Fight fans got their wish this weekend, as the UFC finally returned with a live show outside of the energy zapping Apex, returning to Orlando for the first time in three years.
In the UFC Orlando main event, fan favorites Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland locked horns in what turned out to be one of the best fights this calendar year. Let’s take a look at what could be next for the losers of the blockbuster event.
“Big Mouth” and Thompson came into this fight with a huge amount of respect for eachother, and it actually made for an extremely wholesome lead up to their fight. Since his UFC debut in 2018, he has been the most active fighter in that time frame, with this fight marking his 17th fight in that four year period. Last time out, he was facing the almost impossible task of fighting Khamzat Chimaev on short notice, with this matchup with Thompson being a more favourable one for him.
The fight that proceeded to play out was one of the best this year. A back and fourth standup affair, exactly as both men said it would be. Holland struggled to get anything going outside of round 1 and admitted that “Wonderboy’s” speed took him completely by surprise. As he always does, Thompson used his lengthy strikes almost impeccably with his arsenal of kicks causing Holland a whole lot of problems. Whilst on the stool after round 4, Holland asked his cornermen to take off his right glove as he feared his hand was broken. Props to his team as they did just that, telling Dan Miragliotta that their fighter could not continue.
Although this fight didn’t go the 30-year-olds way, there is still a lot for him to give in the welterweight division. I’d like to see Holland take a much needed long hiatus to recuperate and heal up properly, instead of jumping back into the fire too soon.
Holland was scheduled to take on Daniel Rodriguez before he ended up being matched up with Chimaev on short notice, and that is a fight that could now make sense again, with both fighters coming off a loss.
Kevin Holland’s Next Fight: Daniel Rodriguez
Coming in off three consecutive impressive victories, “Bam Bam” Barberena was hopeful he could take out yet another legend of the sport. Unfortunately for him though, Rafael dos Anjos continues to roll back the years with perfect performances.
Barberena’s hope was that he could keep the fight standing, and out-box dos Anjos, like he has in his last three outings. The Brazilian’s well roundedness though, was too much for Barberena, and it will now see the Californian fight back down the rankings, instead of possibly finding himself with a number next to his name.
A standup affair between Barberena and Salikhov could be phenomenal for fight fans.
Bryan Barberena’s Next Fight: Muslim Salikhov
In this case, Schnell came up short, a lot like his hair, and now finds himself with three losses in his last four fights. Nicolau has pushed himself ever closer to the title picture after the impressive win, but as for Schnell, the next fight is one that is going to have to be well planned.
Coming in off the amazing come from behind victory against Sumudaerji, spirits were high for Schnell, and he believed he had enough tools to dispatch of the streaking Nicolau. The cut to 125lbs is something fight fans are always wary of when it comes to Schnell, as on the scales, the flyweight looks extremely drained. That was no different this time out, and it took a quick haircut change to cut the last 0.5lbs. Unfortunately for him though, the cut may have already took its toll on him, and Nicolau’s skill was too much for him to handle.
Brit, Muhammad Mokaev, is constantly calling out top 10 fighters, so why not Matt Schnell?
Matt Schnell’s Next Fight: Muhammad Mokaev
A quick Tuivasa turnaround turned out to be not the most sensible of things to do. Especially when you factor in just how powerful Sergei Pavlovich is. Pavlovich now holds the record for the most knockdowns per 15 minutes with 6.67, over two more than second place. Tuivasa though, has admitted that he doesn’t want to fight in Perth in February, and wants to take off some much needed time.
The top of the heavyweight division is arguably the most exciting it has been in a very long time, and that is due to fighters like “Bam Bam” Tuivasa. British fighter, Tom Aspinall, will be making his much anticipated return from injury, hopefully in the first quarter of the new year. Tuivasa vs Aspinall on the undercard of the British card in March could make a lot of sense for all parties.
Tai Tuivasa Next Fight: Tom Aspinall
Unfortunately for Hermansson, he was once again facing a late change of opponent, and ultimately, that in itself doesn’t help proceedings.
Factor in that the change in opponent was a terrifying Roman Dolidze, coming in with a lot of momentum. On paper, the consensus was that Hermansson held the advantage when the fight ended up on the mat. That assumption though, was wrong. After some beautifully executed sweeps from Dolidze, Hermansson soon found out, that Dolidze is definitely a contender at 185lbs.
Picking Hermansson’s next opponent becomes relatively tough, factoring in that he will still have a number next to his name, and isn’t getting any younger. A fight with Andre Muniz could possibly be on the horizon.
Kyle Daukaus couldn’t get his wrestling game going this past weekend against Anders, and ultimately struggled to deal with Anders’ athleticism.
In round 1, Daukaus looked as though he was just trying to find his rhythm in the fight, and his striking looked fast and accurate. The power of Eryk Anders though is always present, and in round 2, Daukaus was on the receiving end of that power.
Andre Petroski is a fighter who is growing in name value, and it may be time for him to up his level of competition. A fight between these two men could be beneficial for whoever the victor may be.
Niko Price continues to be must see TV. Whenever “The Hybrid” fights, you know it has the potential to be fight of the night. His fight with Phill Rowe was no different.
Going into the third and final round, Price knew that he most likely needed a finish to win the fight, as the scorecards wouldn’t be in his favour. In true Price fashion, he came out swinging, and has Rowe extremely compromised. The 33-year-old put his all into getting the finish, and when it didn’t come, found himself weathering. The power of Rowe took its toll and he managed to get Price out of there in the final round.
A fight with Trevin Giles would be a whole lot of fun.
Niko Price’s Next Fight: Trevin Giles