What’s Next: UFC Vegas 88 Losers

Tai Tuivasa, UFC Paris
Tai Tuivasa, UFC Paris open workouts Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

A number of UFC mid-carders hit speed bumps on Saturday at UFC Vegas 88, while popular heavyweight Tai Tuivasa suffered his fourth consecutive defeat in the night’s main event. Where they go from here is an interesting question, especially for those who are likely permanently out of the title picture.

Let’s take a look at what might be the next play for Tuivasa and co.

Tai Tuivasa

Tai Tuivasa was once a top five heavyweight in the UFC. Let that sink in for a moment.

Tuivasa is a fun, popular big man. Lots of fun. He absolutely deserves to be in the UFC and is always entertaining, but that top five ranking, well, heavyweight might be the heaviest of divisions (we know, super heavyweight is a thing outside the UFC), but it’s also the thinnest.

Tai’s biggest wins came against 2018 Andrei Arlovski, Stefan Struve, and Derrick Lewis. Since the Lewis fight, however, he’s been stopped four times: twice by submission, twice by knockout.

Even at 0-4, his immense popularity will land “Bam Bam” another fight. From the walkout to the shoe-y after a win, he entertains, so that’s fine. But no one in the top 10, please. Outside the top 10 however is Alexander Romanov, who doesn’t have a fight booked and hasn’t competed since July. He did win a grappling match against Chris Daukaus in December. “Bam Bam” versus “Kong” works for us. Both have recent losses to Marcin Tybura, though Romanov bounced back against Blagoy Ivanov.

Tuivasa’s next fight: Alexander Romanov

Bryan Battle/Ange Loosa

There’s not a lot to say about this. Eye pokes happen, no contests happen, what happened in the cage after the result was read out should not have happened. Run it back.

Battle/Loosa’s next fight: rematch

Kennedy Nzechukwu

After a trio of wins over Karl Roberson, Ion Cutelaba, and Devin Clark, Kennedy Nzechukwu looked destined for bigger things in the 205lb division. Unfortunately, he’s now dropped back-to-back fights against Dustin Jacoby and Ovince St. Preux, the latter at UFC Vegas 88.

To be fair to Nzechukwu, Jacoby has flirted with the rankings and OSP is the most experienced light heavyweight in the company. That said, Nzechukwu will be looking at a step back now.

Jimmy Crute would be an option here, but he’s on hiatus at the moment. Ion Cutelaba is coming off a loss, but that’s a rematch that doesn’t need to happen any time soon. There’s another rematch out there for Kennedy, however: Da Un Jung. The pair first met in 2021, so at least a little more time has passed than with Cutelaba. Jung won that meeting, but hasn’t won since, going 0-3.

Nzechukwu’s next fight: Da Un Jung

Isaac Dulgarian

Isaac Dulgarian more or less dominated two rounds on Saturday at UFC Vegas 88 and lost a decision to Christian Rodriguez after gassing in the third. This easily could have been scored a draw, but it goes down as a loss for Dulgarian. That’s the first career loss for “The Midwest Choppa” who is now 6-1. Outside select top prospects, no one should be entering the UFC with less than 10 fights, but that’s where we’re at with the Contender Series slowly turning into a content mill (plus Lookin’ for a Fight, where Dulgarian graduated from).

Dan Arguetta is 9-1 with a pair of No Contests; these two were supposed to fight previously. Arguetta has a fight booked with Jean Matsumoto, give Isaac the loser.

Dulgarian’s next fight: Arguetta vs. Matsumoto loser

Pannie Kianzad

Pannie Kianzad was submitted by Macy Chiasson for the second time at UFC Vegas 88, leaving her 1-3 in her last four. In any other division that would be a bigger concern but bantamweight is thin beyond belief and Kianzad probably has a bit of job security still. The TUF 28 alum was actually ranked #6 in the division prior to the loss; she’ll be fighting down now, with Josiane Nunes, who also lost on Saturday, a timely option.

Kianzad’s next fight: Josiane Nunes

Bryan Barberena

Considering Gerald Meerschaert is out here tying records with Anderson Silva, a loss to him isn’t too concerning for Bryan Barberena. What is concerning is the 0-4 skid the other “Bam Bam” on the card is on. Actually, both Tuivasa and Barberena are in the same boat, but Bryan doesn’t have that main event, fan fave status though he is entertaining. If he sticks around, an incoming Contender Series alum probably works.

Barberena’s next fight: DWCS winner