UFC San Antonio is in the books, and while it lost a few fights coming into the event, there were still some big takeaways — the biggest of which will no doubt be Chito Vera’s drop in the banntamweight division following his loss to Cory Sandhagen.
What’s next for Chito and the rest of the UFC San Antonio main card? Read on.
Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera
Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera’s four-fight win streak of carnage was ended by Cory Sandhagen on Saturday night; the Ecuadorian now looks to right the ship and move back towards a title shot by fighting other contenders outside of the immediate title picture. Directly adjacent his spot in the rankings (at least until they are updated on Tuesday morning) is former champ Petr Yan, who is a valid option for Chito’s next fight. Further down in the rankings is rising Dagestani talent Umar Nurmagomedov, who is struggling to get his next fight booked after knocking out Raoni Barcelos. Fights in the near future which Chito could face the winner of include Font vs Yanez and Yadong vs Simon.
The best option here is probably Umar Nurmagomedov. Bantamweight is such a talent-rich division that it would be somewhat of a waste to match up two top ranked fighters on losing streaks, even if a fight between Yan and Vera would be beautiful violence, as it would keep new blood from having a chance at the top of the division. Umar is a potential future champion and has a well-rounded skillset, but Chito has not yet faced a wrestler of his caliber in MMA, so the fight would challenge both men.
Vera’s Next Fight: Umar Nurmagomedov
New mother Yana Santos lost her first fight since giving birth when she faced former champion Holly Holm in the co-main event of UFC San Antonio. Yana was out-struck and out-wrestled en route to a dominant decision victory for Holm, giving her back-to-back losses now at women’s bantamweight. Her next fight should be against a rising talent, like seventh ranked Pannie Kianzad, who is 5-1 in her last six. Kianzad deserves a chance to propel herself into title contention and Yana needs to collect more wins before she can fight up again.
Santos’ Next Fight: Pannie Kianzad
Lingo fell to 2-2 in the UFC as he lost to fan favorite Nate Landwehr on Saturday night. Lingo is one of many unranked featherweights, so there is no shortage of potential opponents for him. One such option just so happens to have also fought and lost on the same card as him: Tucker Lutz. Lutz is 1-2 in the UFC, though he’s 2-0 on the Contender Series, and is trying to establish himself in the division, just like Landwehr. Both fighters have well-rounded skillsets and are seemingly on the same timeline for their next fight, having fought barely an hour apart. This type of fight is perfect for a Fight Night prelim bout, the type of fight that makes up the meat and potatoes of UFC cards.
Lingo’s Next Fight: Tucker Lutz
Lee was ranked eleventh at women’s flyweight when she lost a controversial split decision to thirteenth-ranked Maycee Barber. Many thought Lee won the fight, just as many thought Barber did, but whoever wins that argument, Lee lost on paper and must fight down once again moving forward. Near her in the rankings lies fourteenth ranked Tracy Cortez. Cortez is undefeated in the UFC with four straight decision wins, and Andrea Lee would be the toughest, most experienced test of her career. All prospects must face an opponent like this, just as all veterans must defend their spots against prospects, and now is the time for Tracy and Andrea to do so.
Lee’s Next Fight: Tracy Cortez
Knockout artist Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani took a step backwards the other night both in terms of his career and his skillset, as he opted to use a less violent and more technical, point-scoring type of striking against Albert Duraev. This did not work as Duraev won the decision, and Chidi must reevaluate what type of fighter he wishes to be. One rising talent in the middleweight division who would perfectly push and test Chidi is Roman Kopylov. Kopylov started his UFC run with two losses, but is now on a two fight winning streak and looked impressive in his last bout, a TKO win over Punahele Soriano. Kopylov may have improved for the better, and Chidi may have slipped up in his last bout, but putting the two together to fight would tell us where their skillsets and career trajectories really lie.
Njokuani’s Next Fight: Roman Kopylov
Tucker Lutz lost his second fight in a row to drop to 1-2 in the UFC on Saturday. He had won 12 fights in a row before that, going back to 2015, but nonetheless he could be facing an untimely exit from the promotion with one more loss. As mentioned earlier in the article, the opponent for Tucker is Austin Lingo. Austin and Tucker are both good fighters, but are not yet established in the promotion and are in situations where a loss would have them below .500 as the end of their first UFC contract presumably draws close.
Lutz’ Next Fight: Austin Lingo