What’s Next: UFC Vegas 21 Losers

Misha Cirkunov UFC
Misha Cirkunov, UFC Vancouver Official Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

The main event of UFC Vegas 21 ended prematurely and was declared a no contest thanks to an eye poke by Leon Edwards that left Belal Muhammad in obvious pain. Eryk Anders’ fight with Darren Stewart was also stopped early and deemed a no contest. Anders hit Stewart with an illegal knee, and Stewart was simply unable to continue. The strike was deemed accidental so the fight was again ruled a no contest. Today we will take a look at what is next for the losers of UFC Vegas 21.

First, a word on the no contests. Belal Muhammad probably deserves a rematch after that ending — and he probably won’t get it. Leon Edwards called for a title shot after the fight, and it’s hard to see how the UFC would make that, given the sour taste left in everyone’s mouth. Whether the promotion books an immediate rematch remains to be seen, as Muhammad was really given the shot against Edwards due to a lack of options, which may not be the case three months from now.

A rematch of Anders vs. Stewart would be fun, as that bout was a slobber-knocker while it lasted.

Misha Cirkunov

In the co-main event, Ryan Spann was able to knock Misha Cirkunov out in the first round. Coming into the fight Cirkunov was ranked number 11 in the light heavyweight division. This loss to Spann will likely move Cirkunov towards the back part of the top 15. His next fight should be against the loser of Jamahal Hill versus Paul Craig. Either fighter would match up perfectly with Cirkunov. Hill would give Cirkunov a chance to solidify his striking. While fighting Craig will help Cirkunov prove just how good his grappling is.

Cirkunov’s next fight: Loser of Jamahal Hill vs. Paul Craig

Gavin Tucker

Canada’s Gavin Tucker was knocked out by Dan Ige in the first round of UFC Vegas 21, in all of 22 seconds. This loss makes Tucker 4-2 in the UFC. His loss to Ige was also his first time ever being finished in his professional career. Tucker holds wins over young guys like Billy Quarantillo and Justin Jaynes. His next fight should be against another young up and comer who has hit a rough patch: Doo-Ho Choi. Choi was red hot when he entered the UFC, but three consecutive defeats plus mandatory military service in his native South Korea have stalled his momentum. Choi’s last defeat came to another Canadian, Charles Jourdain, in December 2019. His last five fights have ended in post-fight bonuses, and the matching with Tucker could create some real fireworks. Tucker also holds a win over Choi’s countryman Seung Woo Choi. Lots of storylines in this one, and Doo-Ho Choi is reportedly ready to return to action later this year. The July timeframe sounds about right.

Tucker’s next fight: Doo-Ho Choi

Jonathan Martinez

Jonathan Martinez also fell victim to a knockout at UFC Vegas 21. Davey Grant was able to land a sneaky left hand that put Martinez out in the second round. The fight was extremely competitive up until the knockout. Martinez showed massive improvements in his striking on Saturday night. This loss makes Martinez 4-3 in the UFC and means he needs a win in his next fight. Just a few weeks ago Song Yadong lost a decision to Kyler Phillips. That loss makes Yadong 5-1-1 in the UFC. He won a decision over Marlon Vera that a lot of people saw the other way around and he fought to a majority draw with Cody Stamann. A lot of people thought he lost that fight as well. Yadong is another guy who could be fighting for his place in the company with his next fight.

Martinez’s next fight: Song Yadong 

Manel Kape

Manel Kape looked to have won a razor-close split decision against Matheus Nicolau, but the judges thought otherwise. Kape won the fight in every aspect of the striking, even out-striking Nicolau 50-14 in the final round. Nicolau had two takedowns though in the first and third round in which he was able to control Kape on the ground. That gave him the split decision nod. This loss makes Kape 0-2 in the UFC so he desperately needs a win in his next fight. While the prudent course of action would seem to be giving him an up-and-comer, Kape should instead try to fight the biggest name he possibly can next.

With that in mind, Kape’s next opponent should be Amir Albazi. Albazi is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Zhalgas Zhumagulov, and Malcolm Gordon. Even though Albazi has only two fights in the UFC against non-top 15 opponents, he finds himself with a number 14 ranking next to his name. Even though Kape has lost both of his fights, the matchmakers should throw him a bone because of how his last fight was scored.

Kape’s next fight: Amir Albazi