Fights to Make Next after TUF 28 Finale

By Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

UFC Ultimate Fighter Finale

Kamara Usman def. Rafael Dos Anjos

Has Kamara Usman finally done enough to earn a title shot? Usman has often been criticized for his decision heavy fighting style, but it has reached a point where denying him a shot is starting to get a bit ridiculous. He is undefeated in the UFC having won nine straight fights and eight straight since winning the 21st Season of the Ultimate Fighter, and his performance Friday showed his continued improvement. He was relentless with his pressure, controlled RDA with his grappling, and looked like a world champion in defeating RDA who is himself a former world champion in the lightweight division. Colby Covington seems to be in line for a title shot but the fight has not been booked yet and if I recall correctly, he passed on a shot back at UFC 228. While Covington has looked great as of late, Usman has looked nearly unstoppable and his consistency in the UFC should earn him the shot.

Fight to make next: Kamara Usman vs. Tyron Woodley for UFC Welterweight Championship

Rafael Dos Anjos started off strong when he decided to make the move to welterweight, but he now sits with two straight losses to top five opponents and is certainly on his way down the rankings. He was simply outworked by Usman and it seems that he just doesn’t have an answer for a bigger, stronger, wrestler. With two straight losses, a quick way for him to perhaps redeem himself would be to pick up a win over a surging prospect to show that he remains a top fighter and hasn’t yet reached the point of being a stepping stone. Ramazan Emeev is a wrestler so he would be just what has given RDA problems as of late but a win over the Russian for RDA and anther quality win after that could have him right back in the title hunt.

Fights to make next: Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Ramzan Emeev

Juan Espino def. Justin Frazier

Juan Espino is thirty-eight years old which is a bit strange for a guy that just won the Ultimate Fighter but after watching him fight it’s clear that he has a lot left in the tank. He didn’t waste much time in taking Frazier down to the mat and ending the fight with a submission, and by doing that he became the first Canary Island’s native to win the tournament in UFC history. It’s always hard to judge an Ultimate Fighter winner until they start facing actual UFC competition, but his grappling looked great and it’s always interesting to see a guy with those skills at heavyweight. He will likely get a few “easier” fights before being tossed into the fire so a good first opponent is Cyril Asker. Asker is a French fighter who has found limited success in the UFC, so he could be fighting for his roster spot here. A freshly signed prospect looking to prove his worth, and a guy fighting for his job could lead to an interesting contest.

Fight to make next: Juan Espino vs. Cyril Asker

Justin Frazier was an interesting character to watch on the Ultimate Fighter and he has several good performances on the show, but he couldn’t quite deliver in the final. He was taken down and couldn’t do much to stop the grappling attack of Juan Espino. Fighters that lose in the final are often given another chance to earn a victory and with heavyweight being so thin it is likely that Frazier will receive one as well. Jarjis Danho has been out of action for a while but if he is ready to return to action a fight with Frazier makes sense. Both guys probably need a win to continue their careers, both guys have a habit of going for the knockout, and both guys are huge. Sometimes that is all you need at heavyweight.

Fight to make next: Justin Frazier vs. Jarjis Danho

Macy Chiasson def. Pannie Kianzad

Despite having a significant experience disadvantage it was Macy Chiasson that emerged as the winner of the Ultimate Fighter: Featherweights. She largely neutralized Kianzad through-out the fight with her grappling and it was a rear naked choke that eventually won her the fight. She is now a young prospect in a division that has ten or so active fighters on the roster so it’s hard to say what exactly comes next for her. Leah Letson is really the only other fighter in the featherweight division near the same experience level and she also happens to be coming off a win. For that reason, it’s the fight to make.

Fight to make next: Macy Chiasson vs. Leah Letson

Pannie Kianzad held an experience advantage heading into her fight with Macy Chiasson but she never really seemed to get going. Chiasson had an answer for everything that Kianzad had to offer, and while she did what she could, Kianzad eventually tapped out in the second round. The problem here is the same problem faced with booking Macy Chiasson’s next fight. The division is thin, and top heavy, and coming off a loss it seems that really only one opponent is available for Kianzad right now and that is Julija Stoliarenko.

Fight to make next: Pannie Kianzad vs. Julia Stoliarenko

Pedro Munhoz def. Bryan Caraway

It didn’t take Pedro Munhoz very long to put Bryan Caraway away and he did it all on his feet. In the process he picked up his first TKO win since 2014. Munhoz now stands at 7-1 with 1 No Contest in his UFC career, and is now 2-0 since a close split decision loss to John Dodson in March of 2018. He still lacks a marquee win though and that is something he would probably like to change. Aljamain Sterling is not a top five fighter currently, but his fights draw interest and win over him for Munhoz would only do more to get him closer to a title shot.

