What’s Next: UFC Vegas 65 Winners

Kennedy Nzechukwu UFC
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 09: (R-L) Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria battles Karl Roberson in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 09, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC Vegas 65 got off to a good start with a few great fights. Not long after, the broadcast team made an announcement that zapped whatever energy was in the Apex. Derrick Lewis suffered a non-covid, non-weight cutting-related illness, forcing him out of his main event bout with Serghei Spivac, just hours before the scheduled walk.

With that, the co-main event of Kennedy Nzechukwu vs Ion Cutelaba was upgraded to a three-round main event. Let’s take a look at what could be next for the winners of the night.

Kennedy Nzechukwu

“The African Savage” made the most of his late spotlight opportunity, beating Ion Cutelaba in the second round. The victory came after he lost the first round due to Cutelaba’s wrestling, however, Cutelaba always tends to start fast and then declines as the fight goes on.

Nzechukwu came out in round two with that in mind, and decided to put on the forward pressure. The finishing sequence began with a perfectly timed knee up the middle that marked the beginning of the end for Cutelaba.

With this being the Nigerians first time headlining, he has seemingly taken his opportunity as well as possible. Depending on how the UFC wish to push him will determine on the level of opponent he faces next. Cutelaba is a fighter who is consistently in or around the top 15 at light heavyweight, so to score a comprehensive finish over him, puts Kennedy in good stead going forward.

If the UFC wish to push the 30-year-old into the top 15 and grant him a fight up the rankings next, then I would suggest Volkan Oezdemir as a potential next opponent for Kennedy. Failing that, Dustin Jacoby is currently occupying a ranking despite coming off a loss, so a fight between those two men could make sense if the UFC decide to take the slower approach with Nzechukwu.

Nzechukwu’s Next Fight: Dustin Jacoby (or Volkan Oezdemir)

Waldo Cortes-Acosta

“Salsa Boy” returned this weekend, despite having fought only three weeks ago against Jared Vanderaa. In that fight, Cortes-Acosta took quite a bit of damage to his lead leg, so making such a quick turnaround was impressive in itself.

As well as that, he came in against Chase Sherman and looked great. As expected, his boxing heavy approach allowed him to out-point Sherman through three rounds, putting himself in a great position to fight just outside, or in the rankings next.

Having said that, Cortes-Acosta made what in my opinion, is a horrific call out for his next fight. The 31-year-old has called for a fight with a certain Mohammed Usman. That fight in my opinion makes absolutely no sense for Cortes-Acosta. A fight against someone like Tanner Boser would make far more sense for the Contender Series winner.

Cortes-Acosta’s Next Fight: Tanner Boser

Muslim Salikhov

Muslim Salikhov put on a signature performance at UFC Vegas 65, returning to the win column. The “King of Kung Fu” looked absolutely flawless against a young hungry contender in Andre Fialho.

Salikhov now finds himself in a slightly strange spot; being at the age of 38, it is hard to predict what the Russian’s plans may be. Having said that, with him looking flawless in this performance, it seems there is still life left in the old dog.

It is doubtful that Salikhov fights inside the rankings having recently lost to Li Jingliang. Someone just outside the rankings, and ever improving, is Alex Morono. “The Great White” has looked extremely impressive in his last few outings, and a fight between these two flawless strikers, could be extremely fun in my opinion.

Salikhov’s Next Fight: Alex Morono

Jack Della Maddalena

With the scheduled main event falling hours into the event, Jack Della Maddalena vs Danny Roberts was the “peoples main event.” This stood as Della Maddalena’s toughest test to date, and if he could get through the tough Danny Roberts comprehensively, then he would be labelled as the real deal.

He did that, and did it without hardly breaking a sweat.

There is no doubt that Jack Della Maddalena is the cream of the crop, and is only getting better with every outing. At just 26-years-old, the Aussie is inches away from being a ranked UFC welterweight.

He once again exemplified extremely crisp and patient boxing, packing viscous power. Della Maddalena is ready for a fight inside the top 15 of the rankings, but there may not be many suitors sticking their hands up, offering to fight the streaking prospect.

Daniel Rodriguez is occupying rank 15 at this moment, and coming off a loss to Neil Magny. The boxing that would be on display between these two men would be utterly sensational.

Maddalena’s Next Fight: Daniel Rodriguez

Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson got back into the win column this past weekend with a win over Zhalgas Zhumagulov. The loss for Zhalgas marked his last fight in the sport, for now, as he shortly after announced his retirement.

The fight was an extremely close one, and despite Johnson picking up the win, the consensus with fans was that Zhumagulov should’ve been the one getting his hand raised.

Having said that, it doesn’t take away from the fact that “InnerG” picked up his first UFC win since moving over from LFA, and is enough to kickstart his promotional tenure. It would be difficult to make a case that Johnson has showed enough in his first two outings to suggest a fight inside the rankings next, however, that may be something that is on the horizon.

For his next fight, I would like to see him take on someone with more experience inside the cage, and Tyson Nam could be that exact man. Nam does have a fight booked with Bruno “Bulldog” Silva, but whoever gets the win could work.

Charles Johnson’s Next Fight: Tyson Nam vs. Bruno Silva winner