UFC Vegas 58 has come and gone, with the Fight Night card honestly little more than an afterthought after the promotion’s annual International Fight Week and associated fanfare.
In the main event, Rafael Fiziev secured a fifth round finish of ex-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos. The Brazilian didn’t go out easy, but still had his two-fight win streak snapped. What’s next for RDA, and the rest of the main card losers? Let’s play a little matchmaker.
Rafael dos Anjos
The “what have you done for me lately?” nature of MMA has been especially hilarious in the wake of UFC Vegas 58 when it comes to Rafael dos Anjos. People who really should know better are already asking if he’s done as a contender, or fighter, despite arguably being ahead in the fight against Fiziev until a hook landed in the fifth round, ending dos Anjos’ night.
RDA himself has since said he isn’t sure what comes next — other than some family time. That makes sense. Here’s something else that makes sense: book him into a fight with Conor McGregor. It won’t happen, because bigger names are out there, but back in 2016, dos Anjos was supposed to fight none other than McGregor at UFC 196. That fell through, and the Nate Diaz fight was booked on short notice. You know the rest.
While McGregor could actually talk himself into an undeserved title shot, or (more likely) get paired up for the Nate Diaz trilogy, when he returns from rehabbing his broken leg, it feels like now would be a perfect time to finally put RDA and McGregor together. It’s probably pretty competitive at this point, and a win catapults either fighter into something bigger, in terms of divisional relevance. The sticking point, however, will be money: McGregor vs. Diaz, McGregor vs. Poirier 4, or, god help us, McGregor vs. Oliveira are much bigger fights.
RDA’s next fight: Conor McGregor (wishful thinking)
Armen Petrosyan came out on the wrong end of the battle of Contender Series products that served as the UFC Vegas 58 co-main event. That leaves him at 1-1 in the UFC’s middleweight division.
Julian Marquez is coming off a loss last month, and while he’s a fair bit more experienced in the octagon, the experience level overall isn’t that far off in terms of total fights. Plus, it just feels explosive.
Petrosyan’s next fight: Julian Marquez
Douglas Silva de Andrade
Veteran bantamweight Douglas Silva de Andrade became the latest victim of Said Nurmagomedov at UFC Vegas 58, with his two-fight wins streak snapped as a result. The Brazilian went the distance, which is more than can be said for Nurmagomedov’s last two opponents.
Brian Kelleher has fought a who’s who of the bantamweight division since arriving in the UFC in 2017, in one of that year’s bigger feel-good stories. Kelleher is a fan favorite and a gamer, and the pair have never crossed paths. Kelleher is also coming off a couple of losses, but this still has Fight of the Night potential.
de Andrade’s next fight: Brian Kelleher
A third-round TKO loss to Chase Sherman, who had been on a four-fight skid himself, leaves Jared Vanderaa in a four-fight rut. That may spell his exit from the UFC, or it may not — the promotion has been more forgiving about such things since the pandemic kicked in, and the need for able bodies increased.
If he’s sticking around, book him into something fun with Chris Barnett. They’re both characters outside of the cage, and entertaining in it.
Vanderaa’s next fight: Chris Barnett
TUF 29 bantamweight winner Ricky Turcios saw his progress stall at UFC Vegas 58, in a loss against Aiemann Zahabi. Let’s slow that roll, and book Turcios against Fernie Garcia, who is 0-1 in the UFC to date after a loss to Journey Newson at UFC 274 earlier this year.
Turcios’ next fight: Fernie Garcia
A Fight of the Night bonus arrived for Michael Johnson at UFC Vegas 58; unfortunately, a win did not. Johnson wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against Jamie Mullarkey, in a very entertaining scrap.
Johnson has struggled to win the win column in recent years, though he’d won his fight prior to UFC Vegas 58, against Alan Patrick. Booking him in entertaining match-ups is the right call at this point, so let’s do another one: Vinc Pichel has a fight coming up with Jesse Ronson. Give “The Menace” the loser. Or the winner. Either of those match-ups should entertain.
Johnson’s next fight: Pichel vs. Ronson loser