5 of the best UFC APEX fights, 1 of the worst

  • Fans are up in arms about UFC APEX shows right now
  • But they aren't all bad, some were really great
  • We break down five we liked and one that failed to deliver
UFC APEX general view
UFC APEX general view / UFC
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BEST: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodríguez, UFC Vegas 42

2021 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the career of Max Holloway. Coming off of his third defeat to Alexander Volkanovski, the former featherweight champion was clearly still among the elite of the sport but was removed title contention for the time being. He began his 2021 with an all-time performance against Calvin Kattar where he set the record for strikes landed in a fight. He then saw himself in a high-profile matchup against Yair Rodríguez in a matchup of two of the most exciting strikers in the UFC.

In hindsight, this top five showdown had all the makings of a pay-per-view headliner but we were lucky enough to witness this 25 minute war at the UFC APEX. Before the fight, many believed Max Holloway was on another level compared to the rest of the contenders in the division. Rodríguez was coming off a two year hiatus from the Octagon and was given only a slight chance by large portions of the fight community.

Holloway certainly proved once again that the road to the featherweight championship goes through him but Yair Rodríguez offered one of the greatest performances of his career in a unanimous decision loss. The main event was extremely competitive with several high-level exchanges and even saw a surprising Yair comeback attempt late in the fight, with many, including the judges, believing he won the final round.

Although the rankings of the competitors suggested that this would become a no-brainer fight of the night, the general sense prior to the event was that Holloway couldn't be beaten by any featherweight not named Alexander Volkanovski. Nov/ 13, 2021, proved that the featherweight division in the UFC was alive as ever with one of the greatest fights in UFC APEX history.

WORST: Ciryl Gane vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, UFC Vegas 20

The UFC APEX can provide fans with one of the most unique experiences in all of sports and entertainment with the level of closeness it can offer. Having one of the most violent sports in the world taking place in near-silence can make every punch, kick, and elbow feel like a potential fight-ender. This sort of atmosphere can also make a 25 minute fight agonizing through lack of activity, failure to meet expectations, or a combination of other factors.

Ciryl Gane was on his undefeated rise to the top of the heavyweight division when he was met by No. 4 ranked heavyweight contender Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Both were looked at as possibly the two best pure strikers in the division with their extensive backgrounds in muay thai and kickboxing respectively. The stats behind the fight don't exactly tell the entire story as there were over 300 total strikes attempted between the two competitors. However, where the frustration emerges is that the fight seemed like a glorified sparring session with minimal consistent action.

What best illustrates the disappointment with the largely uninspiring main event is the live reactions commentators Michael Bisping and Paul Felder offered during the contest. The discourse went from high praise of the patience and discipline both fighters were showing to questioning whether Ciryl Gane wanted to become a star later in the fight. Gane was able to point his way to a unanimous decision victory but did so in a mundane fashion.

Overall, the result of the main event didn't put a halt to the career trajectory of either competitor, but the fight was less than memorable and most evidently showed one of the few downsides to hosting events at the UFC APEX.