Rising featherweight Giga Chikadze will get his biggest test on Saturday night, as he will get his first UFC main event bout when paired against Edson Barboza. The fight headlines a UFC “Fight Night” card that is set to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
The 12-fight card also includes two grand final bouts from the recent season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates on the event.
A full preview of the show can be read here.
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Bout 1: Mana Martinez def. Guido Cannetti via Decision, Split
Bout 2: Pat Sabatini def. Jamall Emmers via Submission, Heel Hook (RD 1, 1:53)
Bout 3: JJ Aldrich def. Vanessa Demopoulos via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Dustin Jacoby def. Darren Stewart via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:04)
Bout 5: Wellington Turman def. Sam Alvey via Decision, Split
Bout 6: Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Alessio Di Chirico via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:17)
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)
Bout 7: Gerald Meerschaert def. Makhmud Muradov via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 1:49)
Bout 8: Andre Petroski def. Michael Gillmore via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 3:12)
Bout 9: Daniel Rodriguez def. Kevin Lee via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 10: Ricky Turcios def. Brady Hiestand via Decision, Unanimous (The Ultimate Fighter Bantamweight Grand Final)
Bout 11: Bryan Battle def. Gilbert Urbina via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 2:15) (The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight Grand Final)
Bout 12: Giga Chikadze def. Edson Barboza via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 1:44)
Bout 12: Edson Barboza (22-9) vs. Giga Chikadze (13-2) (Featherweight)
Chikadze Scores Finish Win In First UFC Main Event
Giga Chikadze scored a stoppage victory in his first-ever UFC main event, finishing veteran Edson Barboza in the third round with strikes.
Chikadze had Barboza in danger early in the third round of their fight. He first wobbled him with a right cross in the first minute of the round. He continued to march down a wobbled Barboza, connecting with numerous punches before eventually dropping him.
Chikadze looked for chokes and landed some shots while in a dominant position on the ground. When back to the feet, Chikadze dropped Barboza again with strikes, forcing the referee to step in.
Chikadze and Barboza were in close exchanges in the first two rounds. Chikadze was sharp in the first, often landing the better shots during exchanges. Barboza was able to connect frequently with kicks to the legs and body.
Chikadze is now on a seven-fight winning streak since entering the UFC in 2019. He has finished his past three opponents, including a win over veteran Cub Swanson in May.
After his victory, Chikadze asked to be an alternate in the upcoming featherweight title fight, or also offered to face Max Holloway.
“Honestly, I’m here to fight the best fights [and the] biggest names,” said Chikadze in his post-fight interview.
Barboza was easily one of the biggest challenges in Chikadze’s career thus far. The UFC vet of over a decade was coming off wins over Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos over the past year.
Bout 11: Bryan Battle (5-1) vs. Gilbert Urbina (6-1) (The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight Grand Final)
Battle Secures Second-Round Submission To Become ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
Bryan Battle scored a submission win in the co-main event to become “The Ultimate Fighter” for the middleweight division this season. He defeated Gilbert Urbina, who took the fight on short notice.
Urbina started the fight hot, hurting Battle with punches then scoring a takedown. Battle did much better once back up on the feet, scoring with strikes.
Battle went most of the round without his mouthpiece, as a knee to his head knocked it out early on.
Battle was able to get on the back of Urbina early in the second round. He applied a rear naked choke from the position to get a tap.
Urbina was stepping in to replace Tresean Gore, who defeated him in the semi-finals of “TUF” but had to withdraw from the finals due to injury.
Battle had two wins in the regular season of the show, defeating Kemran Lachinov and Andre Petroski.
He had an inspirational story on the show, as he battled through the bracket after being the very last pick on the show.
“It’s not a dream anymore … I told everyone before I stepped in the house that I would be ‘The Ultimate Fighter,'” said Battle in his post-fight interview.
Before his appearance on “TUF,” battle earned four consecutive wins on the regional scene from 2019 to 2021.
Bout 10: Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs. Brady Hiestand (5-1) (The Ultimate Fighter Bantamweight Grand Final)
Turcios Gets Scorecard Nod After Close Fight, Wins ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
Ricky Turcios was given the scorecard nod after a scrappy, back-and-forth battle against Brady Hiestand in the bantamweight finals of “The Ultimate Fighter” (29-28 Turcios, 29-28 Hiestand & 29-28 Turcios).
The three-round fight saw Turcios shine in the striking department. While he was taken down at times, he often remained active on the ground with strikes and was able to hurt Hiestand when on the feet.
Hiestand was able to earn a takedown in the opening round and get top control. Turcios got back to his feet eventually and finished the round in a wild striking exchange with him.
