For the third time this month, heavyweights will take center stage at the UFC Apex.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane do battle in a clash of heavyweight contenders in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. The winner will keep pace in a crowded contender field in the UFC’s largest division. ESPN has Rozenstruik ranked No. 4 at heavyweight; Gane is No. 8.
Rozenstruik (11-1) is coming off a second-round TKO win over former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 252 in August. The Suriname native has won five of six fights in the UFC. His only career loss came against upcoming title challenger Francis Ngannou via knockout last May at UFC 249. Rozenstruik, 32, has 10 KO/TKO finishes in 11 career wins. He is a former champion kickboxer.
Gane (7-0) is one of the top prospects in all of MMA. The France native is 4-0 in the UFC with three finishes. Gane, 30, is also coming off a second-round TKO win over Junior dos Santos, at UFC 256 in December.
In the co-main event, young Eastern European light heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Magomed Ankalaev will square off. Krylov (26-7) is 2-2 since returning to the UFC in 2018, but has lost only to champion Jan Blachowicz and top contender Glover Teixeira. Ankalaev (14-1) has won five straight and is closing in on contender status in the 205-pound division.
Also on the card, Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera meet in a battle of bantamweight contenders and prospect Sabina Mazo looks to climb the women’s flyweight ladder against stalwart Alexis Davis.
Watch the action live on ESPN+
Fight in progress:
Men’s featherweight: Alex Caceres (17-12 1 NC, 12-10 1 NC UFC, -200) vs. Kevin Croom (21-12 1 NC, 0-0 1 NC UFC,+170)
Lightweight: Thiago Moises (15-4, 4-2 UFC) vs. Alexander Hernandez (12-4, 4-3 UFC) by unanimous decision
The best I’ve ever seen Moises look! #UFCVegas20
— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) February 28, 2021
Recap to come.
Women’s bantamweight: Alexis Davis (20-10, 7-5 UFC) defeats Sabina Mazo (9-2, 3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision
Alexis Davis secured her first UFC win since 2017 with a victory over Sabina Mazo at UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gane. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Davis issued a stern reminder that she was once considered one of the best women’s bantamweight fighters on the planet.
The veteran dispatched top prospect Mazo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) in a one-sided women’s 135-pound bout. Both women had fought most recently at women’s flyweight but moved up for this contest. Davis was able to do damage to Mazo’s lead calf on the feet and dominate when things went to the floor.
Mazo looked great with boxing to start the first round. She was piecing Davis up with combinations, causing visible reddening of Davis’ face. But then Mazo made a tactical error. She threw a kick that Davis caught and turned into a takedown. Mazo couldn’t make her way back to her feet the rest of the round, as Davis took her back and landed some punches.
Congratulations @AlexisDavisMMA WELCOME BACK! #bantams @ufc #UFCVegas20
— Julia Avila (@RagingPandaMMA) February 28, 2021
In the second round, Mazo had more success on the feet. Davis, though, added a wrinkle to her own kickboxing game. She landed hard calf kicks regularly in the second round, so many that Mazo’s mobility was clearly diminished. Davis took Mazo down toward the end of the round and took her down again in the third, taking Mazo’s back.
Davis, 36, had not fought since July 2019. The Canada native, who trains in Northern California, snapped a three-fight losing streak. Davis fought Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight title in 2014. She sports a 6-2 record in the women’s bantamweight division and it seems her natural division is where she still stay.
“It feels good to not make the weight cut anymore,” Davis said in her postfight interview. “I feel healthy at 135.”
Mazo, a 23-year-old Colombia native who trains in Southern California, had a three-fight winning streak snapped.
Watch this fight on ESPN+.
Men’s bantamweight: Ronnie Lawrence (7-1, 1-0 UFC) defeats Vince Cachero (7-4, 0-2 UFC) by third-round TKO
Ronnie Lawrence finished Vince Cachero with punches in the third round of UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gane Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Lawrence might have made his matchmaker’s job a little harder in the process of winning his UFC debut.
Lawrence, 28, sent a message to the rest of the 135-pound division, as he kept a furious pace on Cachero — especially with his takedowns. According to UFC Stats, he managed to take Cachero down eight times in under three rounds, before finishing the bout with grounded strikes at 2:38 of the third round.
Impressive performance by Lawrence!
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) February 27, 2021
Cachero didn’t make things easy on Lawrence but was simply overwhelmed by his tenacity on the floor. Cachero hunted for several submissions off his back and did well at times working back to his feet after allowing a takedown, but Lawrence’s ability to close distance and wrestle made for a very long night.
The finish came midway through the third, after Lawrence landed a very long string of punches to the side of Cachero’s head from top position. Overall, Lawrence was credited with 76 strikes to Cachero’s 25. The Dana White Contender Series alum extends his overall win streak to four.
Watch this fight on ESPN+.
Light heavyweight: Dustin Jacoby (14-5, 2-2 UFC) defeats Maxim Grishin (31-9-2, 1-2 UFC) by unanimous decision
Dustin Jacoby defeated Maxim Grishin to open UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gane. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
In the final seconds before the horn to end the fight, both men noticeably turned up their aggression. They knew this one was still up for grabs. Even as Bruce Buffer was announcing the result — 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards — both Jacoby and Grishin looked confident, poised to celebrate. That was not delusional on either man’s part.
It was Jacoby who had his hand raised for his fourth straight victory. The last two of those have been in the UFC — in his second run in the Octagon. He was cut by the UFC in 2012 after going 0-2, and it took the 32-year-old over eight years to work his way back. Jacoby has shown a resolve to overcome challenges.
He had a big obstacle to deal with on this night, as Grishin missed weight by 4½ pounds. The Russian, 36, appeared to tire by midfight, although he did seem reenergized in the final round. Still, he now has lost two of three in the UFC after entering the promotion last year riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak.
Watch this fight on ESPN+.
Still to come:
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1, 5-1 UFC, +230) vs. Ciryl Gane (7-0, 4-0 UFC, -280)
Light heavyweight: Nikita Krylov (27-7, 8-5 UFC, +280) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (14-1, 5-1 UFC, -360)
Women’s flyweight: Montana De La Rosa (11-6, 4-2 UFC, +120) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1, 2-1 UFC, -140)
Men’s bantamweight: Pedro Munhoz (18-5 1 NC, 8-5 1 NC UFC, +125) vs. Jimmie Rivera (23-4, 7-3 UFC, -150)