UFC on ESPN 22: Whittaker vs Gastelum Prelim Matchmaking

PC: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Alexander Romanov def. Juan Espino via Decision (Unaninmous)

Alexander Romanov – Blagoy Ivanov

Alexander Romanov and his team must have been ecstatic when hearing the judges’ scorecards being read. The majority of MMA media had it scored in favor of the Spaniard when the fight was halted. In the end, he was rewarded with a hard-fought split decision victory after the bout was stopped to a groin strike. He remains one of only a few fighters to hold an undefeated record to their name in the organization. Blagoy Ivanov holds down one of the last spots in the heavyweight rankings and is on a two-fight skid. A win over Ivanov would offer Romanov a chance to enter the UFC rankings for the first time in his career.

Juan Espino – Parker Porter

Juan Espino has a right to be livid after this fight. The Spaniard had already won one round and was on his way to winning the third before he landed a knee to the cup of Romanov. Even though it was foul, replays showed there was little force behind the groin strike that stopped the contest. Espino’s stock shouldn’t plummet to much as a result and will hopefully not drop too far back in the division. Parker Porter was originally scheduled to compete on the card but was forced out for undisclosed reasons. A win for Parker Porter would be massive as Espino has a ton of hype after winning the Ultimate Fighter in 2018.

Jessica Penne def. Lupita Godinez via Split Decision

Jessica Penne – Cory McKenna

Jessica Penne channeled her inner Dominick Cruz on Saturday night after returning from a four-year layoff. She had trouble in the fight and nearly lost her fourth fight in a row. Instead, she will pick up her second UFC victory in five appearances. At 38 years old, a title shot may be a bit out of the question for the unranked Penne. That being said, there are still some exciting matchups for her. At the top of the list is 21-year-old Cory McKenna who earned her first victory by defeating Kay Hansen. A bout between these two would see the youngest fighter in the division versus the oldest in the division. It would also revive a rivalry between Team Alpha Male and Alliance MMA that is over a decade old.

Lupita Godinez – Gloria de Paula

Lupita Godinez had one of the best debuts she could have asked for considering it was on short notice. She ultimately came up short on the judges scorecards but won in the eyes of many back home. It is the first defeat for the Mexican-Canadian who now falls to 5-1 as a professional. She will likely be looking at a step back in competition in her next fight with someone with a similar amount of experience. Gloria de Paula recently lost her UFC debut to Jinh Yu Frey and will look to rebound in her next outing. A bout between Godinez and de Paula would be a nice feature to a prelim for a fight night or a pay-per-view card.

Gerald Meerschaert def. Bartosz Fabinski via Technical Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Gerald Meerschaert – Marc-André Barriault

Gerald Meerschaert entered the bout on Saturday with a lot to prove after his knockout defeat to Khamzat Chimaev in September. He had also lost five of his last seven heading into the bout. The American managed to control Fabinski on the ground securing another submission victory. Meerschaert would break the record for most submissions in the history of the 185lb division with his sixth. Marc-André Barriault recently picked up his first UFC victory when he finished Abu Azaitar back in March. A fight between Meerschaert and Barriault would give both men an opportunity to earn consecutive victories for the first time since 2018.

Bartosz Fabinski – Joaquin Buckley

Bartosz Fabinski was overpowered by Meerschaert on the night but is now on a two fight skid. His lone win since June of 2018 actually took place on a Cage Warriors card on his middleweight debut. The Pollak will need a win in his next fight, and there are plenty of middleweights to choose from. Joaquin Buckley was one of the fighters to watch late last year when he strung together two highlight reel knockouts. After suffering a knockout of his own, Buckley will be looking to rebound in an emphatic way. A fight between Fabinski and Buckley offers both gentlemen an opportunity to get back to their winning ways.

Austin Hubbard def. Dakota Bush via Unanimous Decision

Austin Hubbard – Jamie Mullarkey

Austin Hubbard has been making a name off of beating UFC newcomers. He added Dakota Bush to his name of UFC newcomers he has managed to defeat. Hubbard will be looking forward now in the division in hopes of eventually getting ranked at 155lbs. He was initially scheduled to face Natan Levy but will likely be wanting someone further up the division with this win. Australia’s Jamie Mullarkey recently picked up his first UFC victory by knocking out Khama Worthy in the first round of their UFC 260 bout. A win for either man would be massive at this stage of their UFC career.

Dakota Bush – Nikolas Motta

Dakota Bush looked incredible in his debut despite the loss. He showed no signs of UFC jitters early and landed heavy shots on the Elevation Fight Team product early. As the fight went on, the tide began to shift but Bush should be satisfied with his effort on the weekend. He will be looking to pick up his first UFC victory in his next bout, and a fight with Nikolas Motta would offer him an opportunity to do that. Motta was forced out of his May 8 bout due to an injury and could be looking to return in the summer. A fight between Motta and Bush would make for a nice addition to a fight night card.

Tony Gravely def. Anthony Birchak via TKO (Punch)

Tony Gravely – Louis Smolka

With nearly 27 pro fights, Tony Gravely is one of the most experienced fighters in the bantamweight division. He has now won back-to-back fights and will be looking to build off of that momentum in his next outing. I would expect the American Top Team fighter would look for a late summer return to the cage. Another veteran of the sport is Hawaiian Louis Smolka. Smolka is 3-2 in his second UFC stint which dates back to November of 2018. In his last outing he defeated José Alberto Quiñónez via TKO. A win for either man will give them an opportunity to call guys out in the Top 20 or so of the division.

Anthony Birchak – Drako Rodriguez

Anthony Birchak was initially scheduled to face Johnny Eduardo in March, but the Brazilian was unable to get the required paperwork to compete. Birchak was left without an opponent and was forced to stay around Vegas until an opponent was found. Due to the unfortunate circumstances, hopefully Birchak will be granted a couple more fights in the promotion. Drako Rodriguez recently made his UFC debut in a defeat to Aiemann Zahabi. Both men will likely be fighting for their careers in this bantamweight clash.

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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