UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor II Prelim Matchmaking

PC: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Arman Tsarukyan def. Matt Frevola via Unanimous Decision

Arman Tsarukyan – Brad Riddell

Arman Tsarukyan entered the last-minute fight with Matt Frevola as a heavy favorite, and he proved he deserved the hype. Since his loss to Islam Makhachev in his debut, the Armenian has looked unbelievable in his next three outings. He could be a big win away from being ranked in the deepest division in the UFC. City Kickboxing’s Brad Riddell is in a very similar position where a win could elevate him to the next level. A matchup between the two would make a nice main card addition to a pay-per-view, and the winner would slot in nicely in the Top 15.

Matt Frevola – Alex Munoz

What a week for Matt Frevola. After losing his opponent in one of the craziest stories in recent memory regarding a UFC athlete, Frevola got a brand-new matchup on one days notice. He will definitely enter the good graces of the organization for years to come after taking the fight with a heavier opponent. The style change was too much for the New York native and he lost via decision. Tsarukyan is one of the most promising fighters in the division, so his stock won’t drop too much. After sitting out in 2020 without fighting, he will look to say busy in 2021. Team Alpha Male’s Alex Munoz has been itching to fight since his loss back in August. A matchup between the two would be a nice addition to a card at the UFC Apex.

Brad Tavares def. Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision

Brad Tavares – Sean Strickland

After a rough 2020 on Fight Island, Hawaiian’s have gotten off to a great start to open up the year. Punahele Soriano, Max Holloway and Brad Tavares all had big wins this week. Brad Tavares rebounded from a long layoff and back-to-back losses with a victory over the dangerous Carlos Junior. He showed tremendous takedown defense throughout the 15-minutes to hold onto his #14 spot in the rankings. Sean Strickland has looked like a new fighter since his near career-ending motorcycle accident in 2018. He has picked up consecutive wins over Jack Marshman and Brendan Allen. If their timelines align, a matchup between the two would make for a fun scrap in Las Vegas.

Antonio Carlos Junior – Karl Roberson

Antonio Carlos Junior is now on the worst skid of his career losing three straight performances. The three of those were decision losses to ranked opponents. Despite the skid, “Shoe Face” will be rewarded with another opponent in the organization, but will have his back against the wall. Karl Roberson recently lost to surging middleweight contender Marvin Vettori. A fight between the two will give both men an opportunity to get back in the win column.

Julianna Pena def. Sara McMann via Submission (Rear-naked choke)

Julianna Pena – Aspen Ladd

Julianna Pena has returned to the form she was in prior to her injury back in 2017. She called for Amanda Nunes, and it might be a bit too much to ask as the #7 ranked Bantamweight. That being said, if she were to move up in weight to 145, she could be next for the double champ if Nunes gets by Megan Anderson at UFC 259. She will likely stay in the bantamweight class and face another contender. Her and Aspen Ladd were scheduled to fight back in March, so a rebooking to determine a contender for the champion.

Sara McMann – Joselyne Edwards

Sara McMann succumbed to yet another submission to make that four in her UFC career. After winning the first round, Pena overwhelmed the now 40-year-old and McMann will return to the drawing board. Many called for her to hang it up after the loss, but she remains one of the best 35’ers on the planet. She has been competing for over 25 years at the highest level. McMann will likely keep on fighting, and she will get matched up with another elite competitor. Joselyne Edwards recently had an impressive debut, and a win over the veteran McMann will elevate her into the Top 15.

Marcin Prachnio def. Khalil Rountree via Unanimous Decision

Marcin Prachnio – Shamil Gamzatov

Marcin Prachnio entered his UFC 257 bout with Khalil Rountree with his job on the line. He was 0-3 in the promotion with all three losses coming by knockout in the first round. The light heavyweight division is quite shallow so he was given another opportunity. Most expected him to get knocked out in similar fashion to the hard-hitting Rountree. He out pointed the American across three rounds and despite getting dropped in the second, he was rewarded with a win. Shamil Gamzatov was briefly supposed to face Devin Clark back in November but had VISA issues preventing the fight from taking place. The two would be looking for their second UFC victory.

Khalil Rountree – Klidson Abreu

For many, it felt as if Rountree was being fed a win heading into this one. The American has impressed tremendously in bouts with Eryk Anders and Gokhan Saki. However, he has now lost back-to-back fights since the Anders performance and finds himself one loss away from being cut. Klidson Abreu is another fighter who finds himself with has back against the wall. A matchup between the two to determine who stays in the organization makes a ton of sense.

Movsar Evloev def. Nik Lentz via Split Decision

Movsar Evloev – Cub Swanson

Movsar Evloev took this fight on two-weeks notice and was able to beat Lentz on the ground and the feet. It was a masterclass for the now 14-0 Russian. The former M-1 Bantamweight Champion will likely be rewarded with a big step up in competition. He was calling for a Top 15 opponent which may be given to him. Cub Swanson has made a career of being the man to beat if you want to be ranked. A win over the veteran would result in Evloev having a number next to his name.

Nik Lentz – Retirement

Nik Lentz almost pulled off the improbable in upsetting the undefeated Russian. Despite one judge handing him the fight, it wasn’t as close as that made it appear. That being said, he had his moments early against Evloev and had a couple tight guillotine chokes locked in. Lentz has had a career filled career, and announced on social media his intentions to retire. With 25 fights in the UFC, Lentz has had a hell of a career.

Amir Albazi def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision

Amir Albazi – David Dvorak

Heading into the fight, Albazi’s only loss was to former UFC flyweight Jose Torres. After a dominant performance against Malcolm Gordon in his debut, Albazi entered the Top 15. Although a win over Zhumagulov likely won’t boost him much higher in the rankings, it will earn him a bigger name next time out. #11 David Dvorak is in need of an opponent, and a fight between the two Europe-based fighters would be a nice addition to a Fight Island card.

Zhalgas Zhumagulov – Cody Durden

Prior to the shut down earlier this year, the UFC was scheduled to bring a card to Kazakhstan for the first time. If COVID restrictions loosen up in the region, it is possible the Kazakhstani fighter may be one of the local fighters on that card. He has now lost his first two fights in the organization and will be booked with an opponent in a similar position. Cody Durden, who recently unsuccessfully made his flyweight debut is that man. Durden recently underwent surgery so their timelines could matchup for a summer bout.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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