Belal Muhammad will compete in his first ever UFC main event on Saturday night, fighting Leon Edwards in the headlining bout of a UFC “Fight Night” card. The bout sits atop a 13-fight card that is scheduled to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for live coverage of the event.
Preliminary Card (5:00PM EST / 2:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Main Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 13: Leon Edwards (18-3) vs. Belal Muhammad (18-3) (Welterweight)
Second-Round Eye Poke Stops Edwards vs. Muhammad Main Event With No Contest
A welterweight main event ended quickly on Saturday, as an unintentional eye poke to Belal Muhammad took him out of a fight against Leon Edwards in the second round.
Muhammad dropped to the ground during the second round after a finger went into his right eye. Muhammad was visibly in lots of pain while his eye quickly started to swell up.
Prior to the stoppage, Edwards was leading a close striking battle. The welterweight contender was having his first appearance after over a year outside of the cage.
“It’s been a long year-and-a-half, ups and downs, and to come back to this, I just don’t know what to say,” said Edwards in his post-fight interview. Edwards was also apologetic about his eye poke, mentioning that he did not intend to do it.
Edwards was warned in the first round about being careful with his fingers after accidentally poking Muhammad in the eye.
Edwards was originally meant to face Khamzat Chimaev, an opponent that the UFC was trying to match him with since December. After the long-term effects of COVID-19 took Chimaev out of the booking, Muhammad took his place.
Muhammad was entering Saturday night’s main event just a month after picking up his fourth consecutive victory. His last fight was at UFC 258, where he defeated Dhiego Lima.
While Edwards left without a win or a loss, he has still won his eight previous fights.
Bout 12: Misha Cirkunov (15-5) vs. Ryan Spann (18-6) (Light Heavyweight)
Spann Stops Cirkunov With Strikes Within A Round
Ryan Spann picked up a stoppage win in the co-main event, taking Misha Cirkunov out of their fight in the second minute with strikes.
Spann scored a knockdown in the opening minute with a right hook. Cirkunov seemingly got hurt again in the second minute of the bout, dropping down and shelling up as Spann started to land hammerfist punches. The referee intervened after Spann landed a numerous shots on the ground.
Spann’s previous bout was a stoppage loss to Johnny Walker, who broke what was a four-fight win streak in the promotion at the time.
Spann said he wants the winner of a fight between Jimmy Crute and Anthony Smith, which is scheduled to happen on April 24th.
Cirkunov was making his return after over a year out of action. He last competed in 2019 in a one-round submission win against Jimmy Crute.
Bout 11: Dan Ige (14-3) vs. Gavin Tucker (13-1) (Featherweight)
Ige Earns Walk-off KO In Return Against Tucker
Dan Ige picked up a walk-off knockout on the main card, stopping Gavin Tucker with a right cross in only 22 seconds. The strike landed by Ige was the first he connected with in the fight.
Ige rebounded after being given his first pro loss in years months ago. Ige’s last fight was a five-round decision loss to Calvin Kattar, which broke a six-fight win streak.
Ige called out Chan Sung Jung, also known as The Korean Zombie, after his win.
“Please man, give me the Zombie,” said Ige in his post-fight interview.
Tucker had a three-fight win streak before his loss on Saturday.
Ige was originally meant to face Ryan Hall, although his opponent was reportedly changed in February.
Bout 10: Jonathan Martinez (13-3) vs. Davey Grant (10-4) (Bantamweight)
Left Hook Stops Martinez In The Second, Earns Grant Third Consecutive Victory
Davey Grant scored with a hard two-punch combination to stop Jonathan Martinez in the second round. After throwing a right hook to the body of Martinez, Grant floored him with a left hook to stop the fight.
The bout was a close striking battle prior to the finish. Martinez closed out the first round with a knockdown, scoring a left hook that dropped Grant.
Grant now has three consecutive wins. He had a stoppage victory in his previous bout as well, stopping Martin Day in July.
Martinez entered Saturday on a two-fight win streak.
