Matt Frevola and Kennedy Nzechukwu earned their contracts on the final episodes of Season 1 and Season 2 respectively, and are on the fringes of the Top 15 in their divisions, while Season 4 grads Carlos Ulberg and Ignacio Bahamondes each recently picked up victories. Season 5 is where Ciao Borralho punched his ticket to competing in the Octagon, and all five of the graduates from Season 6 have already registered at least one win under the UFC banner, with Farid Basharat and Daniel Marcos each standing at 2-0.
This week’s slate features a collection of hopefuls looking to join that quality class of Week 8 alums plying their trade on the biggest stage in the sport, and it should be as entertaining as always.
Here’s a look at Tuesday’s matchups.
Danny Barlow vs. Raheem Forest
If this contest didn’t come together here, it would have taken place under the CFFC banner with the vacant welterweight title on the line.
Barlow, who was originally slated to face returning Brit Justin Burlinson, enters with an unblemished 6-0 record, having earned four of those victories by first-round stoppage. The 26-year-old Forest is once-beaten as pro, with that loss coming two fights back in a title defense against recent UFC 293 winner Charles Radtke.
Both men are known for their finishing abilities and have faced solid competition along the way to the UFC APEX, so while it’s come together hastily, this should be an electric way to wrap up Week 8.
Mario Piazzon vs. Alexander Soldatkin
Heavyweights occupy the co-main event slot this week, with Brazil’s Mario Piazzon facing off with German Alexander Soldatkin.
A teammate of recent DWCS winner Eduarda Moura and Season 5 standout Jailton Almeida, Piazzon is an undefeated 25-year-old that has only gone past the first round once in his professional career. Born in Russia, Soldatkin carries an 11-fight winning streak and 14-3 mark overall into the cage this week, having earned each of his last seven victories inside the distance.
This profiles as a matchup between an ascending talent with an unknown ceiling and limited experience versus a more battle-tested veteran who is looking to show, as Frankie Edgar famously declared, there are levels to this. Will Piazzon join his teammates on the UFC roster or will Soldatkin turn him back on Tuesday night?
Angel Pacheco vs. Danny Silva
Featherweights with matching 7-1 records meet in the middle of the card this week as Angel Pacheco steps in with Danny Silva.
The elder member of this pairing, Pacheco has earned four straight victories, all by stoppage, and wrapped up his camp working with Rob Font, Calvin Kattar, and the rest of the New England Cartel. Silva, who trains under UFC veteran Cub Swanson, dropped a majority decision to DWCS alum Canaan Kawaihae two fights back, but rebounded with a first-round stoppage win in late June to get things moving in the right direction again.
Pacheco is the more tested of the two, but Silva has a great frame and reach for the division, which sets up another interesting dynamic inside the cage this week. Watching to see how things play out should be good fun.
Ernesta Kareckaite vs. Carli Judice
Ernesta Kareckaite looks to become the second Lithuanian woman on the UFC roster when she takes on American prospect “Crispy” Carli Judice.
Originally scheduled to face Sora Rakhmonov, the younger sister of welterweight standout Shavkat Rakhmonov, Kareckaite enters Tuesday’s contest with Judice sporting a 4-0-1 mark in mixed martial arts with a sprinkling of experience in both kickboxing and boxing, as well. The 24-year-old Judice posted four wins in 13 months as an amateur and has kept rolling along as a pro, registering three straight first-round stoppage wins in less a year.
The flyweight division is the most competitive and intriguing weight class in the UFC at the moment, and the upside each of these women possess makes both of them interesting long-range prospects to keep tabs on, starting Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
Vinicius Oliveira vs. Victor Madrigal
Business kicks off in the bantamweight division as experienced hopefuls Vinicius Oliveira and Victor Madrigal meet in the Week 8 opener.
Oliveira is 27 years old and already 18-3 as a professional, with wins in seven of his last eight appearances, including five inside the distance. The 33-year-old Madrigal is 15-4 overall, having won three straight, and five of his last six, including victories over Season 5 graduate Cristian Quinonez and UFC vet Jose Quinonez.
This should be a spirited affair to kick off the show, as both men have attacking styles and above average finishing rates… plus they’re fighting in front of UFC CEO Dana White with a UFC contract potentially hanging in the balance.