Sean Strickland has recently become one of the fastest-rising names at middleweight. Since returning a couple years back, nobody has been able to stop his run up the 185-pound ranks. That momentum will get another big test on Saturday night, as he will face fellow middleweight contender Jack Hermansson in a five-round bout.
That fight is scheduled to headlined a UFC “Fight Night” card that will take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Here’s a preview of that fight, along with all 13 bouts set to happen.
Preliminary Card (4:00PM EST / 1:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 1: Malcolm Gordon (13-5) vs. Denys Bondar (16-3) (Flyweight)
In the first of a few UFC debuts to happen on Saturday night, Denys Bondar will face Malcolm Gordon at flyweight.
Bondar has been signed to the UFC for a year, although numerous thrown-out fights have kept him on the sidelines for 12 months. He was first booked to face Gordon in November of last year, although the bout was later moved to this card.
Bondar is joining the promotion after a long winning streak from 2018 to 2020, winning 10 fights in that time.
Gordon is coming off his first UFC victory. He broke a two-fight losing streak in July 2021, fighting to a unanimous decision win over Francisco Figueiredo.
Bout 2: Jason Witt (19-7) vs. Philip Rowe (8-3) (Welterweight)
Welterweights Jason Witt and Philip Rowe will meet in the next fight.
Witt has won two of his four fights since joining the UFC two years ago. His last victory saw him take a majority decision win, defeating Bryan Barberena.
Rowe lost his UFC debut in February 2021, dropping a decision to Gabe Green. He bounced back five months later, scoring a second-round stoppage win against Orion Cosce.
Bout 3: Danilo Marques (11-3) vs. Jailton Almeida (14-2) (Light Heavyweight)
Jailton Almeida, a standout from the most recent “Contender Series” season, will make his debut in the next fight against Danilo Marques.
Marques won his UFC debut on the TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series” in September, handing Nasrudin Nasrudinov his first pro loss with a second-round rear naked choke submission. The fight continued a winning streak for Marques that has been built up since 2018.
Marques is fighting to come back from his sole UFC loss. He was finished with strikes in his last fight, getting stopped by Kennedy Nzechukwu in June. He had scored two wins in the UFC before then.
This fight was first booked for November but was later moved to this date.
Bout 4: Alexis Davis (20-11) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (9-5-1) (Bantamweight)
Bantamweight veteran Alexis Davis will return to action on Saturday night to fight Julija Stoliarenko.
Stoliarenko is still fighting for her first UFC win. She has been unsuccessful through two appearances for the promotion. First, she lost her UFC debut in 2020 against Yana Kunitskaya. She then returned in June, where she suffered a submission loss to Julia Avila.
Davis has an overall positive UFC record of seven wins and six losses. But she has struggled in recent years, posting one win through her last five fights. Her last appearance was in June, where fellow veteran Pannie Kianzad beat her via unanimous decision.
Bout 5: Marc-Andre Barriault (13-4) vs. Chidi Njokuani (20-7) (Middleweight)
Experienced fighter Chidi Njokuani will make his UFC debut on the prelims, facing Marc-Andre Barriault in a middleweight fight.
Njokuani secured a UFC contract in September, stopping Mario Sousa with strikes on a “Dana White’s Contender Series” episode. Unlike most “Contender Series” fighters, Njokuani is starting his UFC career with over a decade of fights and numerous appearances on a big stage.
Njokuani has most notably competed in Bellator eight times from 2015 to 2019. This includes three main event appearances against notable names like Andrey Koreshkov and Melvin Guillard.
Barriault is facing Njokuani after the best year of his UFC run thus far. He struggled to start his UFC career, as three losses and one no-contest result started his run with the promotion. However, he is now coming off a year that saw him stop Abu Azaitar and then return with a decision win over Dalcha Lungiambula.
Bout 6: Hakeem Dawodu (12-2-1) vs. Mike Trizano (9-1) (Featherweight)
Rising featherweights Hakeem Dawodu and Mike Trizano are scheduled to collide on Saturday’s prelims.
Trizano was most notably the winner on Season 27 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” His UFC run started strong from 2018 to 2019, earning two wins then taking his first pro loss. After not competing in 2020, Trizano returned in May last year, defeating Ludovit Klein via unanimous decision.
Dawodu lost a unanimous decision last year against undefeated fighter Movsar Evloev. This result came after five consecutive wins in the UFC from 2018 to 2020. While he is coming off a loss, Dawodu is one of the bigger prospects in UFC’s 145-pound division.
Bout 7: Miles Johns (12-1) vs. John Castaneda (18-5) (Bantamweight)
The prelims are scheduled to wrap up with a bantamweight fight between Miles Johns and John Castaneda.
