Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker closed out the string of 4 UFC Apex events in Las Vegas with an all time classic fight and a contender for fight of the year. Poirier proved once again that he is about as good as it gets at 155 pounds and Hooker showed he is afraid of no man and will continue to take one to give one. All that’s left to do now is find opponents for these two along with the rest of the competitors on the card as they all chase an illustrious UFC title.
Dustin Poirier def. Dan Hooker via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46)
Winner: Dustin Poirier
Next Opponent: Tony Ferguson
This is a fight that has somehow avoided happening for some time. Dustin and Tony have been at the top of the lightweight division for the past year or two but haven’t met yet. Dustin took a lot of damage in his main event fight with Dan Hooker on Saturday and has made it clear he won’t be fighting for some time and after delivering an all-time fight and a fight of the year contender, no one will try to rush him back into the octagon. The winner of a fight between Tony and Dustin would certainly be next in line for a title shot, meaning there’s a chance Tony and Khabib end up fighting after all. The wildcard in this scenario is Conor McGregor if he were to come out of retirement and demand a title fight or a title eliminator it may leave Tony as the odd man out. Dustin and Conor having their rematch would certainly be welcome but Tony is without a doubt the more deserving fighter.
Loser: Dan Hooker
Next Opponent: Charles Oliveira
Dan Hooker belongs in the top 5 of the lightweight division. He proved that much Saturday night after such an incredible fight with the perennial contender Dustin Poirier. Now Hooker will need to restart his momentum and see if Charles Oliveira truly belongs at the top of the division. Do Bronx is on a seven-fight win streak with all of them by way of a finish. Oliveira has been nothing but impressive in his recent run and if he manages to beat Hooker, he’d thrust himself right into the title picture. If Hooker were to get the win in this bout it would position him to have a number one contender fight, working his way back towards a title fight.
Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner: Mike Perry
Next Opponent: Darren Till? The IRS?
After a strong, but not overly impressive performance against Mickey Gall, Mike Perry’s future is more unclear than ever. In what has to go down as an all-time post-fight interview, Mike ranted about his tax issues and his frustration with taxes in general. He made it clear he has some tax debt he has to take care of but also made sure to call out Darren Till and confirm that he wants to move up to middleweight. Given the recent history and internet beef between Till and Perry, the fight would garner a lot of attention, but Till’s goal is to become a middleweight champion and Mike is more focused on finding a camp and paying his taxes. Only Mike Perry knows what is next for him so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Loser: Mickey Gall
Next Opponent: Callan Potter
Few can claim to have had a more bizarre UFC career than Mickey Gall. What Mickey needs is some stability in both his activity and the level of competition he faces. It seems like he’s been slowly improving and certainly looked better in this fight than he has before. He was thrown into the fire and given any opponent regardless of skill level. If he could start to face fighters on the same level as him he could really grow and work his way up. Although cracking the top 15 is extremely unlikely, he’s still only 28 years old and anything is possible.
Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante via third-round submission (arm-triangle choke)
Winner: Maurice Greene
Next Opponent: Tanner Boser
Following the bizarre submission win over Villante on Saturday, Maurice Greene was informed that he had been called out by Tanner Boser for ducking him and he addressed it by calling out Boser right back, saying to “meet him on the island any day”. Referring to “Fight Island”, and with the UFC’s plan to go back and forth from Las Vegas to Yas Island that is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
Loser: Gian Villante
Next Opponent: Phillipe Lins
Villante’s physique was the subject of headlines leading into Saturday’s fights. Gian fought almost all of his career at light heavyweight and to return to heavyweight at 255 pounds looking as out of shape as he did was quite jarring. But if he can get some of that weight down and get into better shape he could find some success in the division. Fighting such a tall and big opponent like Maurice Greene was always going to be a daunting task. Both Lins and Villante will look to bounce back in their quest for heavyweight relevancy.
Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)
Winner: Brendan Allen
Next Opponent: Ian Heinisch
This one was already booked before Heinisch had to pull out and Daukaus stepped in. This fight had some heat on it too with Heinisch recently beating Gerald Meerschaert by first-round TKO not too long ago, who happens to be a teammate of Brendan Allen. Allen also has a history of calling out Heinisch and trying to fight him dating back to his days in the LFA. Although there isn’t a whole lot to gain for Heinisch as Allen is still a relatively fresh prospect, the callout and history between the two are enough to get some buzz and some hype behind it.
Loser: Kyle Daukaus
Next Opponent: Tom Breese
Daukaus didn’t necessarily look bad in his debut but he also wasn’t overly impressive. He deserves some respect for taking his debut fight against such a dangerous fighter like Brendan Allen. Daukaus is still very green and very young and should have a bright future ahead of him in the UFC. Breese will be a good opponent to test Daukaus as Breese also fought Brendan Allen but lost much more decisively than Daukaus did. If Kyle can get past Breese he’ll be set to work his way up the rankings.
Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt via first-round TKO (punches)
Winner: Takashi Sato
Next Opponent: Tristan Connelly
Sato performed as expected on Saturday against UFC newcomer Jason Witt. Someone as heavy-handed as Sato was always going to get a finish against lower-level competition. Sato now can look ahead for his next opponent as rising star Tristan Connelly is looking to follow up his performance against the flashy Michel Periera. Connelly was a big underdog against Periera and will likely be one again against Sato but the underdog title isn’t one he shies away from.