Hiestand landed another takedown in the second round, but Turcios was quick to get back up this time. Turcios pulled guard with a guillotine attempt only moments later, although the attempt was lost and Hiestand took full guard on top.
Turcios had a hot start to the final round, dropping Hiestand with a two-punch combination of a lead jab and right cross. Hiestand was quick to return to his feet, securing a takedown and slowing down the momentum of Turcios.
Turcios worked back up to his feet halfway through the round. The bantamweights then went into a clinch position where they both landed hard elbows and punches. Turcios finished the round strong, unloading with a series of punches to Hiestand until the clock expired.
Turcios, a veteran of Texas-based regional promotion Fury FC, entered Saturday with a pro record of 10 wins and two losses. He defeated Dan Argueta and Liudvik Sholinian during the earlier rounds of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Hiestand entered the “TUF” finals with a smaller record of five wins and one loss. His wins earlier in the season were over Josh Rettinghouse and Vince Murdock.
Bout 9: Kevin Lee (18-6) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (15-2) (Welterweight)
Rodriguez Continues Welterweight Climb With Decision Over Lee
Daniel Rodriguez continued his strong welterweight run with a victory over Kevin Lee on Saturday night (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Rodriguez’s sharp striking through three rounds scored him the win against Lee. He was able to hurt Lee at times with his punches, especially getting him in trouble late in the second round.
Lee’s biggest advantage was his ability to score takedowns frequently.
Rodriguez took the fight on short notice. He became Lee’s opponent after the previous booking against Sean Brady wasn’t able to happen.
“I come through every time,” said Rodriguez about the taking short-notice matchups in his post-fight interview.
Rodriguez has now earned three wins in 2021, defeating Mike Perry and Preston Parson in prior bouts.
Lee was returning after over a year outside of the cage. His previous bout was back in March of 2020, where he lost to now-UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira.
Lee was moving up to welterweight after competing at lightweight in his previous few bouts.
Bout 8: Andre Petroski (5-1) vs. Michael Gillmore (6-3) (Middleweight)
‘TUF’ Semi-Finalist Petroski Wins UFC Debut
“The Ultimate Fighter” contestant Andre Petroski scored a win in his UFC debut on the main card, finishing fellow newcomer Michael Gillmore late in the fight with ground and pound.
Petroski was able to stop Gillmore with elbows and punches while on the back of Gillmore in the third round. After landing a series of shots that Gillmore wasn’t actively trying to evade, the referee stopped the fight.
Petroski was successful earlier in the fight, scoring with sharp striking and takedowns. He started to struggle somewhat in the second round as fatigue slowed him down.
Petroski was a semi-finalist in the recent “Ultimate Fighter” contest, defeating winning in the first round then losing in the second round to Bryan Battle.
Gillmore was an alternate opponent in “TUF,” getting eliminated in the opening round by Gilbert Urbina.
Bout 7: Gerald Meerschaert (32-14) vs. Makhmud Muradov (25-6) (Middleweight)
Meerschaert Stops Muradov’s Momentum With Submission
Gerald Meerschart scored an upset win to open the main card, submitting Makhmud Muradov in the second round with a rear naked choke.
The victory made Meerschaert the first UFC fighter to defeat Muradov. Muradov was on a long winning streak before Saturday, with three wins in the UFC.
The fight was hectic before the stoppage, as the middleweights were both engaging in wild punching exchanges.
Meerschaert scored a submission victory in his previous bout as well, defeating Bartosz Fabinski in April.
Bout 6: Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-4) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (13-5) (Middleweight)
Alhassan Ends Losing Streak With First-Minute Head Kick Knockout
Abdul Razak Alhassan needed just one shot to end his losing streak, knocking out Alessio Di Chirico with a head kick on Saturday’s featured prelim.
The right head kick immediately folded Di Chirico, giving Alhassan a walk-off victory in just 17 seconds.
The fight was Alhassan’s first victory since returning last year. He had lost his three previous appearances from July 2020 to April 2021.
Di Chirico has now lost four of his last five bouts. He had a big head kick knockout in his previous bout, stopping Joaquin Buckley in January.
Alhassan and Di Chirico were matched up for this card just last week after their previous opponents fell off the card.
Bout 5: Sam Alvey (33-15-1) vs. Wellington Turman (16-5) (Middleweight)
Turman Survives Point Deductions, Ends Losing Streak
Wellington Turman survived a large deduction to his score in the final round to defeat Sam Alvey via split decision on the prelims (28-27 Alvey, 28-27 Turman & 28-27 Turman).
Turman was the more aggressive fighter throughout, constantly advancing with strikes or controlling Alvey in clinch positions.
