Business inside the UFC Apex has picked up as of late, with a dozen competitors earning UFC contracts over the past three episodes of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Here’s a closer look at the fights on tap for Tuesday night.
ALEKSA CAMUR VS. FABIO CHERANT
Unbeaten light heavyweights with matching records clash in this week’s headliner as Ohio’s Camur goes toe-to-toe with New England regional standout Cherant in what should be an electric encounter.
Representing the Strong Style Fight Team, Camur’s four professional victories have all been first-round stoppage wins, with his longest fight to date being his most recent outing — a 2:43 affair last August. The 23-year-old has actually never tasted defeat inside the cage, having gone 4-0 as an amateur, each of those victories coming inside the distance as well.
If he’s able to maintain both streaks on Tuesday night, Camur could join teammates Stipe Miocic and Jeff Hughes on the UFC roster.
A fixture in two of the New England area’s premier promotions, Cage Titans and CES, the 24-year-old Cherant has earned four straight submission wins following a 3-1 amateur career where he avenged his lone setback.
And while finding opponents can be challenging when you’re just getting started and clearly have some potential, Cherant has handled his business each time out, and if he does it again this week in Las Vegas, he could walk away with a UFC contract.
STEVEN NGUYEN VS. AALON CRUZ
The penultimate pairing this coming week matches featherweight hopefuls looking to prolong their winning streaks and land a spot in one of the most loaded divisions in the UFC.
A 26-year-old talent who has gone unbeaten in 11 trips into the cage — five as an amateur and six more since turning pro — Nguyen arrives in Las Vegas following a fourth-round technical knockout victory in April that earned him the Evolution Fighting Championship featherweight strap. “The Ninja” has displayed a well-round game on his way to a perfect 6-0 start to his pro career, earning three wins by submission, two more by TKO and going the distance in his remaining outing.
A pro since 2011, Cruz struggled to maintain momentum in the middle stage of his career, but after suffering a fourth-round submission loss in his return following 18 months on the sidelines, the 29-year-old has posted three straight victories. He followed up first-round stoppage wins over Bruno Justo and Steve Garcia Jr. with a unanimous decision win over Gui Cury his last time out in February, and if Cruz can find a way to hand Nguyen the first loss of his career, he could find himself the recipient of a UFC contract too.
MARIYA AGAPOVA VS. TRACY CORTEZ
The second bout between female competitors this year and the sixth in Contender Series history hits the cage in the middle of this week’s card as Agapova looks to remain unbeaten as she takes on the streaking Cortez in flyweight action.
The first female from Kazakhstan to compete on the series, the 22-year-old has emerged victorious in each of her first six trips into the cage, but is facing a significant step up in competition this week in Las Vegas.
After dropping her professional debut, Cortez has rattled off five straight victories, including a split decision win over the previously unbeaten Erin Blanchfield last time out at Invicta FC 34. The 25-year-old Arizona native went 6-0 as an amateur and has logged all of her professional appearances in less than two years, so as good as the results have been thus far, the best is still yet to come for Cortez.
Dana White Announces Week 5 Contender Series Contracts
Dana White Announces Week 5 Contender Series Contracts
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ VS. RICO FARRINGTON
Welterweight veterans looking to finally make their way to the big leagues meet in this one that is difficult to diagnose.
Unbeaten since the start of 2018, Rodriguez is a 32-year-old Californian who trains out of 10th Planet HQ while getting in Muay Thai sessions at The Yard and making trips down to Donald Cerrone’s BMF Ranch as well. He’s won four straight heading into his UFC audition on Tuesday, most recently earning a second-round finish in February.
Farrington has been a fixture on the Florida fight scene for a number of years, dropping the lone amateur appearance of his career to future TUF competitor and Contender Series alum Jason Jackson all the way back in 2011. “The Triggerman” dropped two of his first three bouts as a professional, but has gone 6-0 since, though his last appearance came in December 2017.
MICHAL MARTINEK VS. RODRIGO NASCIMENTO
The big boys get the action started this week as these two undefeated heavyweight hopefuls look to set the tone for the evening.
Known as “Blackbeard,” Martinek is unbeaten in seven starts, the last six of which have come under the Oktagon MMA banner. Standing six-foot-two and having last weighed in at 231.5 pounds, the Czech standout is a more dynamic, active heavyweight, a trait that could serve him well going forward if he’s able to earn a place on the UFC roster.
Standing between Martinek and a victory on Tuesday will be Nascimento, who was expected to compete on the all-Brazilian edition of the Contender Series last summer in Las Vegas but that bout fell through. As a result of that missed opportunity, the Brazilian has only fought once in the last two years and just three times since 2014.
That’s a great deal of time away and makes him a major question mark heading into Tuesday’s opener, but given that he was tabbed to compete last summer and called back here, there has to be something about Nascimento’s game that intrigues the UFC brass.