For the first time in over four years the UFC returned to Nashville, Tennessee, this past Saturday, as ranked bantamweights clashed in the UFC Nashville main event.
The originally scheduled main event was between Cory Sandhagen and Umar Nurmagomedov, but just a few weeks out from fight night, Nurmagomedov pulled out due to injury. The ever game Rob Font stepped in on short notice to save the event whilst also looking to register back-to-back wins for the first time since 2021.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the winners of the night.
The 31-year-old continues to improve at the highest level against tough competition. In his last fight against “Chito” Vera, Sandhagen showed glimpses of his high level wrestling and grappling control, something he was less known for due to his exemplary striking.
A similar theme continued in his fight with Font. From the opening round it was clear that Sandhagen’s main priority in this fight was to get it to the ground where he could control and try and work submissions. Having being preparing for a very high level wrestler in Umar Nurmagomedov, it is likely that a lot of Sandhagen’s camp was geared towards that area of the fight. Not only that, but that Coloradan was coming into this bout with an injury to his elbow.
Despite that, the fight that proceeded didn’t sit well with the fans as for the majority of the 25 minute main event, the 17,000 fans in attendance booed. As well as that, Dana White reportedly walked out of the arena during the fourth round.
Sandhagen was the one who was getting in there with an injury and putting his ranking at risk and despite how the win came, he is now riding a three fight win streak.
In just a few weeks time the bantamweight title will be put on the line at UFC 292, as champion Sterling takes on challenger, Sean O’Malley. With this likely being Sterling’s last fight in the 135lb division, regardless of the result, it could result in a vacant bantamweight title.
However, due to the nature of his win on Saturday night, it is unlikely that Sandhagen’s next fight will be for Gold. Unfortunately for Sandhagen, I would not be surprised to see him rebooked with Umar Nurmagomedov.
Sandhagen’s Next Fight: Umar Nurmagomedov
Fighting back at 115lbs for the first time in four years, Tatiana Suarez showed that she is immediately a title challenger in this division.
After dominating Jessica Andrade in seemingly simple fashion, Suarez stormed around the Octagon almost like she wanted to step right back in there to fight again. There is no doubt that Suarez could be next to fight for the title, but that would all depend on how soon she wanted to get back in there.
After being inactive for over four years, it is likely that the 32-year-old will want to keep her momentum going and fight for a third time this year. If that is the case, there are a few options for the dominant wrestler.
Depending on the availability of Jandiroba, that fight could be re-booked for later in the year. Failing that a number one contender fight between Yan Xiaonan and Suarez could headline a fight night card or be included in a big PPV card towards the years end.
Tatiana Suarez’s Next Fight: Yan Xiaonan
“The Hanyak” caused a big upset with a first round knockout over the dominant, Kennedy Nzechukwu, snapping his two fight losing streak in the process.
Jacoby still finds himself in the rankings at 205lbs and in his Octagon interview he mentioned how he wants a fight up the rankings in his next fight, as in his prior few, he has had to defend his ranking. The 35-year-old did call for a fight with Volkan Oezdemir, but the Swiss is already booked to fight Murzakanov. Unfortunately for Jacoby, the fighters ranked near him but above him are already booked.
Depending on what Dominick Reyes decides to do, that could be a fight that the UFC entertain. Failing that, a rematch with Khalil Rountree Jr could be on the cards as their first fight ended in a split decision, with the large majority of fans believing Jacoby was unlucky to not get the nod.
However, the fight I’m going to pick out is one that depends on a certain result of a 205lb fight at UFC 293. Carlos Ulberg is scheduled to take on Da Un Jung, and if the “Black Jag” is victorious, I would love to see a matchup between Ulberg and Jacoby.
Jacoby’s Next Fight: Carlos Ulberg (If Ulberg is victorious at UFC 293)
In just two UFC fights, Diego Lopes has found himself as one of the fans’ favourites, and with a win over Gavin Tucker this past weekend, he’s became even more popular.
With his UFC debut being a late notice fight against Movsar Evloev and him having put on a very competitive showing, Lopes came into this one with momentum, despite the loss. Tucker on the other-hand had been inactive for over two years with Lopes being a tough comeback fight for the Canadian.
Lopes once again displayed his exciting fight style and incredible grappling prowess, submitting Tucker in the first round. Arguably Lopes could fight a ranked opponent in his next fight, but the UFC will likely match him up just outside the rankings for his next few.
Jack Shore has recently moved up to 145lbs and with similar grappling styles, this could make for a fun matchup.
Lopes’ Next Fight: Jack Shore
After moving down to the light heavyweight division in his last fight, Tanner Boser was looking to bounce back from his 205lb debut loss against Aleksa Camur.
“The Bulldozer” did just that by beating the Contender Series alum over a three round decision. After snapping his two fight losing streak, Boser will likely take another fight down the rankings to build on his momentum.
The positive for Boser is that the light heavyweight division isn’t very deep, meaning if he accrues a few wins on the bounce, he could find himself on the precipice of the rankings very soon. A win over Devin Clark in his next outing could put him closer to the top 15, and could be a fight that makes sense for both.
Boser’s Next Fight: Devin Clark
Someone else who registered a win as a slight underdog this past weekend was L’udovit Klein.
Unfortunately for Klein, his last fight at UFC 286 resulted in a majority draw with Jai Herbert, putting a halt to his momentum of winning back-to-back fights prior to that. After an impressive showing this past weekend, there are tonnes of options for “Mr Highlight” in an always stacked lightweight division.
Klein still has a lot to prove at the top level and will likely still find himself quite far away from fighting in the rankings. Someone who made a great first impression in their full UFC debut was Nurullo Aliev. A fight between these two could make for a very fun matchup.
Klein’s Next Fight: Nurullo Aliev