The action in the UFC APEX continues this weekend as bantamweights looking to move into top contender status collide.
Rob Font and Marlon "Chito" Vera will meet each other in the main event this weekend with plenty on the line. The UFC bantamweight division has some clarity after Aljamain Sterling unified the belt with a win over Petr Yan and it's the perfect time for Font or Vera to make a statement.
Preview that high-octane match-up along with the other great fights from UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera:
Rob Font vs Marlon Vera
Rob Font and Marlon Vera look to cement their positions in the bantamweight hierarchy as they clash here in the final main event of the month.
Font competed twice in 2021, opening the year with a dominant unanimous decision win over Cody Garbrandt in his first main event assignment in May. A little over six months later, he was back on the marquee, but this time, the 34-year-old New England Cartel member landed on the opposite side of the results, dropping a decision to former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.
After closing out his 2020 campaign with a loss to Aldo, Vera posted a pair of victories in 2021, claiming a unanimous decision in over Davey Grant in a Fight of the Night-winning tussle in June before collecting a third-round stoppage win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 in November. The constantly improving Ecuadorian is now 8-2 over his last 10 fights and climbed into the Top 10 for the first time with his win over Edgar at Madison Square Garden.
With things at the top of the division getting resolved earlier in the month, we should be in for an action-packed second half of the year in the 135-pound weight class, and the winner of this one will certainly be in the championship mix.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier
Heavyweights man the co-main event position on this week’s card as veteran Andrei Arlovski steps up to square off with Jake Collier on Saturday night.
The ageless Arlovski pushed his winning streak to three earlier this year with a split decision win over Jared Vanderaa at UFC 271, and jumped at the opportunity to replace Justin Tafa and make his second start of 2022 here. Now 43 years old, the former champion has shown no real signs of slowing down, and enters this fight having only been bested by surging British contender Tom Aspinall in his last six outings.
Collier was the first to stand in Aspinall’s way and be turned aside two summers back, but the former middleweight and light heavyweight has settled in to life at heavyweight since then, going 15 hard minutes with Gian Villante and Carlos Felipe in his next two outings. Back in January, the Missouri native registered his first stoppage win since May 2016, scoring a first-round submission over Chase Sherman to push his record to 13-6 overall.
Arlovski remains the litmus test for heavyweight hopefuls, and he’s done a tremendous job of turning back anyone not ready to hold down a spot in the Top 15. Collier finally feels comfortable competing at this weight class and is coming off his best performance yet, so it will be interesting to see if the former prospect can topple the venerable veteran this weekend.
Andre Fili vs. Joanderson Brito
Team Alpha Male staple Andre Fili makes his first appearance in nearly a year this weekend, returning to take on Dana White’s Contender Series grad Joanderson Brito on Saturday’s main card.
It’s been a rough couple of years results-wise for Fili, who entered 2020 having officially won four of five and with most feeling he was on a five-fight winning streak. A loss to Sodiq Yusuff halted that run before he rebounded with a victory over Charles Jourdain, but a loss to Bryce Mitchell and an inadvertent eye poke in a fight he was dominating against Daniel Pineda left him winless in 2021. Now the 31-year-old steps in with Brito looking to bounce back and prove he’s still a threat in the 145-pound ranks.
An eye poke ended Brito’s fight with Diego Lopes on the Contender Series last year, but the Brazilian was dominating and earned a contract nonetheless. He debuted in January opposite seasoned veteran Bill Algeo, dropping a unanimous decision, and now looks to rebound in a second consecutive difficult test opposite Fili on Saturday.
Will the man who fights for the outcasts and underdogs get back in the win column or can Brito register his first UFC victory?
Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson
Back in the lightweight division full time, Jared Gordon goes in search of his fourth straight victory this weekend. In order to get it, he’ll have to get through once-beaten rising star Grant Dawson.
