Fights to Make Next after UFC 234

By Cole Henry, mmatorch Contributor

Feb 9, 2019; Melbourne, Australia; Israel Adesanya (red gloves) and Anderson Silva (blue gloves) during UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports
Israel Adesanya def. Anderson Silva (Decision)

Israel Adesanya had a golden opportunity to potentially leap-frog Kelvin Gastelum into a title fight with an impressive enough performance against Anderson Silva. And while we did get an exciting, and unexpectedly competitive fight, it is doubtful that he did enough to jump the current number one contender. Still though, Adesanya sits at 16-0, with a growing star and a personality that the UFC should love. But has he really been tested? Now the answer is yes, he has fought and beat Silva, Brad Tavares, and Derek Brunson, all guys who have been ranked in the top 15 in the last year or so, which is no small feat. But all of those guys tend to stand and chose to do so when they faced Adesanya, though admittedly it wasn’t always through lack of trying, at least on the part of Derek Brunson. But still, assuming that Robert Whittaker recovers in a timely fashion, and faces Gastelum in the next couple of months, Adesanya will probably need to fight at least once more before getting a title shot. I know my logic when it comes to booking likely differs from the way the UFC books, they might want to avoid risking Adesanya as a challenger at this point, considering his potential marketability, and the age of the opponent I have in mind. But a fight with Ronaldo Jacare Souza would serve as a final test before a potential title fight. Souza has shown good boxing in the past, but his BJJ is his bread and butter. It would be interesting to see Adesanya attempt to solve that puzzle and it would also give him his first top 5 win. Something a title challenger should have.

Fight to make next: Israel Adesanya vs. Jacare Souza

Anderson Silva is an MMA world treasure. I was watching his bout with Vitor Belfort just the other day and it was interesting to hear Joe Rogan openly criticizing Silva, for his performances against Thales Leites, Damian Maia, and Patrick Cote, for nearly the entire fight until Silva nailed him with the front kick. Instantly Rogan’s demeanor changed! His condescending tone instantly switched to one of sheer awe and admiration. It’s rare these days to hear anybody criticize Silva, especially on commentary during a UFC event and Saturday was an example as to why that is the case. Silva, at 43, stood with his hands down in front of his opponent, a man half his age, and took shots from him directly on the chin. He taunted his opponent, and managed to go three rounds with him, despite a clear gap in athleticism… For brief moments we saw shades of the old Silva, and even in defeat, he came away a winner. At 43, Anderson Silva remains a relevant member of the UFC middleweight roster, even if he is not what he once was. Going forward he will likely be free to do as he pleases. Post-fight, he called for a bout with Nick Diaz, in Brazil. But it is likely that Silva will need to forego at least one of his desires. Does he prefer a fight in Curitiba or a bout with Diaz? Getting Diaz to compete would likely take some time, and the Curitiba card is only two months away. So, I say save Diaz for later, and rebook a fight that was scheduled for a previous Brazilian card. Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall had a lot of people excited when it was announced, and then they were left disappointed when it was canceled. It’s a fight between two strikers, one who maxed out his potential, and another who is still seeking his path. It’s also the kind of fight that Silva should be taking at this point, and it could be very exciting.

Fight to make next: Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall

Lando Vannata def. Marcos Rosa (Submission/Round 1)

I was having a conversation with a buddy the other day and he pointed out that while exciting, Vannata’s style has not exactly lead to promising results. I had a hard time arguing the point, so I was glad to see Vannata show another facet of his game that we haven’t seen before.  Despite fighting an opponent who was relatively inexperienced, or perhaps because of, Vannata elected to take the fight to the ground almost immediately, rather than take his chances on the feet. Rosa enjoyed a large height and reach advantage, so perhaps Vannata just didn’t want to take any chance. He took the fight down, passed through the guard, and ended the fight with a kimura in the first round. It was his first submission win in the UFC and his first overall since 2014, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Vannata is 2-3-2 in the UFC and was winless in four straight leading into the Rosa bout. But with a win under his belt, Vannata can now look to move forward. He has been a victim of his own success of to this point and has largely faced skilled competition ever since his impressive debut against Tony Ferguson. But lately, especially his last two fights, his competition has been scaled back a bit. I like this trend and would like to see it continue going forward. Let him win a few fights, and then perhaps he can take another crack at the top ten.

Fight to make next: Lando Vannata vs. Roosevelt Roberts

I don’t know much about Marcos Rosa, and his debut performance didn’t do much to clear that up. He has impressive size for the lightweight division, but it was negated rather early but Vannata’s takedown. He will likely get a second shot in the octagon because most fighters do, and if he does, he should face somebody with a similar record. Rosa now sits at 6-5 and will no doubt be fighting for his UFC career in his next bout.

