FIGHTS TO MAKE NEXT: UFC Fight Night 129 edition

Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

Demian Maia (photo credit USA Today Sports)

With UFC Fight Night 129 in the books, it is time to look ahead at what is next for every fighter on the card.

UFC Fight Night 129 was a card that suffered from the loss of a notable co-main event but it was historic in the sense that it was the debut for the UFC in Chile. We saw a main event fight between two top ten welterweight fighters, as well as the debut of Andrea “KGB” Lee, and the continuing rise of top light heavyweight prospect Dominick Reyes.

Kamaru Usman def. Damian Maia

The Kamaru Usman/Damian Maia fight went about as expected with Maia struggling to get the takedown. What was perhaps less expected, was that Usman still didn’t seem to put things into overdrive. Now one could argue that isn’t a bad thing because he isn’t having to exhaust himself to earn these victories, but he also probably isn’t doing himself any favors when it comes to getting a title shot. He reminds me of Jon Fitch in the sense that he is beating everybody that they put in front of him, but for whatever reason the shot remains elusive. The only difference is that Fitch did earn a shot early on but just couldn’t get a second one.

This may be a controversial opinion but I don’t think Usman is any closer now than he was before the Maia fight. At this point I think the logical booking is Usman vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio as was originally planned for the UFC Chile card. A win there could perhaps get him to the title, but only time will tell.

Fight to make next: Kamaru Usman vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio

Damian Maia is a fighter’s fighter, and one of the legends of the sport. He is without a doubt the best BJJ fighter in MMA history in my opinion, and his skills have allowed him to compete even though his body has clearly declined. But he has reached the point where he is no longer a top contender and should no longer be facing them.

Maia made it clear that he plans to fight out his contract before retirement so we will see him again despite three straight decisive losses. Thiago Alves is a guy that has been around even longer than Maia, and like Maia, Alves finds himself in the twilight of his career. It’s a classic striker vs. grappler type fight and one that makes sense for both guys at this point.

Fight to make next: Damian Maia vs. Thiago Alves

Tatiana Suarez def. Alexa Grasso

Tatiana Suarez may have put herself on the map and at the front of the title hunt in the strawweight division with her performance against Alexa Grasso. Though she likely still needs a win over a top ranked opponent, she certainly turned a lot of heads with her win and has been earning some comparisons to some pretty notable fighters. She took a solid prospect in Alexa Grasso and made it look easy, submitting her in under three minutes, not to mention that she became the first person to finish Grasso.

She has a notable background in wrestling and is actually one of the more credentialed martial artist in the entire division having won a bronze medal in both the 2008 and 2010 Wrestling World Championships. With all that being said, she needs to past the next test for the hype to continue. Michelle Waterson is a solid fighter, and a tough veteran who should provide a solid challenge for Suarez.

Fight to make next: Tatiana Suarez vs. Michelle Waterson

Alexa Grasso wasn’t able to show much and was clearly outmatched by Tatiana Suarez. She was taken down and submitted and is now 1-2 in her last 3 fights after stating off 9-0. The fact that she missed weight for the one fight that she did win, does not help matters.

With that being said she is still just 24 years old and still has plenty of time to develop into a top contender in the division. Cortney Casey has been on the wrong side of back to back split decisions and for that reason finds herself in a far different spot than she would be had either fight gone her way. She is a skilled fighter and her performance over Jessica Aguilar back at UFC 211 is all the proof of that you need. The is the type of fight where the winner can expect to stick around and the loser may be checking around corners for the chopping block which is a shame but that’s how the sport goes.

Fight to make next: Alexa Grasso vs. Cortney Casey

Dominick Reyes def. Jared Cannonier

Dominick Reyes continues to be my favorite prospect in the light heavyweight division after picking up his 3rd finish in as many fights since debuting in the UFC. Reyes showed well rounded skills, but ultimately it was a series of uppercuts that ended the fight.

Post-fight Reyes called out Jordan Johnson but considering that they are both prospects in a division that doesn’t have a ton of them I doubt we see them fight.

Reyes deserves a chance to test himself against a veteran and it just so happens that the light heavyweight division is full of them. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was recently cleared by USADA after testing positive for a banned substance earlier in the year. Nogueira is 41 years old but should be a solid test for the young Reyes, and if he passes is he can start looking at the top 15.

