UFC on ESPN+ 70: Grasso vs. Araujo Preview

After a week off, UFC will return this Saturday for a “Fight Night” card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Ranked flyweights Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo will experience their first-ever UFC main event fight in the headlining match of an 11-bout card. Here’s a preview of it all.

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

Preliminary Card (4:00PM EDT / 1:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)

Bout 1: Mike Jackson (1-1) vs. Pete Rodriguez (4-1) (Welterweight)

Mike Jackson and Pete Rodriguez, two welterweights with small pro records in MMA, will kick off the show.

Jackson is known by many as one of the oddest stories in the UFC currently. He entered the promotion in 2016 with no previous pro fights in MMA and was used as an opponent for prospect Mickey Gall. After losing that fight, Jackson was matched against former WWE pro wrestler CM Punk in 2018. While Jackson initially won in a slow-paced decision, the fight was later overturned due to a drug test that found cannabis in his system.

Jackson finally earned his first victory in April, although it didn’t come in the fashion that he hoped. An eye gouge in the third minute of his fight against Dean Barry caused the fight to end, and gave him a victory via disqualification.

Rodriguez entered the UFC roster on short notice in January, stepping in to replace Warlley Alves in a fight against Jack Della Maddalena. That fight didn’t go his way, as a counter left hook stopped him in the third round.

Bout 2: CJ Vergara (10-3-1) vs. Tatsuro Taira (11-0) (Flyweight)

Undefeated flyweight super-prospect Tatsuro Taira will appear on the prelims against CJ Vergara.

Taira, a 22-year-old, joined the UFC roster this year with a record of 10 wins from the regional scene in Japan. He secured his first promotional win in May, fighting to a unanimous decision victory over Carlos Candelario.

Vergara is coming off his first UFC win as well. He prevailed over Kleydson Rodrigues in May via split decision at UFC 274. Before then, Vergara lost his promotional debut to Ode Osbourne.

Bout 3: Piera Rodriguez (8-0) vs. Sam Hughes (7-4) (Strawweight)

Making her second UFC appearance, Piera Rodriguez will meet Sam Hughes on Saturday night.

Rodriguez, a former LFA Strawweight Champion, has an undefeated record of eight wins. Her last victory in that run came in April when she beat Kay Hansen via decision at UFC 273.

Hughes will be fighting for her third promotional victory. Hughes started her UFC run with a rough batch of performances but has since turned things around. After losing three straight between 2020 and 2021, Hughes then beat Istela Nunes and Elise Reed this year to put a winning streak together.

Bout 4: Joanderson Brito (13-3-1) vs. Lucas Alexander (7-2) (Featherweight)

Joanderson Brito will battle against short-notice opponent Lucas Alexander on Saturday’s prelims.

Brito made a statement in his first UFC win in April, stopping Andre Fili in just 41 seconds with punches. This put him back into the win column after dropping a bout to Bill Algeo three months prior.

Alexander took this fight just a week ago, stepping in to replace Melsik Baghdasaryan. He is joining the promotion on a five-fight winning streak from the regional scene.

Bout 5: Nick Maximov (8-1) vs. Jacob Malkoun (6-2) (Middleweight)

Both aiming to bounce back from a recent loss, Nick Maximov and Jacob Malkoun will meet.

Maximov suffered his first pro loss in May, as “The Ultimate Fighter” alum Andre Petroski submitted him in just over a minute with an anaconda choke. His UFC campaign was off to a strong start before then, beating Punahele Soriano and Cody Brundage.

Malkoun didn’t get the decision nod against Brendan Allen in June, calling an end to a two-fight series of wins that he earned in the promotion.

Bout 6: Mana Martinez (9-3) vs. Brandon Davis (14-9) (Bantamweight)

Bantamweights Mana Martinez and Brandon Davis will close out the prelims.

Martinez suffered his first UFC defeat in February, dropping a decision to Ronnie Lawrence. He previously had a three-fight winning streak, including his UFC debut.

Davis returned to the UFC roster last year, coming back for his second stint in the promotion after a strong run on the regional scene. He was finished in his first fight back, getting stopped by Danaa Batgerel. He’ll try to bounce back this weekend.

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

Bout 7: Raphael Assuncao (27-9) vs. Victor Henry (22-5) (Bantamweight)

Veterans Raphael Assuncao and Victor Henry will kick off the main card. This fight was initially set for the prelims but was given a boost after a bout between Askar Askarov and Brandon Royval exited the card Friday.

Henry has over 25 pro fights on his record but only made his UFC debut in January. That experience paid off for him, as he scored a massive win over Raoni Barcelos in his promotional debut. He now has another big challenge in front of him that would boost his career resume if successful.

Assuncao will be fighting to snap a lengthy four-fight skid in this appearance. Some of his losses date back to 2019, but all of them were against tough opponents – including former champ Cody Garbrandt and current contender Cory Sandhagen. His last fight was in late 2021 when Ricky Simon finished him in the second round with strikes.

Bout 8: Misha Cirkunov (15-8) vs. Alonzo Menifield (12-3) (Light Heavyweight)

In the sole light heavyweight match of the night, Misha Cirkunov and Alonzo Menifield will compete.

This is a big fight for Cirkunov, as he will be fighting to end his recent struggles. He has lost three in a row and has only prevailed in one of his past five fights. A loss this weekend could certainly mark the end of his run with the promotion.

Menifield isn’t in the same predicament. He bounced back from a defeat in his last appearance, scoring a first-round finish victory over Askar Mozharov in June.

Bout 9: Dusko Todorovic (11-3) vs. Jordan Wright (12-3) (Middleweight)

At middleweight, Dusko Todorovic and Jordan Wright will compete next.

Wright will be fighting to avoid falling into a three-fight losing streak. He has been stopped within a round in his past two fights, losing to Bruno Silva and Marc-Andre Barriault.

Todorovic suffered a stoppage loss in his last fight, getting beat by vet Chidi Njokuani in May.

Bout 10: Jonathan Martinez (16-4) vs. Cub Swanson (28-12) (Bantamweight)

Veteran Cub Swanson will make his UFC bantamweight debut in Saturday’s co-main event against Jonathan Martinez.

Most of Swanson’s pro career, which includes more than 20 UFC appearances, has been at featherweight. According to Tapology, there are only two documented appearances of him at bantamweight, and they came on the regional scene in 2005.

Swanson picked up a flashy victory in his most recent fight, stopping Darren Elkins in the first round of a fight with strikes in late 2021.

Martinez is entering this weekend with the momentum of a three-fight winning streak. The last win in that run was from May when he got the scorecard nod over Vince Morales.

Bout 11: Alexa Grasso (14-3) vs. Viviane Araujo (11-3) (Flyweight)

Ranked flyweights Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo will compete in the final bout of the night.

The fight will be the first time that either Grasso or Araujo has ever competed in a five-round UFC fight.

Grasso has been on the UFC roster since 2016. She bounced between winning and losing to start her promotional run, attaining three wins and three losses by the start of 2020.

But Grasso has hit a stride in recent years and is now on a three-fight winning streak. She is coming off her first finish win in the UFC, which saw her submit Joanne Wood in the first round with a rear naked choke.

Araujo has been a UFC fighter since 2019 and has won in five of her seven bouts. Her last fight was in May when she beat Andrea Lee on scorecards.

Grasso and Araujo are currently ranked fifth and sixth at flyweight respectively. A win on Saturday night certainly won’t give them a title fight, but it will push them up the ranks and put them only a few more steps away from that opportunity.

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