Joe Solecki def. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision
Joe Solecki – Leonardo Santos
One can only imagine the smile on Solecki’s face when the contract with Miller’s name arrived. Not only does it give him a win over a legend in the sport, it gives him a huge boost in terms of matchmaking. There is a good chance Solecki may find himself sitting just outside the Top 20 after the performance. He is also one of the few men who remain undefeated in the UFC at 155lbs. Leonardo Santos recently tasted defeat for the first time in his UFC career at the hands of Grant Dawson. For Solecki, a win over Santos would give him leverage to call for guys inside the Top 15. A win for Santos would help him get back to his winning ways.
Jim Miller – Mike Davis
Every time Jim Miller enters the octagon it feels like we are in the presence of greatness. He has never been able to earn a UFC title shot, but Miller has always been a serious problem for most guys at 155lbs. At 37-years-old, time may be coming to an end for Jim Miller. With that being said, he looked like his vintage self on Saturday despite the loss. Hopefully the UFC give Miller an opportunity to string together some wins with favorable matchups. Miller is a scrappy veteran who will entertain fights with anyone in the division despite their ‘name’. Mike Davis is currently sidelined after injuring both arms in his war with Mason Jones. The timeline for his return may fall in line with Jim Miller’s. For Miller, it is an opportunity to get back into the win column. For Davis, a win over Miller would be the biggest of his career.
Mateusz Gamrot def. Scott Holzman via KO (Punches)
Mateusz Gamrot – Grant Dawson
In the eyes of many, Mateusz Gamrot is still undefeated despite the one loss on his record. In his UFC debut he fought the ultra durable Guram Kutateladze to a very close decision in which many felt Gamrot won. That momentum carried over into his fight with Scott Holtzman on Saturday. He managed to stop the American in the second round brining his overall record to 18-1 (1 NC). There will be very few fighters on the UFC record who would be happy with the Pollak’s name on a contract after this performance. Grant Dawson secured a huge last second knockout victory over Leonardo Santos in his last bout. At 17-1, Dawson is on the cusp of entering the top 15 of the stacked lightweight division. A matchup between the two men would be incredible as the two would have a combine record of 35-2.
Scott Holtzman – Chris Gruetzmacher
Heading into the pandemic, 37-year-old Scott Holtzman was finding the best run of his career. He had secured the biggest win of his career over Jim Miller. Since the re-opening however, he has been finished twice to Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot. The American had never been finished in his entire career until this point. Holtzman will likely be wishing for a step back in competition after facing two elite strikers back-to-back. Chris Gruetzmacher finds himself in a similar position as Holtzman. He hasn’t been able to continue the momentum after earning his biggest career victory over Joe Lauzon.
John Makdessi def. Ignacio Bahamondes via Split Decision
John Makdessi – Joe Lauzon
If you look up the term ‘banger’ in a Webster’s dictionary you are bound to see a picture of John Makdessi. Once again, the Canadian put on one of most entertaining fights of the year. Many felt he deserved a performance bonus for the chaos that took place in the cage. After watching that fight, it should be no surprise that Makdessi had been sidelined for a year prior to this past fight. Makdessi’s dream fight is to run things back with Donald Cerrone and that is a fight many fans would get behind. At this point in time, it is unlikely the UFC will grant him that fight unless he steps in on short notice again. Joe Lauzon has expressed interest in competing again inside the octagon. Lauzon vs Makdessi has fight of the night written all over it and could even feature on a main card.
Ignacio Bahamondes – Alex da Silva
Ignacio Bahamondes will hopefully head home with his head held high. In his UFC debut he was matched up with one of the most experienced fighters on the entire UFC roster in John Makdessi. He stood toe to toe with the Canadian and even won on Derek Cleary’s scorecard. The Chilean is only 23 years old and will be hopefully given a step back in competition in his next outing. Alex da Silva was briefly scheduled to face Devonte Smith back in February but was forced out of the fight. A matchup between the two young South Americans would make for a nice addition to a fight night card.
Jarjis Danho def. Yorgan de Castro via KO (Punch)
Jarjis Danho – Don’Tale Mayes
Entering the fight on Saturday, many felt Danho was being fed de Castro as an easy win. We hadn’t seen Danho in over four years in a lackluster performance against Christian Colombo. One of the headliners of that card was Josh Barnett which tells you how long its been. The lone Syrian on the UFC roster had his back against the wall heading into this one and delivered. He knocked out the New Englander in the very first round earning his first UFC victory. Don’Tale Mayes also just earned his very first UFC victory in November in a hard-fought decision over Roque Martinez. A bout between the two get one of the gentlemen a little closer to the rankings.
Yorgan de Castro – Harry Hunsucker
Yorgan de Castro entered the fight in a must-win predicament after losing back-to-back fights. In his UFC debut he starched Justin Tafa with a right hand that has been played in every UFC highlight reel since. Unfortunately, since that win, he hasn’t seemed to find the same level of success. Fortuntely for de Castro, the UFC needs heavyweights so they may keep him around despite the skid. Harry Hunsucker was recently signed on short notice to face Tai Tuivasa in a losing effort. He just expressed interest in the fight on social media as well. It gives both gentlemen an opportunity to pick up a UFC victory.
