A stunning KO capped off a night filled with terrific knockouts and battered fighters. We nearly went perfect, if not for Lewis’ incredible choke resistance.
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!
Derrick Lewis vs. Curtis Blaydes (HW)
Derrick Lewis scored another highlight reel knockout, halting Alexey Oleynik at the very beginning of the second round. After being soundly outgrappled by Oleinik in the first round after confusingly going into the clinch, Lewis came back in his trademark fashionBlaydes scored a decision victory over Alexander Volkov just a couple months ago, clearly establishing himself at the top of the Heavyweight division. A title shot doesn’t look to be coming too soon for him though, as DC and Stipe are set to finish their trilogy next Saturday and, oh yeah, Francis Ngannou. Still, this fight presents a clear top contender for after all this championship mess gets sorted out.
Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum 2 (MW)
It’s great to see Weidman back in the win column after such a disappointing stretch as of late. Although there were certainly still holes in his striking game (against someone who is not exactly the best striker in Omari Akhmedov) The Chris once again showed his elite wrestling ability, controlling an incredibly competent grappler in the aforementioned Akhmedov. This is certain to get Chris back into the win column and if he is serious about another title run, a rematch against Kelvin Gastelum could be the way to go. Gastelum is off a three-fight skid and is looking to rebound. Their first meeting ended in a third round submission for Weidman, but Gastelum had plenty of success in the fight, making the rematch an interesting test for both fighters.
Darren Stewart vs. Karl Roberson (MW)
A quick submission, the first of his career, over Maki Pitolo gave Stewart a nice rebound from his decision loss to Bartosz Fabinski. Stewart demonstrated a more well-rounded offensive threat, proving that he is not simply just a striker. Karl Roberson got submitted by Marvin Vettori back in June, but seems to still be at the upper echelon of the unranked fighters. This matchup could poise the victor for a shot into the top fifteen.
Yana Kunitskaya vs. Raquel Pennington (BW)
Yana thoroughly outworked replacement Julija Stoliarenko utilizing her expert clinch game and distance striking. Kunitskaya looks poised to jump up from her #8 spot, now having gotten her record back on the winning track. Raquel Pennington most recently saw victory against Marion Reneau in a decision, only holding two victories in her last five. For either fighter to inch closer to that belt, they need a dominant performance.
Beneil Dariush vs. Al Iaquinta (LW)
Beneil Dariush stunned with yet another knockout of the year contender, flooring Scott Holtzman with a spinning backfist in the first round. The submission expert once again proved that his striking is only getting better and better. Now riding a five fight win streak with four by finish, Dariush deserves a chance at the top 10. Al Iaquinta currently inhabits the #9 spot and is riding a two-fight losing streak since his decision defeat to Dan Hooker last October.
Looking ahead, we have the trilogy match going down next weekend between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier!
Keep an eye out for the main card and prelims picks coming your way on Tuesday!