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5 under-the-radar UFC fights well worth watching in February

Josh Emmett (left), Erin Blanchfield (centre), Yair Rodriguez (right)
Josh Emmett (left), Erin Blanchfield (centre), Yair Rodriguez (right)

With the final UFC event of January now in the books, it’s time to look towards February. Unsurprisingly, most of the attention is on the lightweight title fight between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski.

Makhachev vs. Volkanovski is the biggest UFC fight booked for February, but the second month of 2023 also has a number of under-the-radar bouts that could turn out to be outstanding.

Whether these fights deliver the goods in the octagon, of course, remains to be seen, but they’re definitely worth getting excited over, even if they’re being slightly overlooked right now.

Here are five under-the-radar UFC fights well worth watching in February.


#5. Tatiana Suarez vs. Montana De La Rosa – UFC Fight Night 220

Tatiana Suarez is set to make her long-awaited return in February
Tatiana Suarez is set to make her long-awaited return in February

Fight Night 220, which is scheduled for February 25, is set to be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Ryan Spann and Nikita Krylov. However, the event features a number of interesting bouts that are going under the radar.

One such bout will see the long-awaited return of TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez, who is set to face off with Montana De La Rosa in her first bout at 125 pounds.

Suarez has not fought in the octagon since June 2019, as a serious neck injury later that year, as well as other issues, landed her on the shelf.

However, prior to her absence, she looked like a potential title contender at strawweight thanks to her stifling, powerful wrestling game and a top-level submission arsenal.

Flashback to the time when Tatiana Suarez did a little bit of a number on former champion, Carla Esparza. https://t.co/NBIlqe5Bm3

Essentially, then, if Suarez can beat De La Rosa, who has won just one of her last four bouts, she’d have to be considered an instant contender for Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight title, and could have the style to test the champ.

That alone makes her return bout one not to be missed in February.


#4. Andre Muniz vs. Brendan Allen – UFC Fight Night 220

Andre Muniz may be the middleweight division's most dangerous grappler
Andre Muniz may be the middleweight division's most dangerous grappler

Fight Night 220 will also feature a very interesting bout in the UFC’s middleweight division between Andre Muniz and Brendan Allen. While these two fighters don’t necessarily have the biggest names, this one is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Essentially, Muniz, who is ranked at No.11 right now, may well be the best grappler operating at 185 pounds. Given that the upper echelon of the division is dominated by strikers with apparent holes in their ground games, that means the Brazilian could be a very real title threat.

André Muniz SUBMITS Ronaldo Souza in the first round! 👏#UFC262 https://t.co/0WkHWwgklt

Muniz is currently 23-4 and is unbeaten in the octagon at 5-0, but he might have his hands full with Allen.

‘All In’ is a well-rounded fighter and while his record isn’t as good as the Brazilian’s, he has won eight bouts in the octagon, including one via TKO and four via submission.

If Muniz can put him away in impressive fashion, though, it’ll be likely that he’ll garner plenty of hype. Given that he could be a dangerous foe for the likes of Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, this fight should be well worth watching.


#3. Abus Magomedov vs. Gerald Meerschaert – UFC Fight Night 219

Gerald Meerschaert will hope to test prospect Abus Magomedov in their clash
Gerald Meerschaert will hope to test prospect Abus Magomedov in their clash

Unsurprisingly, most of the hype around Fight Night 219, which is booked for February 18, has centered around the headline bout between bantamweight stars Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen.

However, there is also a highly touted fighter competing on the undercard in the form of Dagestani middleweight prospect Abus Magomedov.

Magomedov, who is an impressive 25-4 overall, needed just 19 seconds to win his octagon debut back in September. He stopped Dustin Stoltzfus with a front kick, lighting up the crowd and claiming a $50k bonus in the process.

Abus Magomedov flattened Dustin Stoltzfus in 19 seconds 😳 #UFCParis(via @espnmma) https://t.co/32iEzj7DA0

The win meant that the hype around this prospect grew exponentially. So it’s surprising that more hasn’t been made of his upcoming fight with Gerald Meerschaert.

‘GM3’ is not a title contender at 185 pounds, but he’s a super-tough veteran who has won four of his last five bouts. More to the point, he has ten finishes to his name in the octagon.

Essentially, Meerschaert will definitely test Magomedov, but if the Dagestani passes the test, then we can expect to hear a lot more from him in the near future. This, therefore, is definitely a fight worth watching.


#2. Taila Santos vs. Erin Blanchfield – UFC Fight Night 219

Taila Santos pushed Valentina Shevchenko to the limit in their 2022 bout Yair Rodriguez will hope to claim his first title in February
Taila Santos pushed Valentina Shevchenko to the limit in their 2022 bout Yair Rodriguez will hope to claim his first title in February

As mentioned earlier, the UFC’s flyweight division is desperate for challengers for Valentina Shevchenko right now.

That means that one of February’s most important fights could be the clash between Taila Santos and Erin Blanchfield, which goes down at Fight Night 219.

Santos famously challenged Shevchenko for her title back in June 2022. Despite many fans and observer believing that she deserved the victory, she came up short on the judges’ scorecards.

Many people expected the Brazilian to be granted an immediate rematch, but instead, the next title shot has gone to Alexa Grasso. That has left Santos to face arguably the hottest prospect in the division in Erin Blanchfield.

Blanchfield is currently 4-0 in the octagon and 10-1 overall, and ‘Cold Blooded’ was impressive in her last win, a submission of Molly McCann.

Erin Blanchfield taps out Molly McCann in the first round! 👋#UFC281 https://t.co/6bQiSccdcY

Essentially, if Blanchfield can overcome Santos, then it’s likely that she’ll instantly take the next title shot at 125lbs. Likewise, if Santos can knock off the best prospect in the division, she could find herself in line, too.

This is a big fight, and therefore, it’s definitely one not to miss in February.


#1. Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett – UFC 284

UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez v Penn

UFC flyweight contender Yair Rodriguez faces Josh Emmett at UFC 284

Usually, it’s impossible for any UFC title fight to fly under the radar. However, there’s so much attention being lavished on the lightweight title bout between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski right now that the interim featherweight title clash on the same card – UFC 284 – is seemingly going ignored.

There are reasons for this, of course. Firstly, interim title fights are almost like No.1 contender’s fights these days. Secondly, the promotion hasn’t chosen the top ranked 145lbers in the division to contend for it.

However, the truth is that Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett promises to be a truly fantastic fight, even if it’s arguable that the likes of Max Holloway and Arnold Allen have more of a claim to a title shot.

Rodriguez is one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the entire promotion, and his willingness to throw low-percentage strikes and flashy attacks makes him a must-see attraction.

Emmett isn’t quite as fun to watch, but he does hit remarkably hard, as the likes of Ricardo Lamas and Michael Johnson can attest to. More importantly, he rarely gets tired, has an awesome chin, and never stops coming forward.

Overall, whoever wins this one will probably have to go through hell to do so – and they’ll also provide a stern test for Volkanovski, assuming he drops back to 145lbs in the future.

Therefore, this fight is definitely the most fascinating of the bouts flying under the radar in February.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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