Former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw will look to begin another push towards a title on Saturday night, making his return against contender Cory Sandhagen in a five-round fight. The bout headlines a UFC “Fight Night” card that is set to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Here’s a full preview of the card.
Preliminary Card (4:00PM EDT / 1:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 1: Diana Belbita (13-6) vs. Hannah Goldy (5-1) (Strawweight)
Fighting to earn their first UFC win, Diana Belbita and Hannah Goldy will open the card. Both athletes had previously competed in the promotion at flyweight and will be dropping down by 10 pounds for Saturday.
Goldy has fought once in the UFC, where Miranda Granger became the first pro fighter to defeat her. She has had trouble to find a new fight since, as three bookings over the past year have fallen through.
Belbita will be fighting to avoid falling into a three-fight losing streak. Her previous UFC appearances saw her lose to Molly McCann and Liana Jojua.
Bout 2: Sijara Eubanks (6-6) vs. Elise Reed (4-0) (Flyweight)
Undefeated fighter Elise Reed will get her UFC debut against Sijara Eubanks on Saturday.
Reed was booked for the fight after Priscila Cachoeira withdrew from a matchup against Eubanks. The CFFC Strawweight Champion is moving up a weight class after winning four consecutive at 115-pounds.
Reed defended her regional belt just two months ago, finishing Hilarie Rose in the second round with strikes.
While Reed is moving up a weight class, Eubanks is coming down from bantamweight. She is making her first appearance of the year after losing her last two fights.
Bout 3: Julio Arce (16-4) vs. Andre Ewell (17-7) (Bantamweight)
Julio Arce will make his return to the cage when facing Andre Ewell on Saturday’s prelims.
Arce has fought in the UFC since 2018, although he has been out of the cage for a year-and-a-half now. His last fight was in late 2019, where he lost a split decision to Hakeem Dawodu.
He was originally set to make his return earlier this year against Timur Valiev, although that fight was scrapped before it was scheduled to happen.
Ewell is also coming off a loss, having not been favoured in a unanimous decision against Chris Gutierrez in February.
Bout 4: Mickey Gall (6-3) vs. Jordan Williams (9-4) (Welterweight)
Looking for his first UFC win, Jordan Williams will meet Mickey Gall on Saturday.
Williams lost his UFC debut last year to Nassourdine Imavov, who beat him on scorecards. That fight came just a month after he defeated Gregory Rodrigues on “Dana White’s Contender Series” to earn a spot on the UFC roster.
Gall, a fighter who has now fought in the UFC for five years, is coming back after the longest layoff of his career thus far. He last competed 13 months ago, where Mike Perry defeated him on scorecards.
Bout 5: Ian Heinisch (14-4) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (9-3) (Middleweight)
Middleweights Ian Heinisch and Nassourdine Imavov will fight to come back from a recent loss on Saturday’s prelims.
Heinisch last fought earlier this year, where high-ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum earned a decision win over him. The fight Heinisch’s third loss through five fights.
Imavov took his first UFC loss in February when Phillip Hawes defeated him via majority decision. Before then he had a six-fight winning streak that included one UFC win.
Bout 6: Punahele Soriano (8-0) vs. Brendan Allen (16-4) (Middleweight)
Undefeated middleweight Punahele Soriano and Brendan Allen will clash in the final preliminary bout of the card.
Soriano has scored two first-round stoppage wins since joining the UFC roster in 2019. He handed Dusko Todorovic his first pro loss in January, finishing him within a round with strikes.
Allen has been busy in his short UFC run thus far, scoring four wins through five fights since 2019. He notched a submission win in his last showing, submitting Karl Roberson with a heel hook in April.
Main Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Adrian Yanez (13-3) vs. Randy Costa (6-1) (Bantamweight)
Explosive bantamweights Adrian Yanez and Randy Costa will kick off the main card.
All six of Costa’s victories as a pro thus far have come within a round. Furthermore, he has never gone into the third round of a pro fight. He needed just 41 seconds the last time he appeared, stopping Journey Newson with strikes in September. The victory was his second in the UFC.
Yanez is currently on a six-fight winning streak that includes five finish wins. He has finished both his opponents since joining the UFC last year, including a win in March against Gustavo Lopez.
Bout 8: Maycee Barber (8-2) vs. Miranda Maverick (9-2) (Flyweight)
Maycee Barber will attempt to break a two-fight losing streak when facing rising flyweight Miranda Maverick.
In 2019, Barber was one of UFC’s fastest-rising flyweights with an undefeated record of eight wins. However, she has struggled recently with two wins through 2020 and 2021. She returned from injury earlier this year, losing a unanimous decision to Alexa Grasso.
Bout 9: Darren Elkins (25-9) vs. Darrick Minner (26-11) (Featherweight)
Experienced featherweights Darren Elkins and Darrick Minner will meet for the first time during Saturday’s main card.
Elkins scored a necessary win in his last showing, snapping a four-fight losing streak with a submission victory over Eduardo Garagorri. The performance was the UFC vet’s first win since 2018.
Minner enters Saturday night with a two-fight winning streak in the UFC. He most recently competed against Charles Rosa, defeating him via unanimous decision. He could notch a victory over another respectable name in the division on this card.
Bout 10: Kyler Phillips (9-1) vs. Raulian Paiva (20-3) (Bantamweight)
Kyler Phillips has yet to lose since joining the UFC roster in 2019. That streak can either be extended or broken in tonight’s co-main event when he meets Raulian Paiva.
While Paiva’s entire UFC run has taken place at flyweight thus far, he will be making the move up to bantamweight for this fight. He is entering the fight after winning his two fights last year, defeating Mark De La Rosa and Zhalgas Zhumagulov.
Phillips has three wins in his UFC career currently. He last scored a victory in March, defeating Song Yadong via unanimous decision.
Bout 11: Cory Sandhagen (14-2) vs. TJ Dillashaw (16-4) (Bantamweight)
Returning after numerous years out of the cage, former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw will begin a new climb towards a title fight on Saturday. He starts that potential climb against Cory Sandhagen in a fight that could go five rounds.
Dillashaw’s extended absence from the cage has come due to a two-year U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspension that he was slapped with in early 2019. The suspension came just after he failed to become a two-division champion, dropping down to flyweight to fight Henry Cejudo. He was stopped quickly by Cejudo when they clashed.
Dillashaw had his 135-pound belt stripped from him due to the suspension. His second stint with the belt came from 2017 to 2019, where he defeated Cody Garbrandt for the championship and then defended it in their rematch the following year.
Dillashaw gets a tough test in his return, facing one of the highest ranked fighters in the promotion. Entering Saturday, Sandhagen has a promotional record of seven wins and just one loss. That loss came last year against Aljamain Sterling in what was an unofficial decider for who would challenge the bantamweight champion next (Sterling went on to win the championship this year).
Sandhagen has scored two strong finish wins recently. He won his first UFC main event last year in a fight against Marlon Moraes, stopping him in the second round with a spinning back kick. His most recent appearance was in February when he stopped veteran Frankie Edgar in just 28 seconds with a flying knee.