Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later TONIGHT (Sat., March 12, 2022) to stage UFC Vegas 50 live from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Thiago Santos will face Magomed Ankalaev in a pivotal Light Heavyweight fight. In the co-headlining bout, Marlon Moraes takes on Song Yadong at Bantamweight.
Santos stopped the bleeding of a horrid three-fight losing streak in his last bout, defeating Johnny Walker via unanimous decision. It was a much-needed win because the one-time Light Heavyweight title contender was on a downward trend, and a fourth straight loss would have been catastrophic for his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. But, the win over his fellow countrymen allowed him to hang on to his Top 5 ranking, giving him some much-needed breathing room and confidence.
He will look to build on that momentum against Ankalaev, who is right behind him at No. 6. Winner of seven straight, Ankalaev has slowly built himself up as a future title contender, and his hard-hitting, push-the-pace style has not only made him a fan-favorite, but a threat to anyone standing in front of him. With all nine of his stoppage wins coming via strikes, Ankalaev makes no bones about what he intends to do once he steps foot inside the Octagon. Against Santos, he will have a willing participant if he wants a barn-burner because “Marretta” is as aggressive as they come. And did I mention that he has power for days? Indeed, Santos hits like a truck and has 15 technical (knockout) wins and the highlight reel to prove it.
Like Ankalaev, Santos doesn’t take steps backward, which means this fight could end early.
While it may be easy for the betting man to take Ankalaev here as a result of his win streak, counting out Santos simply isn’t smart. Ankalaev is a bit more tactical and precise with his striking with his overall technique, while Santos does tend to be a bit of a wild man once his fists start flying. That has worked well for him in the past, but Ankalaev has never been stopped via strikes in his career. It will be interesting to see whether or not Santos decides to take a more calculated approach to this fight.
Either way, we are in for a treat.
Though it seems like a great fight on paper, pitting Moraes against Yadong is a bit of a head-scratcher. Moraes has lost three straight, while Yadong has won his last two. I get that Moraes is ranked No. 10, while Yadong sits at No. 14, so that’s probably a good way of justifying it, but I would have liked to have seen Yadong take on someone who isn’t struggling and is on a win streak himself. Having a win over someone like Moraes is good for a resume, but critics will likely say he defeated someone who is on a slump and on a downward trajectory.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Joshua Culibao was forced to withdraw from his fight against Damon Jackson for undisclosed reasons and was ultimately replaced by Kamuela Kirk. Also, Ariane Lipski withdrew from her fight against J.J. Aldrich for undisclosed reasons, too, and was replaced by Gillian Robertson. Mandy Bohm also bowed out of her fight against Sabina Mazo, who will now face Miranda Maverick.
Rick Glenn suffered an unfortunate groin injury that forced him to withdraw from his fight against Drew Dober. Stepping in to take his place is Terrance McKinney, who is fresh off a first-round win over Fares Ziam two weeks ago. McKinney is on a five-fight win streak, which includes two quick wins inside the Octagon. Stepping in against a long-time veteran such as Dober is a big roll of the dice, but without risk, there is no reward and McKinney is looking to make the most of his opportunity, which will take place on the main card. As for Dober, he is trying to snap his two-fight skid after dropping back-to-back fights to top contenders Islam Makhachev and Brad Riddell.
Azamat Murzakanov will make his Octagon debut when he takes on Tafon Nchukwi in a Light Heavyweight fight. Murzakanov is undefeated (10-0), with eight first-round stoppages to his credit. The former Brave FC 205-pound champion earned his way to the big show with an impressive showing on Contender Series, knocking out Matheus Scheffel in just three minutes. Nchukwi, meanwhile, is coming off a unanimous win over Mike Rodriguez.
Javid Basharat will bring his perfect (11-0) record to the Octagon when he battles Trevin Jones in his first official fight for the promotion. Another Contender Series alum, Basharat has won all 11 of his fights via stoppage, eight of them in the opening round. Jones, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back after getting choked out by Saidyokub Kakhramonov seven months ago.
Rounding out the newcomers is A.J. Fletcher, who will face Mathew Semelsberger in Welterweight action. Fletcher is also undefeated (9-0), earning eight stoppages wins, six in the first round along the way. He is coming off a highlight-reel knockout win over Leonardo Damiani on Contender Series. His opponent is looking to make it two in a row after earning a blistering 15-second knockout win over Martin Sano at UFC 266 (see it again here).
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
In women’s Flyweight action, Aldrich looks to extend her win streak to three when she battles long-time UFC veteran Gillian Robertson, who recently snapped her two-fight skid by submitting Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 269 via rear-naked choke in the first round (relive it here).