Bout 9: Matheus Nicolau (15-2-1) vs. Manel Kape (15-5) (Flyweight)
Nicolau Takes Split Decision Win Over Kape In Return To UFC
Matheus Nicolau won in his return to the UFC on Saturday night, earning a split decision win against former RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Manel Kape (29-28 Kape, 29-28 Nicolau & 29-28 Nicolau).
Nicolau used his takedowns and striking to win the first round against Kape. Nicolau took him to the ground twice in the round and was able to connect with hard leg kicks and punches while on the feet.
Kape bounced back incredibly in the second round, increasing his output of strikes greatly and connecting with loads of shots.
The bout concluded with a close final round, as the fighters were trading blows on the feet throughout.
Nicolau was having his first UFC fight since 2018. He picked up two wins on the regional scene in 2019 before getting the call to the UFC again. Nicolau’s first UFC run went from 2015 to 2018, earning three wins and one loss before departing the division.
Kape was getting a quick turnaround after losing his UFC debut against Alexandre Pantoja last month. He was taking the place of Tagir Ulanbekov.
Bout 8: Eryk Anders (13-5) vs. Darren Stewart (12-6) (Middleweight)
Illegal Knee Ends Anders vs. Stewart Within A Round
Eryk Anders’ momentum late in the first round was stopped by an illegal blow, landing a knee to the head of Darren Stewart that stopped their fight and caused it to result in a no contest. The fight ending strike happened late in the first round, as Anders landed the strike while Stewarts had a knee and a hand on the ground, ruling him a down opponent.
Anders was on a roll before the finish, backing up Stewart and unloading strikes on the feet.
The fight comes a week after a controversial title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan was stopped due to an illegal knee. The ruling on that fight, which concluded in the fourth round, was a disqualification for Yan.
Both fighters were looking to return after losing in their previous showing.
Stewart lost a split decision in his last bout when fighting Kevin Holland last year.
Anders’ last fight was in May of 2020, where he lost to Krzysztof Jotko.
UFC Gives Hagler ‘In Memory’ Acknowledgement
Former boxing champion Marvin Hagler was given an “In Memory” acknowledgement at the start of the program’s main card. The 66-year-old boxing legend’s passing was reported by media outlets during the preliminary card.
“Marvin Hagler was a part of my childhood … This is a tough one, man,” said former UFC Champion Daniel Cormier, who was on commentary for the show.
Bout 7: Angela Hill (12-9) vs. Ashley Yoder (8-6) (Strawweight)
Hill Uses Striking For Decision Win Against Yoder
Angela Hill showcased her slick striking in the final preliminary fight, defeating Ashley Yoder in a unanimous decision fight (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Hill’s quick striking allowed her to put together combinations against Yoder during the fight. Yoder was able to endure all three rounds, sometimes landing takedowns that stopped Hill’s momentum.
Hill snapped a two-fight losing streak with the win. Her previous two fights were losses, dropping close split decisions to Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadelha.
Hill and Yoder have fought once before in the past, as Hill prevailed in their 2017 meeting.
Yoder was coming back after a win against Miranda Granger in her last fight.
The fight was first scheduled to happen in late February, although it was moved ahead after a cornerman for Yoder tested positive for COVID-19.
Bout 6: Charles Jourdain (10-3-1) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-6) (Featherweight)
Jourdain Closes Out Performance Over Rojo With Strong Final Round
A strong final round from Charles Jourdain gave Marcelo Rojo too much pressure to handle, ending their fight via stoppage after a hectic round of striking.
Jourdain’s best round was his last, as he was able to drop Rojo with punches early in the round. He continued to apply strikes to a tired Rojo on the ground for a large portion of the round. When dropping him for the second time, the fight was stopped by the referee in the final minute.
Rojo put up a fight in the first couple of rounds in the fight, landing a high volume of strikes that gave Jourdain a challenge.
Jourdain returns to the win column after being given a draw and a loss in his two previous fights.
