Ranked Middleweights Part of UFC’s 302 Pay-Per-View Card Set for Newark

April 3, 2024
3 months

There isn’t a reason to panic yet that a proper main event still hasn’t been announced for UFC 302. The fight card is set to take place June 1 and there will be a lot of news announced about the event between now and then. Right now, UFC fans in Newark can salivate at the prospect of seeing two ranked middleweights, Roman Dolidze and Anthony Hernandez, square off.

Five fights are currently scheduled for the card. At UFC 288 last year, when the Prudential Center last hosted an event, the main event saw Henry Cejudo challenge Aljamain Sterling for the UFC bantamweight title. It’s hard to say if this event will get a championship fight.

But the best MMA news sites show that the fights that have already been announced should be enough to get many fight fans interested in the event.

Dolidze Ready to Derail Hernandez’s Momentum

Anthony Hernandez is in a position where Roman Dolidze once was. Hernandez has run off five straight victories, the last three of which came via finish. The question for Hernandez, who has joined the rankings at No. 12, is whether he can handle a higher level of competition.

Dolidze found himself in a similar spot going into a fight with former title challenger Marvin Vettori at UFC 286 in March 2023. The Georgian powerhouse came into the fight against Vettori from a four-fight winning streak, including three straight wins by knockout. But Vettori is notoriously hard-headed and impossible to knock out.

Dolidze dropped a decision to Vettori that day, then lost his next fight to Nassourdine Imamov. While Dolidze has managed to keep a spot in the top 10 of the rankings, a loss to Hernandez may threaten to push him down the list. Hernandez lost two of his first three fights in the UFC, but has clearly turned things around.

This will be a good test to see how far Hernandez has come.

Perez & Edwards Can Fight Legally Now

Fighters on the UFC rosters will run into weird beef with other fighters during their careers. But for Ailin Perez, one unexpected feud nearly cost her a spot on a fight card. Before a fight night card last November, Perez was attacked by Joselyne Edwards while at the UFC Performance Institute.

Edwards was upset about something Perez had said about her in an interview. Edwards’ strike left Perez with a black eye that threatened her bout with Lucie Pudilová last November. But Perez was cleared by doctors and would fight to a unanimous decision win to improve to 9-2.

MMAfighting latest updates show that neither woman was suspended for the incident. Edwards and Perez will meet in the octagon to settle their differences. Edwards lost her last fight in the UFC to Nora Cornolle, which snapped a three-fight winning streak.

Dawson Has a Lot to Prove

Grant Dawson came into the UFC as a grappling specialist. The Missouri native has shown he can dominate nearly any opponent on the mat. But Dawson’s last fight was a disaster of the highest order.

He went into a fight with veteran journeyman Bobby Green on a 12-fight unbeaten streak. But Dawson would get clipped early by Green and lost by knockout only 33 seconds into their fight last October. At UFC 302, Dawson will face another intriguing test. 

The best MMA news sites show he is being paired with Joe Solecki. Solecki is a BJJ specialist who has finished nine of his 13 wins by submission. While Dawson will want to wrestle, fighting with that gameplan will be a difficult challenge because Solecki is a threat to submit him.

Solecki is returning following a difficult loss by a slam KO to Drakkar Klose last December.

Rowe Gets Back on the Horse

Phil Rowe ran into the challenge many fighters on a win streak at welterweight run into. After a few wins, the UFC enjoys testing guys by having them go up against elite gatekeeper Neil Magny. Magny turned Rowe away in a split decision.

Rowe is at his best when fights avoid getting the judges involved. Six of his wins have come by knockout, while four have come by submission. Rowe’s opponent at UFC 302 has no issue seeing the scorecards. Jake Matthews is 6-3 in fights that go the distance.

What Matthews is worried about is continuing to travel down the path that he is on. Matthews has traded wins and losses over his previous six fights. It is a troublesome trend because since he lost to Sean Brady by submission at UFC 259 in March 2021, he has seen a decline in the quality of competition.

Karate Hottie Toward the End of Her Run

Michele Waterson-Gomez is a legend of MMA despite never holding a UFC title. She won the atomweight championship in the all-women promotion Invicta and came to the UFC despite going up in weight class. Waterson-Gomez has lost her last four fights in the octagon.

Two of those losses came to Marina Rodriguez, who is an excellent fighter and a fringe title contender. Waterson-Gomez will be matched up with Gillian Robertson, who has won three of her past four fights. Robertson is an excellent wrestler who utilized her strong grappling to secure a ground-and-pound finish of Polyana Viana at UFC 297 in January.

Robertson could use another win over a notable name to build her brand. Beating Waterson-Gomez, 38, could provide that bump.

Gall Hopes Homecoming Can Reverse Fortunes

Mickey Gall, a New Jersey native, was known early in his career for welcoming CM Punk to the octagon with a first-round submission. After beating another young prospect, Sage Northcutt, to improve to 4-0, people thought Gall may have a strong career.

However, Gall will enter this fight against Bassil Hafez, losing two straight fights that saw his record fall to 7-5 overall.

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By Dean McHugh.