Frankie Edgar came through as a hefty underdog, scraping by Pedro Munhoz in a Fight of the Year contender.
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!
Frankie Edgar vs. Cody Garbrandt (BW)
Frankie Edgar came out of his Bantamweight debut victorious, albeit a split decision, in his absolute brawl with Pedro Munhoz. Edgar displayed that he still has all the speed and technique to contend with top tier Bantamweights, as well as silencing the critiques of his chin. He will likely take Munhoz’s #5 ranking, positioning himself for one last title run. With Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen set to lock horns later this year and Aljamain Sterling in clear position for the next title shot, the #3 ranked Cody Garbrandt seems to be the best possible option for Edgar to get closer to the title shot he so desires.
Mike Rodriguez vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (LHW)
Slow Mike scored a vicious KO and much needed win over Marcin Prachnio, just his second in the Octagon after five total fights. He likely secured his roster spot with this one, as well as an amazing highlight reel stoppage. Still, he remains towards the bottom of the Light Heavyweight ladder and will need to string together two or three wins if he wants a chance at the rankings. Dalcha Lungiambula seems fitting, as he has not appeared since last fall when he was KO’d by top prospect Magomed Ankalaev.
Joe Solecki vs. Marc Diakese (LW)
Solecki scored his first Octagon finish, quickly taking the back of Austin Hubbard and submitting him. He is now 2-0 in the world’s premier organization, but still has a lot of proving to do in what many believe to be the most top-heavy division. Marc Diakese looks to be a good litmus test, as he is now coming off a decision loss to Rafael Fiziev after two straight wins.
Shana Dobson vs. Taila Santos (FLW)
Dobson dominated Agapova on the mat, exploiting the massive favorite’s shoddy takedown defense for a ground and pound finish in the second. That puts her at just 2-3 in the UFC, however. Luckily for Dobson, Flyweight is by no means stacked and with an already respectable fan base behind her, I can easily see the UFC giving her an expedited route to the rankings, but she just isn’t there yet. A match with Taila Santos, who recently scored a win over Molly McCann after dropping her UFC debut, can establish a clear prospect who can get that chance at the rankings.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Elizeu Zaleski (WW)
D-Rod earned yet another finish, knocking out Dwight Grant after being dropped in the very first minute of the fight. He showed composure under pressure and durability, as well as superb usage of his range. Now riding a three-fight UFC win streak, he wants to stay active while going up the rankings of the stacked Welterweight division. Elizeu Zaleski is coming off a split decision loss that many (including myself) believe that he won. The Capoeira striker presents a similar well-rounded skillset, but has the proven contendership to cement Rodriguez’ top prospect status.
Next Saturday, we have a pivotal Light Heavyweight showdown as former title challenger Anthony Smith takes on surging prospect Aleksander Rakic. Of course, the Contender Series is going off right now, as we already have our first Season 4 winner making their UFC debut next weekend on the prelims!