Johns has secured three wins through four appearances in the UFC. His two most recent fights have both come via stoppage, including a win he earned over Anderson dos Santos in August.
Castaneda is coming off his first UFC win. While he lost his short-notice promotional debut against Nathaniel Wood in 2020, he returned in February last year to earn a first-round finish win against Eddie Wineland.
Main Card (7:00PM EST / 4:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 8: Julian Erosa (26-9) vs. Steven Peterson (19-9) (Featherweight)
Featherweights will kick off the main card, as Julian Erosa and Steven Peterson will compete.
Erosa has seen success since rejoining the UFC roster in 2020. He has won three of his past four fights, with all of the wins coming via stoppage. His last victory came in September, submitting Charles Jourdain in the third round with a darce choke.
Peterson made his return in June with a decision win against Chase Hooper. This was his first appearance since 2019.
Peterson missed weight for this fight on Friday, coming in three pounds over the non-championship middleweight limit.
Bout 9: Bryan Battle (6-1) vs. Tresean Gore (3-0) (Middleweight)
A previously attempted fight will finally take place on Saturday’s main card.
Bryan Battle and Tresean Gore, two finalists in the most recent season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” will fight in the next bout. Battle and Gore were originally scheduled to fight in the “TUF” finals in August. However, Gore later had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury.
Battle won in the finals of the bracket, submitting short-notice finalist Gilbert Urbina with a second-round rear naked choke.
While Gore was taken out of the finals due to injury, he was signed to the promotion. On Saturday, Gore has the chance to prove that he would have succeeded in the finals. Entering the fight, he has an undefeated pro record of three wins and also has two exhibition victories that he secured two victories on the recent “TUF” season.
Bout 10: Sam Alvey (33-16-1) vs. Brendan Allen (17-5) (Light Heavyweight)
In what was the latest addition to this card, Brendan Allen and Sam Alvey will fight on the main card.
Allen took a fight against Alvey just a few days ago, stepping in on short notice to meet Phil Hawes. Due to the fact that he joined the event with such little warning, the fighters will be competing a weight class higher than usual – up from middleweight to light heavyweight.
Allen is fighting to come back from a stoppage loss he took against Chris Curtis in December. This was after a successful start to the year, earning two wins in 2021.
Alvey is fighting for his first win in years. He is on a notoriously long winless run, having attained six losses and one draw since 2018. His last fight was in August 2021, where Wellington Turman beat him via split decision.
Bout 11: Shavkat Rakhmonov (14-0) vs. Carlston Harris (17-4) (Welterweight)
Undefeated welterweight Shavkat Rakhmonov will battle against Carlston Harris on Saturday’s main card, as both fighters will be searching for their third UFC win.
Rakhmonov had a UFC win in 2020, securing a first-round guillotine choke win over veteran fighter Alex Oliveira. He beat another experienced name last year, defeating Michel Prazeres in the second round of a bout.
Harris will be looking for his third win in his rookie UFC year. Both of his wins in 2021 lasted only a round. His first victory was a submission win against Christian Aguilera. Months later, he showed more of his striking skills with a finish win against Impa Kasanganay.
Bout 12: Punahele Soriano (8-1) vs. Nick Maximov (7-0) (Middleweight)
Diaz Brother protege Nick Maximov will attempt to earn his second UFC win in the co-main event, facing Punahele Soriano in a middleweight bout.
Maximov had a strong UFC debut in September, showcasing his grappling in a decision victory over Cody Brundage. This was his seventh win since turning pro in just 2018.
Soriano took his first pro loss in July, losing a unanimous decision to Brendan Allen. He had an explosive promotional run before then, defeating both Oskar Piechota and Dusko Todorovic within a round.
Bout 13: Jack Hermansson (22-6) vs. Sean Strickland (24-3) (Middleweight)
Two rising names at middleweight will clash in Saturday’s main event, as Jack Hermansson and Sean Strickland will fight.
Strickland has been on an impressive run since he made his return to action just over a year ago. He has scored four wins since October 2020, returning to the middleweight class after previously spending time at welterweight.
Strickland’s biggest win yet came in July last year, as he went five rounds for a decision win against Uriah Hall. The fight was Strickland’s first appearance and win in a UFC main event. Now roughly half a year later, Strickland has the chance to pick up another main event win and become one of the top names at middleweight.
Hermansson has had a more rocky track record in recent years, although he has fought some of the absolute best at middleweight. He won three of his last five bouts, with the losses coming against contenders like Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori.
Hermansson’s last fight was a victory, defeating Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision in May 2021.
Ranked sixth and seventh respectively, Hermansson and Strickland have the chance to take a big step towards a future title shot with a win on Saturday night. And while a win won’t guarantee them a title fight, it would certainly thin the pack of names that are next after Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker battle later this month.