UFC Raleigh Matchmaker: A New Contender At Heavyweight

Curtis Blaydes and Junior Dos Santos, UFC Raleigh
Curtis Blaydes and Junior Dos Santos, UFC Raleigh Face-Off Credit: Bryson Hester/Cageside Press

UFC Raleigh showcased a new heavyweight contender, along with the emergence of Michael Chiesa in the welterweight division. As well, Brett Johns and Tony Gravely won the fight of the night bonus. With Alex Perez and Herbert Burns both collecting performance of the night bonuses. In a somewhat lackluster card, there were some very rare bright spots. Today we will take a look at what’s next for the key players of UFC Raleigh.

Curtis Blaydes

Curtis Blaydes earned himself a second-round TKO win over Junior Dos Santos at UFC Raleigh. In the first round, Blaydes attempted multiple takedowns which were all defended beautifully by Dos Santos. This ended up opening up the boxing of Blaydes, as he was able to land an overhand right to put Dos Santos away in the second round.

This win puts Curtis Blaydes in the number one contender spot alongside the winner of Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The obvious next fight for the champion, Stipe Miocic is a trilogy fight with Daniel Cormier. Which either leaves Blaydes waiting until after that fight or fighting the winner of Ngannou and Rozenstruik. With the title fight between Miocic and Cormier not even booked yet, it would appear Blaydes’ best bet would be to fight the winner of Ngannou and Rozenstruik. Although Blaydes has already lost twice to Nganoou so if Ngannou does defeat Rozenstruik he may jump Blaydes in the number one contender slot.

Blaydes’ Next Fight: Winner Of Ngannou and Rozenstruik 

Michael Chiesa

Michael Chiesa was able to defeat Rafael Dos Anjos by decision in the co-main event of UFC Raleigh. After his win, he got on the mic and called out Colby Covington for a fight in July. Although this would be a great stylistic match-up, Chiesa was not even ranked at welterweight before his win over RDA. RDA was ranked number five and a win over him should push Chiesa pretty far in the top 15. It’s not unheard of but normally a fighter would have to fight two or three top 15 guys before he got to fight a top three opponent.

Another fighter in a very similar position to Chiesa is Conor McGregor. McGregor just came back to fight Donald Cerrone at 170. Cerrone is ranked number five at lightweight and that win pushed McGregor to be ranked at number 14 at welterweight. Chiesa’s win likely pushes him around the 10-12 spot in the division. Although McGregor seemingly wants the big fights and to get back in there for a title, he also wants to fight natural lightweights at welterweight. Michael Chiesa was a big lightweight but he was in fact a lightweight not too long ago. A fight with Chiesa could be the grappling test that McGregor needs to prove himself for the wrestling filled top five at welterweight.

Chiesa’s Next Fight: Conor McGregor

Alex Perez

This past weekend number 12 ranked flyweight Alex Perez defeated number 11 ranked Jordan Espinosa via arm-triangle choke. Being as though they were ranked so close to each other its not likely that the win pushes Alex Perez crazy far in the rankings. In his post-fight interview though, he called out Askar Askarov. By saying “I forgot his name but I want to fight the guy that beat Tim Elliot at UFC 246.” Sending a slight jab at Askraov by not remembering his name and also setting up one hell of a flyweight bout.

Askarov only has two UFC fights with a win over Tim Elliot in his last fight and a draw with Brandon Moreno in his UFC debut. Yet he is still ranked higher than Perez who is now 5-1 in the UFC. Thee pair have conflicting styles and a fight with Perez could be a huge test for Askarov in the UFC.

Perez’s Next fight: Askar Askarov

Who would you like to see these fighters fight next? Let us know in the comments down below.


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