The action returns to the UFC APEX for one final event in May before a one-week break to recharge before hitting the ground running on the summer slate.
Headlined by an intriguing clash of styles between ranked strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill and featuring a collection of competitive pairings and promising names to track, Saturday’s card should be an entertaining way to wrap up the month before things in the Octagon heat up again in June and July.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap.
Main Event: Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill
Location: UFC APEX — Las Vegas, Nevada
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Other Main Card Matches:
- Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Anthony Hernandez
- Emily Ducote vs. Loopy Godinez
- Andre Fialho vs. Joaquin Buckley
- Maheshate vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
- Diego Ferreira vs. Michael Johnson
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Vanessa Demopoulos
- Orion Cosce vs. Gilbert Urbina
- Ilir Latifi vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
- Chase Hooper vs. Nick Fiore
- Natalia Silva vs. Victoria Leonardo
- Takashi Sato vs. Themba Gorimbo
Mackenzie Dern | Submission Showcase
Mackenzie Dern | Submission Showcase
Main Event: Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill
Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill begin their 2023 campaigns with a main event pairing that should answer a lot of questions about where each woman stands in the strawweight division at the moment.
After beginning her career with 11 wins in her first dozen appearances, Dern has dropped two of her last three while struggling to find a way to implement her dynamic grappling game. While she’s shown improvement on the feet, the Brazilian jiu jitsu legend is obviously at her best when she can instigate grappling sequences and tie-ups, showing an incredible amount of control and ability to attack from multiple positions.
Hill touches down in Las Vegas looking to build on victories over Loopy Godinez and Emily Ducote in the back half of last year. “Overkill” remains a permanent presence in the rankings and a durable, dangerous test for anyone in the division, but will need to use her footwork and movement if she wants to keep things standing against Dern on Saturday.
Will the submission ace find a way to drag this fight to the canvas or can Hill force Dern to battle her on the feet?
Other Main Card Fights
Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Anthony Hernandez
Middleweights and Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) graduates Edmen Shahbazyan and Anthony Hernandez share the Octagon in the co-main event, each looking to build on recent triumphs.
Shahbazyan ended a one-year sabbatical and three-fight losing streak last time out, collecting a second-round stoppage win over Dalcha Lungiambula at UFC 282 in December. Still just 25 years old, he still has plenty of time to reclaim the buzz that accompanied his 4-0 start in the UFC and 11-0 start to career, with a victory here showing that clearly on the road back towards the rankings.
See What's Happening In The Middleweight Division
Hernandez dropped two of his first three appearances inside the Octagon, but has since cobbled together a three-fight winning streak, bookended by impressive submission wins. He tapped out multiple-time BJJ world champion Rodolfo Vieira last year, and began his 2023 run with a similar second-round finish over Marc-Andre Barriault, adding a unanimous decision win over Josh Fremd at UFC 273 in between.
Shahbazyan showed flashes of upside early in his career, and Hernandez has displayed similar glimpses of late, so it will be interesting to see which of these two ascending middleweight talents will be able to dictate the terms of engagement and leave the APEX with a victory on Saturday.
Emily Ducote vs. Loopy Godinez
Emily Ducote and Loopy Godinez meet at a 120-pound catchweight on Saturday’s main card after the former’s initial opponent, Polyana Viana was forced to withdraw earlier in the month.
The former Invicta FC champ Ducote has gone 1-1 in her first two trips into the Octagon, defeating Jessica Penne in her debut before losing to Hill in her sophomore outing in December. She’s fought quality competition throughout her career and the skills are there for her to have a quick return to the win column if she’s built on the lessons learned from that loss to one half of this weekend’s headlining pair.
It should be no surprise to see Godinez step in for Viana, as the Mexican-Canadian has been one of the more active fighters on the roster since arriving in the UFC. She too has shared the Octagon with Penne and Hill, losing to both, but arrives in Las Vegas off a split decision win over Cynthia Calvillo.
Both women are more well-rounded than they’ve shown in their most recent outings, so it’ll be curious to see if either or both opt to mix things up more, adding in grappling elements to what have been striking-heavy game plans of late.
Andre Fialho vs. Joaquin Buckley
Sound the klaxons — we’ve got ourselves a banger in the welterweight division!
Since giving a good accounting of himself in his short notice debut against Michel Pereira, each of Fialho’s four subsequent fights have ended inside the distance — the first two with his arm raised in victory, the most recent two with him tasting bitter defeat. After an ultra-active 2022 campaign, he makes his first start of 2023 here, hoping to get back into the win column.
Buckley makes his UFC welterweight division debut while also in the midst of a two-fight slide, having most recently been knocked out by Chris Curtis at UFC 282. Compact and explosive during his middleweight run, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic offense the St. Louis native brings to the Octagon translates to the 170-pound weight class.
