With the UFC machine back at full speed, and once again rolling over everything in its path, we now look forward to our sixth fight card in a little more than a month.
That may explain why fan reaction to Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 10 main event has been somewhat muted (to say the least), but that won’t mean a thing to Jessica Eye or Cynthia Calvillo when they clash at the UFC APEX.
For Eye, it’s a chance to string together consecutive wins and continue putting her disappointing flyweight title fight showing behind her; for Calvillo, it’s a fresh start. After struggling to consistently make the strawweight limit, Calvillo is making the move up to the 125-pound division where she looks to make an immediate splash with the backing of the American Kickboxing Academy team now behind her.
The co-main event features the re-booked Karl Roberson-Marvin Vettori matchup, which has only had fuel added to its proverbial fire with Roberson again having issues making weight as he did when he was forced to bow out of their first scheduled meeting a month ago. How will this animosity manifest itself in the cage?
In other main card action, Charles Rosa moves up to 155 pounds to take on Kevin Aguilar, featherweights Andre Fili and Charles Jourdain meet in striking duel, Jordan Espinosa puts his unpredictable striking up against Mark De La Rosa’s speedy submission game in a bantamweight bout, and top flyweight prospect Mariya Agapova battles Hannah Cifers.
What: UFC on ESPN 10
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, June 13. The entire event will air on ESPN and ESPN+, with the four-fight preliminaries starting at 7 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Jessica Eye vs. Cynthia Calvillo
When Cynthia Calvillo gets going on the ground, she’s fun to watch. I’m just not sure how many opportunities Jessica Eye will give her to start rolling.
Keep in mind, Eye’s most recent fight saw her win a unanimous decision against Viviane Araujo, an opponent who is bigger, hits harder, and is a better grappler than Calvillo. Eye defended well against Araujo when it came time to flash her jiu-jitsu, so what is Calvillo going to show Eye that Araujo didn’t?
In Calvillo’s favor is that she’s going to bring a fast-paced style to the flyweight division. Cardio has always been one of her strengths and without the added stress of that cut down to 115 pounds, she’ll be even stronger in the later rounds. She just might not be strong enough to deal with Eye, who’s brings a significant size advantage into the fight.
Calvillo’s standup is a work in progress too and while Eye isn’t known for having one-punch KO power, she’s always been comfortable on the feet and as long as she doesn’t get frustrated by Calvillo’s movement, she should be able to consistently outscore Calvillo.
A new division and a new camp have Calvillo trending in the right direction, but a win over Eye is a bridge too far right now.
Marvin Vettori vs. Karl Roberson
An intriguing middleweight matchup when it was originally supposed to happen on May 13, this bout took on new life with Karl Roberson’s weight-cutting mishaps leading to bad blood between himself and Marvin Vettori. Roberson missed weight by an even greater amount on Friday, which can only raise Vettori’s ire.
In his last outing, Roberson showed he had some dog in him. Against top prospect Roman Kopylov, Roberson utilized his kickboxing skills early and then shifted gears in the third, going for the takedown and finishing the fight with a rear-naked choke. He likes to stand, but that kind of adaptability is encouraging to see in a fighter still figuring things out.
He has to be prepared to go the full 15 with Vettori, who has picked apart his last two opponents on the feet. The 26-year-old Italian excels at volume striking. What Vettori lacks in raw power, he makes up for with a steady and accurate standup style. I predict that Roberson tries to get this one to the ground before Vettori does.
Factoring in emotion is always a tricky proposition, but depending on how much Vettori is thrown off by Roberson’s antics, it could completely change the complexion of this contest. It should still primarily be a striking battle, one that sees the fighters freely exchanging and rarely exploring the outer edges of the octagon. I give Vettori the edge in that scenario.
Vettori by decision.
Charles Rosa vs. Kevin Aguilar
Don’t let Kevin Aguilar’s recent knockout loss fool you, he’s a solid standup fighter and he’s going to put the pressure on Charles Rosa. He also has the takedown defense needed to keep this on the feet, where he’ll have an edge.
Rosa does have an unorthodox striking style that can be difficult to figure out. He uses kicks well and knows how to stay at a range in which he’s effective. However, he also has holes in his defense that Aguilar will exploit if Rosa spends too much time trading with him. The key for Rosa will be to keep Aguilar guessing.
Should Aguilar get into a rhythm, it’s going to be a short night for Rosa. Expect Aguilar to get ahead early, focus on stuffing takedowns, and finish in the second or third round.
Andre Fili vs. Charles Jourdain
While Vettori-Robinson will play out mostly in the pocket, Andre Fili vs. Charles Jourdain is a matchup that will feature two athletes exploring the studio space. These featherweights are as creative as anyone in the division and you can bet neither is going to settle for eking out a decision win.
That’s not to say that Fili and Jourdain are a couple of uneducated brawlers. With 14 UFC appearances under his belt already, Fili has faced stiff competition at 145 pounds and though the results haven’t always gone his way, he’s shown he can hang with anyone. He’ll be even more eager for a finish in this fight than usual after dropping a competitive decision to Sodiq Yusuff in January.
Jourdain is still a project, but one that has shown great promise. He loves to advance on his opponents with flying knees (as does Fili) and he’ll throw out spinning attacks at the drop of a hat. Still just 24, Jourdain’s best years are ahead of him. He’s pretty good already.
As I often do, I’m leaning towards experience, so Fili is the pick for me. As high as I am on Jourdain’s future, I think when this fight goes into deep waters, its Fili who will know how to navigate them better.
Jordan Espinosa vs. Mark De La Rosa
A potent grappler, Mark De La Rosa is going to have problems getting a hold of the evasive Jordan Espinosa. The long and lean Espinosa uses an in-and-out style to befuddle his opponents, which can lead to impressive results when he’s on his game.
Still, submission defense has been Espinosa’s biggest weakness and that just so happens to be De La Rosa’s specialty. He’s an expert at finding an opening for chokes, a talent he’ll put to good use should he manage to get Espinosa on the mat.
There’s a definite clash of styles here between two men likely fighting to stay in the UFC. I don’t have a lot of faith in De La Rosa’s offensive wrestling, so as long as Espinosa doesn’t shoot himself into danger (a definite possibility), he should win on points.
Mariya Agapova vs. Hannah Cifers
I hate that Hannah Cifers is fighting again on just two weeks’ notice. I hate that to take this fight, she’s going up in weight when she was already undersized at 115 pounds. I hate that she’s being fed to a blue-chipper like Mariya Agapova.
You can’t count Cifers out and she’s had her moments in recent fights against Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill. But her lack of an extra gear makes it difficult for her to finish her fights and her straightforward striking style plays right into Agapova’s strengths. The 23-year-old Kazakh prospect is making a name for herself with her unorthodox movement and effective, if occasionally wild range striking.
Add to that Agapova having an eight-inch reach advantage over Cifers, plus a nasty top game, and this has all the makings of a showcase fight for Agapova’s UFC debut.
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Tyson Nam def. Zarrukh Adashev