(3) Rafael Dos Anjos def. Kevin Lee (Submission/Round 4)
Let’s look at Rafael Dos Anjos under a microscope. He’s a guy who’s in a bit of a tough spot. He’s unquestionably a top three or four welterweight in the world, but the issue that he has is that he has two decisive losses to two of the guys ranked above him. RDA is 3-2 over his last 5 fights, but the losses are to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. While it hasn’t been officially booked, it’s looking like Covington and Usman could be fighting soon, for the Welterweight Championship. So, did RDA look good enough against Kevin Lee, to warrant a rematch against the winner? I don’t think so; I think he will need several more wins to get the shot. Considering his high ranking, he really can’t do anything but take a “step down” in competition. I mean this in the ranking only because the top ten of the welterweight division is full of hornets. So here is where I will present Santiago Ponzinibbio as a potential opponent. Ponzinibbio is very dangerous, so for that reason, he isn’t a very enticing fight when you couple that along with his lack of popularity. But I think RDA will need to beat guys like Ponzinibbio to show that he is still a top contender and not just a tough matchup for a lightweight making his welterweight debut.
Fight to make next: Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Kevin Lee is in a tough spot. He has lost three of four fights, and he didn’t deliver on his promise to debut a new Kevin Lee at Welterweight. He looked very much like he did at lightweight, he started strong, and then faded in the later rounds before ultimately submitting to an arm-triangle in the fourth round. He’s a very confusing fighter to watch, he seems to have all the potential, all the skills, and athleticism, but he just doesn’t show up when it really matters. RDA was a very tough test for him in his welterweight debut, and it’s probably too early to write him off in that division, but at 26 years old you have to wonder if he will ever be able to address his cardio issues. In a perfect world, the UFC would book Lee against an unranked opponent in an attempt to allow him to regain some confidence. But this is the UFC, and not everybody gets that treatment. Kevin Lee and Darren Till have both been labeled disappointments as of late, but both guys still possess some exciting skills. I say match them up on a Fight Night card and see which guy can get things back on track.
Fight to make next: Kevin Lee vs. Darren Till
Ian Heinisch def. Antonio Carlos Junior (Unanimous Decision)
Ian Heinisch has arrived… Heinisch spent time in prison, and now he makes a living fighting in a cage. He entered the UFC through the contender series and was then thrown to the wolves in his debut against Cezar Mutante. But as he often has in his life, he persevered and earned an impressive debut victory. Fast forward to Saturday night, and Heinisch again delivered when put into a tough spot. Facing the number 11 ranked middleweight in just his second UFC fight, Heinisch weathered the early storm put out by Antonio Carlos Junior, and went on to dominate the second and third rounds. In his post-fight speech, he called for a fight with Derek Brunson or Jared Cannonier. Brunson is a bit more appealing for some reason, so I say book it!
Fight to make next: Ian Heinisch vs. Derek Brunson
Antonio Carlos Junior, or shoe face as they call him got trampled on Saturday night. Junior did as he often does in the first round, showed off his impressive grappling skills, but Ian Heinisch consistently scrambled himself out of danger until the Brazilian gassed, and from there Junior became a victim. He’s still a top 15 middleweight though, and if not for a few wrong moves, he may have submitted Heinisch in the first round. My point is that all isn’t lost with Shoe face. Elias Theodorou has good hair, but his fighting style will often be leaving you pulling your own out and fits of rage and frustration. But it works at least for the most part. Two guys who do things very differently, these two will probably be fighting their spot in the rankings.
Fight to make next: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Elias Theodorou
Felicia Spencer def. Megan Anderson (Submission/Round 1)
As I mentioned above, Ian Heinisch had a fantastic performance. But as good as it was, its difficult to say that it topped the performance put out by Felicia Spencer. Coming in as a relative unknown against the better-known commodity in Megan Anderson, Felicia Spencer put a stop to the hype train with a first-round submission win, and in the process put herself in line for a shot at… Cris Cyborg. The featherweight division is a mess if you want to call it that. The champion is Amanda Nunes and considering that she is scheduled to compete next month in the bantamweight division, it’s probably safe to say that Featherweight isn’t a top priority right now. So, you might be able to make the argument that the biggest fight in the division right now is Cyborg, simply because she is actually prepared to fight at 145. It’s a huge mismatch in terms of experience, but it might be what Spencer needs to convince Nunes that she is a worthy challenger. As for Cyborg, she just wants to stay active, and considering that she’s fought just once in the last 15 months I don’t think she will turn this fight down.
