What’s Next: UFC Vegas 72 Losers

Song Yadong and Ricky Simon, UFC Vegas 72
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 29: (R-L) Ricky Simon punches Song Yadong of China in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Vegas 72 has come and gone, and while it might have been overshadowed by BKFC 41 in the end, there were some standout fights on the Las Vegas-based card. The night’s main card left the likes of Ricky Simon and Julian Erosa needing to bounce back — here’s our shot at playing matchmaker for those and other main card fighters who came up short.

Ricky Simón

Ricky Simón’s impressive five-fight winning streak came to an end on Saturday when he was TKO’d by Song Yadong in the final round of his first UFC main event. Simón entered the fight ranked tenth in the bantamweight division. He will still be solidly in the rankings even after this loss but now must defend his spot from a rising contender, likely one ranked below him.

One spot below Ricky in the UFC rankings is Dagestani prospect Umar Nurmagomedov, cousin of the famous Khabib. Umar says he has had a difficult time getting an opponent to fight for his next bout, but Ricky Simón is as game as they come and would present an interesting stylistic match-up for Umar; his wrestling and striking counter the similarly well-rounded game of the Dagestani well.

Simón’s Next Fight: Umar Nurmagomedov

Michał Oleksiejczuk

Polish banger Michał Oleksiejczuk got his first loss as a UFC middleweight at UFC Vegas 72 after starting strong in his new division with two consecutive first round knockouts. Michał’s light-heavyweight record of 4-3 was respectable, but he seems more appropriately sized at middleweight and is in the process of establishing himself in the division. Unfortunately for him he ran into Caio Borralho, a talented grappler and tough out for anyone.

Still, Oleksiejczuk remains an entertaining force at 185lbs. His guns blazing, hard-hitting style will likely earn him a good match-up in his next fight. A good rebound fight for Oleksiejczuk would be Makmud Muradov, whose last fight was also a loss to Borralho. Both men have bright futures and exciting styles but are coming off of losses. The winner will be able to reassert themselves as prospective middleweight contenders and strive for the rankings in the near future.

Oleksiejczuk’s Next Fight: Makmud Muradov

Cody Brundage

Brundage suffered his second consecutive loss by finish at the hands of former ADCC champion Rodolfo Vieira on the UFC Vegas 72 main card. Despite the loss, he had Vieira hurt early on before being done in by the expert BJJ of the ‘Black Belt Hunter.’ Brundage now moves to 2-3 in the UFC and may be fighting for his job in his next outing.

A fighter in a similar situation is Kyle Daukaus, who was finished in his last two as well. Daukaus and Brundage both prefer to use wrestling to get the job done in their fights, so it would be interesting to see how their skillsets would match up and who would be able to get back on track in the UFC’s 185lb division.

Brundage’s Next Fight: Kyle Daukaus

Julian Erosa

The always entertaining Julian Erosa suffered a loss at the hands of his Kryptonite on Saturday as he was put out in the first round by debutant Fernando Padilla. All of his last three losses have been early knockouts and it seems that is when ‘Juicy J’ is most vulnerable, as he has previously survived absorbing insane amounts of damage in fights that go longer than five minutes. Erosa is on his third stint in the UFC but not really in danger of losing his job despite his overall record of 6-7 in the promotion because he is one of the most entertaining fighters in the featherweight division and his current UFC run involves a 5-3 record which has seen him beat talented fighters like Hakeem Dawodu, Nate Landwehr, and Charles Jourdain.

It is still reasonable to expect the 33-year old to take a step back in his next fight. Someone like Shayilan Nuerdanbieke would be a logical opponent. Shayilan has racked up a 3-2 record in the UFC but has fought fifty pro fights and brings the action in the cage, similar to Erosa. That bout would be on the shortlist for ‘Fight of the Night’ on paper on just about any UFC card.

Erosa’s Next Fight: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

Waldo Cortes-Acosta

Cortes-Acosta suffered the first loss of his young career in his tenth fight as he was soundly beaten by Marcos Rogerio de Lima. It was bound to happen sooner or later, as the former baseball player made the transition to pro boxing in 2017 before switching over to MMA for his debut in just 2021. It was impressive to get to the UFC so quickly, but inexperience eventually catches up to most athletes.

Now Waldo will look to grow as a fighter and rebound with a win over a fellow unranked UFC heavyweight. Mohammed Usman, winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 29 heavyweight tournament, picked up a win over Junior Tafa at UFC Vegas 71 recently, which puts him on a similar timeline for his next fight as Cortes-Acosta. Mohammed won that fight via wrestling — the favored martial art of his famous brother, Kamaru – which is a style that Waldo has not yet faced in his UFC career, but one he needs to prove he can defend against as a striker.

Cortes-Acosta’s Next Fight: Mohammed Usman

Josh Quinlan

Quinlan suffered the first defeat of his MMA career as either a pro or an amateur in his second UFC bout when he was defeated cleanly on the scorecards by debuting Trey Waters. Quinlan is still 6-1 (1 NC) in his pro career but must rebound strong in order to not fall into a losing UFC record. Originally he was scheduled to face fellow DWCS alumnus Ange Loosa at UFC Vegas 72 before Loosa pulled out, and there is no good reason why that fight could not be put back together when both men are ready.

Quinlan’s Next Fight: Ange Loosa