UFC Fight Night brings another hotly anticipated evening of action as several divisions are on tenterhooks ahead of these fights. The main event here at the UFC Apex pits Grant Dawson against Bobby Green. In addition, there’s a shedload of knuckle-grinding fights including the latest installment of Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s redemption arc.

Dawson Becoming More than a Contender

Grant Dawson’s UFC career has gone from strength to strength. Firstly, he appeared and won his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, which led the way to his eventual debut in the UFC in 2019. Since then he’s not lost; sadly, it’s impossible to say he’s won every fight because there was a majority draw against Ricky Glenn. The important factor is that he’s kept the momentum. Dawson may have been kept back from PPV cards and main eventing fight nights as he’s had issues with weight management, given he’s missed weight twice. A good performance here against Bobby Green could give him the boost he needs to ignite his career.

By comparison, Bobby Green has been to the top table of UFC competition before. However, ten long years have passed since he made his debut in the company with a Submission of the Night performance. Inconsistent is a prime adjective for Green’s career to date. Performance of the Night bonus is also riddled with fights where he was simply outfought. More recently, two losses and a no contest made it difficult to gauge an upward career trajectory. That was until he made UFC legend Tony Ferguson tap out in July 2023. While beating Ferguson isn’t the scalp it used to be, it’s certainly a boost.

Welterweight Prospects Want Attention

The UFC welterweight division could be considered to be one of the hardest divisions to break into right now in late 2023. Leon Edwards is the champion, and there are reams of challengers. Colby Covington is the next man to fight for that belt, with the bout penciled in for UFC 296 in December 2023. Kamaru Usman, Belal Muhammad, and Kazmat Chimaev might also want to stake their claim to a future title shot.

The road to such grandeur starts here for Joaquin Buckley and Alex Morono. Buckley has enjoyed success in the UFC, largely at middleweight, and enjoyed a return to welterweight back in May when he knocked out André Fialho with a head kick.

Morono has had a long career within the UFC, with a few call-up spots to the PPV scene. Yet, he’s never truly advanced and shined when confronted with major opposition. If he doesn’t defeat Buckley, it could be time for him to reconsider his involvement with UFC. He held gold with Legacy Fighting Alliance; maybe they’d have him back for another run.

Anyone Can Win in Light Heavyweight Circus

The UFC’s Light Heavyweight division has been insecure and subject to a lot of volatility. No champion has seemingly been able to defend the belt after winning it, whether it’s just losing it or having it stripped from them. Jon Jones won it twice before a failed drug test and a division change took it from him. Jiří Procházka won a fight for the vacant title but had to vacate it due to a severe shoulder injury, while Jamahal Hill ruptured his Achilles tendon, leading to it being vacant again.

So, just who would like to enter this whimsical division with no stability? Philipe Lins and Ion Cuțelaba are such individuals with aspirations of reaching the higher echelons of this division. Their bout here at UFC Apex will establish who is better suited to greater challenges and who is more likely to be granted entry to this particular divisional circus.

The Brazilian Philipe Lins has the distinction of fighting for all three of the major MMA promotions. His exploits in Bellator and PFL led him to the Fight Night level of the UFC. At the age of 38, every bout is a must-win as he might not have the time left in his career to reclimb the mountain.

Ten years his junior, Ion Cuțelaba is arguably more experienced, having fought more fights than his adversary here. The Moldovan dominated his European circuits as he amassed an 11-1 record before signing for the UFC. Since fighting for the promotion in 2016, he’s been inconsistent. Successive losses to Magomed Ankalaev might make it difficult for him to progress. Now, with a 17-9-1 record, he’s also at the crux of his career. Cuțelaba does, however, have more time left on the clock should he lose this fight.

Kowalkiewicz Tops the Prelim Card

Karolina Kowalkiewicz was unfortunately placed in the same generation as Joanna Jędrzejczyk. There simply wasn’t enough room in the UFC for two elite Polish fighters in the strawweight division. As a result, Kowalkiewicz played second fiddle and never got her hands on the silverware. Later, a five-match losing streak made her career record as bad as 12-7 and planted serious doubts as to whether she should continue fighting.

Come 2022, the redemption arc has been booted up. Felice Herrig was the first victim, whereas Silvana Gómez Juárez and Vanessa Demopoulos would also lose to the re-emerging Polish fighter. Now on a three-match winning run, she takes on Diana Belbiţă – a Romanian fighter with an identical record, 15-7. The winner from this bout will take a fierce step up the division rankings and bolster their stature.

Belbiţă enters this fight after securing a decision victory over Maria Oliveira on the UFC 289 card back in June. This fight with Kowalkiewicz is undoubtedly her biggest bout to date and could do wonders for her career should she win.