With UFC Fight Night 124 in the books, here is a look at who every fighter should face next.
Main Card (Fox Sports 1)
Jeremy Stephens def. Doo Ho Choi
Jeremy Stephens has been a main stay of the UFC for years now, but only recently has he emerged as somewhat of a contender in the featherweight division.
Heavy handed, and iron chinned, Stephens is built for exciting fights, and Doo Ho Choi was a great opponent for him, but honestly, I don’t feel that it was really that big of a win considering Choi’s actual standing in the division.
Choi is best known for taking a savage beating, but really doesn’t have a notable win to speak of. With that being said, Stephens managed to stop the iron-willed Choi, something that Cub Swanson couldn’t do. So, he will certainly be looking to move up the ladder, but I don’t think that he will get is wish for the Brian Ortega fight. The fight that makes more sense to me is Stephens vs…Daren Elkins 2.
When these two first met back in January 2014, Stephens walked away with a unanimous decision win, but that was long ago. Since then, Elkins has begun to flourish in the Alpha Male camp, and with 6 straight victories is surely looking for a big fight next. This seems like a big one, and though I am not usually a fan of rematches, I am all for this one.
Fight to make next: Jeremy Stephens vs. Darren Elkins 2
Doo Ho Choi is like a mythical creature. He looks like a boy, but fights like a man, and hits like a heavyweight despite his relatively small stature.
He gained his mythical status after surviving a harrowing battle with Cub Swanson in which he seemed to have absorbed an inhuman amount of punishment. His return to the octagon was a hot topic, but Choi did not live up to the expectations, instead he struggled with Stephens low kicks, struggled to find is timing, and was ultimately stopped in the second round with some brutal ground and pound.
Choi did not look ready, and he appeared to have regressed from his last fight, though I blame that mostly on his lack of ability to stop Stephens low kicks. Still though, keeping in mind the fact that Stephens has utilized low kicks well in his last few fights, stopping them should have been a top priority for Choi.
Regardless, Choi is still only 24, and still has huge potential in the sport. He has struggled with two solid vets in his last two fights, but I still like the idea of giving him another old timer next. Gilbert Melendez was once the scariest man in the lightweight division, and though those days have passed he is still a solid test.
Fight to make next: Doo Ho Choi vs. Gilbert Melendez
Jessica Rose Clark def. Paige VanZant
In my humble, yet loud opinion, I think that Jessica-Rose Clark was set up as cannon fodder for Paige VanZant. I think that the UFC thought she would win, and so did I, but hey that’s why we watch the sport.
Clark came in with a heavy heart and got the job done. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was a bring your lunch pail to work sort of performance, nothing pretty, but just a good win. In such a thin division, a win over a notable name like PVZ is just as good as beating a top contender; Clark could be a win or two away from a title shot.
With that being said, I think that a fight with Mara Romero Bonello makes some sense here. Both women are undefeated in their short Octagon careers, and are looking to break away from the rest of the pack. For what it’s worth, at 2-0, Jessica-Rose Clark is the only undefeated fighter in the division, in UFC competition. Romero for her part is 1-0. Let’s book this fight, and perhaps we can have a contender come out of the other end.
Fight to make next: Jessica Rose Clark vs. Mara Romero Bonello
Paige Van Zant is in a tough spot. She needs the UFC to continue her career outside of the UFC, but her career in the UFC isn’t actually going that successfully.
I am a fan of PVZ, but after one fight in her new camp I can’t help but say that it looks like just another bad decision in a career that has been mismanaged at times. Maybe she should slow down, and focus on fighting, because as fun as it is to see her on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Chopped,” those opportunities depend on her success in the UFC. If she continues to lose I can’t imagine that she keeps getting those chances.
She is still young, so why not focus on fighting, find some success, and then move onto the other things?
