The main card of this past weekend’s UFC Vegas 18 was filled with veterans and older fighters looking to make their one last push for a title. In most cases, though, it was a night for the young guns. So having taken a step back at this stage in their career, we look to what is next for these fighters.
After not only being beaten, but seemingly with no offensive output, it would seem the outlook of Overeem’s dream of getting to that UFC title is pretty bleak. If that truly is all that is keeping him in the sport, he needs to continue fighting those in the top 10 in order to make the turnaround. With so many already booked and plenty that he’s already fought before, it’s hard to pinpoint a perfect matchup that checks all those boxes. One option would be Shamil Abdurakhimov. The Russian has been on the shelf for a bit due to a number of cancelled fights, but he is 3-1 in his last 4 with just a loss to Curtis Blaydes. A win over him would still mean something and possibly get Overeem another big booking — while a loss would let him know that last run is over.
Alistair Overeem’s Next Fight: Shamil Abdurakhimov
After beating Pedro Munhoz by close split decision, plenty considered Edgar a possible title challenger. His hand speed and wrestling at 135lbs made him an intriguing opponent for a lot of people. However, Cory Sandhagen put a quick stop to those talks with one of the most devastating KOs in UFC history. Now, I’m not usually one for calling for a fight with someone who is currently booked, but Edgar is likely going to need some time off after that blow. When he does make it back, I’d love to see him matched up with Dominick Cruz (win or lose against Casey Kenney). They are both legends of the sport and the elusiveness of Cruz against the pressure of Edgar would be must-watch television.
Frankie Edgar’s Next Fight: Dominick Cruz
The loss to Clay Guida makes it four straight losses for Johnson. In an era in which the UFC is cutting more and more veterans with larger paydays to make room for younger talent coming off the Contender Series, the possibility of his UFC days being over is high. If he does stay with the organization, they will most likely use him as a fighter who would improve the resume of a young up-and-comer. The UFC has always liked the marketability of Luis Pena, who is coming off a recent loss. Putting Pena in there with Johnson would be a good litmus test as to whether Pena is worth the push while giving Johnson the much needed step back in competition.
Michael Johnson’s Next Fight: Luis Pena
Manel Kape came to the UFC with plenty of hype. Not only did he come to the organization having beaten UFC veterans, but he was chosen as a replacement fighter in case of a dropout in the Figueiredo/Moreno fight. However, once he got in the octagon at UFC Vegas 18, he seemed extremely hesitant. Even worse, he didn’t seem to realize how hesitant he was being and thought he was handily winning the fight. While he didn’t have the output needed to win the fight, the moments of aggression showed that he is likely a top 5/10 talent at least. Perhaps he will come out for his next bout looking to press the action. Just in case, the UFC should pair him with somebody who will get in his face. Amir Albazi brings all that aggression and Kape would be forced to go for it. The result of such a pairing would be a high energy fight, with the winner looking like a future contender – a win-win for the UFC.
Manel Kape’s Next Fight: Amir Albazi
Carlos Diego Ferreira
At 36-years old, it’s difficult to see Ferreira lose his 6-fight win streak. The loss to Beneil Dariush, the second of his career, is likely going to send him to the edges of the top 15 looking for a meaningful fight to make one last run. A name he’ll find down there, who also recently lost a big win streak, is Gregor Gillespie. After being KOed by Kevin Lee in November of 2019, Gillespie has been absent from the sport. He has since signaled that he’s close to returning. The fight would put one of the fighters back on track to the top, and would also create a fun stylistic match-up between a suffocating wrestler and a jiu-jitsu ace.
Carlos Diego Ferreira’s Next Fight: Gregor Gillespie