Even though Fight Island is in the rear-view mirror for MMA fans, the UFC isn’t slowing down as they look to put on a show every weekend for at least the next few months. UFC Apex 6 is the next event coming up and in this piece, I’ll be previewing 4 of the 7 prelim bouts set for Saturday’s card.
Irwan Rivera vs Ali Alqaisi – Bantamweight Bout
Kicking the card off on the prelims is a battle between Irwan Rivera and newcomer to the UFC, Ali Alqaisi. Rivera made his UFC debut back in May when he faced Giga Chikadze, a fight he lost via decision. Rivera will be looking to improve on that performance and will find an easier task tonight, as Chikadze has established himself as a huge prospect in this division. With a career record of 9-5, Rivera will be hoping he can impress with an early finish and kickstart his UFC career.
Ali Alqaisi is making his UFC debut in this bout, after an impressive stint in Brave CF and other promotions. Alqaisi has impressed with his submission specialist skillset, forcing opponents to tap 4 times in his 8 wins so far. Alqaisi will be looking to take this fight to the ground and lock in a submission rather than standing and exchanging with Rivera.
Personally, I have Rivera winning this bout, it’ll be interesting to see if Alqaisi can make the step-up to the level of competition in the UFC but Rivera losing to Chikadze via decision isn’t too bad of a result and I feel he can take a further step with his game against Alqaisi, especially if the fight stays off the ground.
Youssef Zalal vs Pete Barrett – Featherweight Bout
Next up on the prelims is a featherweight bout between Youssef Zalal and UFC debutant Pete Barrett. Youssef Zalal has impressed in his short UFC career so far; he won his debut bout back in February and then made the short turnover to win again in June. Once again, he makes a short comeback to fight and make his UFC record go to 3-0. Zalal made his name off of some impressive submission wins, and whilst we haven’t seen that yet in the UFC, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we do.
Pete Barrett is making his UFC debut tonight, after earning his contract on Dana White’s Contenders Series back in August 2019. Barrett impressed on the show, with a decision win over Sang-Hoon Yoo and made his name in the LFA promotion mainly as a knockout artist, having 7 of his 11 career wins coming via KO/TKO. Barrett will be looking to keep the fight on the feet against Zalal, otherwise, he might find himself in deep trouble.
This will be an interesting bout to watch, Barrett has the power in his punches to catch and KO Zalal, but Zalal has the upper hand on the ground and with his submission game. I have Zalal winning this one via submission, mainly because Barrett gives his arm up in guard, and Zalal will easily sink an armbar or triangle choke in and get the tap.
Gavin Tucker vs Justin Jaynes – Featherweight Bout
We stay in the featherweight division for this next bout as Gavin Tucker takes on Justin Jaynes. Tukcer made his debut in the UFC back in 2017, winning his debut bout and then losing his 2nd bout. Tucker then took a 2-year break from the sport, returning in 2019 and winning against Seung Woo Choi. Tucker is a great wrestler, he knows what he’s doing on the ground and can either sink a submission in, or knock his opponent out with some nasty ground and pound.
Justin Jaynes made his UFC debut back in June 2020 and seriously impressed fans as he knocked Frank Camacho out within a minute of the first round. He makes the quick turnaround in this one and poses an interesting threat to a guy like Tucker, as he knows how to win via a guillotine choke, a great count against a wrestler when they shoot for the takedown. He also knows how to knock people out on the feet and is a pretty well-rounded fighter.
I have Justin Jaynes winning this one, I think Tucker is a great fighter and can definitely win this bout if he manages to dominate Jaynes on the ground, however, Jaynes has a better standup game and he also has that guillotine choke as a counter to Tucker’s wrestling, something Tucker will be wary of for the entire 15 minutes.
Andrew Sanchez vs Wellington Turman – Middleweight Bout
For the final fight preview of this piece, we moved up to the middleweight division as Andrew Sanchez takes on Wellington Turman. Sanchez has been in the UFC since 2016 and has been hit and miss over his time in the promotion. His last bout was against Marvin Vettori back in 2019, a fight he lost via decision. It’ll be interesting to see where Sanchez is at, as he’s never truly impressed me with his skills, he’s good enough at a lot of stuff but not exceptional and I think that’s what’s letting him down.
Wellington Turman made his UFC debut back in July 2019, losing to Karl Roberson, however, he bounced back a few months later with a win against Markus Perez, which was his most recent fight. Turman has an impressive record of 16-3 during the course of his career and has found himself winning by a variety of methods. He’s mainly known for his impressive submission game and will look to implement that skillset in this one.
I have Turman winning this bout, he has a standout skill that can easily finish fights compared to Sanchez, who never backs down from a fight but never truly dominates fights either. This could be the start of Turman turning into a real prospect in that middleweight division.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sport