FIGHTS TO MAKE NEXT: UFC on Fox 28 edition

Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

With UFC on Fox 28 in the books, it is time to look at what could be on the horizon for every fighter in the card.

Jeremy Stephens def. Josh Emmett via TKO (Elbows and Punches)

Jeremy Stephens picked up a win over Josh Emmett Saturday, and continues to show that he is more dangerous than ever. The win did not come without controversy due to some questionable strikes by Stephens during the finishing sequence, including a potentially illegal knee strike, as well as some elbows behind the head.

Still though, it was a great performance and a bit of a come from behind win for Stephens after he was dropped by Emmett in the first round. He will move forward now but he is in a bit of a tough situation and will probably get no favors when it comes to getting a title shot.

Stephens has decisive losses to Frankie Edgar, and Max Holloway, those two of course being the top contender and the champion respectively. A rematch might be tough to come by with either of those two unless Stephens takes out all challengers. Holloway is injured, and Edgar is facing Brian Ortega leaving Stephens without a top contender to face.

Chan Sung Jung has had just one fight since his return to MMA from military service, but he remains a top contender in the division and a win over Stephens could make him an immediate challenger for the title. For Stephens, its gives him something to do while the top end of the division clears itself up. He’s close to a shot, but he’s not there yet.

Fight to make next: Jeremy Stephens vs. Chan Sung Jung

I can’t imagine the feeling that Josh Emmett his in his stomach right now. A win over Jeremy Stephens would have given him back to back victories over top featherweight contenders and he would have been just a stone throw from a title shot. It is amazing when you consider that Emmet is months removed from being a totally unknown fighter. He gave it a solid effort and managed to drop Stephens in the first round with his formidable power. The very same power that stopped former title challenger Ricardo Lamas in the first round a couple of months back. Stephens recovered though and managed to crack Emmett with a series of strikes from which he was not able to recover.

It was a fight that ended in controversy, as mentioned above and Emmett has already filed a complaint with the commission. It’s rare that these things work out for the fighter that is “wronged” but this is an interesting case.

Either way Emmett will probably want to return as soon as possible. His KO victory over Lamas was a big one, but he missed weight before that fight. Lamas took a risk by fighting him, a risk that Emmett noted, and he stated post-fight that he would give Lamas a rematch. I think he will be a man of his word here. Ricardo Lamas vs. Josh Emmett 2 would be a fine Fight Night co-main event down the road.

Fight to make next: Josh Emmett vs. Ricardo Lamas 2

Jessica Andrade def. Tecia Torres via Decision

Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jędrzejczyk will fight at UFC 223, and I think that Jessica Andrade has made it clear that she should be next. Andrade has soundly defeated top contenders in back to back fights, and her fight with Jędrzejczyk was close enough that a rematch would make sense. The problem Andrade could have, is that if Namajunas loses, it’s possible that she will get a rematch and Andrade will have to fight again before getting a shot, but the UFC has never done a trilogy without some breaks in-between, so I think it’s likely that the winner faces Andrade regardless of the outcome.

Fight to make next: Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas/Joanna Jedrzejczyk for Strawweight Championship

Tecia Torres has been dominant for the most part in her UFC career, but she ran into a better fighter in Jessica Andrade and will have to make some improvements before making another run at the top. For the most part Torres has been able to defeat opponents with her pressure, cardio, and wrestling ability. She was not able to do that against Andrade, and was forced to strike, often while moving backwards. She was overpowered and couldn’t stop the takedown. She remains a top ranked fighter though and will look to get back on track as soon as possible. Maryna Moroz suffered a loss on the undercard. I like her for Torres’ next opponent.

Fight to make next: Tecia Torres vs. Maryna Moroz

Ilir Latifi def. Ovince St. Preux via submission (Standing Guillotine)

Ilir Latifi is a dark horse in the light heavyweight division, but his chances of getting his fight with Daniel Cormier are slim at best. He picked up a solid win over the always tough Ovince St. Preux and afterwards called out Cormier. Cormier of course will be coaching the Ultimate Fighter and will then face Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight championship.

