Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt will make his return to action in the main event of Saturday’s card, fighting Rob Font in a five-round fight. The bout headlines a UFC “Fight Night” event from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Preliminary Card (4:00PM EDT / 1:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Main Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Bout 12: Rob Font (18-4) vs. Cody Garbrandt (12-3) (Bantamweight)
Font Shows Consistency, Sharpness In Main Event Win Against Garbrandt
Rob Font picked up a big win in his first UFC main event appearance, defeating former champ Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45 & 50-45). Font’s appearance showed consistency and control against a former king of the division, adding a big win to his growing resume.
Font’s performance through five rounds saw him persistently advance on Garbrandt, pumping his jab and connecting with combinations of punches throughout. Garbrandt was able to score with some strikes while walking back, although his output did not come close to what Font threw and scored with.
Garbrandt, a former UFC Bantamweight Champion, snapped a three-fight losing streak in his previous fight, landing a right hook that knocked out Raphael Assuncao late in the second round of a bout. His appearance on Saturday was his first after nearly a year outside of the cage where he dealt with injuries and the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Font was given the opportunity against Garbrandt after attaining a three-fight streak of wins at bantamweight. Most recent of the streak was a first-round stoppage win against Marlon Moraes last year.
After his win, Font expressed interest in many big names in the bantamweight division. While he liked the idea of a title fight, he also was open to fighting the winner of an upcoming tilt between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw, which is set to happen on July 24th.
Bout 11: Yan Xiaonan (13-1) vs. Carla Esparza (17-6) (Strawweight)
Esparza Becomes First UFC Fighter To Defeat Yan, Extends Win Streak
Carla Esparza handed Yan Xiaonan her first UFC loss in the co-main event, stopping her in the second round with ground and pound.
A smothering performance on the ground from Esparza finished after she landed a series of punches from the crucifix position. The elbows and punches from Esparza on the ground did significant damage to Yan, cutting and bruising her.
Esparza was able to control Yan through most of the fight through takedowns and strikes from dominant positions.
Esparza said afterward that she felt ready for a fight against UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas.
“I think it’s an intriguing fight, I think that’s a fight everyone wants to see,” said Esparza in her post-fight interview.
Esparza and Namajunas previously fought in 2011, where Esparza scored a submission win.
Esparza, the former champ, is the first to beat Yan since she joined the UFC roster in 2017. Yan has previously won six fights in the UFC, including a recent fight against Claudia Gadelha.
Esparza now has a five-fight win streak at strawweight. She had close victories in her two most recent fights, defeating Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez via split decision last year.
Bout 10: Justin Tafa (4-2) vs. Jared Vanderaa (11-5) (Heavyweight)
Vanderaa Stays Active With Striking For First UFC Win
Jared Vanderaa picked up his first UFC win on Saturday, out-striking Justin Tafa for a decision fight in a heavyweight bout (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
Vanderaa had a higher volume of strikes than Tafa throughout the 15 minutes in the cage, connecting with many of them. He also started to unload with combinations of punches in the final round of the fight.
Vanderaa started to bleed heavily in the second round, as a strike from Tafa opened a cut on the left side of his head. Concerns of a doctor stoppage were calmed in-between rounds as a cut-man put a temporary stop to the bleeding.
Vanderaa’s previous fight was his UFC debut, which saw him get stopped by Serghei Spivac in February. He earned his UFC contract last year with a win on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Tafa was returning after taking a split decision loss to Carlos Felipe earlier this year.
Felder Announces Retirement From MMA
UFC fighter Paul Felder announced his retirement from MMA while commentating during Saturday night’s UFC card.
The 37-year-old declared the end of his competitive MMA career after a 15-fight run in the UFC.
“I got as high as #6 in the world and got pretty damn close to fighting for that belt,” said Felder during Saturday night’s broadcast.
Felder last fought in November, where he took a short-notice fight against Rafael dos Anjos.
Felder has moved into a broadcasting role for UFC events in recent years. He has become part of the main rotation of former fighters that commentate events, which also includes names like Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping.
