After a UFC Vegas 36 card that saw non-stop action, we can’t help but think ahead to what might be next for some of the fighters. Some let their intentions be known, others left more to the imagination. Either way, we try to do Mick Maynard’s job for him and tell you what is up next for some of the biggest names on this past card.
On deck: Paulo Costa-Marvin Vettori Winner
Brunson made it quite clear that he was willing to sit and wait on a title shot and the winner of Whittaker and Adesanya. There’s a couple of problems with that plan. Firstly, Adesanya and Whittaker are currently unscheduled and reports point to early 2022 as a date. Even assuming that the winner comes out unscathed, Brunson wouldn’t be getting his shot until nearly a year from now. Another potential issue is the possibility of Whittaker winning. You’d have to assume that option would result in a trilogy fight and well over a year off for Brunson. Although I understand the risk that seems to exist with staying busy (just ask Jojo Calderwood), I think Brunson is going to need another fight first.
The logical step for that fight is the winner of the upcoming Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori fight. Vettori appears to have anointed himself the best wrestler in the division and I think Brunson has the ability to disprove that. Using those same skills, he would test Costa in a way that Costa has not typically been tested. Not only would this be the logical step for figuring out the middleweight division, but it would show us some really fun stylistic matchups.
On deck: Uriah Hall
Darren Till has not quite been what everybody, Israel Adesanya included, wanted him to be at middleweight. His hands are fast and powerful, as we’ve always known, but the game is just not complete enough to take out the top guys in the division. He’s now fallen to 1-2 at 185lbs and looks for answers to get himself back into contention. At a mere 28-years old, there is really no rush to get back there fast. He can take a slower approach and fight some people a little lower in the UFC’s top 15 rankings to get his middleweight feet underneath him.
This is why I think Uriah Hall would be a great fight. Till wouldn’t have to worry about his wrestling defense, as Hall is unlikely to test it like Brunson did. That fight would be big enough to keep building his resume, and headline a card – giving him more 5-round experience. Hall could use this fight for many of the same reasons. He’s never quite made it to the level people thought he would. The striking in this one would also be a lot of fun to watch.
On deck: Augusto Sakai
After Saturday’s performance, it’s reasonable for people to think that Aspinall needs to fight top contenders next. To be honest, I think he could handle a good number of them. I’m not sure he’d be an underdog against the likes of Jairzinho Rozenstruik or even Alexander Volkov. On the other hand, he’s just 28-years old. As I said with Till, that’s young and is even younger when you consider the longevity of heavyweights. So I don’t think we’re in any rush to work him up there – especially with a log jam of top contenders right now anyways.
Augusto Sakai is currently unbooked and would give a whole bunch of tough looks to Aspinall. Prior to being finished by Rozenstruik and Alistair Overeem, Sakai had never been finished in his pro career. Aspinall adding himself to that list of finishers would be enough to really start to talk about him as a contender. For Sakai, this one makes sense simply in that it’s allowing him a step back in the division after two tough losses – albeit not that much of one.
On deck: Joel Alvarez
Derek Brunson may have made one of the best statements this past weekend, but make no mistake, it was the Baddy Show on Saturday. The UFC’s media team was all over the scouser and the anticipation from his debut was high – higher than most fighters in recent history. The performance was a bit mixed though. He appeared to get tagged pretty well by Luigi Vendramini before getting taken down and controlled a bit. So while he made a claim that he should be headlining a card next, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.
A much better idea would be to pair him with someone who has a similar skill set as he does. Someone who will test his grappling and throw big when on the feet. Joel Alvarez fits that bill quite well. His long list of submission wins is entirely underrated, including one over Joseph Duffy that sent him into retirement. Giving Paddy someone like that to work with would assure that he has the defense, in both striking and grappling, to get one of those names that he seems to already want.
On deck: Cody Stamann
Jack Shore’s performance against late-replacement Liudvik Sholinian definitely didn’t create the same kind of buzz and Paddy Pimblett’s performance did. He spent three rounds dominating the TUF cast member with no real difficulties. In fact, Sholinian didn’t even land a single strike in the first round. I’d argue that what he did on a technical level was far more impressive than Pimblett. While not flashy, he’s offensively and defensively sound and could be a real problem for a lot of fighters at 135lbs.
While Shore easily dealt with the wrestling of Sholinian, I’d like to see him deal with another wrestler who can push him a bit more in those regards. Cody Stamann is on a bit of a skid right now, but is still firmly in the top 15. Shore should have an advantage in the striking but would have to fight off the takedown attempts of Stamann, which would be a nice test to see if he’s ready for the biggest names in the division.
On deck: Luana Carolina
‘Meatball’ Molly picked up a much-needed, emotional win this Saturday by battering Ji Yeon Kim for three rounds. Overcoming a long layoff and ten inches of reach, McCann looked like there had been huge gains in her striking. The style was fun and fast-paced. As a result, the stock of McCann, who had lost 2 in a row, likely makes a big jump up.
There’s no need to throw McCann into deep waters right away again. However, I do want to see her in there with someone who just wants to throw hands with her and get violent – as all Molly McCann fights should be. Luana Carolina is a fun Thai-style striker who would love to mix it up with ‘Meatball’ on the feet. The winner of that would also be on a two-fight win streak and would demand a top 15 or fringe top 15 opponent.