Two title challengers emerged at UFC Vegas 18. Cory Sandhagen was able to finish Frankie Edger in the co-main event, and Alexander Volkov was able to stop Alistair Overeem in the main event. Today we will be looking at what is next for the main card winners of UFC Vegas 18.
As of right now, Stipe Miocic is scheduled to defend his title against Francis Ngannou in March. Meanwhile, number two ranked Curtis Blaydes will be taking on number four ranked Derrick Lewis in about two weeks. Many factors will go into who is going to get the next title shot. If Stipe wins against Ngannou, it will be hard to decide between the winner of Lewis-Blaydes and Volkov. On the other hand though, if Ngannou wins, Volkov will likely get the next crack at the title.
Unless Lewis defeats Blaydes, in which case it would still be pretty hard to decide who will fight next for the title. Blaydes currently has two losses to Ngannou so it is far fetched to think they will give him another shot over Volkov. Lewis on the other hand already has a win over Ngannou. Although that fight was one of the most boring fights in UFC history, all the odds point to Volkov getting the next title shot. Unless the Jon Jones thing happens.
Volkov’s next fight: Winner of Miocic-Ngannou
Sandhagen finds himself in a similar situation as Volkov. He currently sits at number two in the bantamweight division and a title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan is set for early March. Sandhagen has already said in his post-fight interview that he would like to fight the winner of that fight in July. At this time it would seem like that would be the most obvious choice for his next fight.
Sandhagen’s next fight: Winner of Aljo-Yan
Clay Guida won a dominant decision victory over Michael Johnson at UFC Vegas 18. After his victory, Guida said that he wants to fight an up and coming star. Alluding to the fact that he wants to try and climb the rankings instead of fighting veterans. If the UFC does decide to give him a young up-and-comer, the best option would seem like Rafael Fiziev. Fiziev is a striker and has never fought a grappler as experienced as Guida. That fight would also help Fiziev significantly in popularity. A win over a guy like Fiziev, meanwhile, would prove that Guida has what it takes to make another run at the top 15.
Guida’s next fight: Rafael Fiziev
Alexandre Pantoja spoiled the debut of Manel Kape at UFC Vegas 18. Pantoja won a decisive decision where Kape seemed like he was just too tentative. This fight should give Pantoja the opportunity to fight someone inside the top five for his next outing. Brandon Moreno will likely get a rematch with Deiveson Figueiredo in his next fight. While number two ranked Joseph Benavidez will be taking on number three ranked Askar Askarov in his next fight. That only leaves Alex Perez who is ranked number four, and coming off a loss.
It would be tough to wait for the next title shot because if Moreno wins, the promotion would almost certainly set a rematch for the title. Pantoja will probably wait until after that fight before he books his next bout. The best option for him if he has to fight before his title shot would be the winner of Joseph Benavidez and Askar Askarov.
Pantoja’s next fight: Winner of Benavidez-Askarov
Beneil Dariush won a split decision over Diego Ferreira making him 2-0 over Ferreira in the UFC. This win should line Dariush up for a fight inside the top ten in his next fight. There are a lot of options that make a lot of sense inside the top ten. Dan Hooker, Paul Felder and Rafael Dos Anjos all make great sense for Dariush’s next fight. Stylistically the best option of those three men would be Rafael Dos Anjos. RDA would match up great with Dariush’s grappling skills. Both men are also very good at winning rounds. They are good at finding ways to control the octagon and outpoint their opponents.
Dariush’s next fight: Rafael Dos Anjos
Danilo Marques was able to finish Mike Rodriguez via submission in the second round of their bout at UFC Vegas 18. This win pushes Marques to 2-0 in the UFC. A great match-up for Marques would be Issac Villanueva. Marques is a great grappler and Villanueva is a great striker. Both guys are newer to the UFC and are still looking to prove their worth in the company.
Marques’ next fight: Issac Villanueva