The latest UFC Fight Night offering lacked star power, but the top two fights featured ranked athletes with a little more on the line. That was especially true of the main event, which saw Amanda Lemos put away Marina Rodriguez via TKO in the third. What’s next for Lemos, and the record-setting Neil Magny, following UFC Vegas 64? Here’s our take.
Amanda Lemos moved into the title picture at UFC Vegas 64 with a TKO victory over the streaking Marina Rodriguez. Lemos, a Brazilian knockout artist, has now finished back-to-back ranked opponents since losing to Jessica Andrade in her first main event opportunity. She has called for the next title shot, which would be against the winner of this Saturday’s coming fight between champion Carla Esparza and former champion Zhang Weili, but seeing as she was finished two fights ago by another top contender, those calls seem premature.
That said, Andrade’s next fight is booked as a flyweight bout, leaving the door wide open for Lemos to fight in a number one contender bout next. Atop the rankings sit two fighters that are in the title picture and are not booked currently: Yan Xiaonan, who is coming off her dramatic win over Mackenzie Dern in a main event, and Rose Namajunas, who has been relatively quiet about what is next for her since her disappointing loss to Carla Esparza that lost her the belt.
Rose is a fan favorite but she often takes time off, such as when she left for a year to focus on her mental health after losing the belt the first time around to Andrade. If that is the case this time as well, it would make the most sense for Xiaonan to fight Lemos in a number one contenders fight. It has been six years since a fighter other than Namajunas, Weili, Esparza, Andrade, or Joanna Jędrzejczyk fought for the belt. It would be good to get some fresh blood, such as Xiaonan or Lemos, a title shot to change things up and see new match-ups. Hence, that fight should be the next step for Amanda Lemos.
Lemos’ Next Fight: Yan Xiaonan
Neil Magny got back to his usual form by using clinch work and wrestling to beat Daniel Rodriguez, a fighter who was new to the rankings, on Saturday. With his first finish since 2018, Magny showed that he still belongs in the top of the division, and he even set a record for most wins in UFC Welterweight history, surpassing the legend Georges St-Pierre.
Ranked slightly above Neil is Brazilian finish artist and action fighter Vicente Luque. Luque is on a little dip, losing his last two fights to opponents in the top six, and so fighting down in the rankings is in order. Both men have been around the division for ages but have never faced off before. The style clash of action striker against grinding clinch specialist would be a unique one, although let it not be said that these men are not well-rounded fighters. The winner of this fight would have a chance to rise in the rankings while the loser may have to defend their ranking against an unranked fighter the next time out.
Magny’s Next Fight: Vicente Luque
Nuerdanbieke defeated veteran Darrick Minner by TKO at UFC Vegas 64 and although an injury to Minner’s leg was a major factor in the result, the fact remains that Nuerdanbieke is now on a three-fight winning streak in one of the toughest divisions in the UFC, having turned things around after losing his promotional debut. Another experienced fighter who is coming off of an impressive victory is Brazilian action fighter Ricardo Ramos, who notched his second spinning back elbow KO in the UFC earlier this year.
Nuerdanbieke and Ramos both come to fight, resulting in entertaining bouts most of the time when they compete. As a result, a fight between the two makes sense from an entertainment standpoint as well as a rankings standpoint, as the winner could make a strong case for a fringe-ranked opponent in the following fight.
Nuerdanbieke’s Next Fight: Ricardo Ramos
This teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev successfully defended his ranking against Nate Maness after losing a controversial fight to Tim Elliott in his preceding fight. The Russian wrestler got his first UFC finish and showed why he deserves to stay in the top-15 at flyweight, where he currently is ranked 15th.
Next up, another ranked opponent seems to be in order. Most of the bottom half of the division is either booked, such as Jeff Molina, has already faced Tagir, such as Tim Elliott, or is perhaps too close to the Nurmagomedov clan to be comfortable fighting each other, such as Muhammad Mokaev. One notable exception stands out, however, in David Dvořák. Dvořák, a former chess master from the Czech Republic, had a disappointing decision loss against Matheus Nicolau in his last fight, and so it’s time for him to fight down in the rankings somewhat. Dvořák is well-rounded and so it will not be an easy feat for Ulanbekov to take him down like he does to everyone else, but there are no easy fights when fighters are in the top 15, especially at a division like flyweight.
Ulanbekov’s Next Fight: David Dvořák
Grant Dawson got his second straight third-round rear-naked choke, which was also his third finish in the third round in his last four fights, at UFC Vegas 64 and kept his undefeated record when he stopped Olympic wrestling medalist and former fellow undefeated fighter Mark O. Madsen. In his post-fight interview Dawson called out 14th ranked Tony Ferguson. However, given Tony’s five-fight winless streak and two-fight streak of being finished, the aging star should be given gentler treatment. But Dawson does deserve a ranked or almost ranked opponent, like Carlos Diego Ferreira.
The last three opponents to beat CDF have all used that as a springboard to become ranked in the top ten, forcing Ferreira to settle into a quasi-gatekeeper role. The aging Brazilian still presents a difficult challenge for most everyone at 155 and especially for Dawson, given CDF’s excellent grappling. Overcoming a tough stylistic match-up like that would prove Dawson is ready to be ranked. If not for his disappointing performance and draw with Ricky Glenn two fights ago, perhaps he would be deserving of a true ranked opponent like Drew Dober or the winner of Dan Hooker vs Claudio Puelles.
Dawson’s Next Fight: Carlos Diego Ferreira