Damon Jackson and Kamuela Kirk will tango in what is sure to be a thrilling Featherweight fight between two scrappy combatants hoping to make some noise in the crowded division. Jackson is fresh off a unanimous decision win over Charles Rosa, while Kirk is in search of his third straight win, second inside the Octagon. He made a successful UFC debut by defeating Makwan Amirkhani in June 2021.
A loser of two straight, Sabina Mazo is in search of a much-needed victory to preserve her spot on UFC’s oft-bloated roster. Things won’t get much easier for her because she is up against Miranda Maverick, who has also dropped two straight. Maverick started her UFC career off nicely by earning back-to-back wins over Liana Jojua and Gillian Robertson, but has fallen on hard times in her last two outings.
Dalcha Lungiambula will try to earn a trip back to the winner’s circle when he battles Cody Brundage in a 185-pound affair. Brundage is eyeing a win after Nick Maximov took him to deep waters at UFC 266, defeating him via unanimous decision after 15 minutes of hard-fought action.
Guido Cannetti’s run thus far inside the Octagon has been less than stellar, earning a horrid 2-5 mark since 2014. On the heels of three straight losses, Cannetti is in a must-win situation when he takes on Kris Moutinho in a Bantamweight fight. Moutinho earned the praise of many for his effort against Sean O’ Malley in his UFC debut back in July 2021, ultimately losing to “Suga” via third-round technical knockout.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
As we touched on earlier, Moraes is in need of a huge win after dropping his last three. “Magic” was once a title contender but has really looked like a shell of his former self in his last three fights, losing to Cory Sandhagen, Rob Font and Merab Dvalsihvilli, all via technical knockout. And things won’t get much easier when he battles Song Yadong — who has won two straight — in the co-main event. Should Moraes lose again, UFC will face a hard time trying to decide to keep him around or let him be on his way. Yadong is 7-1-1 inside the Octagon and is hoping to crash the Top 10 by handing “Magic” his fourth straight loss.
Interest Level: 7 of 10
This is a very good and healthy card with several intriguing fights. One of the best bouts is a 145-pound tilt between Alex Caceres (No. 15) and Sodiq Yussuf (No. 12). Caceres is scorching hot at the moment after racking up five straight wins, with his last loss occurring more than three years ago. He was last seen defeating Seung Woo Choi via submission in Oct. 2021.
As for Yussuf, he had his six-fight win streak snapped at the hands of Arnold Allen in April 2021. Taking out Caceres would be a great way to erase that memory and start his momentum back up again. Both of these men love to stand-and-bang, so this is a favorite to win “Fight of the Night.”
Alex Pereira exploded onto the UFC scene, scoring a blistering flying knee knockout over Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268 (see it again here). There was a ton of hype surrounding the 185-pound kickboxer as a result of his wins over division kingpin, Israel Adesanya, in the kickboxing world, and he backed it up impressively.
In his sophomore effort, Pereira will face Bruno Silva, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has won seven in a row, including his first three fights inside the Octagon. Though a submission specialist, Silva isn’t afraid to strike as evidenced by his seven straight technical (knockout) wins, five in the very first round. Whether or not he decides to play that game with someone as explosive as Pereira is another story. Either way, we are in for a treat when these two combatants get locked in the cage in what will be the opening fight of the main card.
In further main card action, Karl Roberson and Khalil Rountree will do battle at 205 pounds. Rountree recently put an end to his two-fight losing streak, knocking out Modestas Bukauskas via leg kick in Sept. 2021. Rountree has been up-and-down in his UFC career, though he has scored big wins over Gokhan Saki and Eryk Anders. As for Roberson, he is in desperate need of a win after suffering consecutive losses at the hands of Marvin Vettori and Brendan Allen, two of the very best at 185 pounds.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 50 Main Event On ESPN+:
205 lbs.: Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev
UFC Vegas 50 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Marlon Moraes vs. Song Yadong
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Sodiq Yusuff
205 lbs.: Karl Roberson vs. Khalil Rountree
155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Terrance McKinney
185 lbs.: Alex Pereira vs. Bruno Silva
UFC Vegas 50 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: AJ Fletcher vs. Matthew Semelsberger
125 lbs.: JJ Aldrich vs. Gillian Robertson
135 lbs.: Javid Basharat vs. Trevin Jones
145 lbs.: Damon Jackson vs. Kamuela Kirk
125 lbs.: Miranda Maverick vs. Sabina Mazo
185 lbs.: Cody Brundage vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
135 lbs.: Guido Cannetti vs. Kris Moutinho
205 lbs.: Azamat Murzakanov vs. Tafon Nchukwi
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 50 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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