Bout 9: Felicia Spencer (8-2) vs. Norma Dumont (5-1) (Featherweight)
Dumont Takes Split Decision Win Against Spencer In Featherweight Bout
Norma Dumont’s strikes on the backfoot earned her a split decision victory against Felicia Spencer on the main card (30-27 Dumont, 29-28 Spencer & 29-28 Dumont).
While Spencer was able to consistently advance on Dumont during the fight, Dumont was active with strikes on her backfoot. While connecting with punches, Dumont would also score leg kicks throughout.
Dumont picked up her first UFC win in her previous showing, defeating Ashlee Evans-Smith via decision last year. She attempted to move to bantamweight earlier this year, although was booted from a fight after missing weight. Dumont mentioned after the fight that she still intends to move to the 135-pound division.
The fight was Spencer’s first appearance after losing a UFC Featherweight Championship fight to Amanda Nunes last year, where she went to a scorecards after five rounds.
Bout 8: Bill Algeo (14-5) vs. Ricardo Ramos (14-3) (Featherweight)
Ramos Uses Grappling And Takedowns To Defeat Algeo
Ricardo Ramos’ ability to get into grappling exchanges and score takedowns prevailed over the striking of Bill Algeo when going to scorecards on Saturday (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
Ramos consistently went for takedowns throughout the fight, clinching with Algeo or mounting his back for moments.
Ramos was stopped in his previous fight, getting finished within a round by Lerone Murphy in July.
Algeo took his first UFC win in his previous showing, defeating Spike Carlyle via decision in November.
Bout 7: Jack Hermansson (21-6) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) (Middleweight)
Hermansson Uses Wrestling For Win Over Shahbazyan
Veteran fighter Jack Hermansson bounced back from a 2020 loss with a decision victory against young fighter Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision to open the main card (29-27, 29-27 & 29-27).
Shahbazyan had a hot start to the fight, although Hermansson was able to eventually use his wrestling to take over. The prospect fighter had a strong start, marching forward consistently with punches in the first round.
“I was really inactive in the beginning,” admitted Hermansson in his post-fight interview.
Hermansson was able to use his wrestling in the second round to take Shahbazyan down. Shahbazyan made the fight close on the ground, flipping into top position later in the round.
Hermansson’s best round was in the end, where he landed a high volume of strikes while in half guard and full mount.
Hermansson lost in the main event of a card late last year, facing title challenger Marvin Vettori on scorecards.
Shahbazyan was returning after taking his first pro loss last year against Derek Brunson.
Bout 6: Ben Rothwell (38-13) vs. Chris Barnett (21-6) (Heavyweight)
Rothwell Returns To Win Column With Submission Win Against Barnett
Ben Rothwell submitted a tired Chris Barnett in the second round, spoiling the heavyweight veteran’s UFC debut on the prelims. Rothwell put in the guillotine choke after Barnett shot for a takedown, causing a tap eventually.
The finish win came after Rothwell had solid striking against Barnett in the first round. Barnett’s cardio became a clear issue late in the first round, carrying over to the second where Rothwell secured the finish.
Barnett took his first UFC bout on short notice. Rothwell was given the fight after a booking last month against Philipe Lins was cancelled.
Rothwell lost in his previous fight, going to scorecards against Marcin Tybura.
Barnett was entering the UFC after over a decade in MMA, where he fought more than 25 times.
Bout 5: Claudio Silva (14-2) vs. Court McGee (19-10) (Welterweight)
McGee Snaps Losing Streak With Strong Win Against Silva
UFC veteran Court McGee returned to the win column with a grinding performance against Claudio Silva on the prelims. McGee’s three-round performance saw him use wrestling to score takedowns and land strikes (30-26, 30-26 & 29-27).
McGee spent a large portion of the second round in control on the ground. Silva looked to escape the bottom position, although McGee was able to stop his attempts. McGee looked for an arm triangle choke from full mount late in the round.
“I feel so good. This was just a different me,” said McGee when reflecting on his win.
McGee entered the fight after losing five of his last six bouts, and snapped a three-fight skid with the win.
Silva was returning after taking his first UFC loss last year, as James Krause broke his five-fight win streak in October.
Bout 4: Victor Rodriguez (7-3) vs. Bruno Silva (11-5-2) (Flyweight)
Silva Stops Rodriguez Quickly With Strikes For Second UFC Finish Win
Bruno Silva showed his explosive striking on the prelims, catching Victor Rodriguez early in the first round with punches.
Silva dropped Rodriguez in the first minute with a right cross, landing a few more punches on the ground until the referee stopped the bout. Just moments before the knockdown, Silva scored a knee to the head while in a clinch with Rodriguez.
Silva now has two consecutive finish wins. He previously fought in March, stopping JP Buys with strikes in the second round of a fight. The two wins are a significant turnaround from the start of Silva’s career, which saw him go winless through three bouts.
Silva called out Rogerio Bontorin after his fight. Bontorin competed earlier this month, snapping a two-fight skid with a win over Matt Schnell.
Rodriguez has now been finished in both of his UFC appearances. His previous fight saw Adrian Yanez stop him with a head kick.
Bout 3: Joshua Culibao (8-1-1) vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (19-6) (Featherweight)
Culibao Fights To Decision Against Nuerdanbieke, Earns First UFC Win
Joshua Culibao scored his first UFC win on the prelims, defeating Shayilan Nuerdenbieke on scorecards (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
The win came after Culibao put together a performance of strong striking and defense against Nuerdenbieke’s wrestling.
Nuerdanbieke kept Culibao against the cage for the majority of the first round, working from his back with wrestling. Culibao was able to open up late in the round with strikes after leaving the wrestling position.
Culibao’s striking got a bigger spotlight in the second and third round, as he was able to keep at that range against Nuerdanbieke.
Culibao’s two previous UFC appearances resulted in a loss and draw on scorecards.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” said Culibao in his post-fight interview after his first UFC win.
Nuerdanbieke was making his UFC debut after fighting 25 times outside of the promotion.
Bout 2: David Dvorak (19-3) vs. Juancamilo Ronderos (4-0) (Flyweight)
Dvorak Stops Short-Notice Opponent Quickly With Choke
David Dvorak scored a quick win on the prelims, submitting short-notice opponent Juancamilo Ronderos in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Dvorak secured a takedown and got on the back of Ronderos after a strong stand-up striking performance earlier in the round. Dvorak was quick to secure the choke and get a tap from Ronderos in the third minute.
It was first reported Friday that Ronderos would replace Raulian Paiva, who was hospitalized during his weight cut. Ronderos entered the UFC after scoring four wins in his rookie year as a pro.
Ronderos missed weight for the fight, coming in two-and-a-half pounds over the non-championship flyweight limit.
Dvorak last appeared in September, where he defeated Jordan Espinosa on scorecards. He has yet to lose since joining the UFC in early 2020.
Bout 1: Damir Ismagulov (22-1) vs. Rafael Alves (19-9) (Lightweight)
Ismagulov Continues Win Streak, Spoils UFC Debut of Alves
Damir Ismagulov had a strong return to action on Saturday, defeating UFC newcomer Rafael Alves via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Alves had a hot start to the fight, dropping Imsagulov in the opening minute with punches. Ismagulov was able to control most of the ground later, landing punches on Alves while in half and full guard.
Ismagulov showed his striking skills early in the second round, scoring a knockdown with punches. Fatigue slowed down Ismagulov’s output in the final round, although he was never in any big danger by Alves.
The fight was the UFC debut for Alves. The former interim Titan FC Lightweight Champion got the fight after three previous bookings fell through earlier in the year.
Alves earned a UFC contract with a win over Alejandro Flores on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in 2020.
Ismagulov now has four wins since joining the UFC roster in 2018. He previously competed in 2019, where he scored a decision win over Thiago Moises.
Medeiros vs. Hadzovic Off Saturday’s Card
A fight between Yancy Medeiros and Damir Hadzovic were pulled from UFC’s May 22nd “Fight Night” card on Saturday afternoon. The cancelled fight was first reported by Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. It is not known currently why the fight departed the card.
Both fighters were looking to break a losing streak in the appearance.