Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad – No Contest (Accidental Eye Poke)
Leon Edwards – Stephen Thompson
You have to feel bad for Leon Edwards, the poor man can’t catch a break. Mid-way through 2020, the Birmingham native was unable to travel due to the country’s restrictions. He watched as Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns both competed for the belt while he was on the sidelines. Once the restrictions lifted, he was matched up with an unranked Khamzat Chimaev. Due to inactivity, Edwards was also removed from the rankings (was added back in later). Chimaev was forced out of the fight several times due to COVID leaving the fight in limbo. Ultimately, Edwards accepted a fight with #13 ranked Belal Muhammad. To make matters worse, an eye poke in the second round called a halt to the contest. In summary, Edwards cannot catch a break. His wins, although impressive, no longer carry the same weight as they did in 2019. Due to the unfortunate ending, Edwards will likely need to compete one more time before making a case for a title shot. That being said, Edwards deserves to be matched up with a Top 5 opponent. Stephen Thompson has been mentioning Edwards’ name for a little while now. The fight would determine who is next at the winner of Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman.
Belal Muhammad – Demian Maia
Belal Muhammad will be losing sleep over the next few weeks from this one. In his biggest fight in his career, Muhammad gets eye poked which ends the contest. Muhammad could have been looking at a number one contender’s fight in his next fight with a win. Unfortunately, he will likely not get the rematch with Edwards. The main reason he was given the chance was the fact it was on short notice. With time to book a fight, the UFC will likely be booking him with a Top 5 opponent. As for Muhammad, he shouldn’t have to settle for an unranked opponent due to the nature of the result. The man deserves a Top 10 opponent at the very least and will get that. Demian Maia has been hinting at taking one last fight as a retirement bout. Although it won’t launch him into title discussions, a name over the #8 ranked Maia would bolster his resume.
Ryan Spann def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (Punches)
Ryan Spann – Volkan Oezdemir
Ryan Spann has to be one the greatest products of Dana White’s Contender Series. Since getting signed from the show, the former LFA Light Heavyweight Champion has gone 5-1 in the promotion. 3 of those 5 wins have come by way of stoppage. On Saturday night, he once again showed that his power is to be respected at 205lbs. With the win, Spann has now thrown his name into the deep end of the division. There are lots of new faces for Spann at the top of the division. One of those men is former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. The Swiss fighter will be looking to bounce back after his loss to Jiří Procházka. A win for Spann would put him into the Top 10 of the division for the very first time.
Misha Cirkunov – Dustin Jacoby
Misha Cirkunov has been one of the toughest gatekeepers the division has had in recent memory. Although four of his last six fights have been losses, those defeats have come at the hands of ranked opponents. The Lativian-Canadian will likely be facing someone outside of the rankings in his next fight. Dustin Jacoby has been a man on a mission in his second UFC stint. He is 2-0 since coming back including a leg kick finish of Justin Ledet. A win over a veteran in Cirkunov would help the former CFFC Champion enter into the rankings. For Cirkunov, it is an opportunity to defend the number next to his name.
Dan Ige def. Gavin Tucker via KO (Punch)
Dan Ige – Chan Sung Jung
Dan Ige had the performance of his life on Saturday night. It isn’t everyday you knockout a veteran out with one shot. Ige has clearly been spending some time working with Francis Ngannou. Ige defended his spot in the rankings and is creeping toward the Top 5. He has won seven of his last eight and will be deserving of an elite opponent next time out. Usually when fighters call out opponents, the fight makes little to no sense whatsoever. Ige’s callout on Saturday sense was the opposite. He called out Chan Sung Jung which is the perfect opponent for the Hawaiian. The Korean Zombie sits at number 5 in the division and has competed for the title before. A win over someone like Zombie would throw his name in the hat when discussing title shots. For Zombie, it is an opportunity to rebound from a devastating loss to title challenger Brian Ortega.