Fight to make next: Marcos Rosa vs. Thiago Moises

Ricky Simon def. Rani Yahya (Decision)

Ricky Simon picked up a big win over division veteran Rani Yahya, and he now sits at 15-1 overall with three victories in the UFC. With the win over Yahya, Simon could very well find himself with a number next to his name for his next fight, and with his performances, it’s likely he will be facing a ranked opponent as well. Rob Font is a tough contender, a hard puncher for the division, and a guy that usually only loses to the absolute best. If Simon can pick up a win then he could find himself amongst a crowded group of contenders at 135.

Fight to make next: Ricky Simon vs. Rob Font

Rani Yahya is a good fighter, but he just can’t ever seem to get over the mountain. He is a long time UFC veteran who has enjoyed numerous multi-fight win streaks, but he’s never managed a truly notable win. With the loss to Simon, he will be tasked with starting over yet again. Bryan Caraway seems like a good opponent here. He is a guy that has also enjoyed several streaks of success, but lately, he’s found himself on the wrong end of several fights. Both guys need a win here if they want to have any shot at remaining relevant in 2019, especially Caraway. But Yahya, at 34 years of age is also in a spot where if he doesn’t get going now, the opportunity to ever do so may pass him by.

Fight to make next: Rani Yahya vs. Bryan Caraway

Montano de la Rosa def. Nadia Kassem (Submission/Round 2)

Montano de la Rosa is quietly building herself into a contender as she continued doing so with a second-round submission victory over the previously unbeaten, Nadia Kassem. De La Rosa appeared to be the more polished, disciplined fighter, and that allowed her to earn an impressive submission victory. She has stated that she does not want a top opponent until she gets a new contract, which is an interesting stance, but for the sake of this article, I am going to book her against a top opponent anyway. She deserves a top opponent, and she deserves a new contract if she is going to face top competition, but that’s a different conversation for a different day. Joanne Calderwood showed some new tricks in her last fight, and she is going to be a tough test for anybody. The winner of this fight could very well be in line for the next shot at the title.

Fight to make next: Montano de la Rosa vs. Joanne Calderwood

Nadia Kassem is young, and in both of her UFC bouts, she has faced far more experienced competition. She ran into a better fighter Saturday night in Montano de la Rosa, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t improve. I do think though that a step back in competition would do her some good. So, for that reason, I think that a bout with Melinda Fabian is the fight to make.

Fight to make next: Nadia Kassem vs. Melinda Fabian

Jimmy Crute def. Sam Alvey (TKO/Round 1)

Jimmy Crute is now two for two in the UFC, and the second certainly came easier than the first. Crute picked up a somewhat controversial TKO win over division favorite, Sam Alvey, but the win did not come without some criticism though it wasn’t directed at Crute. While Crute did hurt Alvey with a punch, Alvey seemed to have recovered and was not taking direct shots to the head when the fight was stopped. Still though, a win is a win and Crute remains one of the more interesting prospects at 205. With wins over Paul Craig and Sam Alvey, he is moving and picking up steam. Up next I would like to see him matched up with Nikita Krylov. Krylov is a guy that seems to have potential, but he has lost two straight UFC bouts and has lost a little bit of his shine as of late.

Fight to make next: Jimmy Crute vs. Nikita Krylov

Sam Alvey has competed in the UFC on seventeen different occasions in just around a four-year period. He has mostly found success but now finds himself on a two-fight losing streak, with both losses coming by way of TKO. He complained about the stoppage after the Crute bout and seemed to get sympathy from several of those who saw the fight, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has lost two straight. I like the idea of matching him up with Justin Ledet next. Ledet is a boxer, who has last two straight after starting his career undefeated. Both guys should provide the other with just the type of fight they like.

Fight to make next: Sam Alvey vs. Justin Ledet 


Under Card

Devonte Smith def. Dong Hyun Ma (KO/Round 1)

Fights to make next:

Devonte Smith vs. Matt Frevola

Dong Hyun Ma vs. Te Edwards

Shane Young def. Austin Arnett (Decision)

Fights to make next:

Shane Young vs. Shane Burgos

Austin Arnett vs. Kyle Bochniak

Kai Kara France def. Raulian Paiva (Decision)

Fights to make next:

Kai Kara France vs. Eric Shelton

Raulian Paiva vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian

Kyung Ho Kang def. Teruto Ishihara (Submission/Round 1)

Fights to make next:

Kyung Ho Kang vs. Brad Katona

Teruto Ishihara vs. Wuliji Buren

Jalin Turner def. Callan Potter (KO/Round 1)

Fights to make next:

Jalin Turner vs. Joaquim Silva

Callan Potter vs. Kyle Nelson

Jonathan Martinez def. Wuliji Buren (Decision)

Fights to make next:

Jonathan Williams vs. Pingyuan Liu

Wuliji Buren vs. Teruto Ishihara

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