What’s Next: UFC Vegas 81 Winners

Edson Barboza, UFC
Edson Barboza, UFC Kansas City official weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

Just a week out from one of the biggest UFC cards of the year, the promotion had a tough task of building excitement for UFC Vegas 81.

It’s a good job that one of the most prolific strikers in UFC history was atop of the card. Edson Barboza showed that he is still a big problem in the featherweight division, picking up a decision win over Sodiq Yusuff after five gruelling rounds.

Let’s take a look at what could be next for the stand-out winners.

Edson Barboza

At the rife age of 37, “Junior” Barboza continues to leave people speechless. Although it wasn’t another emphatic knockout to add to his highlight reel, the way in which he beat Sodiq Yusuff was arguably more impressive.

After an extremely one-sided round one, Yusuff was likely frustrated in himself that he didn’t get the finish. Having said that, he did at least score himself a 10-8 round on two of the judges scorecards. That was the only bright moment for “Super” Sodiq though, as from there, Barboza’s experience took over the fight.

The prevalent striker went on to dominate over the next four rounds, and also came close to finishing the fight himself after landing another picture perfect, signature spinning wheel kick.

The Brazilian has shown in his last two fights that he is still able to hang with some of the best in the division. Someone who has seemingly been deserving of a fight with a ranked opponent, is Lerone Murphy.

That is a fight I would love to see next to see if Murphy can begin an ascent up the rankings, whilst also providing an extremely fan friendly fight.

Barboza’s Next Fight: Lerone Murphy

Viviane Araujo

The 36-year-old Brazilian snapped her two fight losing skid with a win over fellow Brazilian, Jennifer Maia. The most surprising part of this fight was how it sat as the co-main event.

Araujo knew the importance of picking up a win coming into it, as another loss would’ve been detrimental to her future in the promotion. Having said that, despite picking up the win, it is hard to imagine she will be fighting for contendership at this point in her career.

“Vivi” may be at a point in her career now where she is having to face young contenders on the rise. One of which that comes to mind immediately, is Natalia Silva.

Araujo’s Next Fight: Natalia Silva

Jonathan Martinez

The theme of the night and the most memorable part of it, was the devastating leg kicks exhibited once again by Factory X products.

Prior to Martinez’s insanely impressive performance, his teammate Chris Gutierrez gave the fans a taster of what was to come from the “Dragon.”

From the opening bell, Martinez made it clear that he was going to continue the Factory X leg kicking trend and consistently landed hellacious kicks to Adrian Yanez’s lead leg. Somehow, Yanez made it to the second round after visibly hobbling throughout moments of the first.

The barrage of lightening fast powerful kicks didn’t let up though, and halfway through round two, Kerry Hatley spared him of any more lasting damage to his left leg. With the impressive win, Martinez extended his win streak to six in a row, now holding the second longest active streak in the bantamweight division. Top of that list is Merab Dvalishvili.

Coincidentally, that’s the name that was on the tip of the tongue of the 29-year-old when Bisping asked him who he wants next. I’m not sure that’s what will be next for Martinez, but you have to commend him for shooting for the stars.

Song Yadong was recently rumoured to be facing Petr Yan in the main event of a December 9th card, however, it appears that Yan is unable to compete on that date. If that event is scheduled to take place on that date, why not put Martinez in that spot?

Martinez’s Next Fight: Song Yadong

Michel Pereira

After finally moving up to the middleweight division, the always unpredictable, Michel Pereira, finished the late notice replacement, Andre Petroski.

Before he made the prolonged move to 185lbs, Pereira was scheduled to face Stephen Thompson, who currently sits at rank seven in the 170lb division. After picking up the impressive first round finish in his middleweight debut, it is likely that he will fight inside the rankings next time out.

Currently occupying rank 14 is Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez. That fight would undoubtedly be incredible.

Pereira’s Next Fight: Anthony Hernandez

Christian Rodriguez

“CeeRod” continued his impressive streak of beating young undefeated fighters. Last time out he was victorious against the youngest fighter on the roster, Raul Rosas Jr, this time he defeated the 22-year-old, Cameron Saaiman.

The 25-year-old may now have proved to the UFC that he is a very strong prospect himself, and will be hoping to slowly climb closer to the 135lb rankings.

Someone else who recently picked up an impressive victory was Miles Johns. With them being on similar schedules and also being near the same level, it seems like a fight that could make sense.

Rodriguez’s Next Fight: Miles Johns