*** BREAKING: UFC Vegas 65 headliner, Derrick Lewis, has been hospitalized last-minute — details here. ***
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back at the Apex later TODAY (Sat., Nov. 19, 2022) in Las Vegas, Nevada, to stage UFC Vegas 65. In the main event, Heavyweight sluggers Derrick Lewis and Sergei Spivac will collide in a hard-hitting affair. Co-headlining the ESPN+-streamed event is a Light Heavyweight showdown between Ion Cutelaba and Kennedy Nzechukwu.
Despite never reaching the pinnacle of the Heavyweight mountain, Derrick Lewis has long been one of the most entertaining big men the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has encountered. But the hard-hitting big man has fallen on hard times as of late, losing two in a row, getting knocked out on both occasions by Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich, and is just 1-3 in his last four fights. The title was never Lewis’ target, though he did reach a title fight, eventually losing to Daniel Cormier. Now, the only thing the No. 7-ranked heavyweight is focused on is breaking his skid and getting back into the win column. He will have a tough battle ahead of him to get there because Spivak — ranked No. 12 — is on a two-fight win streak, having won five of six overall.
A win over Lewis will be the biggest one for him to date and would allow him to crack the Top 10. Like Lewis, Spivac has knockout power, winning three of his last four via knockout. But playing the striking game with Lewis never bodes well for the opposition so Spivak’s best bet is to take the fight to the ground and work his submissions. Lewis has one submission win on his resume early on in his career. so it’s safe to say that going to the ground simply does not work out well for him. So if Spivak can avoid the early storm and get the takedown, his chances of victory only increase. For “The Black Beast,” however, if he can clip the Russian big man early it could be lights out before he can get his rhythm going.
I’m not going to bag on this card too badly. It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving so I’m in a good mood just thinking about all the good eats that await. Plus, we’ve had some pretty good fights over the last few weeks in, and out, of the cage, so let’s not get too critical here.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
A Light Heavyweight fight between Marcin Prachnio was removed from the event a week from fight night for undisclosed reasons. Also, Jose Johnson pulled out of his scheduled fight against Vince Morales and was replaces by Miles Johns, who is coming off a loss to John Castaneda.
Jack Shore suffered a knee injury that forced him out of his scheduled Bantamweight fight against Kyler Phillips. As a result, Phillips was removed from the event altogether since the promotion could not find a suitable replacement.
20-year old prospect Tereza Bleda will be making her UFC debut after taking the Contender Series path. Undefeated at 6-0, “Ronda” has four finishes on her resume, three in the very first round. She’s a great tactician once on the mat, which will need to be on point if she wants to take out her opponent, Natalia Silva, who is currently on a seven-fight win streak with six of those wins coming by way of submission.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
A men’s Flyweight fight between Charles Johnson and Zhalgas Zhumagulov will headline the undercard. Zhumalgulov is currently on a a two-fight losing streak and has lost four of his last five fights inside the Octagon. One more loss and he could earn his one-way ticket out of town. As for Johnson, he came up short in his UFC debut, so he needs to get a win before UFC officials start looking at him as someone who can be released.
Remember when Jennifer Maia fought Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s Flyweight title in 2020? It seems like so long ago. Now, Maia is fighting on the undercard after losing three of her last four fights. Her opponent, Maryna Moroz, is on a three-fight win streak and is on her way up.
In the Bantamweight division, Fernando Garcia will attempt to get a win after he saw his five-fight win streak go out the window in his last fight against Journey Newson. He will try to get the victory over Brady Hiestand, who needs a win after he laid an egg in his UFC debut, losing to Ricky Turcios via split-decision.
In the women’s Strawweight division, Vanessa Demopolous will take on Maria Oliveira, who picked up her first win inside the Octagon by defeating Gloria de Paula earlier this year. As Demopolous, she is enjoying a two-fight win streak.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Kevin Natividad came into the Octagon on a five-fight win streak, but during his short time with the promotion he has failed to make an impression, losing both of his fights via KO/TKO. “Quicksand” could sink his chances of fighting for the promotion much longer if he loses his third straight fight when he takes on Ricky Turcios, who suffered the first loss of his career inside the Octagon earlier this year.
Interest Level: 6/10
The co-main event will feature UFC wild man, Ion Cutelaba, taking on Kennedy Nzechukwu in a Light Heavyweight fight that is sure to produce fireworks. Cutelaba hasn’t had the best of luck as of late inside the Octagon having lost two straight and going a meager 1-4-1 over his last six outings. As for Nzechukwu, he snapped his two-fight losing streak by knocking out Karl Roberson this past summer.
Also going down on the main card is a Heavyweight fight between Chase Sherman and Waldo Cortes-Acosta. Sherman got a new lease on his combat life after he stopped the bleeding of a horrid four-fight win streak in his last fight by knocking out Jared Vanderaa, his first win in two years. Cortes-Acosta, on the other hand, is undefeated at 8-0, winning his UFC debut by also defeating Vanderaa. If he can get an impressive win over “Vanilla Gorilla,” he could make some noise sooner, rather than later.
Andrea Fialho and Muslim Salikhov will square off in a nice Welterweight matchup flying under the radar. Fialho was knocked out by Jake Matthews in his last fight, so he’d like to erase that memory by getting back on track. Salikhov, meanwhile, had his five-fight win streak snapped by Li Jingliang earlier this year, so he is eager to get the sweet taste of a win again.
Kicking off the main card is another 170-pound matchup between Jack Della Maddalena and Danny Roberts. Maddalena is scorching hot at the moment with 12-straight wins after losing his first two fights as a pro back in 2016. He has really found a groove and is 2-0 so far inside the Octagon. Roberts lost his last fight to longtime veteran, Francisco Trinaldo, and is 2-3 in his last five fights under the UFC banner. A longtime veteran of UFC, Roberts has never quite been able to build much momentum to put him in any type of title contention since making his debut in 2015, and that won’t change with a win here.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 65 Main Event On ESPN+:
UFC Vegas 65 Main Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Ion Cutelaba vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu
265 lbs.: Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Chase Sherman
170 lbs.: Andre Fialho vs. Muslim Salikhov
170 lbs.: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Danny Roberts
UFC Vegas 65 Prelims Under Card On ESPN+ (1 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Charles Johnson vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
125 lbs.: Jennifer Maia vs. Maryna Moroz
135 lbs.: Miles Johns vs. Vince Morales
135 lbs.: Kevin Natividad vs. Ricky Turcios
115 lbs.: Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Maria Oliveira
135 lbs.: Fernie Garcia vs. Brady Hiestand
125 lbs.: Tereza Bleda vs. Natalia Silva
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 65 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 65 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Lewis vs. Spivac” fight card and ESPN+ line up click here.