What’s Next: UFC Louisville Winners

Nassourdine Imavov, UFC
Nassourdine Imavov, UFC 289 official weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC Louisville started slow, but when Saturday’s main card rolled around, business picked up. Five finishes in six fights later, and the slog that was the prelims had been forgotten. What will be remembered, most likely, is the controversial finish in the main event- so where does that leave winner Nassourdine Imavov?

Nassourdine Imavov

Despite the controversial stoppage, Nassourdine Imavov was impressive in his second main event opportunity, climbing the ladder by knocking down number four ranked middleweight Jared Cannonier. Imavov will move up from number seven as he continues his rise which was halted briefly by a loss to Sean Strickland and no-contest against Chris Curtis.

Imavov now steps into an elite, and muddy, echelon of potential middleweight title contenders. Himself, Strickland, Israel Adesanya, Khamzat Chimaev, Robert Whittaker, and formerly Cannonier are all potentially one win away from the belt. As the newest of the pack, it’s safe to say that Imavov is towards the back of the line with this bunch, but with a number one contender fight he could earn a shot.

Chimaev and Whittaker are fighting already, and Adesanya is rumored to be the next challenger for the belt. Therefore the problem is that the logical contender is Strickland, who just beat Imavov a year and a half ago. Still, when you get down to it, it’s truly the only thing that makes sense, since rematches aren’t usually the UFC’s jam.

Imavov’s Next Fight: Sean Strickland

Dominick Reyes

After nearly five full years, Dominick Reyes has earned a win in the UFC octagon again. When he lost a decision, which many felt was erroneous, to champion Jon Jones in 2020, it was assumed that he would be back sooner rather than later. Three straight knockout losses changed that, but by fighting through the fire to finish Dustin Jacoby, Reyes announced to the world that he is back.

Given his fifteenth rank in the division, Dom will not be in a title fight in short order. But the ranks are ripe for the climbing. To start with, the newest member of the 205-lb top fifteen seems like a logical opponent for Reyes. Bogdan Guskov entered the rankings when he knocked out Ryan Spann, the last man to knock Reyes out, so it would be interesting to see how Dominick fairs against him. Also, Guskov is one of the few unbooked LHWs at present.

Reyes’s Next Fight: Bogdan Guskov

Raul Rosas Jr.

Raul Rosas Jr. faced adversity in a tough first round against Ricky Turcios at UFC Louisville, but the youngest fighter in the UFC (and in the promotion’s history) kept at it and found his way to a rear-naked choke win the next round. Rosas improved his record with the promotion to 3-1.

Still, at 19 he is way too young to begin pushing up the rankings in earnest. Let him go the Chase Hooper route. He can fight guys like Chad Anheliger, Christian Quinonez, and Kleydson Rodrigues for years. As a matter of fact, Anheliger is the perfect opponent for Rosas’ next fight.

Rosas’ Next Fight: Chad Anheliger

Brunno Ferreira

‘The Hulk’ roared again as Brunno Ferreira blazed his path to victory in blood, this time painting it with his elbows. His two spinning elbows which got the knockout were a thing of beauty. Ferreira may never be champ or even a ranked fighter, but he is sure to entertain for years to come.

He could fight any number of middleweights like Gerald Meerschaert, Rodolfo Vieira, or Jacob Malkoun. But one option that may come out of left field is Bruno Silva. In many ways ‘Blindado’ was just like Brunno Ferreira, before Ferreira was himself: power striking, reckless abandon, and Brazilian athleticism on full display. Silva is getting old but has been losing to near-ranked fighters, so the step down in competition would be a appropriate one.

Ferreira’s Next Fight: Bruno Silva

Zach Reese

Zach Reese’s sophomore effort in the UFC went better than his first, as this time he ended up on the right side of the highlight-reel first round knockout. At 7-1 he is highly inexperienced, but his 6’4″ frame at middleweight is promising.

Just last week another great athlete fought when Cesar Almeida lost a split decision to Roman Kopylov. Reese is perhaps an opponent at a more realistic experience level for Almeida than Kopylov was. It’s a fair bout and an entertaining one.

Reese’s Next Fight: Cesar Almeida

Punahele Soriano

Welterweight Puna came late to the welterweight party but he appears to be absolutely ready to stay. The Hawaiian was known as a striker for most of his career, but dominantly out-wrestled Miguel Baeza in his 170lb debut, setting several records in the process.

Now at 4-4 in the UFC, Soriano has to fight someone like Bassil Hafez next. A new talent who went to war with Jack Della Maddalena and Mickey Gall in his first two UFC fights, Hafez would truly test Puna on the ground and feet. With both at .500 in the UFC and having competed within a week of each other, the matchup makes sense.

Soriano’s Next Fight: vs Bassil Hafez