Monday, October 3, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (8/29-9/3): Perez Meets Albazi

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for rising flyweight Amir Albazi, featherweight prospect Melsik Baghdasaryan, the entertaining Billy Quarantillo, and in-form women’s 125lber Maryna Moroz.

With UFC cards being held most weekends, Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby have their matchmaking work cut out if they’re to fill them, meaning new bouts are confirmed each and every week.

It wasn’t all positive in recent days, with a number of fights falling through or being adjusted. For those failed pairings and any confirmed replacements, see the list below:

  • Shamil Abdurakhimov (OUT, Anton Turkalj IN) vs. Jailton Almeida – UFC 279 (September 10)
  • Sean Strickland (OUT) vs. Jared Cannonier – UFC Vegas 62 (October 15)
  • Cheyanne Vlismas (OUT, Jessica Penne IN) vs. Tabatha Ricci – UFC Vegas 61 (October 1)
  • Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Lemos – UFC 280 (Oct. 22, moved to Nov. 5 UFC Fight Night)

For information on some notable bouts that may have flown under your radar between August 29 and September 3, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Joanderson Brito – UFC Vegas 62 (October 15)

Exciting featherweight prospect Melsik Baghdasaryan will return to the Octagon for his third promotional appearance at UFC Vegas 62 on October 15.

Baghdasaryan (7-1) arrived on the scene with an impressive performance on the 2020 season of Dana White‘s Contender Series, outpointing Dennis Buzukja. The Armenian turned even more heads in his UFC debut, knocking Collin Anglin out with a head kick at UFC Vegas 33 last July. After extending his win streak to six and UFC record to 2-0 with a decision win over Bruno Souza at UFC 268, “The Gun” will look to return to finishing ways next time out.

But looking to add the first blemish to Baghdasaryan’s Octagon slate will be Joanderson Brito (13-3-1). “Tubarão,” who earned a victory on DWCS a year after his upcoming opponent, fell to defeat against Bill Algeo on debut. But the Brazilian rebounded in some style at UFC Vegas 53 this past April, finishing Andre Fili in just 41 seconds.

This featherweight bout was first reported by Maranhão MMA.

Jennifer Maia vs. Maryna Moroz – UFC Fight Night (November 19)

Maryna Moroz will have the chance to make a significant rise up the flyweight ladder on November 19 when she shares the Octagon with the top 10-ranked Jennifer Maia.

Moroz (11-3) returned from a two-year layoff in style earlier this year at UFC 272, submitting former teammate-turned-rival Mariya Agapova via arm-triangle choke. With the win, the Ukrainian picked up where she left off from in 2020, having outpointed Sabina Mazo and Mayra Bueno Silva in back-to-back contests.

Looking to snap Moroz’s skid and hold firm at #8 in the rankings will be Maia (19-9-1), a one-time title challenger who took a round from Valentina Shevchenko back at UFC 255 in 2020. Since then, the Brazilian has gone 1-2. After rebounding against Jessica Eye, Maia dropped consecutive contests to Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot.

This flyweight fight was first reported by Combate’s Raphael Marinho.

Billy Quarantillo vs. Alexander Hernandez – UFC 282 (December 10)

Entertainment will be guaranteed at UFC 282 on December 10 when Billy Quarantillo returns to action.

Quarantillo (16-4) has quickly grown into a fan favorite since earning a contract on DWCS in 2019. After a perfect 3-0 start in the Octagon, including a KO win over Kyle Nelson, Billy Q was handed his first loss since 2016 by Gavin Tucker in 2020. After rebounding in a FOTN opposite Gabriel Benítez last July, the New Yorker thrilled in defeat, falling on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against Shane Burgos last November.

If he’s to avoid the first losing skid of his career, Quarantillo will have to provide a rude welcome to featherweight for Alexander Hernandez (13-5). Having exchanged wins and losses in his six outings at lightweight since 2019, most recently suffering a first-round submission defeat to Renato Moicano, “The Great Ape” is headed to 145 pounds in search of consistency.

This featherweight contest was first reported by Quarantillo’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Darren Elkins vs. Jonathan Pearce – UFC Orlando (December 3)

Jonathan Pearce will look to continue his march up the featherweight ranks when he returns at the December 3 event, which is expected to take place in Orlando.

Pearce (13-4) has gone 9-1 since 2019, with his only defeat in that period coming on his UFC debut against Joe Lauzon. Since that setback, “JSP” has won four straight, defeating Kai Kamaka lll, Omar Morales, Christian Rodriguez, and most recently Makwan Amirkhani in one of the most notable performances at July’s UFC London event.

Looking to snap the 30-year-old’s win streak will be Darren Elkins (27-10). “The Damage,” who’s competed 26 times since joining the UFC in 2010, is 3-1 across his last four, with his April win over Tristan Connelly marking a rebound from a setback against Cub Swanson four months prior.

This featherweight scrap was first reported by Pearce’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Amir Albazi vs. Alex Perez – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

Fresh off his long-awaited return to action, flyweight Amir Albazi has been booked again, and it’s a matchup that could see him jump a sizable step closer to contention.

Albazi (15-1) went 2-0 in the Octagon before a lengthy layoff saw him remain on the sidelines for nearly 19 months. But in his comeback fight, “The Prince” reminded the division of his presence by submitting Francisco Figueiredo inside one round at UFC 278. Having entered the top 10, the Iraqi has been paired with one-time title challenger and current #6-ranked contender Alex Perez.

After falling short in his shot at gold, with Deiveson Figueiredo finishing him less than two minutes into the UFC 255 main event, Perez (24-7) was out of action for nearly two years. In his return at UFC 277, Perez had hoped to jump straight back into contention, but was instead submitted in the opening frame once again, this time against Alexandre Pantoja. He’ll hope to rebound and hold his position in the rankings on December 17.

This flyweight matchup, set for UFC Vegas 66, was first reported by MMA Fighting.

Bruno Silva vs. Albert Duraev – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

Also taking to the cage for the UFC’s year-ending event will be middleweights Bruno Silva and Albert Duraev.

Silva (22-8), a former M-1 Global champion, quickly marked himself as a must-see figure in his first three outings under the UFC banner. After knocking Wellington Turman out on debut last June, “Blindado” quickly made it three in a row with bonus-worthy KO wins over Andrew Sanchez and Jordan Wright. But after a setback against upcoming title challenger Alex Pereira, Silva fell to a skid with a disappointing performance against Gerald Meerschaert at UFC San Diego.

Looking to make it three consecutive losses for the Brazilian on December 17 will be Duraev (15-4). After earning a contract on DWCS last year and beginning his UFC tenure with a victory over Roman Kopylov, “Machete” entered 2022 on a 10-fight win streak. Against Joaquin Buckley at UFC Austin, though, the Russian suffered his first loss since 2014.

Both men will be searching for rebounds when they collide in this matchup, which was first reported by MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz.

Who do you envision having their hands raised in these UFC matchups?

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