A pit stop at the Apex prior to this coming weekend’s UFC 289 in Vancouver, UFC Vegas 74 gave us a flyweight main event that was not without its share of controversy. Judging is once again in the hot seat, for the umpteenth time, but on paper at least, Kai Kara-France lost his fight with Amir Albazi via split decision.
What comes next for the losing side of the Fight Night card? Read on.
Although many thought Kai Kara-France deserved the nod in his main event spot against Amir Albazi, on the official record it will go down as a loss. He will fall from his third rank at flyweight but likely not too far, and the questionable nature of the decision will make him eligible for a fight against another top ranked fighter next.
With Brandon Royval seemingly next for a title shot against the winner of Moreno and Pantoja that leaves three main options: Matheus Nicolau, Alex Perez, and Manel Kape. Nicolau was just knocked out in brutal fashion by Royval while Alex Perez is on a two-fight losing streak. Manel Kape, however, has won his last three in impressive fashion and deserves a top ranked opponent like Kai.
Kara-France’s Next Fight: Manel Kape
Daniel Pineda got a shot at the top 15 on Saturday but was turned back by Alex Caceres. He did well to survive a brutal onslaught and even get a knockdown late in the third round when he was severely depleted. The pair won ‘Fight of the Night’ honors for their battle and that should earn Pineda a decent opponent in his next bout, despite the loss.
Gavin Tucker is 4-2 in the UFC but has not fought since 2021, a loss to ranked contender Dan Ige. He would seem to be in good standing in the UFC due to impressive past performances including a win over Billy Quarantillo, and would be a good bounce-back opponent for Pineda given that they both only lost to top-15 competition in their last outings.
Pineda’s Next Fight: Gavin Tucker
Jesse Butler deserves respect for taking the fight win Jim Miller on three days’ notice after Jared Gordon was pulled from the bout, but he was knocked out in twenty-three seconds in the fight, his UFC debut. A bevy of opponents could be next for Butler, anyone inexperienced who is either also debuting or has a losing UFC record. One such opponent is Trey Ogden, a Lookin’ For a Fight veteran who is 1-2 in his UFC career. Butler and Ogden both are in must-win scenarios, as a loss could spell trouble for their job security.
Butler’s Next Fight: Trey Ogden
Altamirano was taken down by Tim Elliott at will and lost a unanimous decision despite hurting the flyweight contender on the feet. The flyweight division is wide open with a host of recently signed talent. A fellow striker who would make for an exciting next bout against Altamirano is Charles Johnson, former LFA flyweight champion. Johnson lost his last two by decision but has seemingly maintained a good standing in the promotion through his activity – he fought three times in four months to begin 2023. A fight with Altamirano would set either of them up nicely for a run at the rankings in the near future, despite recent results.
Altamirano’s Next Fight: Charles Johnson
Former Invicta flyweight champion Ketlen Souza was tapped and likely brutally injured by a leg lock in her UFC debut against Karine Silva at UFC Vegas 74. It will be a long road to recovery for her if her ACL or even her Achilles was torn, but when she returns there are some fellow inexperienced UFC flyweights who would make for good opponents, like ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ champion Julianna Miller. Neither champion has quite been able to live up to the level that the status of champion suggests, but this would be a chance to right the ship. It just depends when Souza is healthy to fight again.
Souza’s Next Fight: Julianna Miller
Khabib’s cousin Abubakar lost a close decision to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC Vegas 74 where he was able to secure some takedowns but got mostly out-struck by the Brazilian capoeirista on the feet. The Dagestani moves to 2-2 in the UFC, a respectable record but one that perhaps does not live up to the Nurmagomedov name, which comes with certain expectations from the MMA community.
His next fight could be against nearly anyone in the welterweight unranked pool, but one good name is Warlley Alves. Alves is a vet who owns wins over the likes of Colby Covington and his grappling would make him a tough foe for Abubakar to wrestle. Warlley has lost his last two fights but is a veteran of fourteen UFC fights, making him a respectable status for Abubakar to fight.
Nurmagomedov’s Next Fight: Warlley Alves