The 33-year-old Gordon often felt torn between two weight classes — a little undersized for lightweight, but a little too big for the 145-pound ranks. After missing weight for his 2021 debut against Danny Chavez, the Sanford MMA representative committed to a return to lightweight, and continued his winning ways with a hard-fought split decision win over Joe Solecki to move to 18-4 overall.
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Dawson enters Saturday’s contest with a stellar 17-1-1 record and is unbeaten in the UFC, yet facing some questions after a change in camps. He too has only recently moved up to lightweight after a long run at featherweight, and last time out, he slowed down the stretch en route to a majority draw result opposite Ricky Glenn.
Gordon is one of the more experienced and battle-tested hands in the 155-pound weight class, while Dawson has shown flashes of having Top 15 potential. This is a perfect matchup at the perfect time for each of these competitors, and should produce an exciting contest once they’re locked in the Octagon together this weekend in Las Vegas.
Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly
Veteran grapplers Darren Elkins and Tristan Connelly collide here, with each looking to get back into the win column and show they still have plenty to offer in the UFC featherweight division.
The indefatigable Elkins was not his usual self last time out, suffering a first-round stoppage loss at the hands (and feet) of fellow tenured featherweight Cub Swanson on the final fight card of 2021. Now 37 years old and 36 fights deep into his career, it raised questions about whether the years of grimy battles were starting to catch up to “The Damage” or if it was a one-time hiccup for the inhumanly tough Midwest grinder?
Connelly had a fairytale start to his UFC career, debuting on short notice, at home in Vancouver, and collecting a victory over Michel Pereira, along with both halves of the Fight of the Night bonuses the duo earned that evening because the Brazilian missed weight. He was out of action for all of 2020 and dropped two divisions in his return last year, landing on the wrong side of the results against Pat Sabatini before undergoing neck surgery.
Each of these men have something to prove on Saturday night, so be prepared for a scramble-heavy, entertaining scrap from the long-time pros with 57 appearances between them.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Gerald Meerschaert
The main card kicks off in the middleweight division as Polish staple Krzysztof Jotko looks to slow the momentum of surging veteran Gerald Meerschaert in what promises to be an intriguing clash of styles.
A fixture on the roster since the end of 2013, Jotko got back into the win column with a split decision victory over Misha Cirkunov in October. The 32-year-old has amassed a 10-5 record inside the Octagon and is 4-1 in his last five fights, with his only loss coming against ascending contender Sean Strickland last May following a year on the sidelines.
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The amiable Meerschaert has rebounded exceptionally well since his oft-replayed knockout loss to Khamzat Chimaev, posting three straight submission wins heading into this one. Now 48 fights deep into his career, “GM3” remains one of the most consistently entertaining competitors on the middleweight roster, with all but two of his 15 UFC appearances ending inside the distance.
Can Jotko secure a second straight victory and inch closer to reclaiming a place in the Top 15 or will Meerschaert keep things rolling and collect a fourth straight win this weekend?
Daniel da Silva vs. Francisco Figueiredo
Brazilian flyweights Daniel da Silva and Francisco Figueiredo are tasked with closing out the prelims, as each arrives in Las Vegas looking to bounce back after suffering setbacks in their most recent appearances.
Da Silva made his promotional debut in October, landing on the wrong side of a second-round stoppage against rising star Jeff Molina. The 25-year-old had some positive moments in the opening stanza and had won 10 of his first 11 appearances prior to stepping into the Octagon for the first time, so there is reason to believe he could bounce back and take positive steps forward in his second trip into the UFC cage on Saturday.
Figueiredo got his hand raised in his UFC debut last January, earning a unanimous decision win over Jerome Rivera, but couldn’t maintain that momentum through his sophomore appearance. He dropped a unanimous decision to Canadian veteran Malcolm Gordon in July, and after briefly being linked to a clash with British prospect Jake Hadley, he looks to rebound this weekend against his countryman.
While da Silva debuted without much fanfare, Figueiredo carries the burden of being the younger brother of the current ruler of the 125-pound weight class. It will be curious to see if the younger, more dynamic fighter can bounce back quickly and hand Figueiredo a second straight loss or if the slightly older, more seasoned fighter can find his way back to the win column this weekend.
