Fights to Make Next after UFC on FOX

By Cole Henry, mmatorch Contributor

Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee

Al Iaquinta is now 2-0 against Kevin Lee and he will likely take a top-five ranking after his most recent performance. Iaquinta has not fought much over the last few years so it’s easy to forget that he is 9-2 since losing to Michael Chiesa on the Ultimate Fighter Finale back in 2012. He suffered an upset submission loss to Mitch Clarke in 2014 and then didn’t lose again until he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov earlier this year. A loss to Lee here would have likely sent him back down the rankings and with the loss of momentum it’s always possible he could have taken his talents back to Real Estate. (Side Note: Can you imagine negotiating the price of a house with that guy?) But instead he is in a spot that he hasn’t been in before and he could be a fight or two away from a rematch with Khabib, and this time the title could be on the line. But first Iaquinta will likely need to secure at least one more win. Tony Ferguson is probably next in line for Khabib, and Conor McGregor is selling whiskey and having kids. So that doesn’t leave a lot of high ranked opponents for Iaquinta and you would hate to see him take a step back. Enter Nate Diaz…

Nate Diaz has been on the shelf since losing to Conor McGregor in 2016 though that has largely been by his own design. He was scheduled to compete at UFC 230, but the fight was cancelled, but with the news that Nick Diaz will be fighting soon perhaps, it is the time that we finally see the younger Diaz brother emerge from his self-imposed exile. A fight with Al Iaquinta might be something that would interest Diaz, and the back and forth pre-fight trash talk would probably be just as entertaining as the fight.

Fight to make next: Al Iaquinta vs. Nate Diaz

Kevin Lee is now in a much tougher spot that he was before UFC on Fox 31. Leading into this fight, Lee was sure to mention that the fighter that lost to Al Iaquinta the first time had evolved and that the second fight would not be the same as the first. He was right, but the result was the same. Lee showed a good chin, something that has plagued him in the past, but ultimately, he was outstruck on the feet and he was never able to do enough with his grappling to earn a finish. Lee seemed devastated post-fight, and perhaps even confused at the decision, but he was still respectful in his post-fight speech and promised that he would be back. Since the fight, Lee has stated that he is considering a move to welterweight but until he officially announces it, we will keep booking him at lightweight. Anthony Pettis seemed on the brink of extinction a year or so ago but his recent loss to Tony Ferguson may have actually helped raise his stock to a level it hasn’t been at in some time. A few months ago, a Pettis vs. Lee fight would not have made sense, but today it does. Both guys are still in it in terms of skill and both are still capable of making a run towards the top but a loss here for either guy would be devastating.

Fight to make next: Kevin Lee vs. Anthony Pettis

Edson Barboza def. Dan Hooker

Edson Barboza is a man that should be feared, and he reminded everybody of that Saturday night. The Brazilian had stumbled in two straight contests leading into this fight with Dan Hooker, but Barboza wasted little time in showing that he is still the premier striker in the division. He put a serious beating on Dan Hooker, one that was memorable for the fans, but no doubt one with career-altering implications for Hooker. Barboza attacking often with kicks and punches, targeting the head, legs, and midsection, and as long as Dan Hooker stayed up, Barboza kept throwing. The final strike that caused the stoppage was a sort of “straw that broke the camels back” situation, Hooker had absorbed so many violent strikes that the punch to the body that ended it was almost anti-climatic, but it was devastating none the less. In the current state on MMA, it is rare to see a pure striker vs. a pure grappler, and you won’t necessarily be seeing one in the next bout either, but it might be as close as we can get. Edson Barboza vs. Charles Oliviera seems like something that would have already happened, but it hasn’t, and it should.

Fight to make next: Edson Barboza vs. Charles Oliveira

Dan Hooker bit off more than he was ready for and if you saw that fight that goes without saying. Hooker has shown himself to be a talented striker, but he was severely outclassed but Barboza and took one of the worst beatings that you will ever see in an MMA fight. It should have been stopped earlier, but rather than rag on the referee I will credit Hooker with taking the beating and doing it with a smile on his face. No matter what his check looks like it will not be worth the beating that he took, but hopefully he is able to recover fully and return in top form. Once he does a fight with Joseph Duffy is in order. Duffy came into the UFC with some heat because of his own in the past over Conor McGregor, but Duffy has since lost and never tried to capitalize on the win over his fellow Irishman and for that reason his stock has fallen considerably. He still is what he has always been though and that is a solid fighter and one that should make for an exciting opponent for Dan Hooker.