Fight to make next: Pedro Munhoz vs. Aljamain Sterling

Bryan Caraway did not look great Friday night. He chose to fight with his hands lower than usual and he paid for it early and often. Caraway took a few good shots from Pedro Munhoz before he eventually had enough and lost via TKO in the first round. Caraway is now 0-2 since his victory over Aljamain Sterling in 2016 and after some recent comments he made about current gym situation once is left to wonder if perhaps a change of camps would benefit the veteran. Either way though he will likely need a victory in his next fight to keep his job. He is 0-2 in his last two fights, an he is nearing 35 years of age. Brett Johns is a guy that came into the UFC on a hot streak and it continued in his first few fights inside the octagon. But since then he has hit several bumps in the road and will need to win soon if he wants to retain any sort of relevance in the bantamweight division.

Fight to make next: Bryan Caraway vs. Brett Johns

Edmen Shahbazyan def. Darren Stewart

Edmen Shahbazyan survived rough waters to edge out a decision over Darren Stewart and remained undefeated in the process. Shahbazyan, a student of Edmund Tardvardian, was first discovered on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series and despite his young age (21) and his relative inexperience the UFC decided to toss him into the cage with a very dangerous opponent right away. Darren Stewart was able to catch Shahbazyan with some good punches and seemed to put him in real danger at certain points during the fight. Ultimately though his chin held out and he was able to pick up his first official win since joining the UFC roster. Karl Roberson is another guy that gained recognition after an impressive stoppage victory on the contender series. He is a talented kickboxer with the ability to end the fight with submissions as well and should serve as a good test for the young Shahbazyan.

Fight to make next: Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Karl Roberson

Darren Stewart is an exciting fighter. Look no further than his record for proof that the UFC feels the same way about him. He was winless in his first four fights with the promotion which is usually more than enough to lead to a fighter’s release, yet he was offered another fight and since that losing streak, he is 2-1. He hurt Edmen Shahbazyan several times but struggled to deal with the grappling of his opponent and ultimately lost a very close split decision. Going forward an interesting matchup for the Englishman could be a fight with Cezar Mutante. Mutante would likely have the edge in grappling, and he is no slouch on the feet, but he has been known to have issues with his chin in the past and it will be Darren Stewarts job to make sure he finds the button.

Fight to make next: Darren Stewart vs. Cezar Mutante

Antonina Shevchenko def. Ji Yeon Kim

Antonina Shevchenko made a successful UFC debut and managed to live up to the hype that will naturally follow her because of her last name. She is in a bit of an odd situation because she competes in the same division as her sister who very well could be the champion in a few days, but I guess that’s a different bridge for a different time. As for her next opponent we have several options just depending on the route you want to go. She could be tossed into the deep end of a rather thin division and matched up with Sijara Eubanks or Liz Carmouche, but with her sister being in the position she is in and considering that Antonina Schevchenko has competed in just four MMA bouts in the last thirteen years perhaps bringing her along slowly would be a better plan. Montana de la Rosa is not ranked in the top ten and a victory over her likely won’t earn you a title shot but she is a solid fighter and has shown herself to be capable of competing in the octagon.

Fight to make next: Antonina Schevchenko vs. Montana de la Rosa

Ji Yeon Kim suffered a loss to Antonina Schevchenko and in the process her two fight win streak was snapped, and she fell to .500 in the UFC in four fights. She also missed weight for the bout, so it is always possible that she will not return to the UFC but if she does perhaps Lauren Mueller would make for a good opponent. Mueller is coming off of her first career loss in what was a bit of an upset. She’d managed to gain a bit of steam from her time on Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series and she will need a win here if she hopes to regain it.

Fight to make next: Ji Yeon Kim vs. Lauren Mueller


Kevin Aguilar def. Rick Glenn

Fights to make next:

Kevin Aguilar vs. Guan Wang

Rick Glenn vs. Chas Skelly

Joe Benavidez def. Alex Perez

Fights to make next:

Joe Benavidez vs. Wilson Reis

Alex Perez vs. Brandon Moreno

Maurice Greene def. Michel Batista

Fights to make next:

Maurice Greene vs. Augusto Sakai

Michel Batista vs. Daniel Spitz

Leah Letson def. Julija Stoliarenko

Fights to make next:

Leah Letson vs. Macy Chiasson

Julija Stoliarenko vs. Pannie Kianzad

Roosevelt Roberts def. Darrell Horcher

Fights to make next:

Roosevelt Roberts vs. Matt Frevola

Darrell Horcher vs. Marc Diakese

Tim Means def. Ricky Rainey

Fights to make next:

Tim Means vs. Diego Sanchez

Ricky Rainey vs. David Zawada


Raoni Barcelos def. Chris Gutierrez

Fights to make next:

Raoni Barcelos vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Chris Gutierrez vs. Martin Day

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. FRIDAY POLL: Who wins the Max Holloway-Brian Ortega fight at UFC 231? – Daily Fight Report
  2. MCGRATH: Ranking MMA’s top ten middleweights – Daily Fight Report

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