This past weekend, MMA’s top promotion returned to begin their 30th year, as middleweights clashed in the UFC Vegas 67 main event.
As well as prospect-turned-headliner Nassourdine Imavov being involved in the main event, another Dagestani born star once again shone in the first fight of the main card.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the losers of the night.
Dagestani-born middleweight Nassourdine Imavov came into UFC Vegas 67 the more prepared of the two fighters, as he was already preparing to compete in the main event. And that showed on the scales, where the 27-year-old looked to be in phenomenal shape while weighing in at 194lbs (the bout was contested at 205 as Sean Strickland stepped up on short notice).
Despite that, as the fight crept into the later rounds, Imavov looked to be the more weathered fighter. His power was still a threat, and his technique wasn’t hindered too much. The signature Strickland pressure did prove pivotal though, and Imavov failed to make it four in a row, failing his toughest test to date.
Although he was unable to pick up the win, Imavov’s undeniable talent will take him far in the sport. For his next outing, why not match him back up with Kelvin Gastelum? It was a fight that made sense for Imavov’s natural progression, and it still makes sense now.
Nassourdine Imavov’s next fight: Kelvin Gastelum
“Action” Jackson was hoping to make it five wins on the spin as he came up against the extremely powerful, Dan Ige.
Coming into this bout, it was a battle of momentum. Ige was looking to turn his luck around and get back into the win column, whereas on the opposite side, Jackson was coming in with the momentum of four consecutive wins, with the rankings in his scope.
Ige came out of the gates the better of the two and was causing Jackson problems mixing in a variety of attacks. Heading into round two, it was clear the first round went the way of Ige, so it was imperative “Action” came out and lived up to his nickname. Unfortunately for the 34-year-old, Ige was the one who managed to live up to his nickname, and earned himself a bonus after the devastating walk-off KO.
Jackson won’t find a number next to his name come Tuesday evening, and instead, will now likely have to go head-to-head with another outside contender also looking to push into the rankings.
A fight that could very well be great is Jackson vs Jonathon Pearce.
Damon Jackson’s next fight: Jonathon Pearce
Despite coming into the bout as a slight favourite, Soriano was beaten wherever the fight went.
The Hawaiian struggled to get anything going in the opening of the fight with Roman Kopylov’s height and length causing him problems from the get go. With Soriano being a hard-hitting brawler, his primary game-plan was to get in the face of the Russian prospect. It didn’t go to plan though, and he found himself crumbling under several body shots with Kopylov handing him his third loss in four fights.
Someone who has faced two opponents “Puna” has is Cody Brundage. Not only that, but their schedules match up quite similarly as Brundage fought as recently as December.
Punahele Soriano’s next fight: Cody Brundage
The Brazilian bantamweight was arguably just one win away from being able to claim the next title shot at women’s bantamweight. As well as that, she occupied rank two in the division and stands as one of the only women in the top five that hasn’t faced Amanda Nunes (the other being Irene Aldana).
“Rocky” Pennington had different ideas though, with Vieira likely not too happy with the decision that resulted due to the competitiveness of the fight itself.
To rebound from this loss and reignite herself as a title contender, a win over Pannie Kianzad could do just that.
Ketlen Vieira’s next fight: Pannie Kianzad
Barcelos was coming into this UFC Vegas 67 fight with Nurmagomedov off the back of an impressive performance against Trevin Jones.
Umar Nurmagomedov is a different animal compared to Trevin Jones though, and Barcelos learnt that the hard way. For the first time in his 21-fight professional career, he was knocked out cold. Nurmagomedov landed a precise left hook after attempting to land a knee up the middle, turning Barcelos’ lights off as soon as he connected.
Kazakhstan’s Sergey Morozov was victorious in his last outing against Journey Newson, and is probably due a step up in opponent. With their schedules aligning quite well, Morozov could be next up for Barcelos.
Raoni Barcelos’ next fight: Sergey Morozov