As the UFC returns to their home base at the APEX, the pecking order needs a little more shaking up. With that being the explicit purpose of Fight Night events, we’ll have a lot of that for this upcoming event.
I’ve described these events as the place where the sausage is made, but this card’s got quality ingredients and won’t be ugly to watch. Some very interesting, talented and entertaining prospects are set to do battle, and we’re here to break that all down.
Anthony Ivy vs Christian Aguilera
Anthony Ivy (8-2) is a very tough and sturdy up and comer from the Texas scene, having fought in what was then RFA (now LFA) and really finding himself in Fury FC. Fury’s known for gathering rising talent from all over Texas, and Ivy was a good fit for them. Patient and technical boxing paired with dogged determination to get a finish has done wonders for him, leading to his current five-fight win streak. Even more interesting is that all of his wins have been finishes with an assortment of strike and submission victories.
Across from him will be California’s Christian Aguilera (13-6), who came up through BAMMA Badbeat and King of the Cage before a stint in LFA. His debut was perfect, but back to back losses had him leave for one fight then return to LFA and make it two wins in a row. He can box, work out of submissions, and keep a steady pace in his fights. Expect Ivy to put pressure early to establish the tempo and to test Aguilera’s takedown defense and striking defense, with Aguilera looking for counters and scrambles.
Jordan Griffin vs Darrick Minner
Roufusport product Jordan Griffin (18-7) possesses farm-level dad strength, ungodly durability and a relentless approach towards offense at every turn. After a rough start to his pro career, he got himself together and racked up an impressive set of wins by strikes and subs, fleshing out his overall game to be a more complete fighter. His 2018 win on Contender Series made it four wins in a row, but dropped his UFC debut and subsequent fight, but those were against Dan Ige and Chas Skelly, with those losses really not looking bad at all in retrospect. A guillotine choke win over TJ Brown in February got him back on the winning track, and he’ll need to use his endurance and sharp striking from all angles to get ahead hear.
Darrick Minner (24-11) has had a long and strange road to the UFC. Fighting everywhere from his native Nebraska, to Missouri on out, he’s faced the likes of Chuka Willis, UFC fighter Luke Sanders, wily Bellator action fighter Kevin Croom, former UFC fighter Chico Camus and TKO’s Jesse Arnett. While his late replacement bout in PFL didn’t happen, he kept plugging away to earn a spot on Contender Series last year in a first round loss against Herbert Burns, and after back to back wins on the regional scene got called up to the UFC to face Grant Dawson in late February. That was also a submission loss, but he’ll look to bounce back against a formidable opponent. Minner’s bread and butter is his wrestling and ability to wear his opponent out, but he can get caught and fall behind if he doesn’t establish the rhythm early.
Tyson Nam vs Zarrukh Adashev
Potential show-stealer here. Tyson Nam (18-11, 1 draw) was at one point the unofficial linear Bellator champ when he knocked out Dudu Dantas in 2012 at a Shooto Brazil event. A brief stint in World Series of Fighting led to a four-fight losing streak, but he got back on the horse and went 6-1 with a draw (including this beauty) in the mix to land at the UFC’s doorstep. Now competing at flyweight, he’s dropped back to back decisions to Kai Kara-France and Sergio Pettis, losses that could be forgiven as they were competitive in a division where it’s very tough to look good against anyone.
Now it’s his turn to welcome newcomer Zarrukh Adashev (3-1) to the UFC, and it’ll be quite the task. Adashev lost his pro debut in Ring of Combat, but racked up three straight in Bellator with two brutal finishes, one of them being this party-ender and the other a standing TKO. Adashev is strong, fast, athletic, but inexperienced. Hard to gauge where he’ll be here and what Nam has in store for him here, but we could see a wild prospect topple a veteran or Nam earning his first UFC win by bouncing back a younger threat.
Julia Avila vs Gina Mazany
Julia Avila made her pro debut in 2012, defeating Marion Renau by decision. She took four years off and came back to rattle off three consecutive wins including a decision over former flyweight champion Nicco Montaño. Upon making her Invicta debut, she unfortunately lost due to a hand injury (very graphic image there). From there it was three more wins including her UFC debut against Pannie Kianzad. Since last July, she’s had five cancelled fights, four of them against Karol Rosa. Her takedowns are strong, her striking is improving but conservative and measured, but she’s not worried about getting into a firefight.
Mazany (6-3) was first exposed to UFC fans in 2013, where she was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter. She alternated wins and losses until she lost two in a row against Lina Lansberg and Macy Chiasson. This led to her UFC release, but she managed to notch a win at King of the Cage in January, and got the call up to re-enter the UFC fold. Mazany’s clinch control, pressure from top position on the ground, and durability could give Avila fits, and her striking defense better be on point.
Charles Rosa vs Kevin Aguilar
Undefeated until his UFC debut, Charles Rosa (12-4) has been fun to watch in most of his outings despite alternating wins and losses. A slick submission fighter that can crack, he’s always dangerous in a fight. Kevin Aguilar is another son of Texas that went 12-3 as an amateur and fought some of the tougher fighters in his region including Rey Trujillo, Damon Jackson, Justin Rader, and Thanh Le. That last win got him the LFA featherweight belt and a spot on Contender Series where he defeated Joey Gomez by decision. After that, he earned seat at the table in the UFC, where he got wins over veteran Rick Glenn and power wrestler Enrique Barzola, but lost his last two fights against Dan Ige and Zubaira Tukhugov. Aguilar has a polished boxing game and can close the distance well, deceptive with his range while also active in his opponent’s guard on the ground. This presents a few problems, as he might get submitted by Rosa if he’s complacent on the ground or lets his foot off the gas for too long.
Mariya Agapova vs Hannah Cifers
Mariya Agapova (8-1) is something of a shot in the arm for the flyweight division, as she’s one of the must doggedly determined fighters that division has seen in it’s short life. Once she establishes control, she just fights angry until she gets what she wants. Her standup is basic but effective with very good striking inside and some sharp leg kicks. But she’s really a nightmare to deal with once she’s on top. Cifers (10-5) packs a punch but has been way too susceptible to ground attacks. Having just fought less than two weeks ago and suffering a kneebar loss to Mackenzie Dern, she’ll be dealing with a sturdy test against a woman that welcomes striking exchanges and can totally throw with her.
UFC Fight Night: Eye vs Calvillo takes place this Saturday night and streams exclusively on ESPN+ starting at 6:00pm EST.