Fight to make next: Dan Hooker vs. Joseph Duffy

Rob Font def. Sergio Pettis

Rob Font predicted that Sergio Pettis would be too small for the bantamweight division and if Saturday night was a hint of things to come, it would appear that he was correct. Font was bigger, and if Pettis was faster it didn’t show. Font connected early and often and managed to neutralize most of what Pettis was trying to do. He has suffered some tough losses in his UFC career, but he has for the most part been a consistently good fighter which is why I think he should be given an interesting opportunity for his next fight. Cody Garbrandt has not competed since suffering the second of two straight KO losses to TJ Dillashaw, and it seems as though injuries and family have been the reason for that. But surely the lure of the octagon is drawing Garbrandt in, and a return could come any day now. Font vs. Garbrandt seems like a step down for the former champion, but he has lost two straight and could really use a quality win over a quality opponent.

Fight to make next: Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt

Sergio Pettis is in a position that very few fighters have ever been. He is a top two flyweight, but rumors persist that his division is on its way out, and he himself lent credence to that rumor when he moved up to bantamweight. If the rumors are to be believed then what we have here is a guy who could be a champion in his division, being forced to move up to stay alive in the UFC. Simply put he looked like a mediocre fighter last night. He hung in there be he never threatened Rob Font and clearly lost the decision. His future at bantamweight is bleak, at least as a high-level competitor, so what is next for the Roufusport product? Well until the future of the flyweight division becomes clear he will just have to push forward as a bantamweight. Marlon Vera is several steps down from Rob Font but that’s okay. Pettis needs to prove he can win against the likes of Vera before he can hope for another shot at a guy like Font.

Fight to make next: Sergio Pettis vs. Marlon Vera

Charles Oliveira def. Jim Miller

Charles Oliveira suffered the first loss of his UFC career to Jim Miller and after eight years he has finally evened the score. The all-time UFC submissions win leader continued his streak with a first-round submission win over Miller and moved his winning streak to three in the process. Oliveira has not been truly tested in his last three fights though, and by that, I just mean that all of the opponents have been favorable matchups. If Oliveira wants to make a push towards the top, he will need to pick up some wins over some higher ranked opponents. I covered most of this above but a good opponent for Oliveira here is Edson Barboza. A win over Barboza is essentially a pass into the title conversation and you have to assume that’s what Oliveira is gunning for.

Fight to make next: Charles Oliveira vs. Edson Barboza

It’s hard to say where Jim Miller goes from here. Long gone are the days where we could expect Miller to defeat all but the absolute best that the division had to offer. He is without question one of the most successful fighters in UFC history to have never earned a UFC title shot and at this point, it’s clear that he never will. He has just one win in his last six fights, and that one win was over a guy who is far from most people’s radars. If he retired here, he would retire as the most active fighter in UFC history, but something tells me that Miller will want to continue. There is no sense in him fighting contenders at this stage and he may be best served as a test for young fighters. Chris Gruetzmacher isn’t exactly young, but he is the type of fighter that Jim Miller needs to be fighting at this stage.

Fight to make next: Jim Miller vs. Chris Gruetzmacher

Undercard: (FS1)

Zak Ottow def. Dwight Grant

Fights to make next:

Zak Ottow vs. Alex Morono

Dwight Grant vs. Emil Weber Meek

Drakkar Klose def. Bobby Green

Fights to make next:

Drakkar Klose vs. Polo Reyes

Bobby Green vs. Jesus Pinedo

Joaquim Silva def. Jared Gordon

Fights to make next:

Joaquim Silva vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Jared Gordon vs. Vinc Pichel

Jack Hermansson def. Gerald Meerschaert

Fights to make next:

Jack Hermansson vs. Antonio Carlos Junior

Gerald Meerschaert vs. John Phillips

Zak Cummings def. Trevor Smith

Fights to make next:

Zak Cummings vs. Andrew Sanchez

Trevor Smith vs. CB Dolloway

Prelims: (UFC Fight Pass)

Mike Rodriguez def. Adam Milstead

Fights to make next:

Mike Rodriguez vs. Rashad Coulter

Adam Milstead vs. Nick Roehrick

Juan Adams def. Chris De La Rocha

Fights to make next:

Juan Adams vs. Maurice Greene

Chris De La Rocha vs. Justin Frazier

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