Alexander Volkov def. Alistair Overeem via TKO (Punches)
Alexander Volkov – Stipe Miocic / Francis N’Gannou Loser
Alexander Volkov did exactly what he needed to do in order to emerge victorious. Volkov needed to stay at range in order to avoid the clinch and ground game of the ‘Reem’. The heavyweight division is stuck in a jam with N’Gannou fighting Stipe for the title next, Jon Jones waiting in the wings and Blaydes/Lewis scheduled to collide later this month. All of those men are likely ahead of Volkov so the 6’7″ Russian is likely at least one fight away from the title shot. The title fight takes place on March 27, and a fight with the loser could be on the cards for Alexander Volkov.
Alistair Overeem – Shamil Abdurakhimov
It is hard to come across a ranked fighter that Overeem hasn’t locked horns with yet. As mentioned hundreds of times on the broadcast, Overeem has competed since the beginning of time at the highest level. He was ranked #5 in the division heading into the bout so I’d expect to see him drop a couple spots. Shamil Abdurakhimov has had a difficult time finding a fight and hasn’t competed since September of 2019. Overeem will likely want to fight as highly ranked as possible, so the #8 ranked fighter makes a ton of sense. A win for either man will inch them closer to the Top 5.
Cory Sandhagen def. Frankie Edgar via KO (Flying Knee)
Cory Sandhagen – TJ Dillashaw
Cory Sandhagen showed that he is as legit as they come at bantamweight. Frankie Edgar has been one of the best fighters on the planet for over a decade and Sandhagen put him away inside a minute. Sandhagen called for a fight against the winner of the Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling title shot that takes place next month. Unfortunately, there are many challengers waiting for a shot as well. Among them is former Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw returning from a suspension. Sandhagen and Dillashaw would stylistically be an unbelievably entertaining fight with the winner becoming the clear #1 contender.
Frankie Edgar – Cody Stamann
Frankie Edgar has lost four of his last six dating back to 2018 with the two wins being by decisions. Edgar is stuck in an unusual position where his name value alone could get him big fights. That being said, it may be beneficial to take a step back and face an opponent near the bottom of the rankings. Former Champions Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo both decided to take that approach. Edgar may want to do the same, and a fight with #12 ranked Cody Stamann may be the step in that direction. For Stamann, it is a huge name that would cement your place among the elite of the division.
Clay Guida def. Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision
Clay Guida – Mark Madsen
At 39-years-old, this may have been the best version of Guida we have seen in a few years. He was confident in his right hands, applied lots of pressure against the cage and took Johnson down with ease. Guida becomes the eighth man to pick up 30 wins inside the UFC octagon. After the fight, Guida asked to fight some prospects rather than veterans which is an unusual request. This could be great for the UFC in order to build up a young prospect. Although he isn’t young, Mark Madsen has ton of hype surrounding him given he’s an Olympic medalist. For Guida, a win would add an Olympian to his Hall of Fame level resume. For Madsen, a victory over Guida would earn you a shot at the bigger names of the division.
Michael Johnson – Alexander Yakovlev
The fall of Michael Johnson is something that everyone will be discussing for the next weeks. He was the last man to beat Dustin Poirier before his loss to Khabib, and he did it via knockout. Unfortunately, that was the last finish of Johnson’s and it dates back to 2016. Johnson has now lost four straight and nine of his last twelve fights. Unfortunately, it does appear to be the end of the line for Johnson. However if the UFC were to give him another fight, a matchup with a fighter on the chopping block would make sense. Alexander Yakovlev is in a very similar situation losing four of his last five. The loser of this fight would surely be released from the promotion.
Alexandre Pantoja def. Manel Kape via Unanimous Decision
Alexandre Pantoja – Alex Perez
Alexandre Pantoja played the same role than Dan Hooker had a few weeks ago. He was facing a UFC newcomer with a ton of hype looking to make a case for a title shot. Unlike Hooker, Pantoja was able to come away with the victory. He is ranked at #5 and he will likely remain in that spot when the rankings are released next week. All fighters above him in the rankings are booked except Alex Perez. Perez most recently lost a title shot to Deiveson Figueiredo, so a win for either men would put them in title contention.
Manel Kape – Brandon Royval
Manel Kape looked super impressive in the losing effort. He had his moments, and his head movement confused Pantoja throughout the contest. However, he lacked the activity that Pantoja had and that was the deciding factor in the fight. Looking ahead, Pantoja will likely still enter the rankings on the back of his narrow defeat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him inside the Top 10 either. Another exciting flyweight is Brandon Royval, who lost his last bout due to a freak injury in the first round. Both will be looking to rebound from a loss and begin their trek towards the title.
Beneil Dariush def. Carlos Diego Ferreira via Split Decision
Beneil Dariush – Tony Ferguson
Beneil Dariush made his presence felt in the rankings with an emphatic win over a very dangerous Ferreira. These two have been looked at as the dark horses of the 155lb weight class. It was unfortunate that they had to be booked against one another. Ultimately, it was the Kings MMA product that emerged victorious. With teammate Rafael dos Anjos looking for a matchup as well, it may be difficult for Dariush to get the matchup he’s looking for. One of the available names right now is former interim title holder Tony Ferguson. Ferguson had a rough 2020 losing to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. He will be looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses, and the two may find themselves inside the octagon together sooner rather than later.
Carlos Diego Ferreira – Kevin Lee
Carlos Diego Ferreira showed exceptional toughness in the early going surviving a brutal knee to the body. The fight was beautiful to watch as both fighters showed flawless technique at a rapid pace. Ferreira’s winning streak has now come to a halt to one of only two men to have beat him before Saturday. Ferreira will likely stay inside the ranking but may drop a spot or two. Another ranked lightweight coming off a loss is Kevin Lee who hasn’t been seen since his loss to Charles Oliveira in early 2020. A fight between the two will indicate which gentleman is deserving of a Top 10 spot.
Danilo Marques def. Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
Danilo Marques – Shamil Gamzatov
Danilo Marques entered this fight as a heavy underdog and was expected to get steamrolled by Rodriguez. He entered the UFC with what many would call a padded record, so many felt he wouldn’t make it very far in the promotion. A few months later Marques is 2-0 and is looking to make a case for a big-name next time out. Undefeated as a mixed martial artist, Gamzatov has had a hard time making it to the Octagon in 2020. He was forced out of bouts with Ovince Saint Preux and Devin Clark. A matchup between the two would make for a grappling masterclass.
Mike Rodriguez – Khalil Rountree Jr.
Mike Rodriguez’ slide continues as he drops another fight due to his inability to keep the fight on the feet. He looked good in the early going but once the fight hit the mat it was a whole new ballgame. He is now 2-4-1 in his UFC career (one loss which was highly controversial), so will be in need of a win next time out. I expect to see Rodriguez get matched up with a fighter that will entertain the standup with him. Tiger Muay Thai’s Khalil Rountree is the guy for the job. Both men have been inconsistent in recent fights but have also looked spectacular in other fights. This would make for a great addition to the undercard of a pay-per-view event.