submitted Chad Anheliger in his last fight but my only real memory of him is when he lost to Da’Mon Blackshear by twister. Almabayev should ragdoll him in the grappling.

 

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Adam Fugitt vs Josh Quinlan. Not arsed. Fugitt’s 35 with a record of 9-4 and 8 finishes. He’s gone 1-2 in the UFC so far and got subbed by Mike Malott last time out about a year ago. Pretty sure I saw all 3 of his UFC fights and remember none of it. Quinlan had a strong debut, to be fair. He sparked Jason Witt out cold in a round. He’s since lost back-to-back fights against Trey Waters and Danny Barlow. Just nothing to sink the teeth into here.

 

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Nate Maness vs Jimmy Flick is another solid fight that should’ve probably made the main card. This bout order’s all wonky. They’re both going nowhere but it’s a better fight than most on the main card all the same. Maness is 15-3 with 9 finishes and got a first round TKO over Mateus Mendonca in his last fight in October. He had a rough patch before that, losing two on the bounce, but to be fair those losses were against Umar Nurmagomedov and Tagir Ulanbekov. And Flick’s 17-7 with 15 submissions and is coming off an arm triangle finish over Malcolm Gordon at UFC 297 in January. Like Maness, he was in a slump before that and that win stopped the rot. Like I say, these guys are never gonna make a splash in the Flyweight title picture but I think they should match up for an entertaining scrap.

 

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Carli Judice vs Gabriella Fernandes. Sigh. Nothing. Just…nothing. I have not a single solitary fuck to give. Never seen Judice but looking her up on Sherdog, she’s 25 years old and 3-1 with 3 finishes. She last fought on DWCS in September and lost a split decision to Ernesta Kareckaite (who recently made her debut). Fighters getting a contract off a loss on DWCS doesn’t seem right, does it? Sort of defeats the whole purpose of the show. But from little bits I’ve read, that fight was meant to be a bit of a scrap and it was a split so maybe Judice was hard done by with the judging. Whatever. She’s facing Fernandes here. She’s 8-3 with 5 finishes and has gone 0-2 so far in the UFC. Yeah.

 

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Jeka Saragih vs Westin Wilson. More Apex slop. Saragih was on that Road To UFC thing but lost in the finals. He’s since rebounded with a first round KO over Lucas Alexander in November. Nothing sticking in my memory about him. He’s 14-3 with 13 finishes. Wilson is a total jobber though. He’s 35 now and has a 16-9 record. All his wins are finishes for whatever that’s worth but he’s looked like a complete scrub in his two UFC outings. Both Joanderson Brito and Jean Silva crushed him in a round and he looked well out of his depth. I remember there being criticism when the UFC signed him and apparently the talk was that he was only brought in because he’s friends with matchmaker Sean Shelby. It was something like that. He’s fucking useless.

 

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Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs Melquizael Costa. As I type, this is kicking off the Fight Pass stream. Should have slightly higher billing in my opinion. It’s not a killer fight or anything but it’s a damn sight better than some of the shite scattered throughout the card. China’s Shayilan is 30 years old and has a 39-11 record with 29 inside the distance. He got battered and stopped by Steve Garcia last April and hasn’t been seen since. He was on a little 3 fight win streak prior to that. Costa’s Brazilian, 27 years old and 20-7 with 13 finishes. He also got bashed up by Steve Garcia in his last fight in December. It was a brutal ground and pound bludgeoning and Costa got wrecked with elbows. He’s not had a good run of results in the UFC so far (he’s 1-2 currently) but he’s scrappy and game and a bit of an action fighter as I recall. These two are never gonna be contenders but I can see it being lively however long it lasts and definitely should be higher than a bunch of the nothing happening pairings on this card.

 

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Julia Polastri vs Josefine Knutsson. I’ve had enough of ham and eggs at this point. Jesus Christ. In fairness, I’ve never seen Polastri so maybe I should give it a chance. She’s Brazilian, 26 years old and 12-3 with 7 finishes. She’s on a 4 fight winning streak and got a submission win on DWCS in her last fight in September. Nothing else of note on her record other than she had a failed attempt at DWCS back in 2021 and lost to Jasmine Jasudavicius. I think I saw Knutsson’s UFC debut but I have zero recollection of it. She’s 28, Swedish and unbeaten at 7-0 with only 1 stoppage. Also has a Kickboxing record of 27-5.