Jack Shore def. Hunter Azure via Split Decision
Jack Shore – Rani Yahya
Undefeated fighters have not had a great run so far in 2021. Israel Adesanya, Roman Dolidze, Carlos Ulberg and Rodolfo Vieira have all lost their 0 to start the 2021 campaign. Shore had his toughest fight to date inside the octagon and escaped with a split decision victory over Hunter Azure. At 26, now is the time to give the Welshman that push toward the top. It would be interesting to see what he can do against someone very experienced inside the octagon. Rani Yahya has been competing for nearly 20 years as a professional, half of those inside the UFC. The Brazilian has never been finished inside the octagon. A matchup with Shore would give him an opportunity to re-enter the rankings at 135lbs. For Shore, it would earn him his biggest victory to date.
Hunter Azure – Mario Bautista
Hunter Azure was one scorecard away from picking up a massive upset. Unfortunately, he came up short on Saturday night. That being said, he proved he is a serious problem to anyone outside the top 15. His record is now sitting at 2-2 in the division and will likely be pitted against someone in a similar position. Mario Bautista recently lost his bout with Trevin Jones and will be looking to rebound from that defeat. He also owns a 2-2 record in the promotion. The two would make a nice addition to an undercard in the late summer.
Luis Saldaña def. Jordan Griffin via Split Decision
Luis Saldaña – Steven Peterson
Luis Saldaña may feel like he lucked out on this one when he watches the fight back. The majority of fight fans and media had Griffin winning the fight. Ultimately it was a very tough debut for the Iowa native and he emerged with his hand raised. He is very experienced for a debutant and entered the fight with 20 fights under his belt. Steven Peterson is just as experienced as Saldaña and is in a very similar spot in the division. We haven’t seen Peterson inside the octagin since his spinning backfist knockout of Martin Bravo in 2019. Both fighters are exciting strikers which would surely get fans out of their seats.
Jordan Griffin – Kyle Nelson
This is going to be a tough pill to swallow for Jordan Griffin. Most UFC fans and media members scored it in the favor of the Roufusport product. Unfortunately, two judges saw it the other way. With the loss, Griffin has now lost four of his last five UFC appearances. There is plenty of talent at 145lbs which means it may be the end of the line for the 31-year-old. Given the nature of the decision, I hope the UFC gives him another opportunity to prove himself. Kyle Nelson has lost three of his last four and is also in a must-win situation. This would be a nice addition to an undercard of a fight night card at the Apex.
Da Un Jung def. William Knight via Unanimous Decision
Da Un Jung – Misha Cirkunov
Da Un Jung could be the next big thing out of South Korea. After starting his career 1-2 in South Korea, he has strung together 13 wins and one draw since. He is undefeated in the promotion and owns two finishes in a shallow 205lb division. He showed a new element to his game we hadn’t seen yet from the Korean by repeatedly taking down Knight over the course of 15 minutes. Misha Cirkunov is currently occupying a spot in the rankings that the Korean would love to take. For Cirkunov, it offers him a chance to get back into the win column after losing to Ryan Spann back in March.
William Knight – Modestas Bukauskas
William Knight’s winning streak came to an abrupt halt on Saturday when Jung utilized his wrestling. It goes without saying Knight would better suited against an opponent who will entertain striking with him. He is now 9-2 as a professional with mixed results in the UFC. At 33-years-old, I’m sure Knight would like a quick return to the octagon. Just two weeks before Knight’s fight, Lithuania’s Modestas Bukauskas lost a highly controversial decision to Michał Oleksiejczuk. He is now on a two-fight losing streak and is in dire need of a win. A matchup between the two will determine who is ready to begin their rise in the 205 division.
Impa Kasanganay def. Sasha Palatnikov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Impa Kasanganay – Matthew Semelsberger
Impa Kasanganay had a huge chip on his shoulder entering the fight this past Saturday. His knockout defeat to Joaquin Buckley was played countless times over the past few months. He utilized his size to his advantage by engaging in a lot of grappling to takedown Palatnikov. He managed to secure the submission via a rear naked choke early in the second round. Kasanganay is still only ten fights into his career and should look to build up slowly. Matthew Semelsberger just earned his first UFC finish in his last contest. A win over Semelsberger would be huge at this stage of Kasanganay’s UFC career.
Sasha Palatnikov – Orion Cosce
Sasha Palatnikov entered into Saturday night with a ton of hype after his upset victory over Louis Cosce. The underdog role has become a familiar position for the lone fighter from Hong Kong on the roster. Despite the loss, Palatnikov will be matched up again in another compelling matchup. Hopefully the UFC will give him a fight with someone who will entertain the striking of Palatnikov. This may be purely from the perspective of an older brother, but Orion Cosce may want some payback. After beating his younger brother, Orion was vocal about wanting an opportunity to fight Palatnikov. It would be a nice storyline that the UFC could sell even for a fight on the undercard.