Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later tonight (Sat., April 30, 2022) to stage UFC Vegas 53 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Rob Font will battle Marlon Vera in a pivotal Bantamweight showdown. In the co-main event, Andrei Arlovski will battle Chase Sherman in a Heavyweight tilt.
Font will attempt to get back into the win column after Jose Aldo snapped his four-fight win streak in Dec. 2020, stopping the momentum he had built up for himself that was inching him closer to a title shot. But, before he got the chance to step into the cage to face Vera, Font had to step on the scale to make the 136-pound weight limit, something he's done several times before with zero issues. This time around, however, the scrappy striker failed to hit his mark, coming in 2.5 pounds heavy. Despite the scale fail, Vera agreed to take the fight, which will earn him a few extra bucks from Font’s purse.
As for the fight itself, it's a great match up between two Bantamweight studs. Vera is looking to improve his win streak to three in hopes of landing in the Top 5 for the first time in his career. He is an impressive 8-2 over his last 10 UFC fights, so he has put in the work to get to where he is today and is much more than the first man to stop Sean O' Malley. By taking out Font, the Ecuadorian fighter will not only infiltrate the Top 5, but be the closest to a title shot than he's ever been before. And a win is crucial for both men because the division is about to get a bit more crowded with the looming return of Henry Cejudo.
Font and Vera are two strikers who love a good old fashioned stand up battle. But, if it stays too long on the feet the fight favors Font, who possesses some of the best boxing in the game. While Vera is far from a slouch in that area, Font has him covered and can pepper him all night with a precision attack that could earn him another highlight reel finish. For Vera, staying light on his feet will be his best option along with mixing in his takedowns because if he stands directly in front of Font, it could be lights out in a hurry.
Alexandr Romanov is still undefeated (15-0), proving to be a force to be reckoned with at Heavyweight. Yet, when his original foe, Rodrigo Nascimento, was forced out of their bout last week at UFC Vegas 52 during fight week, UFC matchmakers pegged Chase Sherman as his replacement. That fight was scratched when Sherman was deemed medically unfit to compete. Still, the promotion went ahead and re-booked the fight one week later. Call me crazy, but that’s some serious questionable matchmaking because Sherman is winless (0-3) in his last three fights inside the Octagon and Romanov has won his first four with the promotion. I get the logic the first time because it was last-minute, but the promotion still could have found a better replacement for Romanov after the fight was initially canceled. Nevertheless, it's a win-win for Sherman because he has nothing to lose, but Romanov is in a must-win situation because most expect him to walk through a man who hasn’t tasted victory in awhile.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone were originally lined up to fight on this card before UFC officials opted to remove it and place it on the main card of UFC 274, which goes down on May 7, 2022. Also, Jared Gordon was originally lined up to face Rafael Alves, but after Alves withdrew from the fight for undisclosed reasons, Grant Dawson agreed to step in and fill the void.
Also, Andrei Arlovski was not originally scheduled to take part in this event, though all of that changed when the former UFC Heavyweight champion stepped in to face Jake Collier when Justin Tafa bowed out. Furthermore, the card got a late addition after Romanov vs. Sherman was moved from UFC Vegas 52 to this event.
No major injuries were reported for this event!
Carlos Candelario lost a split decision to Victor Altamirano on Contender Series in Aug. 2021, but “The Cannon” managed to find an invite to the big leagues, anyways. And with good reason because prior to his loss he had won his first eight fights in MMA, which includes four first round finishes.
Candelario will be battling fellow UFC rookie, Tatsuro Taira, who has yet to taste defeat in his professional MMA career (10-0). The former Shooto champion is one of the best signings UFC has scored in awhile, further bolstering the Flyweight division by adding an undefeated champion who has eight finishes in 10 wins, six in the opening frame.
Yohan Lainesse is another former champion who has yet to taste defeat who will step foot inside the Octagon for the first time. The ex-Cage Fury Fighting Championships Welterweight kingpin is 8-0. “White Lion" will face off against Gabriel Green, who is 1-1 so far into his young UFC career, defeating Daniel Rodriguez in his UFC debut before coming up short against Philip Rowe.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We’ve discussed a couple of the “Prelims” fights already, so let’s take a look at the rest of the undercard, which features several fighters in search of wins to keep their UFC careers alive a bit longer.
