A spectacular card played out at the Moody Center on Saturday as UFC Austin delivered on pretty much all fronts. Arman Tsarukyan, Jalin Turner, and Miesha Tate (in the prelims) led the way, and every finishing fighter (eight in all) received a Performance of the Night bonus (or in one case, Fight of the Night).
Where do the losers go from here? Here’s our take.
When 2023 started Beneil Dariush was on an eight-fight winning streak and within spitting distance of a title shot. Now, after his loss to Arman Tsarukyan, he has been knocked out twice in a row and has some tough decisions to make at age 34. The entire lightweight division is available though, so there are plenty of options for his next fight, like rising stars Benoit St. Denis and Jalin Turner.
Benoit has not lost at lightweight in his career and is carrying a five-fight finish streak into this bout. He is probably most deserving of a massive step up in competition at this point, and Beneil has been consistently willing to give guys below him a chance to fight him. It is a crucial fight for Beneil to regain momentum in the tail end of his career, but Benoit is a dangerous opponent for anyone. Their well-rounded and dangerous skillsets would make for a compelling matchup.
Dariush’s Next Opponent: Benoit St. Denis
Bobby ‘King’ Green had just the second finish streak of his UFC career (the first came in back-to-back stoppages way back in 2013) snapped when Jalin Turner knocked him out cold in the first round of UFC Austin’s co-main event. Green was ranked thirteenth in the UFC lightweight division coming into the fight. He will likely hold onto his ranking when the update comes out on Tuesday, but he may have to give a chance to an unranked fighter in his next fight.
Bobby could defend his ranking against fighters like Mateusz Rebecki, Terrance McKinney, or Drakkar Klose, all of whom bring winning streaks and impressive resumes to the table. At this point, Rebecki is most deserving of a shot at the rankings; he’s won all three of his UFC fights by different methods and has not lost an MMA fight since 2014. The Polish powerhouse has the potential to go far in this sport if he can get past a veteran like Bobby Green, though Green is far from nearing the end.
Green’s Next Fight: Mateusz Rebecki
The Bostonian bantamweight Rob Font fell to 1-4 in his last five with his loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC Austin. Although all of his losses are to elite competition, it is still time for Font to take a decent-sized step back in the rankings, like when he fought and beat Adrian Yanez earlier this year. Jonathan Martinez, who also beat Yanez, is most deserving of a step up in competition given his six-fight winning streak. This fight would be a strikers delight in a stacked bantamweight division, with the winner securing their place in the top ten.
Font’s Next Fight: Jonathan Martinez
Former middleweight title challenger Kelvin Gastelum thought to retake the welterweight division by storm at UFC Austin. Sean Brady had other plans as he dominated Kelvin with his wrestling en route to a third-round Kimura submission. This is not to say Gastelum cannot have success at welterweight. He is more appropriately sized for this weight and would likely be competitive against a number of welterweights.
A fighter like Kevin Holland, who is all about fun fights, would make a good opponent. Alternatively, Michael Morales is an option if the UFC do not feel Kelvin deserves another shot at a ranked opponent yet. But Holland and Gastelum are both names, so that fight would draw a lot of attention and makes sense as a match-up of exciting strikers.
Gastelum’s Next Fight: Kevin Holland
After a two-fight losing streak at age 41, Clay Guida should seriously consider retirement. He has fought 36 times for the UFC, going 18-18 in those fights and achieving near-unrivaled longevity. Guida also had one of the best fights ever and most recognizable looks ever, as his rugged caveman hair makes him stand out in any crowd. Maybe at this point he is just doing it for the love of the fight, but he should probably call it quits now, or soon, before damage catches up to him and he takes some bad knockouts like so many others have in their twilight fights. He may, however, opt to stick around at least to the milestone UFC 300 event, expected sometime around April 2024. If that happens, book him against a fellow veteran— Ricky Glenn could work.
Guida’s Next Fight: Ricky Glenn
After going 1-4 in his last five to fall to a 3-4 UFC record, there is not much doubt that the promotion will part ways with Hawaiian middleweight Soriano. His Xtreme Couture coaches and teammates will surely have his back and Puna has the talent to succeed elsewhere, but the UFC generally does not keep fighters around after going 1-4 unless they are long time veterans or top ranked fighters. He may now be fighting to work his way back. If he does stick around, expect a fight against someone in similar dire straits.
Soriano’s Next Fight: Likely outside of UFC