However, Latifi does deserve a top ranked opponent, and that guy is Shogun Rua. Rua has been out with an injury but should be back soon and his high ranking makes him a target for most guys in the division, especially when you consider his age. Latifi isn’t close to a shot at the title in my opinion, but if Cormier moves up and vacates the title, or just retires, he could be in line for a shot sooner than expected.

Fight to make next: Ilir Latifi vs. Shogun Rua

Ovince St. Preux is a fantastic fighter and always fun to watch, but this was a tough loss for him. It seems like anytime he gets close to the top he suffers a brutal loss. He seemed to be having his way with Latifi and was using his size advantage well but ultimately couldn’t escape a standing guillotine and was choked unconscious.

Misha Cirkunov was on a hot streak but has since suffered two straight losses. He seems like a perfect opponent for OSP right now.

Fight to make next: Ovince St. Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov

Max Griffin def. Mike Perry via Decision

Mike Perry is from Orlando. The fights Saturday took place in Orlando. I am using this anecdotal evidence to prove that Max Griffin was most likely meant to be a sacrificial lamb for Mike Perry to slaughter. Things did not go according to plan. Griffin proved to be the faster fighter, and that was the difference against Perry. Griffin landed when Perry couldn’t, and busted the Floridian up badly in route to a unanimous decision victory and the biggest win of his career.

Curtis Millender recently picked up the biggest win of his career as well when he took out Thiago Alves with strikes. I wanted him to fill in and face Jack Marshman in England, but Brad Scott is taking that spot. Perry seems like a good alternative.

Fight to make next: Max Griffin vs. Curtis Millender

It might be time to admit that Mike Perry isn’t who we thought he was. He debuted in the UFC with such an impact that it seemed inevitable that he would reach contender status in no time. But since starting his UFC career with a 2-0 record Perry has managed just two wins in his last 5 bouts. His limitations were exposed in the Max Griffin fight, and we are now left wondering where exactly Mike Perry’s place is in the division. He has a magnetic personality, and an exciting brawling style, but he is going to have to develop a more well-rounded skill set if he wants to compete with the best. His boxing is good, but not good enough that he can’t be beat and he hasn’t shown much on the ground at least as of yet.

He is popular, so people will pay attention when he fights but that won’t always be if can’t find a way to start winning. Up next for Perry is another guy who had a rough outing in his last fight. Li Jingliang was riding a nice winning streak until he ran into Jake Matthews. He gouged Matthews eye to escape a submission, and despite the cheating still lost a decision. It was a rough go for Jingliang, and this fight is just as important for his future as it is for Perry’s.

Fight to make next: Mike Perry vs. Li Jingliang

Brian Kelleher def. Renan Barao via Decision

Fights to make next:

Brian Kelleher vs. Raphael Assuncao

Renan Barao vs. Marlon Vera

Marion Reneau def. Sara McMann via Submission (Triangle Choke)

Fights to make next:

Marion Reneau vs. Germaine de Randamie

Sara McMann vs. Lisa Lansberg

Angela Hill def. Maryna Moroz via Decision

Fights to make next:

Angela Hill vs. Alexa Grasso

Maryna Moroz vs. Tecia Torres

Alan Jouban def. Ben Saunders via KO (Punch)

Fights to make next:

Alan Jouban vs. Randy Brown

Ben Saunders vs. Tim Means

Sam Alvey def. Marcin Prachnio via KO (Punch)

Fights to make next:

Sam Alvey vs. Gian Villante

Marcin Prachnio vs. Saparbeg Safarov

Rani Yahya de. Russell Doane via submission (Arm-Triangle Choke)

Fights to make next:

Rani Yahya vs. Iuri Alcantara

Russell Doane vs. Kwan Ho Kwak

Alex Perez def. Eric Shelton via Decision

Fights to make next:

Alex Perez vs. Roberto Sanchez

Eric Shelton vs. Joby Sanchez

Manny Bermudez def. Albert Morales

Fights to make next:

Manny Bermudez vs. Benito Lopez

Albert Morales vs. Bharat Khandare


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