UFC Vegas 18 went down this past weekend at the APEX Center in Las Vegas. The main event saw heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov put himself in title contention by knocking out Alistair Overeem in the second round. In the co-main event, top bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen beat Frankie Edgar in less than thirty seconds with a highlight-reel flying knee knockout.
Elsewhere on the main card, Clay Guida beat Michael Johnson via unanimous decision, Alexandre Pantoja ruined Manel Kape’s UFC debut by beating him by way of unanimous decision, and Beneil Dariush beat Carlos Diego Ferreira by split decision.
Now that UFC Vegas 18 is behind us, we take a look at who the winners and losers from the event should fight next.
Should Fight Next: Winner of Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis
Volkov moved into the top five this week following his dominant display, which means his next opponent should be sitting in the top echelon too. However, there’s a lot going on in the top half of the division.
All four top contenders are booked to compete in the coming weeks. Francis Ngannou is set to challenge Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 for the title. While number two ranked Curtis Blaydes and the number four ranked Derrick Lewis are set to fight in the UFC Vegas 19 main event, and number three ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik is also set to take on Ciryl Gane in the UFC Vegas 20 main event.
Blaydes vs Lewis is potentially for the number one contender’s spot, and the winner would ideally go on to fight the winner of Miocic vs Ngannou, but Dana White said Jon Jones will challenge the winner in his heavyweight debut. This leaves the division’s top contenders in a tough spot, because even if they win their next fight, it may not cement them a title shot.
Should Fight: Winner of Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling
This one is straight forward. Sandhagen is the number two ranked bantamweight, and he should fight the winner of Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling for the belt, set to take place at UFC 259.
Since losing to Sterling, ‘The Sandman’ has pocketed back-to-back spectacular finishes, and has won seven out of his eight fights in the UFC, with five finishes. He has earned the right to challenge for the title.
Should Fight Next: Arman Tsarukyan
After his win over Johnson, Guida specifically said that he wants an up-and-comer in his next fight. If that’s the case, then he should fight Arman Tsarukyan, who has looked better with every outing inside the Octagon. The 24 year old Russian debuted against Islam Makhachev at UFC Moscow, and despite losing the fight via unanimous decision, gave the Dagestani a run for his money.
He has won three on the bounce since then, and looks a promising prospect. A matchup with Guida would also be a great opportunity for Tsarukyan to make a name for himself against the very popular ‘Carpenter’.
Should Fight Next: Rafael dos Anjos
Dariush is one of the dark horses in the lightweight division, with the potential of being in the top five very soon. He is on a seven-fight win streak, and at only 31 years old, he has a lot of time to work his way up the rankings. The California native has quietly been piling up wins, and deserves a step up in competition.
With his win this past weekend, Dariush has jumped into the top ten. His next fight should be against Rafael dos Anjos, who is also looking for a dance partner. The fight is in the best interests of both, as the winner would edge closer to the top five.
Should Fight Next: Alex Perez
Pantoja’s fight with Kape was a massive risk as he had everything to lose against an unranked fighter making his UFC debut, and looking to take his position in the flyweight rankings. However, the Brazilian defended his territory well.
But he doesn’t have a lot of options at present ahead of him, considering the fact that champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno are going to rematch in the coming months, and number two ranked Joseph Benavidez and number three ranked Askar Askarov are booked against each other. This leaves Alex Perez as the only option for ‘The Cannibal’ in the top five.
Should Fight Next: Kai Kara-France
Kape wasn’t happy with the result at UFC Vegas 18, but he only has himself to blame. It was a great opportunity for him to enter into the title picture at flyweight, but since he didn’t capitalise on it, he’ll have to work his way up. Despite coming up short in his debut, the former RIZIN champion deserves another shot at someone in the top ten, and Kai Kara-France would be an ideal opponent. Both have lost their most recent fights, and need a win.
Who do you think the winners and losers at UFC Vegas 18 should fight?