With three fighters suffering upsets on the main card at UFC 253, there is undoubtedly a lot of questioning and second guessing about choices. Likewise, with fighters coming up short on their title aspirations, the need to start their run anew seems like a tall task. Luckily we’re here to answer some of the questions about where they’ll need to go next to get back on track.
Paulo Costa looked like a man who could not be stopped for some time, but looking back at his recent run poses more questions than it answers. Was he the beast that we saw early on? Was he just a product of fighting only one of the top ten guys in the middleweight division? A questionable decision over Yoel Romero and a drubbing at the hands of the champ don’t make that picture any clearer. So while most of the division is tied up, Costa needs to get to work quickly and prove that he is still the person the division once feared he was. Derek Brunson would allow him to engage in some of those aggressive exchanges he couldn’t get Israel Adesanya to engage in and help us understand his spot in the division much better.
Paulo Costa’s Next Fight: Derek Brunson
After Reyes saw his second chance at the light heavyweight strap slip away from him, he’s likely considering what would get him back to that top spot. Few who have failed on their first two attempts get a third one all that quickly. If he wants to do just that, he’ll need to steal some of the hype from one of his peers. Alexander Rakic fits the bill of someone people are high on right now and who also needs an opponent. His striking would pose an interesting problem for Reyes (not dissimilar to Blachowicz) and it may even be an opportunity to do another five rounds were it to headline a Fight Night card.
Dominick Reyes’ Next fight: Alexander Rakic
Although the UFC is not high on matching fighters coming off of wins with those coming off of loses, Kai Kara-France may be an exception here. In an exciting 125lbs division, he is one of the most exciting fighters. His speed and technical prowess on the feet make him a tough out for most, but it would be nice to see him get a chance to use more of the latter. David Dvorak is now riding a two-fight win streak that was largely characterized by careful shot selection and stuffing takedowns. Kara-France wouldn’t be after that takedown, but would pose problems for Dvorak in the area he has been most comfortable in, all while seeing if Dvorak can keep up with a higher pace.
Kai Kara-France’s Next Fight: David Dvorak
Eubanks made the quick turnaround here after beating Julia Avila. However, the fast step up in competition was a little much for Eubanks, who struggled with the physicality of Ketlen Vieira. While it may be lazy match making to pair her with someone she was supposed to fight already, it seems entirely like the obvious move. She was supposed to tangle with Macy Chiasson at the beginning of the month when Chaisson pulled out. Her physicality fits somewhere between that Avila-Vieira range and would still be a chance for Eubanks to rise through the rankings.
Sijara Eubanks’ Next Fight: Macy Chiasson