UFC Vegas 87, Random Land!

After UFC Mexico City last weekend, where Brandon Royval upset Brandon Moreno and Brian Ortega returned to the win column by strangling Yair Rodriguez, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads home to its Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, tomorrow evening (Sat., March 2, 2024) for UFC Vegas 87.

In the ESPN+-streamed main event, Heavyweights throwdown as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on surging Contender Series product, Shamil Gaziev. There is no beating around the bush: UFC Vegas 87 is a very weak card (see it here); however, there are a few entertaining fights with interesting prospects. So, before it goes down on ESPN+, let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime …

UFC Saudi Vegas?

This week’s underwhelming card was supposed to go down in Saudi Arabia; however, because the card was not good enough (allegedly), it was moved to “Sin City.” The promotion’s debut in Saudi Arabia will now take place June 22, 2024.

Quick Promotion

After just one fight in UFC, Gaziev competes in a main event spot and will have a chance to crack the Top 15 Heavyweight rankings. Gaziev received a UFC contract with a first round submission win over Greg Velasco on season seven of Contender Series and then followed it up with a second round technical knockout win at UFC 296. He holds a 92 percent finish rate with eight knockouts.

First To Last

Speaking of his UFC 296 fight, Gaziev opened up that card as the first “Prelims” undercard match of the night against Martin Buday (watch highlights), and now he is headlining his first UFC card.

What a roll reversal.

‘Bigi Boy’ Shows Up

UFC Vegas 87 will be Rozenstruik’s sixth UFC main event, which is more events than half of the current UFC champions.

He is currently 2-3 as a UFC headliner and is 2-3 in his last five fights.

Does ‘Icao’ Continue To Roll?

Vitor Petrino — one of our unranked fighters to watch in 2024 — competes in UFC Vegas 87’s co-main event against Tyson Pedro.

Petrino had a tremendous 2023, going undefeated (3-0) with a knockout of Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Sao Paulo (see it) and a submission of Marcin Prachnio at UFC 290, as well as earning “Fight of the Night” in his Octagon debut against Anton Turkalj.

With an impressive win on Saturday over Pedro, Petrino could enter the Top 15 Light Heavyweight rankings. And even if he doesn’t, he will get a ranked opponent in his next outing.

Sold Out Arenas … To The Apex

Pedro hasn’t competed inside the APEX since his return fight at UFC Vegas 52 in April 2022. Since then, he competed in Utah at UFC 278 and then twice in Australia for UFC 284 and UFC 293.

Big sold-out arenas to the Apex … bummer.

Title Shot On The Line?

Last weeks Flyweight upset between Royval and Moreno really turned the division on its head as now there is no clear No. 1 contender for the Flyweight title.

Muhammad Mokaev has a chance to snatch a Flyweight title shot with a win this weekend if he gets through former title challenger Alex Perez. Mokaev revealed during UFC Vegas 87 media day that champion Alexandre Panjota has accepted the challenge and will be watching the fight closely for a showdown at UFC 301.

American Noob

Mokaev will make his American debut this weekend at UFC Vegas 87. The 23-year-old has competed all over the world from Abu Dhabi to Australia to England, but never the United States.

Knock On Wood

After a 19-month layoff and three canceled fights, Alex Perez returns to action. The bad luck bug has bitten Perez as he has had an awful three-year stretch of fight cancelations.

Hopefully, he gets through fight week, and there won’t be a fight day cancelation like his last outing at UFC San Antonio.

Female-less

It is a very rare occurrence, but there is not a single female fight on UFC Vegas 87. Julia Polastri vs. Josefine Knutsson was scheduled, but it ended up being scrapped.

Umar Is Back

Umar Nurmagomedov returns to action for the first time in 13 months against UFC newcomer, Bekzat Almakhan. It is a shame that Nurmagomedov hasn’t been more active, but according to the undefeated Bantamweight, no one will sign a contract to fight him … well except for Cory Sandhagen, but that fight was canceled.

Hopefully, after UFC Vegas 87, Nurmagomedov will get a Top 10 opponent next (if he wins).

Beautiful Chaos

Matt Schnell vs. Steve Erceg opens up the main card on Saturday and the fight is going to absolutely chaotic for as long as it lasts. The pair of Flyweights were scheduled to clash at UFC 295 back in Nov. 2023; however, Schnell pulled out with an injury. Both Flyweights are extremely fun to watch and put themselves in danger to win.

Erceg is currently perfect (2-0) in UFC and is riding a six-fight win streak. Meanwhile, Schnell is coming off a 15-month layoff and a technical knockout loss.

Don’t blink for this one.

Cursed

Speaking of Schnell, he was scheduled to fight Perez four times between 2021-22, but the fight never happened.

Welcome To UFC!

Five fighters are making their UFC debut at UFC Vegas 87:

  • Bekzat Almakhan (17-1) is fighting Nurmagomedov. Almakhan is a 26-year-old fighter from Kazakhstan who holds an 82 percent finish rate and is riding a nine-fight win streak.
  • Vinicius Oliveira (19-3) takes on fellow newcomer Benardo Sopaj (11-2). Oliveira is coming off a contract-winning performance on season seven of Contender Series against Victor Madrigal, where he knocked him out in the first round. He holds a 90 percent finish rate.
    Sopaj fights out of Sweden, holds a 91 percent finish rate, and is riding a three-fighting winning streak. Sopaj fights Oliveira on four days notice.
  • A.J. Cunningham (11-3) fights Ludvkit Klein on five days notice. Cunningham is a season seven Contender Series veteran; however, he did not win, but he left an impression with his toughness. He holds a 72 percent finish rate with four knockouts and four submissions. Oh, and he is related to Bryce Mitchell.
  • Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (15-3) also comes from a contract-winning person on season seven of Contender Series, upsetting George Harwick via unanimous decision. Al-Selwady holds a 63 percent finish rate and is riding a five-fight win streak.

Winners And Losers

Fifteen fighters are coming off wins, while seven are coming off losses.

Multi-Divisions

Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:

  • One Heavyweight fight
  • One Light Heavyweight fight
  • Two Middleweight fights
  • Two Welterweight fights
  • Two Lightweight fights
  • Three Bantamweight fight
  • Two Flyweight fights

Beta Dog

According to DraftKings, UFC Vegas 87’s “biggest” underdog is Almakhan at +750.



LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 87 On ESPN+

’BIGI BOY’ BRAWL! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to its APEX venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 2, 2024, with a Heavyweight showdown between knockout artist and former kickboxing standout, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, welcoming undefeated Contender Series signee, Shamil Gaziev (11-0), to the Octagon proper. In UFC Vegas 87’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, undefeated Vitor Petrino (10-0) looks to keep his perfect record intact at the expense of the once highly-touted Tyson Pedro in a Light Heavyweight scrap.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 87 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 87: “Rozenstruik vs. Gaziev” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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