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Israel Adesanya of Nigeria reacts after knocking out Alex Pereira of Brazil in the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
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UFC Monthly Report | April 2023

The UFC Monthly Report Highlights Some Of The Best Performances From The Previous Month Of Action Inside The Octagon.

Somehow, another month of action inside the Octagon has come and gone, as April has now given way to May, which means we’ve officially arrived at Spring and one-third of the 2023 campaign is in the books.

April saw 48 pairs of fighters step into the cage with exactly half of those fights ending inside the distance — 17 by knockout, six by submission, and one as a result of a no contest — and the other half featuring a slew of quality back-and-forth affairs that highlight the quality matchmaking and level of competitiveness permeating through the UFC ranks.

Order UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo

We had former champions shine, stalwarts say goodbye, newcomers show out, and more than a few noteworthy efforts from competitors in every division, across every designation.

Things are shaping up to be interesting and intense this summer, but before we get there, let’s look back at some of the best of the best in April in the latest instalment of the Monthly Report.

Breakout Performance: Christian Rodriguez

Christian Rodriguez poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Christian Rodriguez poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)


Under any other circumstances, fans and observers would have gone into UFC 287 hearing all about the 25-year-old Rodriguez — a sharp prospect who debuted up a division against the now-surging Jonathan Pearce before returning to bantamweight and collecting a first-round submission win.

But because he was paired with 18-year-old prospect Raul Rosas Jr. in Miami, the Milwaukee native was the B-side in the opening bout of the pay-per-view main card and someone that was largely mentioned simply as the guy that would be standing on the other side of the Octagon from Rosas Jr. on the first Saturday of the month.

Christian Rodriguez Octagon Interview | UFC 287
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Christian Rodriguez Octagon Interview | UFC 287
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Rodriguez showed his poise in the opening stanza, weathering the ferocious initial attack from “El Niño Problema,” and once the fight hit the second round, the long-time Roufusport representative took over, dominating the action the rest of the way to claim a unanimous decision victory and halt the momentum of the ascending Dana White’s Contender Series graduate.

Order UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo

The fact that he missed weight is a slight knock against Rodriguez in an otherwise terrific weekend, and despite having just nine fights prior to his UFC 287 assignment, he fought with an impressive level of composure and calmness, which is something you don’t always see from young fighters in the early days of their UFC careers. He was heralded as one to watch heading into his own Contender Series appearance, where he earned a victory, but not a contract, and has since validated those forecasts with a steely effort against Pearce and a pair of victories in his weight class.

Bantamweight is absolutely loaded with talent at all levels, and the road forward will be a treacherous one, but Rodriguez is technically sound with sharp fundamentals, which will always serve him well, and if he can continue to patiently navigate his way forward, he could eventually emerge as a Top 15 fighter in the 135-pound weight class.

Submission of the Month: Irina Alekseeva submits Stephanie Egger (UFC Vegas 72)

Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan reacts after her submission victory over Stephanie Egger of Switzerland in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan reacts after her submission victory over Stephanie Egger of Switzerland in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Going into the final event of the month, there were only two submissions to choose from, but then four of the six finishes on last weekend’s fight card came by submission, widening the sample size.

Truthfully though, once Alekseeva tapped out Egger, it was going to take something pretty special to knock this finish from this spot.

We don’t see a lot of kneebars in the UFC, and generally speaking, they tend to come from one fighter leaving their leg in an entanglement for too long and their opponent simply being opportunistic. Outside of Claudio Puelles, few people step into the Octagon thinking, “I’m going to look for a kneebar tonight,” but Alekseeva was absolutely thinking that when she attacked Egger’s left leg early in the first round of their short, but hectic, clash at the UFC APEX.

Irina Alekseeva Locks Up Kneebar Submission in UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon
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Irina Alekseeva Locks Up Kneebar Submission in UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon
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Egger had forced a scramble after closing the distance and gotten around to Alekseeva’s back, but as soon as she locked her hands around the Russian’s waist, the newcomer rolled forward, attacking the leg. It was a smart setup from someone with a sambo background, as mentioned during the broadcast, and when she adjusted her positioning and Egger tried to work free, Alekseeva was able to torque the leg back and secure the tap.

“Russian Ronda” is a bundle of personality and a bit of a wild child inside the Octagon, but this was a sharp, technical finish from a fighter that went into her debut craving a brawl and showed little interest in fundamentals and technique on the feet before turning to her grappling.  This was an impressive win from the promotional newcomer, and the kind of performance that should have people keen to see what Alekseeva does for an encore.

Knockout of the Month: Israel Adesanya knocks out Alex Pereira (UFC 287)

Israel Adesanya of Nigeria reacts after knocking out Alex Pereira of Brazil in the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

With all due respect to Brandon Royval and Edson Barboza, who each landed hellacious knees to knock out their respective opponents, “The Last Stylebender” reclaiming the middleweight title and earning a measure of revenge against Pereira in the UFC 287 main event was always going to be near-impossible to unseat from this spot.

What made this finish so exceptional is that Adesanya baited Pereira into the exchange that gave him the opening he needed to land the big right hand that kicked off the finishing sequence of this fight, and it all harkened back to their first meeting inside the Octagon.

In their clash last fall at Madison Square Garden, Pereira was able to finally land clean and collect the stoppage by trapping Adesanya against the fence and unleashing a flurry that overwhelmed the champion. In this one, Adesanya put himself in a similar position, backing into the fence and covering up, inviting Pereira to come forward and attack, and the Brazilian obliged.

Israel Adesanya Post-Fight Interview | UFC 287
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Israel Adesanya Post-Fight Interview | UFC 287
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Pereira came forward and looked to batter Adesanya, firing off punches and just missing with a big knee, but as he loaded up his clubbing left hook, the challenger fired a right inside of it that found the champion’s jaw and froze him where he stood. The next right hand put him on the canvas and the fight was ostensibly over.

The king is dead; long live the king.

Fight of the Month: Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen (UFC Kansas City)

Max Holloway elbows Arnold Allen of England in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at T-Mobile Center on April 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Max Holloway elbows Arnold Allen of England in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at T-Mobile Center on April 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

We learned a great deal about each man in this fight, which sounds crazy given that one of the combatants is a future Hall of Fame inductee and former champion and the other entered with a 9-0 record inside the Octagon, but it’s true.

Holloway showed that despite his summer loss to Alexander Volkanovski last year, he’s still one of the top dogs in the 145-pound weight class and as tough an out as you’re going to find amongst non-titleholders in the UFC. He dialed back his trademark volume to deploy a more measured, technical approach against the dangerous, powerful Allen, and was largely successful, slowly widening the gap between the two round after round until the Brit hopefully finally stepped on the gas a little more in the fifth.

LOOK AHEAD: Best Fights Coming In May

Although he landed on the wrong side of the scorecards, Allen showed he very much belongs amongst the elites in the featherweight division. This was the first time he got to go more than a round with a Top 10 fighter and he more than held his own though the first four frames before winning the fifth.

Max Holloway Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen
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Max Holloway Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen
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Beating Allen solidifies Holloway’s standing as one of the top contenders in the division, even if a title opportunity seems out of the question at the moment, while losing to “Blessed” isn’t exactly something Allen should be walking around hanging his head about; it sucks to lose, but losing to a former champ is an easier pill to swallow.

There have been crazier fights already this year and contests carrying bigger stakes, but this was an excellent scrap between two outstanding talents, and it should land on Top 10 lists in July and December.

And if it doesn’t, it means the next eight months have been bananas.

UFC 287: Pereira vs Adesanya 2 took place live from Kayesa Center in Miami, Florida on April 8, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass