UFC Las Vegas, in hindsight, felt a lot like the little card that could. Situated at The Theater at Virgin Hotels rather than the UFC Apex thanks to the Power Slap finale (finally, something good comes of slapfighting), even the small house full of fans at the cozy venue made a big difference in terms of atmosphere.
In Saturday’s main event, Merab Dvalishvili put on what might be the best performance of his career in a beatdown of former bantamaweight champ Petr Yan. Where does Yan go next? Let’s take a look at that and next steps for some other big names.
Petr Yan didn’t look bad on Saturday, as much as Merab Dvalishvili simply looked fantastic. Yan could not match the pace and output of the Georgian, and what had built up into a grudge match wound up being mostly one-sided as a result.
Yan has now lost three straight fights, and four of his last five. A lot of people did see his fight with Sean O’Malley going the other way (including one judge), so he has a bit more breathing room than he would otherwise. Still, Yan’s next fight is a must-win scenario. His lone win since 2020 came against Cory Sandhagen, who fights Marlon Vera later this month.
Rob Font has a fight with Adrian Yanez in early April — Font is ranked #6, Yanez #12 in the weight class. A fight with the winner, even coming off a loss, could make sense for Yan as he looks to rebuild.
Yan’s next fight: Font-Yanez winner.
It’s not quite time to panic when it comes to Alexandr Romanov, once considered a top heavyweight prospect — but we’re getting there. Romanov has lost two straight now, and had very little to offer Alexander Volkov in the UFC Las Vegas co-main event. Once his initial takedown was fought off, Romanov looked out of place against the former Bellator champ.
Romanov’s weight has fluctuated between fights, going from the 240s to 260s. He striking has been a work in progress, and it appears that if his wrestling fails him, he’s in trouble. Some time off to work on all aspects of his game would be wise, and when he comes back, someone outside the top 15 would be wise.
Who fits the bill? August Sakai just snapped a four-fight skid and isn’t ranked. He’s coming off a single win, and this fight either sees Romanov bounce back, or rehabs Sakai further after his win against Don’Tale Mayes.
Romanov’s next fight: August Sakai
After falling through at the last minute ahead of UFC Vegas 70, the would-be main event between Ryan Spann and Nikita Krylov was shifted to UFC Las Vegas and became a three-round affair. Krylov got the submission win inside of a round, leaving Spann to pick up the pieces after an emotional couple of weeks.
Spann is now 7-3 in the UFC light heavyweight division, which is a very respectable record. The biggest problem is that those three losses have been steps up on competition: Johnny Walker, Anthony Smith, and now Krylov. Spann still has lots of upside, however, and knocked out Dominick Reyes not too long ago (though that win carries a little less weight given Reyes’ struggles). Regardless, ex-title challenger Volkan Oezdemir doesn’t have a fight booked, and is also coming off a loss to Krylov. Book this to see who can bounce back after losing to “The Miner.”
Spann’s next fight: Volkan Oezdemir
Said Nurmagomedov suffered just the second loss of his UFC career at UFC Las Vegas, dropping a decision against Jonathan Martinez. He’s 6-2 in the company overall, and remains a threat at 135.
Javid Basharat is coming off a win in January, and is 3-0 in the company so far. He’s also 14-0 in his career, and Nurmagomedov would be a solid step up in competition, but not an insurmountable one for the “Snow Leopard.”
Nurmagomedov’s next fight: Javid Basharat
At 43-years young, Guido Cannetti saw a two-fight win streak snapped by Mario Bautista on Saturday.
It’s tragic that Cannetti lost so much time early in his UFC run. He missed all of 2016 and 2017, and while he has stayed busy into his 40s, that’s a tall order in the bantamweight division, where speed is not just an asset, but an expectation.
If Cannetti wants to keep fighting — and at 2-1 in his last three fights, he should be able to — we have to be realistic. There’s no title run here, but there are some fun match-ups. Cub Swanson made his bantamweight debut in October, losing to Jonathan Martinez. Swanson is 39 and approaching the end of his career. Match the two vets up if Swanson wants to give 135 another go.
Cannetti’s next fight: Cub Swanson
A lopsided unanimous decision saw Vitor Petrino maintain his unbeaten record at UFC Las Vegas. Picking up Fight of the Night in his promotional debut certainly won’t hurt him any, and now the light heavyweight can start looking ahead.
The opposite side of that equation is Anton Turkalj. He falls to 0-2 in the promotion, but the post-fight bonus should keep him around. Up next? DWCS alum Aleksa Camur is 1-2 in the company, and has been out for a while. That works if he’s ready to return. If now, Turkalj probably gets a debuting opponent.
Turkalj’s next fight: Aleksa Camur or newcomer