Someone is likely to get knocked out in this one, and the process of determining who that is should be wildly entertaining for as long as it lasts.
Maheshate vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
Members of the DWCS Class of ’21 meet here as Maheshate and Viacheslav Borshchev share the Octagon in the building where they each earned their UFC contracts.
Maheshate continued his winning ways through his promotional debut, stopping Steve Garcia in the first round at UFC 275 with a beautiful counter right. He dropped his sophomore effort to Rafa Garcia six months later, which snapped his seven-fight winning streak, and sends him into this one looking to start a new run of success in Saturday.
FREE FIGHTS: Mackenzie Dern vs Randa Markos | Angela Hill vs Emily Ducote
Like his fellow Season 5 graduate and opponent, Borshchev impressed out of the gates, winning his UFC debut by first-round technical knockout when he stopped Dakota Bush with a liver shot. But “Slava Claus” got out-wrestled by Marc Diakiese and Mike Davis in his next two outings, and looks to get things moving in the right direction again this weekend against Mahershate.
Each of these men prefer to throw hands, which means fans and observers should be treated to a solid boxing match when these two step into the Octagon opposite one another this weekend.
Diego Ferreira vs. Michael Johnson
Veteran lightweights coming in from different directions clash in the opener, as Diego Ferreira faces off with Michael Johnson.
A former fixture in the Top 15, Ferreira returns to Las Vegas on a three-fight losing streak, competing for the first time since the end of 2021, when he lost to Mateusz Gamrot. Each of the Fortis MMA representative’s losses during this current slide have come against elite competitors, so a return to the form that produced wins over Anthony Pettis, Jared Gordon, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the past can’t be ruled out.
Johnson earned a unanimous decision win over Marc Diakiese last time out, and has won two of his last three, with a case to be made that he deserved the nod in his split decision loss to Jamie Mullarkey. “The Menace” has fought one of the toughest slates of anyone on the active roster, and adds to that here.
Will Ferreira finally snap out of his funk and get back in the win column or can Johnson keep his run of quality form going and secure another victory?
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Vanessa Demopoulos
Streaking strawweights Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Vanessa Demopoulos meet in the final preliminary card bout of the evening this weekend. Kowalkiewicz finally ended an extended losing streak with a win over Felice Herrig in June, following it up with a second consecutive victory over Silvana Gomez Juarez. Demopoulos began her current three-fight winning streak by submitting Gomez Juarez, building on that first-round finish with decision wins over Jinh Yu Frey and Maria Oliveira.
Orion Cosce vs. Gilbert Urbina
DWCS grad Orion Cosce faces off with TUF finalist Gilbert Urbina in a welterweight clash on Saturday’s prelims. Cosce enters the contest after registering his first UFC victory last time out when he defeated Blood Diamond, while Urbina drops down a division and competes for the first time since his TUF 29 finals defeat at the hands of Bryan Battle. Will Cosce keep rolling or can Urbina get his hand raised in the Octagon for the first time?
Ilir Latifi vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Heavyweights angling to build on success in their most recent outings meet in this one, as Ilir Latifi squares off with Rodrigo Nascimento. The Swedish veteran Latifi has earned consecutive wins over Tanner Loser and Aleksei Oleinik and carries a 9-6 record under the UFC banner here. Nascimento bested Boser in his most recent showing, giving him a two-fight unbeaten streak and 2-1 record with one no contest through his first four UFC starts.
Chase Hooper vs. Nick Fiore
Lightweight grapplers Chase Hooper and Nick Fiore will share the Octagon on Saturday in what should be a scramble-filled battle on the canvas. The 23-year-old Hooper has alternated wins and losses throughout his UFC career and enters this one off a vicious stoppage loss to Steve Garcia. A member of the New England Cartel, Fiore was called up on short-notice in January for a bout with DWCS grad Mateusz Rebecki, suffering the first loss of his pro career in the process.
Natalia Silva vs. Victoria Leonardo
Natalia Silva and Victoria Leonardo collide in this battle of flyweights looking to build off recent positive outings. Silva has won each of her first two appearances inside the Octagon, most recently defeating Tereza Bleda in November, while Leonardo rebounded from consecutive losses with a victory over Mandy Bohm last time out. Which fighter will keep moving forward and who will be forced to take a step back on Saturday?
Takashi Sato vs. Themba Gorimbo
Japanese veteran Takashi Sato aims to snap a three-fight slide when he steps in with sophomore Themba Gorimbo this weekend in Las Vegas. After earning stoppage wins in two of his first three outings, Sato enters Saturday’s contest having dropped three straight, most recently getting knocked out by Bryan Battle last summer. Gorimbo debuted earlier this year, battling hard against AJ Fletcher before ultimately getting submitted.
UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Hill took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 20, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!