Turman suffered a great blow to his performance in the third round, as he was given two consecutive point deductions for accidentally poking Alvey in the eye frequently during the fight.
Alvey had a brutal cut below his left eye in the first round due to an elbow.
Alvey was incredibly mad following the result, shouting something about the judges after the result was read. He has now gone winless in his past seven appearances, with six of those fights being losses.
The victory for Turman snapped a two-fight skid that had developed on his record over the past year.
Bout 4: Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) vs. Darren Stewart (12-7) (Light Heavyweight)
Jacoby Scores First-Round Finish Win, Continues Rise Up Light Heavyweight Division
A hard series of punches from Dustin Jacoby earned him a first-round stoppage win over Darren Stewart, continuing his strong run in the promotion.
Jacoby hurt Stewart halfway through the round with punches. While Stewart remained on his feet, Jacoby continued to pour on punches that visibly wobbled him and were not defended.
Referee Jason Herzog eventually made the call to end the fight.
Jacoby has now scored three wins and one draw since rejoining the UFC roster in October last year.
On the flipside, Stewart is now winless in his past four appearances, with three of the bouts being losses. His previous fight was a decision loss to Eryk Anders in June.
Bout 3: JJ Aldrich (9-4) vs. Vanessa Demopoulos (6-3) (Flyweight)
Aldrich Earns Second Win of the Year, Defeats Short-Notice Opponent
JJ Aldrich swept scorecards against short-notice opponent Vanessa Demopoulos for a win on the prelims (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Aldrich had the better striking and wrestling skills through all three rounds.
Aldrich scored a well-timed takedown early in the first round and used the position to land strikes for a large portion of the round. She continued to out-land Demopoulos in the second and third rounds.
Demopoulos, a former LFA champ and UFC newcomer, was stepping in on short notice to replace Tracy Cortez. The regular strawweight moved up a weight class to fight on Saturday’s card.
Her previous victory was a 37-second stoppage win against Cynthia Arceo.
Aldrich is now on a two-fight winning strek. Her previous performance was a split decision win against Cortney Casey.
Bout 2: Pat Sabatini (14-3) vs. Jamall Emmers (18-5) (Featherweight)
Sabatini Secures Vicious Heel Hook For Second UFC Win
Pat Sabatini got the best of a submission battle on the ground against Jamall Emmers, submitting him in the first round with a brutal heel hook.
Emmers seemingly dropped Sabatini in the opening minute with a punch. Emmers looked to capitalize on the takedown by going to the ground and attempting a submission. The fighters eventually went in a duel of leg submissions, where Sabatini scored a heel hook that hurt Emmers and caused a tap.
Emmers was visibly in pain due to the submission even minutes after the hold was let go of. He was not able to get up for the reading of the official result afterward.
Sabatini showed remorse after the result, being visibly concerned for his injured opponent
“My heart goes out to him [Emmers]. I hope he’s okay, I hope his knee is okay,” said Sabatini in his post-fight interview.
Sabatini has now scored two wins since joining the UFC roster. He made his promotional debut in April, defating Tristan Connelly on scorecards.
Emmers was making his first appearance in over a year. His previous fight was a decision win over Vince Cachero from 2020.
Bout 1: Mana Martinez (8-2) vs. Guido Cannetti (8-5) (Bantamweight)
Martinez Wins UFC Debut, Dedicates Fight To Late Coach
UFC newcomer Mana Martinez walked away with an important win in his promotional debut, earning a split decision over Guido Cannetti after a three-round battle (29-28 Martinez, 29-28 Cannetti & 29-28 Martinez).
Martinez was entering the promotion just days after the passing of coach Saul Soliz. He dedicated his win to him afterward.
“Everything he did for me to help me turn my career around. I’m just very thankful and blessed to have him in my life in the period and time that I did,” said Martinez, who was emotional in his post-fight interview.
Martinez had a close battle against Cannetti, who was willing to engage on the feet with the explosive finisher.
Martinez was aggressive to start, coming forward with combinations of punches that connected and backed Cannetti against the cage. Cannetti answered back despite being on his backfoot, landing lots of leg kicks and causing bruising around the left eye of Martinez.
The pace of the fight slowed down significantly late, as the quick combos from Martinez slowed to singular shots towards Cannetti.
Martinez got signed by the UFC earlier this year after a 32-second win on a Fury FC card. The fight and subsequent signing was part of UFC reality webseries “Dana White’s Lookin’ For A Fight.”
Cannetti is now on a three-fight losing streak. His previous fights were in 2018 and 2020, where he was finished by Marlon Vera and Danaa Batgerel.