On a UFC Vegas 26 card filled with underdogs rising to the occasion, there is a lot of questions about what and where to go next. Lucky for you, we’ll tackle precisely that for all of the main card winners this past weekend.
**NOTE: I did not add in Phil Hawes, who won on the main card, as he has already been booked for a July date with Deron Winn.
Rodriguez did exactly what was expected of her in a bout with a smaller opponent who packs notably less power. She used her reach and her technical skills to snag all of the early rounds, and made sure when she was in an actual exchange, she landed the heavier shots. Being that it was exactly what was expected, I don’t expect her stock or ranking to rise all that much. However, sitting right around the top five, she does need that big name opponent now to see if she belongs. Mackenzie Dern is probably in the same spot. I don’t expect former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk to be interested in fighting either of them without another big win first, so let’s let one of them snag one.
Marina Rodriguez’s Next Fight: Mackenzie Dern
A win over Cowboy Cerrone is a nice one for the popularity of any fighter, but how much it actually means now is sort of diminished. Sure, Morono took the fight to the veteran and got him out of there, but I’m not sure that means he’s ready for top 15 opponents yet – especially given that he is just 2-2 in his last 4. Impa Kasanganay is in a similar spot. He faced a hard loss (real hard) in a recent bout and rebounded with a nice finish. He seems to have a lot of potential and is on the rise right now. It would be interesting to see how Morono deals with the speed and Kasanganay deals with someone with the size and strength of Morono.
Alex Morono’s Next Fight: Impa Kasanganay
Neil Magny continues to play spoiler on just about every run in the welterweight division (with the exception of Michael Chiesa). He’s now won four of five over the last 2.5 years and certainly seems poised for another high level fight. His performance at UFC Vegas 26 against Geoff Neal was precisely what we’ve come to know and love (or hate depending on your point of view) from Magny. Vicente Luque has had a nearly identical run, with his only slip up being Stephen Thompson. Both could make a claim for another top level welterweight with one more quality win. A match-up against one another would assure that at least one of them get it.
Neil Magny’s Next Fight: Vicente Luque
Marcos Rogerio De Lima
It’s been since 2014 that De Lima has won (or lost) back to back fights. Since then, he has simply rattled off alternating results for 11 straight contests. Not exactly the type of resume to get you a big name opponent. Also, not the type of resume that gets you cut from the organization. So instead of trying to fly him up higher to get beat by someone the level of Stefan Struve again, let’s give him someone who just nabbed their first win. Jarjis Danho looked good after being gone for the better part of a decade. Assuming he doesn’t want a similar break, it’d be fun to see if he can replicate that and keep De Lima’s streak alive.
Marcos Rogerio De Lima’s Next Fight: Jarjis Danho
Gregor Gillespie went out there and put on a performance at UFC Vegas 26 that was a perfect metaphor for his career. He started like a rocket, seemed to be zapped right at the end of the first round, and then rose to have a very impressive finish. In his first fight since being ‘zapped’ by Kevin Lee, he showed why he is still likely a top 10 lightweight and maybe even higher. Gillespie, by all accounts, is going to smash most people who can’t grapple with him. So to test whether he has what it takes to go to the top, let’s keep pairing him with those who can. Islam Makhachev is constantly looking for a ranked opponent willing to fight him and I would love to see a 5-rounder between the two headline a fight night card.
Gregor Gillespie’s Next Fight: Islam Makhachev