Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz will attempt to return to the win column on Saturday night. He’ll have to get past a tough opponent to achieve that goal, facing rising contender Aleksandar Rakic in the main event of a “Fight Night” card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along for live updates on the entire 11-fight card.
Preliminary Card (7:30PM EDT / 4:30PM PDT) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)
Bout 11: Jan Blachowicz (28-9) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (14-2) (Light Heavyweight)
Injury Takes Rakic Out of Main Event, Earns Blachowicz First Win Since Title Reign
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz picked up a win on Saturday night, as opponent Aleksandar Rakic had to withdraw from their fight in the third round due to an injury.
Rakic dropped to the ground in the third round, clutching his right knee while falling to the canvas. The fall from Rakic caused the referee to step in and end the fight, earning Blachowicz his first win since losing his belt last year.
The injury wasn’t seemingly related to an exchange on the feet, as Rakic wasn’t hit in the leg before suddenly falling down.
The high-ranked light heavyweights were in a close fight before the abrupt end.
Rakic likely won the second round of the fight, taking Blachowicz down in that frame and using a large portion of the round to earn ground control. The first round was a close battle on the feet that saw both light heavyweights land strikes. Blachowicz started to become bothered in the opening round, as a cut below his left eye opened early.
Blachowicz was appearing for the first time since he lost his 205-pound belt last year, suffering a submission loss against Glover Teixeira. As champion, Blachowicz defended his belt once since first earning it in 2020.
The injury for Rakic gave him just the second loss since he joined the UFC in 2017. He won two consecutive fights before Saturday, including a decision win over former title challenger Thiago Santos last year.
Bout 10: Ryan Spann (19-7) vs. Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1) (Light Heavyweight)
Spann Submits Cutelaba Early
Ryan Spann picked up an early submission win in Saturday’s co-main event, catching Ion Cutelaba in the first round with a guillotine choke.
The submission win from Spann suddenly came after a couple of minutes in a stand-up battle against Cutelaba.
The choke from Spann on the ground almost immediately forced a tap from Cutelaba, causing the fight to end.
The win for Spann put him back into the win column after losing in a main event fight last year against Anthony Smith.
Cutelaba was coming off a win against Devin Clark that he earned in September 2021. Before then, he suffered one draw and two losses from 2020 to 2021.
Bout 9: Louis Smolka (17-8) vs. Davey Grant (11-6) (Bantamweight)
Grant Finishes Smolka To End Striking Battle
Davey Grant had a hard-fought victory on the main card, finishing fellow striker Louis Smolka early in the third round with strikes.
Grant got Smolka to the ground in the third round after hurting him with strikes and damaging him with leg kicks. Grant then landed hard ground and pound punches that knocked Smolka out, causing the fight to end.
The fight was close prior to the finish, as both bantamweights connected with hard shots on the feet. Grant had a hot start to the bout with activity in the opening round, but Smolka upped his output in the second round and made the fight competitive.
Grant snapped a two-fight losing streak with the appearance, bouncing back from an unsuccessful 2021 that resulted in two decision losses.
Smolka has now lost two consecutive bouts. His previous fight was a finish loss against Vince Morales in late 2021.
Bout 8: Katlyn Chookagian (17-4) vs. Amanda Ribas (11-2) (Flyweight)
Chookagian Defeats Ribas In Split Decision Result
Top-ranked flyweight Katlyn Chookagian picked up a close split decision victory on Saturday night, defeating Amanda Ribas after three rounds (29-28 Ribas, 29-28 Chookagian & 29-28 Chookagian).
A large portion of the fight took place in stand-up positions, where Chookagian and Ribas engaged in back-and-forth exchanges. Chookagian was able to out-land Ribas when it comes to volume, but Ribas was able to answer back and connect with her own shots as well. Ribas had the edge when the fight end to the ground, using her grappling skills to control Chookagian when in those positions.
Chookagian has now earned four consecutive wins at flyweight. She scored a win earlier this year, defeating Jennifer Maia via unanimous decision.
Chookagian called for a title fight after the victory.
“It’s like a broken record. I want my title shot,” said she in her post-fight interview.
Ribas was returning to flyweight on Saturday’s card. Her UFC career has mostly taken place at strawweight, apart from a 2020 fight against Paige VanZant. She entered this weekend’s card following a recent win at strawweight, defeating Virna Jandiroba via unanimous decision at UFC 267.
Bout 7: Frank Camacho (22-9) vs. Manuel Torres (12-2) (Lightweight)
UFC Newcomer Torres Stops Camacho In The First Round
Manuel Torres won his UFC debut against veteran Frank Camacho, finishing him in the first round with punches.
Torres dropped Camacho in the opening round with a combination of left and right hooks. The punches caused Camacho to crash to the canvas hard, and convinced referee Herb Dean to step in and end the fight.
Torres was connecting with hard punches before the finish, stinging Camacho with shots throughout the round.
Torres entered the UFC on Saturday night boasting a record of 12 wins and just two losses. He appeared on the most recent season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” where he scored a first-round finish victory against Kolton Englund to earn a UFC contract.
Camacho was making his first appearance since 2020. The eight-fight UFC vet has now lost three consecutive bouts in the promotion.
Bout 6: Jake Hadley (8-0) vs. Allan Nascimento (18-6) (Flyweight)
Nascimento Hands UFC Newcomer Hadley First Loss
Allan Nascimento spoiled the UFC debut of Jake Hadley on Saturday night, taking a unanimous decision win after three rounds (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Nascimento used his grappling skills to neutralize Hadley throughout the fight. He scored numerous takedowns in throughout the bout, using these actions to keep Hadley grounded throughout the bout.