Loser: Jason Witt
Next Opponent: Anthony Ivy
Not a lot can be said about Witt’s performance as he got knocked out right at the start of the fight. He does have a lot of professional experience and it’s unclear how many fights he’s signed with the UFC for. If it is a multi-fight deal then he should fight Anthony Ivy next, who was another late replacement signed to the UFC last minute for one of these pandemic-era cards. Ivy faced a similar fate to Witt in his fight and both of these guys will look to get their UFC careers off and running.
Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson via third-round submission (D’Arce choke)
Winner: Julian Erosa
Next Opponent: Youssef Zalal
What better way to celebrate a win over a hot prospect than to fight another hot prospect? Julian Erosa is a live dog in any fight and might find similar success against Zalal given the lack of power behind his strikes, similar to Woodson’s major flaw. Woodson was unable to put Erosa down despite landing so many strikes. If Erosa can beat Zalal he could have a shot at making a run towards the top 15.
Loser: Sean Woodson
Next Opponent: Daniel Teymur
Sean Woodson struggled on Saturday night against Julian Erosa, he landed punches at will but none ever seemed to deter Erosa’s constant pressure. Maybe it can be blamed on the smaller cage not giving Woodson the space to fight like he normally does but he seemed pinned down and nothing he threw could get Erosa to stop. A good bounce-back fight for Woodson could be against Daniel Teymur. Teymur is a strong kickboxer who will want to keep the fight standing and fight at distance, which plays right into Woodson’s strengths. Woodson should still have some hype behind him as he is still relatively new to the MMA game.
Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena via third-round submission (guillotine choke)
Winner: Kharma Worthy
Next Opponent: Ottman Azaitar
On Saturday The Deathstar turned in an extremely impressive performance against the talented Luis Pena. Worthy wasted no time afterwards and called out Ottman Azaitar, the two were booked to fight at UFC 249 and he still wants to face the undefeated Azaitar. Worthy is backing down from no man and can make a name for himself if he’s able to get past the dangerous German.
Loser: Luis Pena
Next Opponent: Joaquim Silva
Saturday was quite disappointing for Pena as he’s failed to string together multiple wins during his UFC tenure. Pena has the talent and the skills but he just can’t seem to put together a full gameplan once he steps back up in competition. He’ll need a win against Silva to get back moving in the right direction. Every fight he does look better and continues to improve so it’s only a matter of time before he closes in on the top 15.
Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins via first-round TKO (punches)
Winner: Tanner Boser
Next Opponent: Maurice Greene
Boser looked better than ever on Saturday, knocking out PFL Champion Philipe Lins inside a round. Boser then got on the mic and called out Maurice Greene for avoiding him. The fight was great, the callout was great, Boser has the makings of a fan-favourite type fighter and has shown he can compete with some of the top 15 after hanging with the powerful Ciryl Gane for 15 minutes in his last time out.
Loser: Phillipe Lins
Next Opponent: Gian Villante
Ever since joining the UFC Philipe Lins has had a rough time. He was soundly beaten by Andrei Arlovski and then getting knocked out the way he did on Saturday was not the way he envisioned his UFC career going after winning the PFL. Lins will need to figure out his fighting style and game planning as it hasn’t carried over to the UFC yet. It may seem lazy to book the winners and losers of the two heavyweight fights on the card against each other but it makes sense for each of the two winners because they called each other out and the two losers should fight because of the timing, the skill levels, and what each fighter needs.
Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey via third-round submission (armbar)
Winner: Kay Hansen
Next Opponent: Hannah Cifers
Whether the Ronda Rousey comparisons are warranted or not, Kay Hansen made quite the debut on Saturday. Despite looking outmatched on the feet, once she was able to get the fight to the ground she was completely dominant. At only 20 years old the UFC will look to push her and promote her up the rankings. Cifers has become a bit of a punching bag for the top of the division and prospects and Hansen will look to beat her down once again. Cifers is always a live dog and never shies away from a fight. She’ll be another good test for Hansen as she looks to build up her record.Loser: Jinh Yu FreyNext Opponent: Loma LookboonmeeFrey had a strong first round against Hansen but once Hansen took her down it was all bad from there. Frey is a talented veteran and can hang with just about any strawweight when standing. The Muay Thai specialist Loma Lookboonmee will be a good matchup for the former Invicta champ Frey to move up the rankings.
Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner: Youssef Zalal
Next Opponent: Julian Erosa
The fight on Saturday seemed like Jordan Griffin lost it rather than Zalal won it. Despite being not overly impressive, Zalal did what he needed to and followed his high output kickboxing gameplan, his takedown defense was on point as well and he’ll need it to be on point again against Erosa. Now at 2-0 in the UFC it’s time to test Zalal and give him a fight against Julian Erosa and see how he deals with the pressure and experience of the crafty veteran Erosa.
Loser: Jordan Griffin
Next Opponent: Jamall Emmers
Jordan Griffin simply lost on Saturday because he did not do enough and was overconfident. There were exchanges in the fight where Griffin had his hands down eating punches, not realizing he was behind on the scorecards. Griffin is still a talented fighter and can find more success in the division but he’ll need to game plan better for a fight with the athletic Jamall Emmers.