 

 

APEX 100!

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Edited by wandshogun09
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13 hours ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

The main event is the only fight I am slightly interested in. 

Was just gonna recommend you give Joshua Van’s fight a chance but now that’s off as well because of course it fucking well is! Ulanbekov came in about 4lbs overweight. What a week. 

 

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Even by Apex card standards, this might be the least fucks I’ve ever given about a Fight Night card. With Van vs Ulanbekov getting binned, the main event is literally the only saving grace for me now.

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Yeah, they even broke me with this one. I watch almost everything and even I couldn’t face sitting through this card. Losing the Aliskerov co-main didn’t help but when the Joshua Van fight got binned, any little bit of enthusiasm I had for this card died. And even the main event, the only fight I was interested in, I ruined it for myself by walking into a spoiler on Sunday morning. So I’ve only just bothered to getting around to watching that fight. But it was literally just that fight. Had a quick skim through the results of the rest and it doesn’t look like I missed anything that I need to go back and check out. Can’t remember the last time I just skipped pretty much an entire card but this was my breaking point.

Anyway, Taira vs Perez was alright while it lasted. But even then, it ended in weird fashion and was kind of an anti-climax.

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Don’t recall ever seeing anything quite like that. Perez’s knee just buckled and gave out from the way Taira was using that standing body triangle and throwing himself back trying to force Perez to the mat. It was a shame to see it end like that because Perez had a good first round, I had him winning that opening round and so did all 3 judges. Thought the commentary was a bit too biased in favour of Taira, to be honest. To listen to them you’d think he was dominating from start to finish but Perez won the first round, was having some difficulty in the second round but there was obviously still a long way to go in the fight. Feel bad for Perez. He’s lost so much time in his career and had a lot of setbacks. He finally gets healthy and starts being more active and this happens.

Can’t fault Taira. It wasn’t some freak injury like Aspinall’s against Blaydes or something. The injury here was a direct result of Taira’s techniques. Just disappointing how it played out because this was the step up moment for Taira and a fight that seemed like it would tell us a lot more about him. It started well and Perez was having some success. But the fight ended in a way where we never really got any questions answered and we never got to see how Taira looked in the later rounds, which was one of the more interesting things about this matchup for me.

Oh well. Taira remains undefeated. 16-0 now and starting to be more vocal about wanting to become the first Japanese UFC champion. Crazy really that there’s never been a champ from Japan considering their rich history in the sport. Can’t see him quite getting there myself but it’s still relatively early days and he’s got some time to improve and level up. Him and Rinya Nakamura have to be the best potential chances Japan has had in donkeys years of getting a UFC champ. Of the two, Taira’s probably more likely to do it first just because he’s a bit ahead of Nakamura in his career, has had more Octagon time etc. Plus Flyweight isn’t as stacked as Bantamweight so actually getting the crack at UFC gold should be a little bit easier to come by for Taira. Like I said, I can’t see him getting over that final hurdle and beating the tippy top guys at 125 but we’ll see. We’re gonna find out soon either way because he’s got himself in the Top 5 now…

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Good stuff. Any of those names above him would be a great next fight, I reckon. Realistically, a win over a KKF or Albazi would be enough to bag him a title shot. But I think I wanna see him fight Moreno. Fuck it. In a way it feels too soon for Taira but sod it. Pull the trigger and see what happens. Maybe Taira will be the man to drag the UFC back to Japan? Just checked and I can’t believe they haven’t been there since September 2017! With Taira on the rise, Nakamura looking like someone to keep an eye on and now Kai Asakura coming in, it seems like just a matter of time until they’re back there. Shame they never got Horiguchi back though. 

Yeah, a big fat nothing of a card but I’m interested to see where Taira goes next.

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2 hours ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

I accidentally just voted on this fight completely forgetting the fact the show had already happened. 
 

That’s how forgettable the card was. 

At least you got it right

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