Hadley had short moments of brilliance in the fight, including a late submission attempt, although it was never enough for him to win the fight.
The fight on Saturday put Nascimento back into the win column after losing his promotional debut against Tagir Ulanbekov last year.
After the fight, Nascimento dedicated the fight to his late father.
Hadley, a former Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion, won his UFC contract last year on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” On that show, Hadley scored a submission victory over Mitch Raposo.
Bout 5: Viviane Araujo (10-3) vs. Andrea Lee (13-5) (Flyweight)
Araujo Overcomes Lee On The Ground, Earns Decision Win
Vivane Araujo made a comeback win against Andrea Lee in the final prelim, defeating her via unanimous decision after three rounds (29-28, 29-27 & 29-27).
Lee earned an early lead against Araujo, hurting her with strikes during a scrappy opening round.
Lee’s best moment in the first round saw her drop Araujo with a punch, then follow up with a clean head kick immediately once she returned to the feet.
Araujo scored a takedown later in the first round, although Lee remained active from her back with upkicks and elbows.
Araujo had a much better second round, taking Lee down early and keeping control for the majority of the frame. She was in full mount for a large portion of the frame, landing punches frequently from the position. She finished the round with an unsuccessful arm triangle choke attempt.
Araujo controlled the final round as well, scoring a takedown early against Lee and keeping her grounded for numerous minutes.
Araujo was fighting to bounce back from a unanimous decision loss that she took last year against Katlyn Chookagian.
The loss for Lee on Saturday snapped a two-fight winning streak that she developed in 2021. Both of her wins last year came via finish, including a win over Cynthia Calvillo.
Bout 4: Michael Johnson (19-17) vs. Alan Patrick (15-3) (Lightweight)
Johnson Ends Skid With Knockout Win
Michael Johnson scored a brutal knockout win to end an extensive losing streak on Saturday’s prelims, shutting Alan Patrick down in the second round with punches.
Johnson dropped Patrick with a left hook as part of a combination of shots on the feet. He followed this up with hard ground and pound punches that knocked Patrick out and put an end to their fight.
Johnson snapped a four-fight skid with his win on Saturday’s prelims. His previous fight was a loss last year against veteran Clay Guida.
Patrick is winless since 2018, with four fights since then resulting in three losses and one no contest.
Bout 3: Virna Jandiroba (17-3) vs. Angela Hill (13-11) (Strawweight)
Jandiroba Picks Up Decision Win Over Veteran Hill
Virna Jandiroba used her grappling skills to defeat Angela Hill on Saturday night, earning a unanimous decision after three rounds (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Jandiroba succeeded in ground positions against Hill throughout the fight, frequently searching for submissions and periodically landing strikes as well. Her best round was the last, as she spent the majority of the frame in control on the ground.
Jandiroba also held her own during exchanges on the feet with Hill during the fight.
The fight put Jandiroba back into the win column after suffering a unanimous decision loss against Amanda Ribas last year.
Bout 2: Carlos Candelario (8-1) vs. Tatsuro Taira (10-0) (Flyweight)
Taira Sweeps Scorecards Against Candelario In UFC Debut
Undefeated flyweight prospect Tatsuro Taira had a strong showing in his UFC debut on Saturday night, picking up a unanimous decision win over fellow promotional newcomer Carlos Candelario (30-26, 30-27 & 30-27).
Taira showed his skills in every round, slowly taking over the fight and finishing with a comfortable lead.
The first round of the fight was close, as both flyweights had their moments. Taira scored some takedowns early and pawed at Candelario with some punches during stand-up exchanges. Candelario finished the round with a strong final minute, taking Taira down and staying in control until the round ran out of time.
Taira stunned Candelario early in the second round, flooring him briefly with a right cross to the head. He kept the pressure on Candelario after, mounting his back to land punches and search for a choke. Taira dominated most of this round, although Candelario was able to take top position before the fight ran out of time.
Candelario spent the start of the third round pursuing a guillotine choke on the ground. After he lost this position, Taira was able to take control on the ground and use his own attacks for numerous minutes. He nearly finished the fight in full mount, unloading with punches from the position.
Taira was joining the UFC roster with a strong record of 10 wins from the regional scene in Japan. He quickly attained those wins through a quick start to his career, and also became the Shooto Japan Flyweight Champion along the way.
Candelario was joining the UFC roster after an appearance on “Dana White’s Contender Series” last year. After a bout against Victor Altamirano, he became the first fighter in the show’s history to earn a UFC contract despite losing his fight.
Bout 1: Nick Maximov (8-0) vs. Andre Petroski (7-1) (Middleweight)
Petroski Submits Maximov Early For Third UFC Win
Andre Petroski scored a big win to open the card, handing middleweight prospect Nick Maximov his first pro loss with an early submission.
Petroski caught Maximov with the anaconda choke while sprawling from a takedown attempt just a minute into the fight. Petroski completely locked the submission in while on the ground, causing Maximov to go unconscious and ending the bout.
Petroski has now scored a trio of victories since joining the UFC roster last year. His previous wins came via finish against Michael Gillmore and Hu Yaozong in 2021.
Maximov entered Saturday with a flawless record of eight wins, including two previous victories in the UFC cage. He had extra buzz around him due to his reputation as the protege of prolific fighters Nick and Nate Diaz.