What’s Next? Fights to Make After UFC Rochester
Rafael dos Anjos
- This fight could have been terrible for RDA, the ghost of his last two opponents coming up from Lightweight to take his ranking and haunt him with yet more pressure-wrestling. Luckily for dos Anjos, he has learned a thing or two from those defeats. Squeezing his way out of a two-fight skid, the former Lightweight champion looked exactly that against Kevin Lee, matching Lee’s takedowns with his own and locking up an arm-triangle to remain at the top of the division where he belongs. His only loses at 170lbs were to the champion and the #1 contender. I can see him in a new #1 contender fight after Usman and Covington settle their differences soon. I love a headlining fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio (if he doesn’t fight Lawler) in Uruguay. They may very well get leapfrogged for the title by the winner of Askern and Masvidal, but regardless, I see big fights ahead for Rafael dos Anjos.
- The Motown Phenom looked healthy and rejuvenated coming into this fight, but he just couldn’t hold a high pace after the first round. Consistency has been my gripe with Kevin Lee in the past, and it showed again tonight. Look what he did to poor Edson Barboza. He has skills, but he’s caught between weight classes. If the UFC gets their wits about them and finally makes the 165lb weight class, I can see Lee excelling here. Until then, I see him sticking at Welterweight, but against who is anyone’s guess. Demian Maia?
- Heinisch showed durability and solid fight IQ in a hard bout against Antonio Carlos Junior, getting the better of slippery positions and grinding his way to a well-earned decision. After all, he’s been through, it’s great to see him get a high-profile win like this. I can see Heinisch booked against Derek Brunson or Jared Cannonier in the near-future. He’s earned it.
Antonio Carlos Jr
- I love Shoeface, but it just wasn’t his night. After a year away from the Octagon, Carlos Junior looked fantastic in the opening stanza, taking Heinisch down relatively easily and accumulated 4 minutes of control time while threatening submissions. He lost several key positions later in the fight due to sweat and Heinisch’s toughness and lost a decision. Heinisch is legit. I believe Shoeface is still a solid prospect at 185lbs. I’d love to see him back in action soon to get back in the rhythm after a layoff as he had. Let’s rebook the fight with Elias Theodorou at UFC 240.
- What a performance from Felicia Spencer. Once she got Anderson to the floor, this fight was relatively one-sided, and I don’t believe that is due to Anderson’s sub-par ground skills. Spencer is really, really talented, but is there a division to support her? A few Featherweights are expected to debut here in the coming months, but I don’t know if there are enough women to create the division. I hope they finally can, soon. Spencer called out Cyborg, but I think that might be 1-2 fights premature, even in a slim division. Cyborg should fight Cat Zingano, and Spencer should fight the winner of Duda Santana and Bea Malecki when their Stockholm fight is over.
- I fully expected Anderson to use her range and kick her way into a decision, but Felicia Spencer played an excellent game. I honestly have no idea where this leaves Anderson; a natural Featherweight, without a division, coming off a loss. We’re probably going to see Anderson in limbo or fighting a debut featherweight if the UFC is truly invested in building this division. I hope they don’t leave her on the shelf for too long.
- Man, Luque is so good. He ate some hard shots early, but survived (naturally) and finished Krantz in the first round with hard punches. He’s been proving time and time again he is a legitimate threat in the Welterweight division, and he’s more than earned a big fight. Nothing less than a top-ten fight is next for Luque. I love watching this man fight. Let’s see how the June 29th mystery headliner plays out and get a name for Luque after that.
- For a few seconds there in the first round I thought we were seeing a monumental upset, but Luque is a hard out. Krantz didn’t look awful at all in his short-notice debut, showing some heavy hands and pressure. A question arises with Krantz as it does often as of late: coming off a loss, where does this leave a debut fighter in a stacked division? There is no shame in losing to Vicente Luque. Krantz is a veteran of the sport, and I’d like to see him get another fight in the UFC, maybe against someone like Alex Garcia or Luke Jumeau.
- This was Oliveira’s first knockout victory in the UFC, and he looked excellent in doing it. Will this be the performance that finally gets Du Bronx his big-profile fight at Lightweight? He’s carved out five in a row since a TKO loss to Paul Felder’s elbows and looks poised for a big spot next time out. He looked relatively unscathed after his fight with Lentz, but I don’t know if a quick turnaround is likely. Islam Makhachev called Oliveira out after the fight, and I love everything about that fight, other than one of these men has to take a step back with a defeat. I think these two might be big pieces of the Lightweight picture in the future, why match them up now? Book Oliveira against Edson Barboza and let’s see how the rest plays out.
- A lot of people really don’t like Nik Lentz and more disliked this trilogy. The outcome was more or less what I expected. Lentz has good wrestling, decent hands and deceivingly good kicks. He’s a problem for a lot of lightweights, but I think his skills cap at the bottom of the top-15. I can see Lentz taking a few months off and coming back against another veteran like Clay Guida or Joe Duffy.
- The fact that animals like Davi Ramos aren’t ranked goes to prove 155lbs is one of the UFC’s densest divisions. The same could be said of Welterweight. I really believe we need a 165lb division, and Ramos could excel there. He’s doing just fine at Lightweight, however, throwing HARD shots against the debuting Hubbard and threatening the submission game like a shark in the water. Do we keep feeding Ramos debut fighters and guys like John Gunther, or do we give him a ranked opponent? Give me Davi Ramos against Alex Hernandez. Let the man eat.
- Not too much to say about Hubbard. The former LFA champion showed off an incredible chin and pretty good striking offerings against Ramos, but it wasn’t enough. He has skills, but the Lightweight division is a lion pit. Monsters like Ramos aren’t even ranked. Hubbard will have a long road. I like a fight with Alan Patrick. Let’s see who survives in the one of the UFC’s toughest divisions.
Aspen Ladd v. Ketlen Vieira
Sijara Eubanks v. Wu Yanan
Desmond Green v. Chris Gruetzemacher
Charles Jourdain v. Alexander Yakovlev
Michel Pereira v. Niko Price
Danny Roberts v. Court McGee
Grant Dawson v. Shane Young
Mike Trizano v. Austin Arnett
Ed Herman v. Mike Rodriguez
Patrick Cummins v. Kennedy Nzechukwu
Zak Cummings v. Gerald Meerschaert
Trevin Giles v. Oskar Piechota
Julio Arce v. Matt Sayles
Julian Erosa v. Charles Jourdain