Fights come together fast these days, and if you blink, you can easily miss them. In Fight Roundup, we bring you the latest reported matchups to keep you up to date with what’s on the horizon.
All bouts featured have been officially announced or confirmed with MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, and Damon Martin via sources with knowledge of the matchups.
Manel Kape is sneaking in a fight just before the end of the year.
The flyweight contender — currently No. 11 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — returns for the first time since last December when he fights David Dvorak (20-4) on Dec. 17 at a UFC Vegas 66. The bout was first reported by MMA Mania.
Kape (17-6) had two bouts scheduled in 2022, but neither came to fruition. This past April, Kape tested positive for traces of turinabol and the Nevada Athletic Commission pulled him from a fight with Sumudaerji, while a fight with Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 275 this past June was cancelled when Bontorin was hospitalized with weight cut issues. “Starboy” has won two straight fights by first-round knockout.
Dvorak, tied for No. 14 in the rankings, looks to avoid a losing streak as he comes off of his first UFC setback, a unanimous decision loss to Matheus Nicolau. Prior to that March defeat, Dvorak was 3-0 in the octagon with wins over Juancamilo Ronderos, Jordan Espinosa and Bruno “Bulldog” Silva.
Alex Caceres vs. Julian Erosa
Featherweight veterans Alex Caceres and Julian Erosa have a booking for the UFC APEX.
Caceres (19-13, 1 NC) fights Erosa (28-9) at the Dec. 17 UFC Vegas 66 card, a bout that was first announced by Erosa’s management. This marks the 27th UFC appearance for Caceres.
“Bruce Leeroy” is 14-11 (1 NC) since making his octagon debut in 2011 coming out of The Ultimate Fighter 12. He is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Sodiq Yusuff this past March, which snapped a five-fight win streak.
Erosa was also initially signed off of TUF, but bounced back and forth between other promotions and is currently in his third stint with the UFC. The third time has been the charm for “Juicy J,” who has won three straight fights and five of his past six since returning to the promotion.
Brandon Royval out of Amir Albazi fight
The “Year of the Raw Dawg” has come to an abrupt halt.
Brandon Royval announced via Instagram that his upcoming Dec. 17 bout with Amir Albazi (15-1) is off due to a broken wrist.
“After a few days of the deformity, bruising and the pain not going away, I went to the doctors where they determined I broke my wrist,” Royval wrote. “Thankfully I won’t need surgery, but I will not be recovered in enough time to compete. This is the first time despite many injuries, I’ve ever had to pull out of an MMA fight and couldn’t navigate my camp around it.
“I’m super sad but this won’t change that I’ll have the belt by the end of 2023.”
Royval — the No. 8 flyweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — was looking to go 3-0 in 2022 after scoring wins over Matt Schnell and Rogerio Bontorin earlier this year. He also holds notable finishes of top-ranked flyweights Kai Kara-France and Tim Elliott.
A replacement opponent has not been made official for Albazi, but ESPN reports that UFC newcomer and recent Contender Series hopeful Alessandro Costa (12-2) will step in for Royval.
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Antonio Trocoli
Ovince Saint Preux has a new opponent for UFC 282. Again.
After the withdrawals of Alexander Gustafsson and Philippe Lins, “OSP” is now set to face octagon newcomer Antonio Trocoli at the upcoming Dec. 10 pay-per-view at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The change was first reported by ESPN.
Saint Preux (26-16) has made one appearance in 2022 so far, competing at UFC 274 this past May where he scored a second victory over MMA legend Mauricio Rua. The 39-year-old veteran has bounced between light heavyweight and heavyweight in his past five fights with mixed results.
Trocoli (12-3, 1 NC) makes his UFC debut on a four-fight unbeaten streak. He was originally signed by the UFC in 2019 following a first-round submission of Kenneth Bergh on Dana White’s Contender Series, but was released shortly after when he tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. His win over Bergh was overturned to a no contest.
Joe Solecki vs. Benoit Saint Denis
Joe Solecki and Benoit Saint Denis have a chance to get 2023 off on the right foot.
The surging lightweights are scheduled to meet at a UFC APEX event in Las Vegas on Feb. 18. Saint Denis’ management was first to announce the bout.
Solecki (12-3) defeated Alex da Silva by majority decision this past June to improve to 4-1 in the UFC. He’s made a habit of knocking off veterans as he also holds decision wins over Jim Miller and Matt Wiman.
After a disastrous UFC debut in a welterweight bout in October 2021, Saint Denis has returned to form since returning to the 155-pound division. The Frenchman has won two straight fights in the second round, defeating Gabriel Miranda by TKO and Niklas Stolze by submission.
Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. Koji Takeda
Another Bellator vs. RIZIN fight has been added to the promotions’ year-end card.
RIZIN officials announced that Bellator contender Gadzhi Rabadanov (18-4-2) and RIZIN standout Koji Takeda (15-3) are set to fight in a lightweight bout on the Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve show at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Rabadanov has made an immediate mark on Bellator’s lightweight division since joining the promotion in 2021, rattling off three straight victories including a recent decision win over Bobby King at Bellator 283 this past July. Overall, the Russian fighter has won 10 of his past 11 fights.
Takeda is currently on a two-fight win streak, with his most recent outing ending in a first-round submission victory via armbar over Zach Zane. He also holds an 8-0 record in Japan’s DEEP promotion.