Gabe Green vs. Yohan Lainesse
Welterweights with a combined 18 wins in 21 appearances meet here, as Gabe Green welcomes Yohan Lainesse to the Octagon for the first time.
Green gave a good accounting of himself in his short-notice debut opposite Daniel Rodriguez, going the distance with the streaking veteran. He got back into the win column with a confident effort opposite Phil Rowe at UFC 258 last February, giving him seven wins in his last eight appearances as he readies to square off with Lainesse on Saturday.
After winning the CFFC welterweight title with a second-round stoppage win over Evan Cutts in July, the 28-year-old Lainesse picked up a UFC contract with a first-round finish of Justin Burlinson on Dana White’s Contender Series. Now 8-0 for his career with six of his victories coming inside the distance, “The White Lion” looks to maintain his winning ways and make an immediate impact in the 170-pound weight class with a victory over Green.
Will the slightly more experienced Green spoil the French-Canadian newcomer’s debut or will Lainesse keep rolling and get his hand raised again this weekend?
Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden
DWCS alums Natan Levy and Mike Breeden square off in a preliminary card contest carrying great importance for the UFC lightweights.
Levy moved to 6-0 and punched his ticket to the Octagon with a third-round submission win over Shaheen Santana on Season 4 of the annual talent search series. After a pair of scuttled bouts, the Syndicate MMA representative debuted a year later and landed on the wrong side of the results, dropping a unanimous decision to Rafa Garcia to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Breeden also competed on the fourth season of the Contender Series, dropping a decision to Anthony Romero. He bounced back with a pair of victories closer to home under the FAC banner, and jumped at the chance to sub in for Leo Santos last October opposite Alexander Hernandez, only to be felled and stopped by “Alexander the Great” in 80 seconds.
Lightweight is perpetually flush with talent and neither of these men wants any part of a second setback in as many appearances, so expect each to be sharp and looking to control things from the outset, producing an entertaining and competitive clash early on Saturday’s card.
Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young
Gina Mazany and Shanna Young square off in a battle of veteran competitors looking to get things moving in the right direction in 2022.
After making her first five UFC appearances in the bantamweight division, Mazany moved down to flyweight for a November 2021 fight with Rachel Ostovich, earning a third-round stoppage win, but she was unable to maintain that momentum in her second appearance at 125-pounds. Though she started well, Mazany’s gas tank quickly ran dry and she was overwhelmed and finished by Priscila Cachoeira, leaving her with a 2-5 mark inside the Octagon ahead of this weekend’s clash with Young.
The 31-year-old “Shanimal” has dropped each of her first two UFC appearances, suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Macy Chiasson in her debut before getting stopped by Stephanie Egger last time out, so Young certainly wants to avoid an 0-3 start to her UFC career.
Can Mazany maintain her pace and get back into the win column or will Young earn her first UFC victory this weekend?
Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario
Saturday’s show commences in the flyweight ranks, as Shooto champion Tatsuro Taira makes his promotional debut opposite fellow newcomer Carlos Candelario.
Unbeaten in 10 professional appearances after a 9-0 run as an amateur, the 22-year-old Taira is arguably the best Japanese prospect to matriculate to the UFC since Kyoji Horiguchi. With good size for the division, a solid strength of schedule, and finishes in eight of his 10 wins, Taira is definitely one to watch going forward in the 125-pound weight class.
Candelario didn’t earn a contract following his victory on the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, but he made history in Season 5, becoming the first fighter to lose, but still be called to compete in the UFC following his debated split decision loss to Victor Altamarino on last year’s opening week. The 30-year-old New England native is 8-1 overall and should serve as a tremendous test for the promising Japanese prospect on Saturday night.
The flyweight division is flush with talent at the moment, but each of these men is worth keeping tabs on long term. This weekend’s victor should take a solid step forward, but whomever is vanquished will likely still be heard from in the future as well.
UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera, took place on Saturday, April 30, 2022, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!