The UFC returns to the Apex this weekend for an exciting clash of top 15 ranked Strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill.
The main card also features fan favorites like Michael Johnson, André Fialho, Joaquin Buckley, Edmen Shahbazyan, and Anthony Hernandez.
From hot prospects to wily veterans, this card has it all. Let's look further at the main card as it appears on VerdictMMA.
Two ranked Strawweights go head-to-head in the main event to get back on track to a title shot. #8 Mackenzie Dern vs. #14 Angela Hill will be the second female-only main event of the year after Jéssica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield.
Mackenzie Dern is 7-3 in the UFC with 4 wins by submission. Dern has 4 bonus awards in her UFC run thus far. She has never been finished as a professional and is about to head into her third main event. Despite coming off a loss, Dern is an exhilarating prospect whose future in combat sports is bright. She began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at a young age and competed in the adult divisions at age 14. She got her black belt shortly before her 20th birthday and is the only female fighter in the UFC to have won gold medals at black belt in the IBJJF Gi Championship.
Angela Hill is easily classed as a UFC veteran after 19 consecutive fights and 3 fights early in her career in the promotion; she has a UFC record of 10-12. Hill has the second most fights in UFC Women's history at 22 and will tie Jéssica Andrade for number 1 when she makes the walk this weekend. She has 2 TKO victories and has never lost by KO/TKO. She has unfortunately been on the losing end of 4 split decisions that could have gone her way, which is tied for most in UFC history. Originally a kickboxer, Hill transitioned to MMA after going 16-0 and never looked back. Hill has 3 bonus awards in the UFC and is never a stranger to taking a short-notice fight. She has fought the best of the best at Strawweight, including Michelle Waterson, Claudia Gadleha, Yan Xiaonan, Randa Markos, Jéssica Andrade, Rose Namajunas, and Tecia Torres.
Edmen Shahbazyan tasted defeat for the first time when he was placed into the upper echelon of the UFC's Middleweight division at the hands of Dereck Brunson. Since then, he lost 2 more in a row before rallying for a huge knockout against Dalcha Lungiambula. Edmen began his MMA career with knockout after knockout and is a powerful, fascinating striker. His UFC run started incredibly, going 4-0 with 3 first-round finishes.
Anthony Hernandez is on an absolute tear right now, going undefeated in his last 3, with a colossal submission win over jiu-jitsu expert Rodolfo Viera. In addition, Hernandez is coming off a technical submission win over Marc-André Barriault, which closed out his year in 2022. Hernandez got an impressive KO stoppage against Jordan Wright on Dana White's Contender Series but was later turned to a no-contest as he tested positive for marijuana following the fight. Hernandez is an exciting prospect with wins over Brendan Allen, Jun Yong Park, and Josh Fremd. With 7 submissions to his credit, Hernandez is a substantial grappling threat most people don't expect to be.
This fight has Fight of the Night written all over it—two men willing to trade shots and risk it all for the knockout. André Fialho has become a fan favorite since his short-notice debut against Michel Pereira, where he lost a unanimous decision in an exciting fight that Fialho was game for the entire time. He then scored back-to-back knockouts and bonus awards against Miguel Baeza and Cameron VanCamp. Fialho has fought in all the big promotions (UFC, PFL, Bellator) and has only lost to some of the best fighters in the world.
Joaquin Buckley scored one of the greatest knockouts ever when he faced Impa Kasanganay in 2020. This knockout made him famous; it was everywhere. Kanye West even shared it on his Instagram. Since then, Buckley has had some insane knockouts over Jordan Wright, Antônio Arroyo, and Albert Duraev. Buckley currently has 11 knockout wins to his credit and is always in an exciting fight.
Two contender series veterans meet in the Octagon after both earned impressive knockouts in their debuts, followed by a decision loss.
Maheshate is a Dana White's Contender Series alum who has only had 2 fights in the UFC, going 1-1; however, those 2 fight has been must-see TV for anyone lucky enough to witness it. Maheshate is 9-2 as a professional, with 4 wins by knockout and a big first-round finish in his debut against Steve Garcia.
Viacheslav Borschev has rapidly become a fan favorite after scoring an emphatic knockout on Dana White's Contender Series and being an all-around entertaining guy outside the cage. Borschev is relatively new to MMA, with only 9 professional fights, but before fighting in MMA, he became the WAKO K-1 Kickboxing World Champion and amassed a record of 18-2.
Diego Ferreira is currently on the most significant losing stint of his career, losing 3 in-a-row, with 2 by finish. However, these 3-straight losses should not discredit the 6-fight win streak he was on before his losses. Ferreira has faced the toughest men at Lightweight, including Beneil Dariush x2, Gregor Gillespie, Mateusz Gamrot, Anthony Pettis, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, and Dustin Poirier, and has come out with a winning UFC record of 8-5. Ferreira is a third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and an ace on the ground with 7 submissions wins on his record; however, he is no stranger to the knockout.
Michael Johnson is a well-seasoned UFC veteran with a career that spans over 10 years. When it comes to big names at Lightweight, Johnson has faced them all; Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Nate Diaz, Beneil Dariush, Edson Barboza, Tony Ferguson, you name it. Johnson welcomed Justin Gaethje to the UFC in one of the greatest back-and-forth battles ever, which earned the pair Fight of the Year in 2017. Michael Johnson is always in an exhilarating fight, win, lose, or draw, and looks to do the same this weekend.
Fialho vs. Buckley does not go the distance.
Hernandez by Submission.
Dern by Submission/Decision.
What fight are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to make your picks on the VerdictMMA app and chase that illustrious belt.