Speaking of fighting, her next fight should be one that has already been booked in the past. She was booked to fight Jessica Eye at UFC 216 until a back injury forced her out. Eye just snapped a four-fight losing streak, but she is pretty much in the same boat as Van Zant. Lots of potential, but less than optimal results, at least up to this point.
Fight to make next: Paige Van Zant vs. Jessica Eye
Kamaru Usman def. Emil Weber Meek
Kamara Usman was dominant in his victory over Emil Weber Meek this past weekend, but despite his 7-fight win streak, he really doesn’t seem to be getting that much attention. This is probably due to his style, which usually isn’t very fan friendly.
Regardless, Usman is a top-ten fighter, undefeated in the UFC, and a dominant grappler in a division that historically has been filled by elite grapplers. Still though, his style is going to hurt him when it comes to fight bookings and I can’t imagine that he gets the Colby Covington fight that he so desires. It’s possible, but I think Covington will face Stephen Thompson next leaving Usman without a dance partner.
Jorge Masvidal is always on the cusp of breaking through, and even though he is coming off two straight losses I still think that a fight with Usman makes sense.
Fight to make next: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
Emil Weber Meek is an exciting guy, with a good personality and some good skills. However, he was dominated in the wrestling department by a bigger and stronger opponent in Kamaru Usman, and showed that he is some ways away from being at the top of the division.
He seems like a dedicated guy, and I think he will probably come back with a better wrestling game, even if we don’t see it in his next fight.
Matt Brown is a guy that likes to fight, and certainly won’t look to take Meek down. Brown has stated that he is considering retirement, but after his spectacular KO victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 120 I have a feeling that he will be back.
Fight to make next: Emil Weber Meek vs. Matt Brown
Darren Elkins def. Michael Johnson
Darren Elkins just always seems to find a way. He never seems to have any sort of advantage over his opponents, but he always seems to win, and always finds a way to stay in the picture. His recent victory over Michael Johnson was his sixth in a row, and he is showing no signs of slowing down.
As I mentioned above I think that fight with Jeremy Stephens makes sense here. Elkins has a habit of taking absurd amounts of punishment, and Stephens has a habit of giving it out. These two fought once before, but times are different, and Elkins is very much capable of giving what he takes. This is a chance to both guys to separate a bit from the pack and a win here for Elkins would be huge.
Fight to make next: Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens
Michael Johnson should never be cut no matter how many times he losses. He never disappoints, and has come a long way from his days of getting out grappled by John Brookins. His drop down to Featherweight didn’t go the way that he wanted to be he still gave the fans another classic fight. He was certainly within reach of defeating Elkins on several occasions, and despite five losses in his last six fights I still think he has a lot to offer.
Alex Caceres seems like he should be three weight classes below Johnson, but he isn’t, and I think this is a fun fight to make. Both guys have exciting fights, and have been UFC regulars for a long time.
Fight to make next: Michael Johnson vs. Alex Caceres
James Krause def. Alex White
James Krause vs. Nik Lentz
Alex White vs. Frankie Perez
Polo Reyes def. Matt Frevola
Polo Reyes vs. Marcin Held
Matt Frevola vs. Daniel Teymur
Irene Aldana def. Talita Bernardo
Irena Aldana vs. Ashlee Evans Smith
Talita Bernardo vs. Lisa Lansberg
Kyung Ho Kang def. Guido Cannetti
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Matthew Lopez
Guido Cannetti vs. Damian Stasiak
Jessica Eye def. Kalinda Faria
Jessica Eye vs. Paige Van Zant
Kalinda Faria vs. Ariel Beck
JJ Aldrich def. Danielle Taylor
JJ Aldrich vs. Aleksandra Albu
Danielle Taylor vs. Jodie Esquibel
Mads Burnell def. Mike Santiago
Mads Burnell vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Mike Santiago vs. Gavin Tucker
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS “Fighta to Make Next” POST-UFC 219: Cyborg, Holm, Nurmagomedov, Barboza, more
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