Fight to make next: Dominick Reyes vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Jared Cannonier is in a tough spot. He has a 3-4 record in the UFC and is currently in the midst of a two-fight losing streak. According to his Wikipedia page (Don’t judge me) Cannonier trains at Gracie Barra: Anchorage and if that is accurate you have to wonder what kind of sparring partners and coaches he has out there. They could be great, but it’s such a remote area that you have to wonder about it. He has been out sized in nearly every fight he has had in the UFC and is probably on the final fight of his contract.

Pat Cummins has fought some of the best fighters in the sport but couldn’t get the job done in his last outing against Corey Anderson. He had won two straight before then so he isn’t in terrible shape. This fight could be entertaining as both guys have been willing to slug it out in the past. See Cannonier vs. Ion Cutelaba, and Pat Cummins vs. Gian Villante for examples.

Fight to make next: Jared Cannonier vs. Pat Cummins

Guido Cannetti def. Diego Rivas

Guido Cannetti went into hostile territory and faced the only home town fighter on the card. He came away with the biggest win of his career and likely saved his spot on the roster in the process. At 38 years of age he is the oldest fighter in the division but showed no signs of slowing down this past Saturday.

Frankie Saenz is another bantamweight that has managed to win against his opponents and “father time.”

Fight to make next: Guido Cannetti vs. Frankie Saenz

Diego Rivas went into his home country of Chile but couldn’t get the job done. He was largely out wrestled and lost a decision much to the disappointment of the audience.

It will probably be a while before he gets another chance like that and will need to drum up a few wins if he wants to make sure he is around next time Chile become a destination for the UFC. Damian Stasiak is a solid fighter but has lost two straight fights. Both guys need a win, and you know the saying about desperate people doing desperate things. We might see a pretty good fight.

Fight to make next: Diego Rivas vs. Damian Stasiak

Andrea Lee def. Veronica Macedo

The much-anticipated debut of Andrea Lee has come and passed, and she came away with a victory and Fight of the Night honors for her efforts. She put on a well-rounded performance and certainly didn’t disappoint.

Jessica Rose Clark made a name for herself with her victory over Paige VanZant but has not competed since. Lee vs. Clark seems like a solid fight and the winner can probably count herself amongst the top contenders in the division.

Fight to make next: Andrea Lee vs. Jessica Rose Clark

Veronica Macedo was faced with a tall order especially considering the fact that she was coming off a loss. She lost to Lee but she is still young and hopefully can turn things around if she is given a third fight in the UFC.

Considering the Fight of the Night performance I think we will probably see her again. Kalindra Faria has far more experience in her career overall but she has a similar record to Macedo in the UFC.

Fight to make next: Veronica Macedo vs. Kalindra Faria

Vicente Luque def. Chad Laprise

Vicente Luque has managed to get a stoppage in all of his 6 UFC wins. He didn’t disappoint against Chad Laprise and scored a first round KO to win his second straight fight.

Ryan Laflare is a guy that wins but doesn’t do it in spectacular fashion and for that reason most people don’t realize that he has a 7-2 record in the UFC. Both of these guys could be on the brink of the top 15 so why not have them fight? Perhaps the winner can break through.

Fight to make next: Vicente Luque vs. Ryan Laflare

After 3 straight wins by knockout, it was Chad Laprise who found himself on the canvas Saturday night. He had managed back to back wins since deciding to return to the welterweight division but Vicente Luque ended his night in the first round.

Laprise has still be impressive for the most part though and is 6-3 overall with two post-fight bonuses to his name. Sean Strickland suffered a KO loss recently himself and will be looking to get things back on track.

Fight to make next: Chad Laprise vs. Sean Strickland

Michel Prazeres def. Zak Cummings

Fight to make next:

Michel Prazeres vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Zak Cummings vs. Court McGee

Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno

Fight to make next:

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez

Brandon Moreno vs. Marco Beltran

Poliana Botelho def. Syuri Kondo

Fight to make next:

Poliana Botelho vs. Nadia Kassem

Syuri Kondo vs. Amanda Cooper

Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Bandenay

Fight to make next:

Gabriel Benitez vs. Chas Skelly

Humberto Bandenay vs. Brandon Davis

Enrique Barzola def. Brandon Davis

Fight to make next:

Enrique Barzola vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov

Brandon Davis vs. Gavin Tucker

Frankie Saenz def. Henry Briones

Fight to make next:

Frankie Saenz vs. Guido Cannetti

Henry Briones (UFC: 1-4) will likely be cut

Claudio Puelles def. Felipe Silva

Fight to make next:

Claudio Puelles vs. Damir Hadzovic

Felipe Silva vs. Jason Gonzalez


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