At the top of the UFC Vegas 24 card this past Saturday were a pair of former champions looking to prove that they still have it. While to different degrees, they both made a bit of a statement about where they are. Today we look to what’s next for those two and the rest of the winners on the main card.
Robert Whittaker was supposed to have a clear-cut #1 contenders fight with Paulo Costa this past weekend. When that fell through and Kelvin Gastelum stepped up, there were some who said that beating Gastelum may not be enough to get him the second shot at Izzy. Whittaker responded to those critics by putting on an absolute masterclass. At no point in the fight did it really feel like Gastelum was in it, as Whittaker made it look as easy as possible. As good as Vettori and Brunson looked in their respective main events in the past few weeks, this is Whittaker’s shot now.
Robert Whittaker’s Next Fight: Israel Adesanya
After turning back the clock one more time, Arlovski openly stated that he has three more years of fighting to go. Despite being already 42, he feels he still has plenty to give the UFC and his win over Chase Sherman backed it up. He also seems to have embraced the role as the gatekeeper for young up and comers to the rankings. After turning away Philipe Lins, Tanner Boser and Sherman, let’s let him try to turn away another. Sergey Spivak is only 26 years old and has won three of his last four. This seems like exactly the type of guy they’ve been lining Arlovski up against.
Andrei Arlovski’s Next Fight: Sergey Spivak
In his UFC debut, Malkoun really didn’t have any time to get started. In just 18 seconds, he was knocked out cold and wasn’t able to show what he has. Well, he took advantage of the 15 minutes he had this past weekend to show off what he can do. In that time, he controlled Abdul Razak Alhassan seemingly effortlessly. However, that was kind of the weakness of Alhassan all along. This would be a good opportunity to test him against someone a bit better at stuffing the takedown. Dalcha Lungiambula is a former judoka who recently dropped to middleweight and picked up his first win in the division. Malkoun’s pace might be too much for Lungiambula, but it would be interesting to see how hard he’d have to work to get those takedowns.
Jacob Malkoun’s Next Fight: Dalcha Lungiambula
Tracy Cortez looked strong again in her third bout in the UFC. Back at flyweight for the first time since joining the promotion (or at least close, she did miss weight by .5lbs), she looked much better suited than her previous home. A win over Justine Kish is likely not enough to catapult her too high in the 125lbs picture. She’ll first need to beat someone with a little more respect on her name. Why not make that person Gillian Robertson? She may be on a two fight slide right now, but a bout with Cortez will help see whether she still belongs close to those rankings or if Cortez is for real.
Tracy Cortez’s Next Fight: Gillian Robertson
Luis Pena won a very close split decision victory this past weekend, and it was more of the same for him. He was taken down a number of times, but his ability to get up seemed to trump all of that. By doing enough on the feet, he won over two of the judges and got his hand raised. However, his issues with wrestling defense is part of the reason why he has alternated wins and losses for the past five fights. To put together his first streak, he has to show that his ability to get up, even if he is taken down, can work against top grapplers. Give him Davi Ramos coming off of back to back losses. Although he may not be coming off a win like Pena, he has a lot of attributes that would answer a lot of questions for Pena.
Luis Pena’s Next Fight: Davi Ramos