UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moisés Preview

Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moisés will go to battle in the UFC Vegas 31 main event on Saturday June 17. Former champion Miesha Tate return’s from a 5 year layoff to take on Marion Reneau in the co-main event.

Makhachev, the man deemed to be the next Khabib Nurmagomedov, will headline his first UFC event against Thiago Moisés. The Russian has been touted by his mentor Khabib to be the new dominant champion in the lightweight division. Recent progress would suggest that Islam is firmly on the path to title glory, a finish of Drew Dober by submission was his best win to date. In fairness to Makhachev there isn’t an line-up of fighters waiting in the wings to take him on. This fight against Moisés will be seen as a stepping stone for Islam, enroute to a top 10 oppenent in his next fight. It would be wise not to look too far ahead as Moisés does have the ability to win this fight if Makhachev is not on his game.

Brazilian born, Moisés earned himself a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. A first roound knockout earned him a spot in the UFC. He was rewarded, or punished, I’ll let you decide that, with a debut fight against Benil Daruish, a fight which he lost by decision. A win over Kurt Holobaugh followed by a loss to Damir Ismagulov left in 1-2 in his UFC career. In 2020, Moisés came into his own in the organisation, two wins over veterens Michael Johnson and Bobby Green put him right back on track. Another win over Alexander Hernandez earlier this year set Moisés up with this headlining spot, and the chance to take all the hype that Makhachev has built up over his recent run.

Both of these guys are high level grapplers with 14 submission victories between them. On the feet, both fighters have a similar set of skills from what we have seen so far too. This is a very evenly matched fight, this is not what the bookmakers are saying but I think they have it wrong. I’m not suggesting that Moisés should be favourte but he does have a better chance than the odds suggest.

The winning of this fight, in my opinion, will be the fighter that controls the centre of the octagon. Moisés has found himself in previous fights to have his back against the cage due to the pressure applied by his opponent. An example of that would be the Johnson fight. If Moisés finds himself in this situation with Islam, that will equal bad news for the Brazilian. That is Makhachev’s world, he wants to back up his opponents to the cage and shoot for the takedown and/or control them on the cage. That’s how I would expect this fight to go down.

In the co-main event, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and WMMA OG, Miesha Tate returns to the octagon for the first time since 2016. Tate will take on Canadian Marion Reneau who has plans to retire after this fight. A win over a legend and a former champion would be the perfect way to end her career. Jeremy Stephens will jump up to the lightweight division to take on former KSW lightweight champion Mateusz Gamrot. The Polish standout looked massivly inpressive in his last outing against Scott Holtzman. For more on Gamrot you should check out Sean Denny’s article, Game On. Well worth a read.

Multi-time BJJ world champion Rodolfo Vieira lost his undefeated streak the last time he stepped inside the octagon. The Brazilian was submitted by Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez after badly gassing out in one of the upset’s of the year in 2020. The middleweight will be looking to get back to winning ways when he takes on Dustin Stolzfus. The American dropped a unanimous decision against Kyle Daukaus on his UFC debut. Rounding off the main card is a featherweight contest between Gabriel Benítez and Billy Quarantillo. Benítez won by a stunning knockout in his last outing, Quarantillo was defeated by Gavin Tucker the last time he was in action.

Preston Parsons will make his UFC debut and headline the prelims card when he steps in to take on Daniel Rodriguez. Standing at 4-1 in his UFC tenure so far Rodriguez beat Mike Perry on the judges scorecards earlier this year. Amanda Lemos is on a three fight win streak. The strawweight looks to keep that run alive when she goes up against Montserrat Ruiz. Heavy hitting bantamweight Miles Johns faces off against Anderson dos Santos. Win or lose these guys are always in exciting fights, I expect this to be no different. Francisco Figueiredo, brother of former flyweight champion Deiveson, will lock horns with Malcolm Gordon. After losing his opening two UFC bouts, this fight truly is a make or break for Gordon.

Check out the official fight card and start times below. The card will be avaiable on BT Sports and ESPN+. A fun night of fights, I hope you all enjoy.

Main Card (ESPN / ESPN+)

Lightweight: Islam Makhachev (19-1-0) vs. Thiago Moisés (15-4)
Women’s Bantamweight: Marion Reneau (9-7-1) vs. Miesha Tate (18-7)
Lightweight: Jeremy Stephens (28-18) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (18-1)
Middleweight: Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) vs. Dustin Stolzfus (13-2)
Featherweight: Gabriel Benítez (22-8) vs. Billy Quarantillo (15-3)

Preliminary Card (ESPN / ESPN+)

Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs. Preston Parsons (9-2)
Women’s Strawweight: Amanda Lemos (9-1-1) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (10-1)
Bantamweight: Khalid Taha (13-3) vs. Sergey Morozov (16-4)
Bantamweight: Miles Johns (11-1) vs. Anderson dos Santos (21-8)
Flyweight: Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1) vs. Malcolm Gordon (12-5)
Heavyweight: Alan Baudot (8-2) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1)

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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