Daniel Silva will attempt to right his wrong after throwing up a dud in his UFC debut against Jeff Molina when he battles Francisco Figueiredo in a 125-pound showdown. While Figueiredo did win his first fight under the bright lights of the UFC banner, he suffered a loss in his sophomore effort against Malcolm Gordon.
Natan Levey and Mike Breeden will throw down in a Lightweight scrap between two fighters coming off losses. Breeden was knocked out in 80 seconds by Alexander Hernandez in Oct. 2020, while Levy lost a unanimous decision to Rafa Garcia that November. The loss snapped his six-fight win streak.
Gina Mazany’s UFC career has been all over the place when it comes to wins and losses, never gaining enough momentum and traction to win back-to-back fights. Overall, she is 3-5 inside the eight-sided cage going into her fight against Shanna Young, who hasn’t fared better, going 0-2 in her first two fights for the promotion. Another loss for her could be her one-way ticket out of the promotion.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Sherman’s last win inside the Octagon came in May 2020, almost two years ago. Since then, he has gone winless (0-3), putting him on the chopping block should he suffer his fourth straight fight against the undefeated Romanov, who is undefeated. Granted, Sherman may earn some leeway seeing as how he took the fight on short notice, but it will still be a setback that could earn him a pink slip. That said, he has a lot to win if he can hand Romanov his first-ever defeat.
Interest Level: 5/10
The main event should be fire and the co-main event is interesting, too. Arlovski is still chugging along and the man can still get “W’s,” as he is currently enjoying an impressive three-fight win streak and is 5-1 overall in his last six fights. His lone loss during that span was against surging British sensation, Tom Aspinall. Arlovski will attempt to go for the longest win streak of his career since 2015 when he battles Jake Collier, who is coming off a loss to the aforementioned Sherman. Collier has been consistent so far in his UFC career, but that’s not exactly a good thing. Since making his debut in 2014, Collier has alternated wins and losses every step of the way to collect a 5-5 record. While that may good enough to hold on to a spot on the roster, it will never be good enough to make it into the championship conversation.
Andre Fili will battle Joanderson Brito in a 145-pound match up that has fireworks written all over it. Fili has long been one of the most entertaining fighters in the division, though he hasn’t made enough noise or stung together enough wins to make it into the Top 5. Against Brito, he will face a lot of resistance because “Tubarao” is in search of his first UFC win after losing his UFC debut against Bill Algeo, which just so happened to snap his 12-fight unbeaten streak.
Jared Gordon is currently enjoying the longest win streak in the last five years at three straight. But, attempting to earn his fourth victory in a row will prove to be a tough task when he faces off against Dawson, the hard-nosed 155-pounder who is almost perfect (8-0-1) in his last nine fights. He fought to a draw against Rick Glenn in his last outing.
If you want excitement, then Darren Elkins is your guy. “The Damage” always leaves it in the cage and gives it 110 percent night in, night out. While the last four years haven't been good to him when it comes to wins — earning a 2-5 record — his fights are must-see television, and his match up against Tristan Connelly should be no different. After upsetting Michel Pereira in his UFC debut, Connelly lost his next fight against Pat Sabatini, his first loss in five years. He will have a good test against Elkins that will not only force him to keep his head on a swivel, but be ready to make him test his limits.
Krzystof Jotko and Gerald Meerschaert will tango in the opening fight of the main card. Since getting iced by Khamzat Chimaev in Sept. 2020, Meerschaert has won three straight, though you probably didn't realize that because he's not exactly the headline-making type. A fourth win gives him his longest win streak in five years.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 53 Main Event:
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera
UFC Vegas 53 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Joanderson Brito
155 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly
185 lbs.: Krzysztof Jotko vs. Gerald Meerschaert
UFC Vegas 53 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN2/ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Daniel Silva vs. Francisco Figueiredo
170 lbs.: Gabe Green vs. Yohan Lainesse
155 lbs.: Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden
125 lbs.: Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young
125 lbs.: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos CandelarioCANCELED
265 lbs.: Chase Sherman vs. Alexandr Romanvov
*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 53 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN2/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 53: “Font vs. Vera” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.