What’s Next: UFC Vegas 42 Losers

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez, UFC Vegas 42
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 13: (R-L) Yair Rodriguez of Mexico punches Max Holloway in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC Vegas 42 has come and gone, and once again, the talk is about what to do with Max Holloway, who turned back the returning Yair Rodriguez in the Fight Night card’s main event. In the co-feature, heavyweight Marcos Rogerio de Lima absolutely smoked “Big” Ben Rothwell. As much of a conundrum as Holloway is (title fight next?), the losing side of these fights will need some smart matchmaking moving forward. We’ll give it a shot.

Yair Rodriguez

Following two years away and a number of false starts, Yair Rodriguez returned atop UFC Vegas 42, and came up short. Being honest, a match-up with Max Holloway after so much time off was probably the wrong play, but it was still a highly entertaining fight that fans wanted to see.

It would be lovely if Zabit Magomedsharipov was around, as even coming off a loss that’s another fight fans want to see the Mexican featherweight in. But his status remains a question mark. So here’s a different suggestion: the last time Rodriguez fought, Edson Barboza was a lightweight. Now, he’s 2-2 at 145lbs. That fight would be bonkers.

Rodriguez’s next fight: Edson Barboza

Ben Rothwell

Ben Rothwell fell to 3-2 in his last five fights with a rough loss to Marcos Rogerio de Lima on Saturday. “Pezao” came out guns blazing, and Rothwell wound up shell-shocked early on. As easy as it is to point the finger at Herb Dean for the weird stoppage (he appeared to step in, backed off, then waved off the fight when Rogerio de Lima looked at him quizzically), “Big” Ben had his clocked cleaned and then some.

Rothwell at 40 has still looked decent, and it’s time to see if Saturday’s outcome was a blip on the radar, or the first sign of a decline. Jared Vanderaa is 1-2 in the UFC, coming off a loss, and the pairing feels like  a fun fight.

Rothwell’s next fight: Jared Vanderaa

Leah Letson

It’s hard to book fights when the UFC hasn’t made the effort to build the division they need to take place in. People will point to the scarcity of female featherweights, but Bellator has managed to assemble a respectable 145lb division for the ladies, so the UFC has no excuse.

After taking a drubbing at the hands of Felicia Spencer, however, all is not lost for Letson. She’s 1-1 in the UFC, and the obvious (and only) play is to pair her up with boxer Danyelle Wolf, who has yet to make her pro debut. Some might suggest Spencer for that role, but that’s an awfully stiff test for Wolf.

Letson’s next fight: Danyelle Wolf

Miguel Baeza

“Caramel Thunder” had a ton of hype behind him earlier this year. But he’s now lost two straight, and being knocked out by Khaos Williams won’t do much for his stock, unlike his Fight of the Year contender against Santiago Ponzinibbio.

All is not lost for Baeza, but he needs a rebound fight after being thrown into the fire a bit too quickly. With that in mind: Martin Sano Jr. was signed off a loss in Bellator because, well, he’s a Nick Diaz guy. Sano was flattened by Matthew Semelsberger in September, and if he’s going to get another look, it might as well come here.

Baeza’s next fight: Martin Sano Jr.

Julio Arce

Bantamweight Julio Arce came up short against China’s Song Yadong on Saturday. Arce’s been trading wins and losses for a bit, but he’s been fighting some stiff competition and holds wins over Dan Ige, Julian Erosa, and Andre Ewell.

Brandon Davis recently kicked off his second UFC stint with a loss to Danaa Batgerel. The first time around Davis faced nothing but killers — Giga Chikadze and Zabit Magomedsharipov in particular. Pair these two up for an action-packed fight.

Arce’s next fight: Brandon Davis