Fight Island was fun, but this Saturday marks the return to the Apex, and that means the return of the smaller octagon. Oh hell yes. The small octagon is awesome and there should be a lot of finishes on this card. This card is packed with a lot of entertaining scraps. There should be a lot of violent, bloody brawls on this one. The UFC keeps pumping out these cards and somehow there are a bunch of solid fights on each one. The last 24 hours leading up to this card has been mayhem and there were a lot of drop outs and dropped fights, but we still have 10 fights and here are my picks. Good luck.



The first Main Event for the Golden Boy Edmen Shahbazyan, and he has a lot to prove if he wants to be the youngest champion in UFC history. This is the biggest fight of his career and he is going up against the gatekeeper of the middleweight division in Derek Brunson. Brunson is a great gatekeeper. Brunson is the stereotypical wrestler that fell in love with his power after a couple of knockouts and never wrestled again. It’s a good starting point for a young guy to make a jump up the rankings. Shahbazyan’s grappling and wrestling is pretty good but he might not be as strong as Brunson on the mat. He is a pressure striker so he will probably move forward looking for a finish. Considering 10 of his 11 wins were finished — 9 by KO/TKO, 1 by submission — Shahbazyan is good at getting finishes. Shahbazyan is a big favorite here, and I am not sure if he is ready for this spot. If you are having a rough night, it isn’t the worst idea to throw some money on Brunson. Brunson is good and has brick hands. His losses in the UFC were to Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Jacare Silva, and Israel Adesanya. Those are not embarrassing losses. But Brunson has stopped using his wrestling, which was his strength for the longest time. On top of that, Brunson’s chin and striking defense are not what they used to be. It is not the best combination, but on Brunson’s best day he can hang with the best the division has to offer. Unfortunately for Brunson, Shahbazyan sees him as an obstacle to being the youngest champion and wants to conquer him.

Edmen Shahbazyan (-350) by 2nd round TKO


This very well could be a biased pick for me. Whenever anyone has a title shot lined up, then decides to put that title shot on the line, it seems like they blow it. For me, that puts JoJo Calderwood in a precarious spot here. It’s all conjecture but just doesn’t seem like a good idea to risk your title shot, and if I was to risk it, I wouldn’t want to risk it against someone like Jennifer Maia. Maia isn’t the most talented fighter in the division, but she’s an ugly fighter that likes to grind opponents into the cage. She will make the fight ugly and when fights get like that, skill level doesn’t always matter. JoJo is a distance fighter. She is going to try to use her jab and kicks to avoid the clinch and grinding style of Maia. JoJo is a stronger grappler and Maia’s takedown defense isn’t great, so JoJo has the ability to take the fight to the ground if she needs to but that would require her to get into clinching distance of Maia.

JoJo could be waiting for her fight with Valentina right now, and I respect her for putting that title shot on the line, but man I can’t get over the risk she’s taking. Did she not watch Frankie Edgar v. Brian Ortega? Jennifer Maia could be lucking into a title shot with a big win here. Maia is going to try to make this fight ugly and not let JoJo get into a striking rhythm. 

Jennifer Maia (+135) by decision


Every time Luque steps into the octagon, a fun fight is guaranteed. All of his fights are violent and he gets a lot of finishes. His boxing is very technical and his hands have some serious power. His last fight, a May 2020 win over Niko Price, it looked like he beat Price with a baseball bat. Luque’s hands are like bricks and he knows how to throw them. And as good as his boxing is, he is a good grappler as well. His wrestling and jiu-jitsu is strong too. Luque is one of those well rounded fighters that is just a notch below the top of the division. But he is a wrecking ball for anyone that is not a contender or ready to contend.

Brown is pretty well rounded, but doesn’t have the power that Luque has. Brown probably joined the UFC roster a little too soon and had to work on his game while fighting the best fighters in the world. It is not the best recipe for success, but even still he was doing pretty well. He is coming into this fight on a 2 fight win streak, a 3rd round TKO over Bryan Barberena and a 2nd round submission over Warley Alves. Brown is more of a counter striker that likes to fight at distance. He grapples more than Luque and might utilize that, but Luque’s grappling is no joke so he will probably be best served keeping Luque away from him.

Brown will be the taller fighter with a reach advantage, so Luque will have to put himself into danger if he wants to get inside and keep this fight on the feet. Against Stephen Thompson, Luque let Thompson pick him apart from a distance. Luque is going to have to bowl forward and attack if he wants to avoid another decision loss here. Brown isn’t close to the quality striker that Thompson is, and I think Luque won’t have too many problems getting close and inflicting damage.

Vicente Luque (-200) by 3rd round TKO


Lando Vannata is known for his fancy ass, spinning kicks and back fists. It’s all flashy and entertaining. But it does gas him out. All of his fights are entertaining and I don’t think this one will disappoint either. Both guys are primarily strikers. Lando likes to move forward and throw crazy strikes. Green is a counter striker. So there should be plenty of strikes thrown. Lando is coming off of a close decision win over Yancy Medeiros, in February 2020,  that brought his UFC record to 3-4-2. Bobby Green beat Clay Guida by decision a little over a month ago, that brought his UFC record to 6-5-1 and is making a quick turn around here. The first time these two met was in October 2017 and it ended in a draw. But that was because an illegal knee that never landed caused Lando to lose a point on the scorecards.

This fight is going to come down to pacing. Both guys are strikers. This fight will take place in the middle of the octagon on the feet. Lando will be throwing his crazy spinning fists and kicks. Green will be countering. When Lando tires, he drops his hands though. Lando has also been very hittable late in fights. Green is not the perfect striker either. Both guys are going to try to put on a show for us and I think it will be a good one.

Bobby Green (+130) by decision


A fight of mirror images. Ed Herman and Gerald Meerschaert are the same person. They are like Jennifer Maia above, they are not plus athletes. They are grinders and they love ugly fights. These are two scrappy motherfuckers that will make this an ugly fight. This fight is going to be stretches of violent brawl and stretches of scrambles and stretches of clinch work. These guys are both scrappy and are comfortable taking this fight anywhere. Both of these guys are veterans that are going to use their fight IQs to try to grind out a win. This fight will be entertaining as long as they can go, but it will be an ugly one.

Gerald Meerschaert (-170) by decision


Kevin Holland (-210) by 2nd round TKO



Jonathan Martinez (-260) by decision


Johnny Munoz by 2nd round submission


Jamall Emmers by 1st round TKO


Chris Gutierrez (-320) by decision