Fight to make next: Felicia Spencer vs. Cris Cyborg
Megan Anderson has the physical tools, the looks, the personality, and some of the skills but she just isn’t quite there yet. She looked good against Spencer as long as the fight was contested on the feet, but once it went to the ground, Spencer sliced through her defenses and submitted her in the first round. Spencer’s career received a major boost from her victory, and you could argue that Anderson’s has taken an equally large dent in hers. She doesn’t have any clear options for her next opponent, so for that reason, I think a rematch with Cat Zingano could be likely here. The first fight was a bit controversial, and beyond that, the UFC roster just doesn’t have any reasonable opponents for her
Fight to make next: Megan Anderson vs. Cat Zingano II
Vicente Luque def. Derrick Krantz (TKO/Round 1)
Vicente Luque is one of the more underrated and underappreciated fighters in all of MMA. He wins often, and always with style. On top of that, he speaks multiple languages, and did you know he was born in New Jersey to immigrant parents? He’s a man of the world and a well-rounded fighter in the cage as well. Derrick Krantz caught him early but couldn’t finish the job. From there Luque was able to work his magic and eventually stop Krantz with a thunderous knee and a few follow up shots on the ground. That makes 5 straight wins for Luque, all by stoppage and its probably about time that he gets a ranked opponent to test himself against. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is just one spot ahead of Luque as of now, but I like the matchup. Neil Magny was a great opponent for Luque, but since he is suspended that matchup will have to be put on the back burner for now.
Fight to make next: Vicente Luque vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
Derrick Krantz almost put the cherry on top of what was already a feel-good story… but Vicente Luque had other plans. Krantz was awarded a spot in the UFC by Dana White directly, in an impromptu meeting that was played numerous times on Saturday’s broadcast. He was given a stiff test in his debut but still managed to crack Luque with a good shot before ultimately succumbing to punches later in the round. His performance was gritty, but he was clearly outmatched by a superior fighter. Perhaps a fight with Ben Saunders is a bit of a better matchup for the 31-year-old vet.
Fight to make next: Derrick Krantz vs. Ben Saunders
Charles Oliveira def. Nik Lentz (KO/Round 1)
Well if we didn’t already know that Charles Oliveira is the better fighter, we know now. This was the third time that Oliveira and Lentz were matched up, and while the first was ruled a no contest, this technically marks the third time that Oliveira has finished Lentz inside of the octagon. Oliveira is the younger fighter and is just 29 years old despite his experience inside of the octagon. The obvious move here for Oliveira seems like a matchup with Islam Makhachaev, they’ve traded barbs online and both are surging up the lightweight rankings.
Fight to make next: Charles Oliviera vs. Islam Makhachev
Nik Lentz is a scrapper, he’s been a career UFC guy, and that’s not something that many people saw coming. He remains a tough matchup for many despite the fact that his best days are probably behind him. I am not sure if Abel Trujillo is still fighting, but if so he’s the type of guy that I would like to see Lentz matched up with.
Fight to make next: Nik Lentz vs. Abel Trujillo
Davis Ramos def. Austin Hubbard
Davi Ramos is a good fighter, but he hasn’t done anything to really set himself apart from the middle of the pack quite yet. He took this fight against Austin Hubbard on short notice, but it was Hubbard that really had the more telling performance. Ramos did enough to win though and will move forward accordingly. I like a classic striker vs. grappler matchup for him next, and for that, we’ll call on Lando Vannata.
Fight to make next: Davi Ramos vs. Lando Vannata
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Austin Hubbard came in with his back against the wall be walked away okay. He showed good timing and good grappling defense against Ramos and gave a reason for people to be excited about his next fight. Hopefully, he gets a guy who’s a bit closer to where he is in his current development.
Fight to make next: Austin Hubbard vs. Alex Da Silva