Derrick Lewis def. Curtis Blaydes via KO (Punch)
Derrick Lewis – Stipe Miocic / Francis Ngannou Loser
Derrick Lewis defies everything that makes sense in the world of MMA. He continues to shock the entire MMA community every time he competes. In his knockout of Curtis Blaydes, he solidified his most impressive knockout to date. Lewis is likely one fight away from a title shot if he plays his hands correctly. One of the biggest holes in his game has been cardio, and he has time to get that worked on. With Stipe vs Ngannou around the corner he should be looking at the loser of that fight for his next matchup. Jon Jones will be facing the winner, so Lewis should be looking at the loser. A win over Miocic or Ngannou would make Lewis undeniable for the next title shot.
Curtis Blaydes – Jairzinho Rozenstruik / Ciryl Gane Winner
Curtis Blaydes may have suffered his biggest setback to date. Blaydes had steamrolled past everyone not named Francis in his career, and was making a case for another title shot. With his style of fighting, don’t be surprised if he has to win four more fights before a potential title shot. A big fight takes place next weekend with Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane. A fight with Blaydes is likely next for the winner of that fight. It will earn them a spot in the Top 5 and would put them into title shot discussions.
Yana Kunitskaya def. Ketlen Vieira via Unanimous Decision
Yana Kunitskaya – Germaine de Randamie
A recent fight announcement between Julianna Pena and Holly Holm was announced which is a pivotal matchup for the division. Yana Kunitskaya may have thrown her name into title discussions with her recent victory. Former Featherweight Champion Germaine de Randamie was left without an opponent. She has faced just about everyone at the top of the 135lb division with the exception of Kunitskaya. After Kunitskaya’s victory over Ketlen Vieira, she has earned that fight. This fight could easily headline a Fight Night card or feature as a co-main. If the UFC decides to return to Fight Island, this fight should take place on one of those cards.
Ketlen Vieira – Pannie Kianzad
Once considered the biggest threat to Amanda Nunes, those claims have started to fade after losing two of three. She is still one of the best female grapplers in the sport, but was simply overpowered by Kunitskaya. She may fall out of the Top 10 of the bantamweight division once those are released, and will need to look at stepping back in terms of competition. A step back will give her a chance to earn some wins before challenging those girls at the top once again. Pannie Kianzad is ranked at #12 in the division and is looking to get into the Top 10 with her next fight. A win for either girl in this one would be huge in determining who is ready for the elite.
Darrick Minner def. Charles Rosa via Unanimous Decision
Darrick Minner – Seung Woo Choi
Darrick Minner is a serious problem at 145lbs and could quietly become a threat for some rising prospects. Owner of of over 20 submissions, the Nebraska native displayed his high-level grappling once again on Saturday night. He will be deserving of a big fight in his next contest and that is likely what he will receive. In his first three bouts, he was matched up with grapplers. It will be nice to see what he can do when matched up with a striker. Seung Woo Choi has won his last two fights and is a former Muay Thai World Championships bronze medalist. It will be an opportunity for Minner to show that he can handle high-level strikers.
Charles Rosa – Andre Fili
Charles Rosa’s UFC record is quite surprising. He has alternated wins and losses in every performance since his UFC debut six years ago. At 34-years of age, Rosa still poses a serious threat to any new faces into the organization. It would be interesting to see how the UFC will look to handle his next few fights. Andre Fili’s record has been very similar as of late, also alternating wins and losses. A fight between the two would end one of their patterns, and the other will look to further themselves in the division. It would be a nice addition to a Fight Night card in Las Vegas.
Chris Daukaus def. Aleksei Oleinik via TKO (Punches)
Chris Daukaus – Walt Harris
By finishing the #10 ranked heavyweight in the world, Daukaus will likely see a number next to his name when they are announced. He is now 3-0 in the organization and has finished 10 of his 11 opponents. Walt Harris has been going through a rough patch losing back-to-back fights. He will be looking to get back to his winning ways, and Daukaus may be the fight to help him get there. A win for Daukaus over Harris would earn him a shot at the elite of the division. As for Harris, beating a prospect like Daukaus would show that he is still deserving of his ranking.
Aleksei Oleinik – Alexander Romanov
Aleksei Oleinik is a pioneer of this sport and for any fan the result was rough to watch. Although he showed tremendous toughness, it was difficult to see him getting peppered with shots. That being said, the 75-fight veteran is still one of the best grapplers in the division. A favorable matchup for Oleinik would be against another grappler, and the UFC should go down that route. Alexander Romanov has submitted 80% of his opponents, and if he can do the same to Oleinik it would catapult him into the rankings. For the Russian, it is an opportunity to show that he is still UFC calibre.
Phil Hawes def. Nassourdine Imavov via Majority Decision
Phil Hawes – Anthony Hernandez
Hawes had tremendous success in the early going before finding himself in serious trouble toward the end of the fight. This fight was reminiscent of the O’Malley – Soukhamthath fight for those that remember. Hawes managed to survive the tide turn and squeaked out the victory. He is now 10-2 with two victories in the UFC. Since he is 32-year-old, I’d expect for the UFC to be looking to get him big fights sooner rather than later. Anthony Hernandez earned the upset of the year in 2021 last weekend. A matchup between the two would be a nice little step up in competition for Hawes.
Nassourdine Imavov – Impa Kasanganay
After a remarkable debut, many were high on the Frenchman. His stock rose in this fight as well, despite the narrow defeat. Imavov likely could have put Hawes away late if he had avoided the clinch game in the final minutes. He has now dropped to 1-1 in his two UFC fights, and will look to begin his rise towards the rankings. Impa Kasanganay is in the exact same position and will look to return to his winning ways next time out. The bout would be a nice addition to a Pay-Per-View or on the main card of a Fight Night card.
Tom Aspinall def. Andrei Arlovski via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
Tom Aspinall – Sergei Pavlovich
Tom Aspinall went out there and delivered on all the hype. For the first time in his young career, Aspinall has won a fight that lasted more than two minutes. In what was supposed to be his toughest test to date, the Brit disposed of the former Champion in the second round with a rear-naked choke. Aspinall continues to look better every time he competes, and is likely one victory away from being ranked. He has insisted on taking things slowly, and the promotion will likely want the same for the 27-year-old. Sergei Pavlovich has been struggling to have a fight stay together but is hanging on to the #14 spot in the division. A fight with Pavlovich will help determine how ready Aspinall is for the elites of the 265lb division.
Andrei Arlovski – Jake Collier
The former UFC Champion showed he still has a chin after weathering the early storm from Aspinall. However, the pressure from the Brit was too much for Arlovski on the night. ‘The Pitbull’ is an iconic figure in European MMA and can still compete in the promotion. Look for the UFC to give him a couple more fights if he wishes. Jake Collier recently earned a decision victory over UFC veteran Gian Villante. With back-to-back wins over two veterans, he would put himself in a good position for a big name. For Arlovski it would be an opportunity to pick up a win before deciding whether or not to call it a career.