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Manuel Torres of Mexico reacts after his knockout victory over Nikolas Motta of Brazil in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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UFC Monthly Report | June 2023

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

The UFC Monthly Report is a feature that will highlight some of the best performances from the previous month of action inside the Octagon, spotlighting outstanding finishes and fights, breakout competitors, and talented new arrivals, in an effort to keep track of competitors and performances that could end up on the Half-Year and Year-End Awards.

Half of the UFC schedule for 2023 is in the books, and we’ve already rolled out our Half-Year Awards here on the site, with a couple performances that appeared in this space popping up in several categories.

For me, that’s mission accomplished for this series.

Because of the hectic schedule — 22 events over the first 25 Saturdays of the year — it’s hard to always keep what transpired inside the Octagon straight at times, and so why not come here at the end of every month and put together a little refresher on some of the most memorable moments from the past month?

Order UFC 290: Volkanovski vs Rodriguez

This month included a return to Canada where a rising welterweight stole the show, a couple prospects earning massive finishes, and a pair of veterans combining for an entertaining scrap on a Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a look at the standout moments from June 2023.

Breakout Performance: Mike Malott

Mike Malott enters the cage before facing Adam Fugitt in their welterweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Mike Malott enters the Octagon before facing Adam Fugitt in their welterweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Throughout the week in Vancouver, the one thing my colleague Ian O’Neill and I constantly said to each other as we built to UFC 289 was something along the lines of “Mike Malott has really been the star of the week; all that’s left to do is collect a victory and he’ll take off.”

Malott crushed his media day and press conference appearances, steering into this Canadian homecoming and the massive opportunity before him. He showed tons of personality and confidence, speaking with passion about competing in Canada, alongside several teammates, and his desire to keep pressing forward in the welterweight division by registering another stoppage win over Adam Fugitt.

HALF-YEAR AWARDS: The Newcomers | The Upsets | The Submissions | The Knockouts | The Fights | The Fighters

The 31-year-old carried himself and presented himself the way hockey players would if they were allowed to say more interesting things, offering up “compliment sandwiches” to Fugitt and predicting another finish while exhibiting classic Canadian humility, respect, eloquence, and manners.

And then Malott went out on Saturday night and did almost exactly what he said he was going to do.

Mike Malott Octagon Interview | UFC 289
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Mike Malott Octagon Interview | UFC 289
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For the first time in his career, it took him until the second round to secure a finish, but for every moment of his fight with Fugitt, the Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) graduate was in control, showcasing his clean, sharp, technical striking before rocking the Pacific Northwest native and locking up a guillotine choke honed and perfected during his days as a coach at Team Alpha Male.

As I said in the UFC 289 edition of Fighters on the Rise, Malott is one of those fighters who is more experienced than his now 10-1-1 record suggests, and he keeps making waves in the welterweight division.

View Malott's Athlete Profile

He was the unquestioned star of the week in Vancouver, and should continue to shine bright going forward.

Note: the hockey player thing isn’t their fault — elite talents are coached to be bland and keep it focused on the ice and the team from an early age, which is why we get so many “the boys did a good job of getting the puck in deep and I was fortunate to get a couple good looks” quotes when stars are asked about their performance.

Submission of the Month: Karine Silva submits Ketlen Souza (UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi)

Karine Silva of Brazil works for a submission against Ketlen Souza of Brazil in a flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Karine Silva of Brazil works for a submission against Ketlen Souza of Brazil in a flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

There were only five submissions to choose from this month (out of 49 fights), but there could have been five times as many, and I still would be highlighting Silva’s kneebar on Souza as the best of the month.

Silva is one of the more intriguing emerging talents on the roster to me: a physical, dangerous 29-year-old flyweight who submitted Poliana Botelho in her promotional debut and profiles as someone with room to grow, develop, and potentially thrive in the 125-pound weight class.

Heading into her fight with the former LFA champion and UFC debutant, I was curious as to whether she could replicate the effort she turned in against Botelho, where she dominated until finishing late. Instead, Silva did even better.

Karine Silva Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi
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Karine Silva Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi
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Silva put Souza on the canvas less than 30 seconds into their fight, showing a keen understanding of who she is as a fighter and her best path to victory, and after having no luck finding a choke setup from a headlock position in half guard, the DWCS alum took advantage of Souza leaving her leg out there for the taking.

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As soon as Silva fell back into position, Souza’s left foot tucked under her armpit, you knew it was trouble. One torque on the knee and it was over, the newcomer tapping rapidly as she was in obvious, understandable discomfort.

Now 16-4 overall, Silva is another ascending name to track in the talent-rich and ever-changing flyweight division.

Knockout of the Month: Manuel Torres Knocks Out Nikolas Motta (UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Cannonier)

Manuel Torres of Mexico reacts after his knockout victory over Nikolas Motta of Brazil in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Manuel Torres of Mexico reacts after his knockout victory over Nikolas Motta of Brazil in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

For the first minute of their fight, Torres and Motta largely traded leg kicks, each man looking to get their range, respectful of the power the other possesses.

Just before the one minute mark of the opening round, Motta cracked Torres with a two-piece combo that straightened him up a little, and 10 seconds later, he drove home another left hook that immediately made Torres’ nose start leaking.

In the moment, you can see Torres switch on after it happened. Paul Felder points it out on the commentary — that the look in his eyes has changed — and whether it was a case of “I need to be careful” or “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood,” the Mexican lightweight went on the offensive from there, and finished the fight less than 30 seconds later.

Manuel Torres Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Cannonier
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Manuel Torres Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Cannonier
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There is something arresting about a step-in elbow finish, and Torres put Motta all the way out with one here, pawing with the jab before stepping into a left elbow that landed as flush as humanly possible, turning out the Brazilian’s lights the instant it landed.

Felder’s exclamation in the moment on the broadcast was all of us.

Watching it back today in putting this piece together, it’s still me, even though I’ve now watched it dozens of times.

Easily one of the Top 10 UFC knockouts from the first half of the year.

Fight of the Month: Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda (UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi)

Alex Caceres punches Daniel Pineda in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

As anticipated, the featherweight co-main event between Alex Caceres and Daniel Pineda was absolutely bonkers.

The opening round was a five-minute blur of heavy shots and scrambles, submission attempts and escapes, blood, sweat, and general chaos. It was much of the same in the second, with fatigue setting in for both men, but not slowing the action in the slightest before Caceres grabbed control of the action early in the third, hammering Pineda to the body and putting it on him for the majority of the frame.

Everyone expected this fight to be in the mix for Fight of the Night and it still managed to exceed expectations.

Alex Caceres Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi
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Alex Caceres Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi
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Call me sentimental or soft or straight up weird, but there is something dope to me about Caceres having reached this point of his career, where he’s a veteran stalwart that consistently puts on wildly entertaining fights, and pairing him with Pineda, another all-action, never boring fighter that has been through battles. It was a perfect piece of matchmaking.

There were more high-stakes fights during the month and throughout the year so far, but this is one of those bouts that has to land an Honorable Mention or Others Receiving Votes in the Half-Year and Year-End awards.