UFC on ESPN 26: Makhachev vs. Moises Preview

Lightweights Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises have both been quite successful in the UFC cage. However, neither of them has fought in a five-round UFC main event before. That will change on Saturday night when they’re paired in the headlining bout of a “Fight Night” card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Here’s a preview of that fight and the entire card that is set to go down on July 17th.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)

Bout 1: Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1) vs. Alan Baudot (8-2) (Heavyweight)

Heavyweights Rodrigo Nascimento and Alan Baudot will kick off the card.

Nascimento is a 28-year-old that trains out of American Top Team. He is fighting to bounce back from his first pro loss, which he took within a minute against Chris Daukaus last year. Before then, he won his UFC debut with a submission over Don’Tale Mayes.

Baudot will be fighting for his first UFC win. He made his promotional debut last year on short notice, filling in for Serghei Spivac in a fight against Tom Aspinall. That bout didn’t go his way, as he was stopped in the second minute with strikes.

Bout 2: Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1) vs. Malcolm Gordon (12-5) (Flyweight)

Returning after a successful debut earlier this year, Francisco Figueiredo will meet Malcolm Gordon on the prelims.

Figueiredo went three rounds against Jerome Rivera in his UFC debut in January. The decision nod advanced what has been an undefeated run since 2017 for him.

Gordon is in a potential must-win situation, as he could fall into a three-fight losing streak on Saturday. Gordon has been finished in his two previous appearances, having lost to Amir Albazi and Su Muderji.

Bout 3: Anderson dos Santos (21-8) vs. Miles Johns (11-1) (Bantamweight)

Coming back after earning his first win in the UFC, Anderson dos Santos will fight fellow bantamweight Miles Johns on the prelims.

Dos Santos scored his first UFC victory within a round in November, submitting Martin Day with a guillotine choke. The win came after being on the UFC roster since 2018 and losing two previous bouts.

Johns bounced back from his first pro loss in his last appearance, stopping then-UFC newcomer Kevin Natividad in the third round with strikes.

Bout 4: Khalid Taha (13-3) vs. Sergey Morozov (16-4) (Bantamweight)

Former M-1 Bantamweight Champion Sergey Morozov will get his second shot at scoring a UFC win when facing Khalid Taha on Saturday.

Morozov’s UFC debut earlier this year was no lay-up of an opponent, as he was paired with fellow newcomer and undefeated prospect Umar Nurmagomedov. Morozov didn’t succeed in the fight, getting submitted in the second round with a rear naked choke.

The loss snapped a five-fight winning streak for Morozov.

Taha lost a unanimous decision to Raoni Barcelos in November of last year. While he was given a loss in that bout, both fighters were handed a “Fight of the Night” award later that evening. That fight was his return to the cage after facing a one-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Bout 5: Amanda Lemos (9-1-1) vs. Montserrat Conejo (10-1) (Strawweight)

Rising strawweights Amanda Lemos and Montserrat Conejo will compete.

Lemos lost her UFC debut back in 2017, although she has only been successful since then. She moved her winning streak to three consecutive earlier this year, stopping Livinha Souza within a round with strikes.

Conejo will be stepping into the UFC cage for only the second time on Saturday. The former Invicta FC fighter opened her UFC career with a strong win over Cheyanne Buys earlier this year, getting the nod on scorecards.

Bout 6: Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs. Preston Parsons (9-2) (Welterweight)

Preston Parsons has a tough challenge in his UFC debut, as he will face Daniel Rodriguez at welterweight. That fight is set to conclude the prelims on Saturday.

Parsons wasn’t the first opponent for Rodriguez on this card. The 34-year-old was initially set to take on Abubakar Nurmagomedov, although he needed a new opponent after he pulled out due to injury. It was reported just last week that Parsons would be the replacement.

Parsons is entering the UFC with nine wins and two losses. Win or loss, all of his fights have stopped within two rounds. He is currently on a four-fight streak of submission wins, including an armbar victory from just last month.

