The UFC Apex in Las Vegas continues to be the hotbed for fights, especially during the pandemic. Dana White has got his money’s worth, with the Apex hosting over thirty fight nights, and he doesn’t tend on slowing down.
After a barn-burner of a card in store for us at UFC 264 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the UFC will return to the Apex to throw a 13-bout fight-night on July 17th. The event doesn’t contain the fan-favourite names viewers expect, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tune in. The Vegas fight nights always deliver, with all athletes competing having a point to prove.
I had the opportunity to catch up with a man amongst the action on the night in Dustin Stoltzfus as he looks to secure his first victory with the promotion against Brazil’s Rodolfo Vieira.
Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2) will be hunting for his first victory inside the UFC, after falling short on his debut and losing his first fight since 2015, when he suffered defeat to Kyle Daukaus at UFC 255.
Stoltzfus joined the organization in August of 2020, where he fought his way to a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series by slamming Joseph Pyfer to the mat and causing a gruesome arm injury. That marked a ten-fight win streak for the middleweight. Afterwards, just three months on, Stoltzfus accepted a fight with Philadelphia’s Kyle Daukaus, as mentioned, falling short on the night.
The twenty-nine-year-old will be eager to attain his first win inside the UFC’s octagon on July 17th. Dustin Stolzfus has proved previously that he is a tough guy to put away. Having never been finished, he also has showcased he can finish his opponents on the feet, as well as by submission and has the durability to grind out a decision.
Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) is also coming off a tough loss to Anthony Hernandez at UFC 258. The Brazilian joined the promotion in 2019 and has attained two submission victories by arm-triangle choke over Oskar Piechota and Saparbeg Safarov.
It’s no secret where Vieira will be looking to take the fight. He enters the bout with an 86% submission rate, with a handful of those wins taking place in the first round. However, in fifteen of Dustin Stolzfus’s professional fights, nobody has ever managed to catch him in a submission.
Interview with Dustin Stolzfus
It’s been eight months since we last saw you compete at UFC 255. How are you feeling physically and mentally ahead of your second bout with the promotion, and can you talk to me a bit about how preparation has been in the lead up to July 17th? Have you been training consistently in your time off away from the cage?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “Physically, I am feeling great. I am tired and sore from training, but my body has been very responsive to training, and I feel strong, fit, and ready to go. I have been active since my last fight. I’m one of those guys you can’t keep out of the gym. That being said, I was pretty restricted in what I could do, feeling run down from the long term effects of Covid, but I used the time as well as I could and did a lot of strength and technical training, which paid of.”
When I spoke with you before your official debut against Daukaus, you told me training had been complicated with restrictions, lockdowns, and quarantines. Do you feel this time around things have been better training-wise to put you in the best position for gaining your first victory with the UFC?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “It’s still complicated. Germany has been on lockdown since right before my last fight in November. That being said. I’m delighted with how this camp has gone despite the logistical difficulties.”
Staying on your last bout with Daukaus, where do you feel things went wrong for you not to come away with the win, and what have you been doing to ensure July 17th will be different?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “The biggest factor in my last fight was the long-term effects of Covid. I got Covid at the very end of September, and we had to postpone the fight two weeks because of that. My symptoms were mild, but I had it bad enough that I was required to stay in quarantine for an extra week. Jumping back into training was difficult. I really should have noticed that I wasn’t in fighting shape, but I was so focused on the fight and so eager to make my debut that I didn’t realize how bad it was until afterwards. So that’s why I took so much time off. I just needed to get healthy again. Which, fortunately, I am.”
As I said earlier, you’ve had a good break since we last saw you in the cage to add more tools to your arsenal, recover and get your body and mind ready. Is there a regret on taking the fight v Daukaus just three months after the contender series win vs Joseph Pyfer, and do you feel that may have hindered your performance on the night?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “I definitely used my time off as well as I could and tried to close up some holes in my game that I was aware of before my last fight and that some that were exposed in my last fight. Not to beat a dead horse, but the biggest weakness in my last fight was cardio, I was exhausted midway into the first round, which usually wouldn’t have been a problem for me. The proximity to my contenders fight had nothing to do with it. I felt great after my fight against Pyfer. It was the perfect fight to make a quick turnaround after.”
When you last fought at UFC 255, you were the second fight of the night. This time you take the main card slot against Rodolfo Vieira in just your second fight. Does that mean anything to you, or do you see it as another fight?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “Not really. It’s cool and all, but I realize Viera is a big name on a fight-night card, and that is why I’m in this position. Not because of anything I did or because the fight is very high profile.”
Looking at your social media content on the lead-up to the bout, you seem to be putting in the work and grinding. Tell us what we can expect to see from Dustin Stolzfus on July 17th?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “I’m always working hard, but with all this time off, look for a healthy, stronger Dustin with crisper technique.”
I asked you last time we talked if Daukaus’s submission ability concerned you, but you were fully confident in your skills if the fight hit the mat, and it showed on the night. Viera brings an 86% submission rate to the table, with six of his seven wins finishing by submission. Do you feel the same as the last fight? Utterly confident in your grappling credentials and not at a disadvantage?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “I think we can all agree that Viera is better in pure grappling than I am. However, this is MMA. He first needs to get me there, and I am confident that if it does go to the ground, I will be able to hold my own well enough and be able to threaten him more than he is used to.”
Vieria is coming off his first loss in his career against a tough Anthony Hernandez. What sort of fight are you visualizing from your opponent?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “The Hernandez fight is a great blueprint on how to beat Viera, and I expect the fight to go similar. Survive the first round and punish him as the fight goes on.”
After studying and breaking down Vieria’s game, where do you feel the keys to beating him are?
Dustin Stoltzfus – “Stay calm and hurt him. Keep him on his toes at all times, and an opening will present itself.”
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