Rojo, a former Combate Americas fighter, was making his UFC debut in the bout. He was first scheduled to have a UFC bout in February against Raoni Barcelos, although that fight was cancelled after Barcelos tested positive for COVID-19. Rojo was stepping in for Steve Garcia on Saturday night.
Bout 5: Rani Yahya (26-10-1) vs. Ray Rodriguez (16-7) (Bantamweight)
Yahya Uses Pressure, Submits Rodriguez With Arm Triangle Choke
Rani Yahya used his grappling skills to pressure Ray Rodriguez and eventually submit him in the second round with an arm triangle choke. The victory came after he spent most of the fight in control on the ground, working for a choke from full and half guard.
Yahya earned his first victory since 2018, as his two prior fights resulted in a loss and a draw.
Rodriguez has now lost both of his UFC appearances. His UFC debut was in September, where he lost within a minute to Brian Kelleher.
Rodriguez was originally booked to fight Irwin Rivera, although he was given Yahya after Rivera was arrested for two counts of attempted murder in January.
Bout 4: Nasrat Haqparast (12-3) vs. Rafa Garcia (12-0) (Lightweight)
Haqparast Wins Striking Battle Against Newcomer Garcia
Nasrat Haqparast out-landed UFC newcomer Rafa Garcia to earn a unanimous decision victory on the prelims (30-27, 29-28 & 29-28). Haqparast scored with a higher volume of strikes than Garcia throughout the high-pace bout on the feet.
Haqparast was able to take Garcia down for brief moments during the fight, sweeping him numerous times in the first two rounds.
While Haqparast had the better performance, Garcia was aggressive throughout, often doing the advancing on the feet.
Garcia was a short-notice opponent for Haqparast, taking the place Don Madge, who was pulled from the fight due to visa issues.
Garcia, a former Combate Americas Lightweight Champion, was given his first pro loss in the fight.
Haqparast earned a decision victory against Alex Munoz in his previous bout.
Bout 3: Cortney Casey (9-8) vs. JJ Aldrich (8-4) (Flyweight)
Aldrich Picks Up Split Decision Win In Return
JJ Aldrich picked up a win in her return on Saturday, defeating Cortney Casey in a back-and-forth split decision fight (29-28 Casey, 29-28 Aldrich & 29-28 Aldrich).
The three-round fight showed the striking ability of both flyweights, as they both had moments where they landed hard shots.
Aldrich was competing for the first time in over a year. Her previous fight was a split decision win against Sabina Mazo in early 2020.
Casey was looking to bounce back after losing via submission to Gillian Robertson last year.
Bout 2: Jinh Yu Frey (9-6) vs. Gloria de Paula (5-2) (Strawweight)
Frey Uses Grappling To Earn First UFC Victory
Jinh Yu Frey earned her first UFC win on the prelims, using grappling to defeat Gloria de Paula via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). Frey’s two best rounds in the fight came from her ability to put de Paula on the ground.
Frey was able to score a takedown in the opening round, keeping de Paula on the floor for most of the round afterwards.
De Paula recovered in the second round, landing the better shots in a striking battle that lasted the full frame.
Recognizing that she had to take the fight to the ground, Frey was quick to score a takedown once the third round started. Frey spent a fair amount of the round attempted a rear naked choke.
Frey, a former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, had lost her two previous UFC appearances.
De Paula was making her UFC debut. She earned a UFC contract last year with a win on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Bout 1: Jason Witt (18-6) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (7-2) (Welterweight)
Semelsberger Connects With Right Hand For 16-Second Finish Win
Matthew Semelsberger had a quick win in the opening bout, flooring Jason Witt in the first minute with a right hand that finished the bout. The punch came as a counter to a leg kick from Witt, dropping him immediately and ending their fight.
Semelsberger exceeded his personal expectations for the bout, as he admitted afterwards that he predicted a second round finish win.
Both fighters were coming back after picking up their first UFC win in their previous showing.
Semelsberger earned his first UFC victory last year, defeating Carlton Minus in a decision fight.