Those much-talked about UFC events that are thin on paper but absolutely deliver in terms of excitement? UFC Vegas 51 was not one of those.
Arguably, some of the best action was on the preliminary card, but overall, the night was a weird one, full of fouls, with three fights seeing point deductions, and two ending in technical decisions (one of those didn’t even feature a point deduction!). Still, there were a few big winners on the night, and the weirdness of the event shouldn’t take away from them. Here’s what’s next for those who got the job done on Saturday.
All these years later, Belal Muhammad proved to be the better man in his rematch with Vicente Luque. At least for one night, he was the more evolved fighter, using ample movement and well-timed takedowns to claim a unanimous decision against his rival.
It’s another big with for Muhammad, who has now won seven straight, discounting a No Contest against Leon Edwards that came about due to an eye poke. Which sounds great on paper, until you realize that Muhammad is probably no closer to a title shot now than he was a week ago. Leon Edwards has been promised the next title shot, and while such promises often mean very, very little when it comes to the UFC, he likely will get it come July. Khamzat Chimaev still has all the hype, after a three-round war with Gilbert Burns.
With that in mind, Muhammad called out Colby Covington following the win, but he probably doesn’t get that fight either. Covington is a big enough name to headline a card without a title on the line, and there’s still a possibility that the UFC books him against Chimaev. In this case, with Burns coming off a loss to Chimaev that actually managed to boost his stock, he’s the highest-ranked opponent available (Sean Brady is also an option, but ranked #9 might be a little too far back).
Muhammad’s next fight: Gilbert Burns
The UFC putting two debuting Contender Series fighters in the co-main event at UFC Vegas 51 tells you just how thin the card really was. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at the weird ending, with two fighters going through octagon jitters in such a lofty spot on the line-up. Borralho landed an illegal knee in a fight he was winning, had a point deducted, but won on the scorecards anyway via technical decision when Gadzhi Omargadzhiev was unable to continue.
Going forward, the UFC needs to not try to rush Borralho to stardom. Yes, he’s got some solid qualities — charisma, a unique look, solid English in comparison to many Brazilian fighters, which opens up a whole new market in terms of fan base. But as Saturday proved, he’s still green in this game.
Next up? How about the recently debuted Josh Fremd. He’s a former LFA champ, and while coming off a loss, they’re both one fight into their UFC runs.
Borralho’s next fight: Josh Fremd
The most explosive performance on the UFC Vegas 51 main card belonged to welterweight Andre Fialho. With his first full fight camp in the UFC, he was able to put away Miguel Baeza inside of a round. Fun, high-action fight that ended with a bang.
After the smoke had cleared, Fialho said he wanted to fight next week, alongside teammate Manel Kape. He told Cageside Press the same ahead of this one, but it’s doubtful that fight happens, due to medical suspensions and the short timeframe.
Instead, let’s book Fialho against Mounir Lazzez, who also picked up a win on the UFC Vegas 51 main card.
Mayra Bueno Silva
UFC Vegas 51 was being called by many the bantamweight debut of Brazil’s Mayra Bueno Silva, but she did compete in the weight class prior to joining the UFC. Still, her fight with Wu Yanan was solid, earning the pair Fight of the Night honors, albeit on a card with limited competition.
Stephanie Egger has two straight wins at bantamweight, and last competed in February. That’s a decent next step for both ladies.
Silva’s next fight: Stephanie Egger
Pat Sabatini is on a tear so far in the UFC. It was nice to see him get main card placement at UFC Vegas 51, where he earned his fourth consecutive win in the promotion, and sixth overall. Sabatini was a heavy favorite against TJ Laramie, but fought like it, earning 30-26 scores across the board after three rounds.
Sabatini now needs a step up in competition, in terms of divisional relevance and profile. Billy Quarantillo is 4-2 in the UFC, and while coming off a loss, it was in a high-profile fight against Shane Burgos. This sounds like a fun one.
Sabatini’s next fight: Billy Quarantillo
We covered Lazzez already, suggesting a bout with Andre Fialho. If he wins, let’s hope he puts a little more care into his post-fight interview next time.