UFC Vegas 17 went down this past weekend at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. In the main event, top welterweight contender Stephen Thompson put on a striking clinic against Geoff Neal, to earn a unanimous decision victory. In the co-main event, former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo earned a much-needed win in his bantamweight bout with Marlon Vera.
Elsewhere on the main card, Michel Pereira beat Khaos Williams via unanimous decision, Rob Font finished Marlon Moraes in the first round to earn the biggest win of his career to date, and Marcin Tybura earned his fourth straight win after beating Greg Hardy in the second round via TKO.
Now that UFC’s final event of the year is behind us, we take a look at who the winners and losers at UFC Vegas 17 should fight next.
Should Fight Next: Jorge Masvidal
At UFC Vegas 17, Thompson was out to prove that he is still a top contender in the division. ‘Wonderboy’ performed at his absolute best against his opponent’s seven fight win streak. After securing his second win on the trot, the 37 year old called for a rematch against Jorge Masvidal.
Thompson won their first encounter at UFC 217 in 2017, winning the fight via unanimous decision, and is currently ranked fifth in the UFC welterweight rankings. While ‘Gamebred’ is ranked fourth and is coming off a loss to the champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251.
Although UFC president Dana White said that a fight between Masvidal and Colby Covington is the fight to make, there has been no news of the fight for months. If that fight doesn’t happen, a rematch between the two former title challengers makes a lot of sense.
Should Fight Next: Vicente Luque
His fight against Thompson was a huge opportunity for Neal and a chance to possibly crack the top five. He will still find himself in the top 15 when the new rankings come out this week, and a fight with Vicente Luque would give him the opportunity to crack the top 10.
Luque has won two in a row since losing to Thompson at UFC 244, but against unranked opponents. He needs a ranked fighter to continue his climb up the rankings, and given that Neal is only one place below him at eleven in the welterweight rankings, the fight makes lots of sense.
Should Fight Next: TJ Dillashaw
After earning success in a must-win fight against Vera, Aldo is looking at former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw as his next opponent. The 34 year old’s two-year doping suspension ends in January, and he is aiming to return in the first quarter of 2021, which means the Brazilian has enough time to heal and prepare.
Although Dillashaw says he wants an immediate title shot, it is highly unlikely that he gets it. The former champion needs to fight a big name to make his case for a title shot, and Aldo is the perfect guy to welcome him back to the Octagon.
Should Fight Next: Sean O’Malley
The fight against Aldo was a huge opportunity for Vera, but he failed to capitalise on it. He currently sits at number fifteen in the UFC bantamweight rankings, and is expected to stay there. This sets things up perfectly for a rematch with Sean O’Malley, who believes the Ecuadorian only won their first fight because he injured himself.
Vera beat O’Malley at UFC 252 via TKO in the first round, after the latter injured his right foot. Because of the freak injury, ‘Suga’ refuses to accept defeat and wants his rematch. While ‘Chito’ has rejected the idea of a rematch, he won’t have much of a choice now if UFC match makers reach out to him.
Should Fight Next: Mike Perry
With a win over Khaos Williams, Pereira has now won two on the bounce, but is only 2-2 in his last four fights. He may not have earned a crack at a ranked opponent just yet, but a fight against Mike Perry would make sense for them both.
Perry is 7-7 in the UFC, and is more of a money-making fight than one that helps build Pereira as a strong contender, but he’s a decent name to add to the resume.
Should Fight Next: The winner of David Zawada vs Ramazan Emeev
The Pereira loss is a tough one for Williams, but it’s definitely not a bad one, especially taking into consideration that many thought he actually won the fight. He shouldn’t be too worried because he has lots of time to make amends to his game.
What he must do is keep an eye on the welterweight bout coming up next month between David Zawada and Ramazan Emeev. All three fighters are looking to break into the welterweight rankings, so it’ll be interesting to see Williams fight the winner.
Should Fight Next: Cody Garbrandt
With an impressive win over a highly-ranked Moraes, Font will most likely find himself inside top-five. His next fight should be against former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, who eyes a return to the Octagon in March 2021.
Font is potentially one win away from a title shot, and number four ranked Garbrandt needs a big win to get back into title contention.
Should Fight Next: The winner of Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera
With three defeats (all by finishes) in his last four fights, Moraes is in a tough spot right now. He currently sits at number three in the bantamweight rankings, but is expected to drop down a few places when the rankings are updated.
With not a lot of options at his disposal, Moraes should wait for the winner of the upcoming 135lbs bout between number six ranked Pedro Munhoz and number eight ranked Jimmie Rivera on January 31st.
Should Fight Next: Sergei Pavlovich
Tybura has now won four in a row, and deserves to test himself against a ranked opponent next. The perfect test for the Polish fighter would be Russian heavyweight prospect, Sergei Pavlovich.
Pavlovich was expected to fight Ciryl Gane in August, but had to pull out due to injury. With Gane probably out of reach now, the Russian must be looking at a worthwhile opponent, like Tybura.
Should Fight Next: Ben Rothwell
His loss to Tybura is a major setback for Hardy in terms of making it to the UFC heavyweight rankings, but he has time and opportunities on his side. While a fight with a ranked contender is unlikely at the moment for him, one fight that makes the most sense for him is Ben Rothwell.
‘Big Ben’ is a tough fight for Hardy, but a very winnable one too. It is also a good opportunity for Rothwell to get back into the win column. Both are also coming off a loss against the same opponent.
Who do you think the winners and losers at UFC Vegas 17 should fight?