Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Las Vegas, Nevada, later TONIGHT (Sat., April 22, 2023) to stage UFC Vegas 71 inside UFC APEX, featuring a Heavyweight slugfest between Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes. In the reworked co-main event, Brad Tavares battles Bruno Silva in a Middleweight affair.
With Jon Jones now sitting atop the Heavyweight division, the 265-pound weight class was the recipient of a much-needed jolt of energy following the departure of Francis Ngannou. While it’s expected that Stipe Miocic will eventually be the first man to get a shot at “Bones” as champion, the winner of Pavlovich vs. Blaydes could be next soon after. Pavlovich is currently ranked No. 3 thanks to his current five-fight win streak. Overall, Pavlovich is 17-1 as a professional and 5-1 inside the Octagon. But what has really made him a fan-favorite is the fact that all of his finishes (14) have come in the first round via strikes. He has gone toe-to-toe against the likes of Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa and come out on top, a feat not too many can claim. But, Pavlovich has his eyes on his first-ever title fight and another win should get him there. Trying to stop Blaydes is easier said than done, though.
Indeed, “Razor” is riding a three-fight win streak himself, winning seven of his last eight overall. His lone defeat during that span came at the hands of the aforementioned Derrick Lewis via knockout. Often the forgotten big man when it comes to talking title fights, Blaydes’ best course to victory is to stick to his wrestling because going strike-for-strike against the Russian big man never ends well for any of his foes. Blaydes has long been open about his care-free attitude when it comes to critics slamming his grappling-heavy fighting style, and he isn’t about to change it for one of the biggest fights of his career. It is, after all, what brought him to this point. But, the fight always start on the feet and Blaydes is going to have to take some risks if he wants to get in close enough to land those takedowns. And while he may get one or two, Pavlovich has the power to turn his lights out in the blink of an eye if he isn’t careful. It’s a true clash of styles that can go either way.
I don’t have a huge problem with the card — it’s actually okay. It’s a good appetizer in an action-packed day of combat sports. The problem here would have been for UFC and ESPN’s ratings, which would have taken a huge dip because the biggest boxing event of the year is happening down the street at T-Mobile Arena between Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis. And let’s not forget, Bellator 295 will be airing on Showtime around the same time, which features several intriguing main card fights, including the $1 million Bantamweight Grand Prix finale between Raufeon Stots and Patchy Mix. UFC opted for an earlier start time, which was smart.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
A high-profile Bantamweight bout between Ricky Simon and Song Yadong was set to co-headline this event, but it was ultimately pulled and will now headline UFC Vegas 72 after that event’s original headliner, Arman Tsarukyan vs Renato Moicano, was scrapped due to injury. Also, a women’s Flyweight fight between Priscila Cachoeira and Karine Silva was scrapped after Cachoeira missed weight by four pounds.
Carlos Candelario suffered an undisclosed injury and was forced out of his scheduled fight against Rafael Estevam, who will now face Zhalgas Zhumagulov at the upcoming UFC 288 event on May 6, 2023.
After earning four straight (technical) knockout knockout wins in four different promotions, including his most recent one under the RIZIN banner, Junior Tafa is eyeing a permanent home with UFC. Junior is the younger brother of UFC veteran, Justin Tafa, and like big bro, he knows how to work his hands. He will be facing off against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 30 champion, Mohammed Usman. “The Motor” won the tournament by knocking out Zac Pauga, and is now ready to start his climb up the 265-pound division. This fight shouldn’t last long — don’t blink!
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The featured bout on the undercard will be a Lightweight fight between Ricky Glenn and Christos Giagos. Glenn last fought to a majority draw against Grant Dawson and has only managed to earn an average 4-3-1 record inside the Octagon. If he wants to make any type of move up the rankings, now will be his time to start shining. Giagos, meanwhile, is in need of a win because he has lost two straight and one more setback could be disastrous for his UFC career.
In the Bantamweight division, Montel Jackson will face off against long-time veteran, Rani Yahya. Jackson is on a three-fight win streak and is 6-2 in his last eight fights. Yahya, meanwhile, finds himself on a two-fight win streak. The Brazilian bomber has been fighting for the promotion for 13 years now, so he knows that getting a spot in the Top 15 is something that may not ever happen unless he can go on a crazy run.
In the women’s Featherweight division (yes, that weight class still exists), Norma Dumont eyes her second straight win when she battles Karol Rosa, who is coming off a win over Lina Lansberg. In the men’s Featherweight division, meanwhile, Francis Marshall puts his seven-fight win streak on the line against William Gomis.
In Bantamweight action, Danaa Batgerel will attempt to snap his two-fight skid against Brady Hiestand, who is an even 1-1 so far inside the Octagon. “Bam Bam” is coming off a win over Fernando Garcia.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Bobby Green has one three-fight losing streak with UFC on his record, but he is desperately trying to avoid another one, which is why he needs to come out on top when he faces off against Jared Gordon. Overall, “King” is just 2-4 in his last six fights, so he needs a win here to avoid a possible pink slip. And it will be tough to get his hand raised against Gordon because “Flash” is also hungry to get back in the win column after he was robbed of victory by judges in his fight against Paddy Pimblett.
Interest Level: 6.5/10
The co-main event will feature a 185-pound tussle between Brad Tavares and Bruno Silva. Tavares and Silva both find themselves on the outside looking in the divisional rankings, so both are eying a move closer to their goal with a win. Tavares was last seen coming up short against Dricus Du Plessis, snapping his two-fight win streak. He is 2-3 in his last five fights, so the Hawaiian brawler is trying to avoid his second straight loss. Silva started his UFC career on the right foot by winning his first three fights with the promotion, but has struggled mightily ever since as evidenced by his back-to-back losses against former champion, Alex Pereira, and Gerald Meerschaert.
Iasmin Lucindo lost her UFC debut against Yazmin Jauregui, but she earned her stripes and the respect of fights fans for her effort in what truly was a back-and-forth brawl. The loss snapped her seven-fight win streak, so while she gained a fan base in her debut, she is really out to get her first UFC win. She will battle Brogan Walker, who also came up short in her UFC debut against Juliana Miller eight months ago.
Opening up the main card is a Welterweight fight between Jeremiah Wells and Matthew Semelsberger. Wells is enjoying a five-fight win streak, which includes three straight stoppage wins to kick off his UFC career, two in the first round. Semelsberger is looking to build off the momentum from his big win over Jake Matthews.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC Vegas 71 Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 71 Main Event On ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes
UFC Vegas 71 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Ricky Simon vs. Song Yadong— shipped to UFC Vegas 72 (details here)
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva
155 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Bobby Green
115 lbs.: Iasmin Lucindo vs. Brogan Walker
170 lbs.: Jeremiah Wells vs. Matthew Semelsberger
UFC Vegas 71 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Ricky Glenn
135 lbs.: Montel Jackson vs. Rani Yahya
145 lbs.: Norma Dumont vs. Karol Rosa
265 lbs.: Junior Tafa vs. Mohammed Usman
145 lbs.: William Gomis vs. Francis Marshall
125 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Karine Silva- canceled (details)
135 lbs.: Danaa Batgerel vs. Brady Hiestand
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 71 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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