This past weekend’s UFC Vegas 9 card was ravaged by last second changes and cancellations, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to talk about. More than one fighter put themselves in a good position to make a title run and others reminded us why we have to watch every time they fight. Let’s take a look at where a few of the winners should go from here.
Judging by the tweets that aired during Overeem’s fight, it would seem that Derrick Lewis is high on fight with the Dutchman. However, with Lewis already booked with Curtis Blaydes, it doesn’t appear that could be made immediately. With option #1 being an even longer layoff than Overeem hinted in his post-fight interview, we could always look to the giant elephant in the room. Should Jon Jones be looking for a heavyweight warm up before he steps in with the champ, Overeem would make all the sense in the world. He’s a legendary name that Jones could try to add to his resume while also testing Jones’ ability to handle the size of a big heavyweight. I can’t imagine Overeem would balk at the opportunity to steal Jones’ shot at the strap.
Alistair Overeem’s Next Fight: Jon Jones
Ovince St. Preux
St. Preux seems to be doing his part to separate the undefeated prospects from legitimate contenders. Towards the end of the year last year, he took Michal Oleksiejczuk’s ‘0’ and after a masterful performance, he dropped Alonzo Menfield down a rung as well. However, losses to Ilir Latifi, Nikita Krylov, and Ben Rothwell (at heavyweight) have him not quite in the range of getting that ranked opponent. Let’s see if he can drop another from the ranks of the unbeaten with Jamahal Hill. Not only would it be a great test for Hill, but we’d get to see St. Preux test that striking against someone taller than him and with nearly the same reach.
Ovince St. Preux’s Next Fight: Jamahal Hill
Let’s start by saying calling out Jorge Masvidal was a bit of a reach. Pereira is not a whole year removed from losing to late replacement Tristan Connelly, so fighting one of the biggest draws right now probably isn’t realistic. With that being said, the UFC should be looking to book Pereira with people with some name value and exciting styles because if he looks like he did Saturday, he could be a star. Niko Price is an ideal pick for me, but with him already booked with Cowboy Cerrone, Pereira would have a little too much wait time. Although I’m unsure of his status, I want you to close your eyes and picture the chaos that is Pereira vs Mike Perry. You’re welcome.
Michel Pereira’s Next Fight: Mike Perry
Kelleher seems ready to fight every event if you’d let him. Despite short training camps, he’s never looked better. He’s 3-1 in his last 4 fights with all of the victories coming by finish. A tough decision loss to Cody Stamann has him still on the outside of the top 15 looking in. Nathaniel Wood is not in all that different of a boat. He’s also 3-1 in his last 4 fights with only a loss to John Dodson. Both didn’t make up much ground in their last fights having beat up late replacements, so why not give each a chance to stake a claim for a ranked opponent against one another?
Brian Kelleher’s Next Fight: Nathaniel Wood
The flyweight division seems to be one of those situations where you’re only a high quality performance or two away from a title shot, and Araujo just nabbed one. She put a striking clinic on Montana De La Rosa and catapulted herself onto the short list of those looking to challenge Valentina Shevchenko. Joanne Calderwood would be a good test to see if those skills hold up against someone with a bit better striking. Calderwood’s improving ground game would also give Araujo enough to think about that she’d have to put together a complete fight, which is really what she needs to do in order to get to the top.
Viviane Araujo Next Fight: Joanne Calderwood