It’s rare that we get a fight card on a Wednesday, and this one was a real treat. Aside from churning out a profit for the third card in a row, we had no shortage of finishes, from painful submissions to stunning KOs, and other fantastic performances.
Afterwards, we’re stuck asking ourselves… what’s next for the victors? Well I’m here to try to play matchmaker for our main card winners and see what fights could (and should) be on the horizon!
Calvin Kattar vs. Max Holloway
Despite a valiant effort from Ige, Kattar showed the best version oof himself come Fight Night, bloodying his opponent over 25 minutes en route to a 49-46 victory. Kattar’s boxing and stiff jab were superb as always, but his takedown defense was next-level as well as his improved utilization of eight-point striking. The Featherweight division is in an awkward spot right now, as we are still waiting on the Zabit/Yair and Ortega/Jung matches before we know who’s going to earn the shot, but either victor is more deserving than Kattar. Since Volk has refused to fight Holloway again after their split decision, it seems like a boxing masterclass that could be a potential Fight of the Year candidate.
Tim Elliott vs. Raulian Paiva
With his career in the UFC in jeopardy going into this matchup with Benoit, Elliott came out with his hands raised when his back was against the wall. He once again proved why he is a fan favorite and a staple of the roster with his power takedowns, odd style, and constant volume matched up perfectly against Benoit’s boxing and power. Although the fight likely wasn’t as dominant as Elliott would have preferred, he got an impressive win here that will keep his name in the rankings in a division that is growing at a remarkable rate. Next up for Tim should be Raulian Paiva, who narrowly outworked Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 251. Both fighters are fun to watch with skills in striking and grappling, as well as being on the same time frame and right next to each other in the rankings.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Cory Sandhagen
Rivera snapped a two-fight losing streak with his decision over Cody Stamann here, proving he still has all the tools necessary to compete in a stacked division with promising stars. His legendary takedown defense held up and he took advantage in the striking, displaying his clean boxing. His hand speed jumped out to me in this fight, even more improved than his already lightning quick abilities. Cory Sandhagen got quickly submitted by Aljamain Sterling at UFC 250 and currently inhabits the number four spot in the rankings, giving Rivera an opportunity for a better ranking.
Taila Santos vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Taila Santos came in as her truly best self, showing her technical striking at range and powerful clinch game. She also displayed a better sense of the grappling aspect than in her debut, overwhelming McCann over all three rounds. She may not take Meatball’s spot in the top 15, but she should have earned herself a shot at one in the relatively shallow Flyweight division. Antonina Shevchenko looks to be a good fit after being turned back by Katlyn Chookagian, as she will need a dominant performance to not be pulled from her ranked spot.
Mounir Lazzez vs. Danny Roberts
The hometown hero scored big when Lazzez withstood Alhassen’s initial rampage to outwork him to a decision, despite being more than a 3-to-1 underdog. Lazzez showed himself as an impressive and complete fighter, with cardio, chin, technique, and an invaluable skill of fight IQ and knowing when to go for the takedown. Not to mention that Lazzez won out with the fans and Dana White as well and although he may not get his wish of Mike Perry due to Perry’s current personal issues, but Danny Roberts is a great fit who will test Lazzez with his veteranship.