UFC San Diego has come and gone, with a thrilling pair of fights topping the docket. Marlon “Chito” Vera crushed ex-bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz with a head kick to finish off the night, while Nate Landwehr and David Onama had one of the best fights of the year in the co-feature.
We’ve put on our matchmaker hats to see what comes next for the losing side of Saturday’s Fight Night card.
The booking for the legend’s next fight involves a lot of open questions after getting knocked out with a head kick by Chito Vera. Most importantly, what does he want now? After having his latest run to the top disrupted on Saturday is he going to retire? Does he want one last fight before laying down the gloves? Or is he determined to still get to the title and win it for a third time? It would be a hard road back to the top, given Cruz is 37 years old, and there are no guarantees in this sport.
Operating under the assumption that he is looking to retire soon, the next big question is who will win Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili next week at UFC 278? If Jose Aldo loses then having the bantamweight GOAT face the featherweight GOAT would be every WEC fan and fight nerd’s dream come true. If Aldo wins and moves closer to the title then perhaps Frankie Edgar would be an option – but he wants to retire at UFC 281 at MSG in November and it is unlikely that Cruz would be ready by then after this brutal knockout. Cub Swanson recently moved down to 135 and is another WEC legend that would make for a great last hurrah. For now, the loser of Aldo vs Merab should be the choice, albeit with a tiny asterisk next to it.
Cruz’s Next Fight: Loser of Aldo vs Dvalishvili*
The 28 year old Ugandan prospect has been must-watch TV in every UFC fight thus far, win or lose. Despite losing the decision against Nate Landwehr on Saturday the fight was an instant Fight of the Year contender and the Glory MMA athlete should be booked against another unranked action fighter. Steven ‘Ocho’ Peterson is coming off of a similar chaotic bout against Julian Erosa earlier this year that also won the Fight of the Night bonus and would be a perfect opponent for Onama for his fifth UFC fight.
Onama’s Next Fight: Steven Peterson
In her UFC debut the 20-year old Iasmin Lucindo acquitted herself better than anyone could have imagined. She was the underdog against a highly touted and undefeated prospect in Yazmin Jauregui but she still fought her heart out, arguably won the fight in some fan’s minds, and would undoubtedly have won Fight of the Night if not for the insanity that followed with Landwehr vs. Onama. This fight raised her stock more than most debuting fights have their stock raised, even if they win their fight.
At such a young age and with the athleticism she has — especially her power and her chin — the ceiling is sky high and she deserves a match-up that allows her to grow. Ashley Yoder is a long time veteran of the sport. She was around for the earliest days of this division in the UFC and although she sits at an 8-8 record, she is a good test for any up and coming prospect. If Lucindo can win against her then it will show the world that she is ready for a step back up in competition.
Lucindo’s Next Fight: Ashley Yoder
Devin Clark has been a borderline top fifteen light heavyweight for a long time now, even dipping his toes into that group briefly in 2020. He is almost the epitome of a ‘win one, lose one’ fighter and all but one of his previous losses in the sport have been to fighters who have themselves been ranked at some point. On Saturday he was stopped in the third round by undefeated Russian prospect Azamat Murzakanov.
Clark should look to rebound against someone in a similar position to himself. Da Un Jung is also coming off of KO loss, his being to the ranked former GLORY kickboxer Dustin Jacoby. A match-up between the two would give them a chance to right the ship and see the trajectory that their future lies in.
Clark’s Next Fight: Da Un Jung
Ariane ‘Queen of Violence’ Lipski was on the receiving end of a violent stoppage from Priscilla Cachoiera at UFC San Diego. The two had been booked for the card at the Apex a week prior but Lipski was not cleared by doctors to fight. This time around she fought up a weight class, but was defeated by her opponent with a quick knockout. There is no way to know whether the dual weight cut was the issue but it is quite possible.
Lipski has now lost three of her last four after a two and two start to her UFC career. She could be potentially fighting for her job in her next fight. That indicates a certain prestige of fighter to be booked against. Debuting ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winner Juliana Miller fits that bill. Miller will look to make a name for herself on the roster with the backing of a TUF championship while Lipski will look to keep her job against the youngster.
Lipski’s Next Fight: Juliana Miller
Bruno ‘Blindado’ Silva was defeated in a shocking upset loss against Gerald Meerschaert on Saturday. He over-swung on many of his punches in attempts to knock down GM3 and instead was unexpectedly dropped himself in the final round by the underdog, who is widely considered to be more of a grappler than striker. That grappling was still what finished the fight, as Silva was forced to tap. A logical next step for ‘Blindado’ would be against Hawaiian striker Punahele Soriano as both men look to fight up towards a future spot in the rankings.
Silva’s Next Fight: Punahele Soriano