Rodriguez will be looking to build off a victory he took against Mike Perry in April.

Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)

Bout 7: Billy Quarantillo (15-3) vs. Gabriel Benitez (22-8) (Featherweight)

Featherweights Billy Quarantillo and Gabriel Benitez will kick off Saturday’s main card.

Quarantillo was one of the fastest-rising featherweights in recent years, having put together three wins since joining the roster in 2019. However, that momentum was stopped late last year when Gavin Tucker defeated him via unanimous decision.

He looks to bounce back on Saturday.

Benitez was announced as the opponent for Quarantillo last month after original opponent Herbert Burns suffered a torn ACL.

Benitez snapped a two-fight losing streak late last year, stopping Justin Jaynes within a round with strikes.

Bout 8: Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2) (Middleweight)

Fighting to bounce back from his first pro loss, grappling expert Rodolfo Vieira will fight Dustin Stoltzfus at middleweight.

Vieira was on the losing side of a major upset earlier this year. With Vieira’s cardio greatly expended, Anthony Hernandez was able to pull off a second-round guillotine choke for the win.

Before then, Vieira had earned two submission wins in the UFC. His eight-fight pro career has never gone to scorecards.

Stoltzfus is returning after losing his UFC debut to Kyle Daukaus last year. He got the fight after scoring a win on TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series” last summer.

Bout 9: Mateusz Gamrot (18-1) vs. Jeremy Stephens (28-18) (Lightweight)

Former KSW Champion Mateusz Gamrot will hunt for a big win on Saturday when facing veteran Jeremy Stephens.

Gamrot scored his first UFC victory earlier this year, stopping Scott Holtzman in the second round of a fight. The bout came after a surprisingly unsuccessful promotional debut, where he lost a split decision to Guram Kutateladze in October. The fight was Gamrot’s first pro loss.

Stephens will be fighting for his first win since 2018. The UFC vet of over a decade has lost four of his last five, with the other bout ending via no contest.

He was set to fight earlier this year, although opponent Drakkar Klose had to pull out of a fight in April after he was shoved by Stephens at the weigh-ins, resulting in an injury.

Bout 10: Marion Reneau (9-7-1) vs. Miesha Tate (18-7) (Bantamweight)

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate will make her return in the co-main event against Marion Reneau.

Tate has been out of action since 2016. She had a short run as UFC’s 135-pound champ in 2016, defeating Holly Holm at UFC 196 to first claim the belt. She lost it in her next fight, being submitted within a round by current champ Amanda Nunes.

Tate declared retirement after losing to Raquel Pennington four months later. Still only 34 and coming back after a few years outside of the cage, it will be interesting to see what Tate can bring.

Reneau will be looking to break a four-fight losing streak in what she claims will be her own sendoff fight. Appearing for what will be her 13th UFC fight, Reneau has the chance to even her promotional record with six wins and six losses.

Bout 11: Islam Makhachev (19-1) vs. Thiago Moises (15-4) (Lightweight)

Lightweight contenders Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises are set to collide in Saturday’s main event. The fight will be the first time that both fighters compete in a five-round bout in the UFC octagon.

The bout was not the original main event for UFC’s July 17th card. The original plan was to have featherweights Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez compete. This matchup was later taken off the lineup after Holloway suffered an injury. To put another main event in place, the already booked fight between Makhachev and Moises was promoted to headlining status.

Makhachev is being favoured by many to walk away with the win in the main event. He has gone unbeaten in his last seven fights, with his sole pro loss dating back to 2015. Makhachev made his return months ago after over a year outside of the cage, picking up a submission victory over Drew Dober.

Moises has had a busy UFC career since joining the roster in 2018. He has competed six times in those years and is on an especially strong run currently. Moises is currently riding a three-fight winning streak that he started last year. This includes a victory over veteran Bobby Green and a recent win against Alexander Hernandez.

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