With some of the fights that dropped off of the UFC Vegas 22 card, it was thin not only in numbers, but in fights that were meaningful to the top portion of their respective divisions. Although nobody is claiming a title shot off of their performance this weekend, some of those who lost will need to reevaluate where they stand. Let’s take a look at where we believe that should be.
After his one-sided loss to Derek Brunson, Kevin Holland stated that he thinks he probably needs to head back to welterweight. It certainly makes a lot of sense given that he didn’t seem to have the requisite takedown defense to survive with the bigger, stronger fighters at 185lbs. He also weighed in well under the middleweight limit. If he does drop down, the UFC should start with a fun striking match to see where he fits there. Santiago Ponzinibbio is also coming off of a disappointing loss and would surely oblige the loudmouthed Holland in the type of fight he’s looking for. In addition, Ponzinibbio also has the name value that Holland seemed to desire in his post-fight interview.
Kevin Holland’s Next Fight: Santiago Ponzinibbio
Not only was the KO loss to Max Griffin a difficult one for Song physically, but also for where he stands in the UFC. Song was on a 2-fight win streak and seemed to be putting everything together. This loss now leaves him at just 2-2 and, at 31-years old, with probably a pretty short leash. Takashi Sato is in a similar spot, 2-2 in his last 4 and having fallen flat each time he inched closer to a ranked opponent. Both guys are pretty explosive and bring the action, so it would undoubtedly make for a fun one to watch.
Song Kenan’s Next Fight: Takashi Sato
Going into her fight with Montserrat Conejo, a lot of people were lauding the physicality of Buys. However, that seemed to fail her as she was taken down with a handful of head and arm throws and showed virtually no ability to make it back to her feet. Still young in her career, she has plenty of time to iron out those portions of her game. While she does, the UFC should match her up with a fighter who doesn’t pose those same threats. Gloria de Paula is coming off a loss where she too could not avoid being controlled on the ground. A fight between the two would give Buys the opportunity to showcase her striking and a bit of her own offensive grappling without too much threat to the weakness she showed Saturday.
Cheyanne Buys’ Next Fight: Gloria de Paula
This loss drops Lopez to just 1-2 in the UFC. However, those losses come to Adrian Yanez and Merab Dvalishvili (nothing to be too ashamed of there). While he wasn’t able to deal with that level of competition at this time, there is no reason to write the exciting Lopez off yet. Instead, let’s pair him with another fighter who faced too much competition in his early going. Drako Rodriguez was tasked with fighting Rani Yahya in his debut. Allowing both to see someone a little more their own speed here should make for a good litmus test about who should belong in the UFC.
Gustavo Lopez’s Next Fight: Drako Rodriguez
In all actuality, the right answer here for what’s next for Hunsucker is a debuting fighter. A short notice fight against Tai Tuivasa is hardly what he should have faced in his first go at the UFC. However, the UFC doesn’t have any heavyweights signed that are awaiting an opponent (to my knowledge). So rather than speculate who will get signed next, let’s look at internal options.
In June, a pair of fighters seeking their first UFC win, Josh Parisian and Roque Martinez, will square off. Both guys fit a little better of the type of opponent Hunsucker should be facing at this point. The loser of that fight would be a fine fight for him, or even if one of them were to drop out of the fight and need a fill in.
Harry Hunsucker’s Next Fight: Josh Parisian/Roque Martinez Loser