Gavin Tucker – Charles Rosa
The pride of both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland came up short in his attempt to jump into the Top 15. Gavin Tucker took the fight to step in for Ryan Hall and simply got caught. It may have halted his progress, but it shouldn’t be a huge step back. He stepped in and lost to a ranked opponent many felt he should have lost to anyway. He will likely be sidelined for a little while due to a medical suspension. He is 34 years old so I wouldn’t expect too much of a layoff however for the Canadian. Given his attitude, one would imagine he is back in there the second he gets medical clearance. Charles Rosa has been alternating wins and losses since his UFC debut in 2014. Tucker vs Rosa would make for a nice battle of the East Coast.
Davey Grant def. Jonathan Martinez via KO (Punch)
Davey Grant – Raphael Assunção
Davey Grant made an emphatic return to the United States when he knocked out Jonathan Martinez on Saturday night. The Englishman has only fought in the United States twice in his entire 17-fight career. One of the biggest knocks on Grant is his lack of activity. Since October of 2016, he has only competed four times. He is now riding a three-fight win streak and will surely be calling for a big-name opponent. At 35, you can imagine he would like another veteran of the sport or a ranked competitor. Raphael Assunção is on the opposite trajectory as Grant. He has lost three straight to guys at the top of the division. For Assunção, a win over Grant would keep him relevant at 135lbs. As for Grant, it would be his biggest victory to date if he were to emerge victorious.
Jonathan Martinez – Johnny Eduardo
Jonathan Martinez was having tremendous success in the early goings of the fight. Unfortunately for Martinez, the loss will set him back a little. The defeat was the first time he has been finished as a professional. Martinez is in the deepest division in the organization which means there are plenty of options for the 26-year-coul. 4d2-year-old Johnny Eduardo was scheduled to compete a weekend after Martinez, but was forced out of the contest. The Brazilian couldn’t get to the event due to visa issues. We likely will not see Eduardo until after restrictions are lifted. The timeline for his return could match up well for Martinez.
Matheus Nicolau def. Manel Kape via Split Decision
Matheus Nicolau – Su Mudaerji
Matheus Nicolau’s return to the octagon was long overdue. The Brazilian’s first stint was very successful going 3-1. Unfortunately, he was cut when the UFC was contemplating ending the 125lb division due to lack of interest from fans. Since then, the division has been reignited and Nicolau was resigned. In his return, he was drawn against the highly touted Manel Kape. Regardless of how you scored the fight, Nicolau looked impressive on the night to pick up his fourth UFC victory. He now sits at the #14 spot in the division and will be looking for another ranked opponent in his next fight. Su Mudaerji has emerged as one of the prospects to watch in 2021. Since dropping to 125lbs, he has gone 2-0. He comes in at #13 in the rankings so the booking would make a ton of sense for the promotion.
Manel Kape – Cody Durden
Manel Kape has had the worst luck in his opening two UFC bouts in recent memory. After suffering a close loss in his first UFC fight with Alexandre Pantoja, he quickly turned around and fought Matheus Nicolau. Just about every person watching the fight scored it in favor of the Angolan apart from two judges. Unfortunately for Kape, the loss puts him at 0-2 in the promotion. He was one of the biggest signings for the UFC in all of 2020 so hopefully the UFC gives him another shot. Fans of the sport are anxiously waiting for him to show his true potential. He will likely be looking at another unranked opponent in his next fight. Cody Durden has been recovering from injuries the past few months since his loss to Jimmy Flick. When he is back and ready to go, a fight between the two would make sense for both gentlemen.
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart – No Contest (Illegal Knee)
Eryk Anders – Darren Stewart
Very rarely do I call for rematches in MMA if a title is not at stake. Firstly, it doesn’t allow for me to be creative in matchmaking. Secondly, it’s always nice to see something new. For the sake of righting the wrong, I believe both gentlemen would want this one to be run back. Despite getting his bell rung, Darren Stewart wanted to keep fighting. However, the decision to stop the contest was taken. The fight was still only in the first round at the time of the stoppage so we didn’t get to see much from either man.