Our card was once again savaged by late cancellations, with three bouts falling out mere hours before the event. Nevertheless, the fighters delivered in devastating fashion, with a number of finishes decorating the card.
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!
Marvin Vettori vs. Robert Whittaker (MW)
Marvin Vettori and Jack Hermansson put on a fantastic five-round clash that reached the judges’ scorecards, who saw it unanimously for Vettori. The Italian utilized his great takedown defense and reversals to keep himself in dominant position or on the feet. The latter is where he did his best work, knocking Hermansson down in the first round and using his ever-evolving jab and quick combos to pierce the Norseman’s guard. He will find himself in the title picture when the rankings drop on Tuesday, and is just one big win away from a title shot. Robert Whittaker rebounded from his title loss with two decision victories over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier, leaving him firmly established as the top contender. While the champion Israel Adesanya seems to have plans to move up to Light Heavyweight in an effort to become double champ, this top contenders’ match would leave a clear title challenger for Adesanya’s return to 185 pounds.
Jamahal Hill vs. Jim Crute (LHW)
Jamhal Hill came through in his third Octagon victory to finish Ovince St. Preux in the second round. Hill showed off his precise combination striking and his high fight IQ, as well as the quick improvements he is making in his MMA game. With this knockout, Hill will likely find himself in the top 15 come Tuesday. For his next fight, Jim Crute has been searching for a fight and also presents an opportunity for Hill to move up the rankings. Crute is a threat on the mat and the feet, stopping Modestas Bukauskas in the first round in his last outing.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Khama Worthy (LW)
Gabriel Benitez got back on the winning track with a beautiful knee to the body on Justin Jaynes. Benitez carries some serious power, particularly in his kicks, and I believe that positively reflects on his move to Lightweight. Khama Worthy was most recently stopped by Ottman Azaitar, but had scored two Octagon finishes prior to that bout. This collision of strikers would surely produce fireworks and be a real treat for the fans.
Roman Dolidze vs. Ion Cutelaba (LHW)
Though it somehow ended in a split decision, Roman Dolidze put on a dominant performance opposite John Allan, banking all three rounds on nearly all media scorecards (including mine). His well-rounded game was on display, as he found success on the feet and the mat. Allan gave back some real punishment in the striking, but was outmatched by Dolidze’s top control and submission game. Now sitting at 8-0 with two wins in the Octagon, Dolidze is getting towards a ranking if he can keep on this path. I like a bout with Ion Cutelaba next, whose raw aggression and power will certainly test Dolidze’s striking.
Jordan Leavitt vs. Joel Alvarez (LW)
It took less than thirty seconds for Leavitt to knock out veteran Matt Wiman with a devastating slam. The grappling expert once again showed his prowess in takedown entries, but not much more was seen. I am still unconvinced on his striking, but with how one-sided his grappling has been so far, Leavitt is set up as a nice prospect. I think a clash with fellow grappling expert Joel Alvarez is in order. After a loss in his debut to prospect Damir Ismagulov, Alvarez has racked up three straight finishes, most recently stopping Alexander Yakovlev with an armbar.
There you have it. We have a number of new prospects making their name off this card, and I am hoping for some quick turnarounds!
Next weekend, we have a PPV on deck with Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo makes a three-week turnaround to take on top contender Brandon Moreno!