Post-UFC Vegas 3: Blaydes vs Volkov Fantasy Matchmaking
The third UFC card at the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada concluded on Saturday night and it had quite a few entertaining fights, some controversy, and yet another lopsided main event. Curtis Blaydes dominated Alexander Volkov in the main event but his journey to gold is still a long one as the division’s title picture is held up quite a bit with the trio of Cormier, Miocic, and Ngannou. Blaydes, and the rest of the fighters on the card will need to look for their next opponents and some, their new promotions or even careers.
Curtis Blaydes def. Alexander Volkov via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-46)
Winner: Curtis Blaydes
Next Opponent: Winner of Aleksei Oleinik vs. Derrick Lewis
Just looking at his recent string of four wins, three of which were against top tier opponents, you would think Curtis Blaydes would be primed for a title shot, arguably even overdue for one. But he has one gigantic thing in his way, Francis Ngannou. Blaydes’ only two professional losses were handed to him by Francis, both of which by way of knockout. Outside of those two fights, Blaydes has looked untouchable and unstoppable. Here Blaydes has an option to either wait many many months for a title opportunity, or he can continue fighting in the meantime. Blaydes hasn’t been one to shy away from trash talk and he has consistently been calling out and heckling many heavyweights, including one Derrick Lewis. If Lewis can get by the crafty veteran Aleksei Oleinik, it would set up the fight with Blaydes for an opportunity to send Curtis into a trilogy fight in his, albeit lopsided, rivalry with Ngannou.
Loser: Alexander Volkov
Next Opponent: Walt Harris
After such an uninspiring performance on Saturday, Volkov will look to bounce back and have a fight that will take place almost entirely on the feet. Harris is also coming off of a loss recently so it will make sense to put the two ranked opponents against each other for a chance to inch closer to the top 5 of the division. Volkov will feel much more comfortable in this fight and won’t have to worry about being put on his back repeatedly.
Josh Emmett def. Shane Burgos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Winner: Josh Emmett
Next Opponent: ACL Surgery Recovery
On Saturday during his fight with Shane Burgos, Emmett suffered a complete ACL tear, MCL sprain with partial tearing, Baker’s cyst rupture, focal impact fracture of the femur, and a chondral defect (cartilage) on tibia laterally matching impact area. So it is safe to say he won’t be fighting for quite a while, likely 9-12 months from now will be Josh’s next chance to move up the rankings after such an impressive performance.
Loser: Shane Burgos
Next Opponent: Edson Barboza
Burgos may have lost this fight but it was quite close and certainly a fight of the night candidate, his stock didn’t take too much of a hit. Still ranked at 15, Burgos can look for his next fight against someone in that top 15 or close to it, and another fighter coming off a loss is Edson Barboza. Barboza made the move to featherweight not too long ago against Dan Ige and lost an extremely close split decision. Barboza will be another tough test for Burgos but if he can beat the experienced Brazilian he’ll be catapulted right back into the top 10.
Raquel Pennington def. Marion Reneau via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner: Raquel Pennington
Next Opponent: Julianna Pena
In a division like women’s bantamweight where legitimate title challengers are hard to come by, the fighters at the top of the rankings can’t afford to fight too far below. This is exactly what needs to happen here, Pena was scheduled to fight Aspen Ladd earlier this year but pulled out for injury, given she is currently the fourth-ranked contender, a fight with Pennington coming off an impressive win on Saturday would certainly make a valid title challenger. In all likelihood, the winner of this fight would challenge for the belt following the winner of Holly Holm and Irene Aldana. The division could also be held up by Nunes possibly retiring or taking time off, which could see an interim title fight for any of these women, including Germaine De Randamie, if she plans on fighting soon.
Loser: Marion Reneau
Next Opponent: Retirement
A third loss in a row for Reneau surely must spell retirement for her, she’s now 43 years old and is crafty as it gets, but it seems like the game has passed her by and she just cannot keep up anymore. She has been beaten soundly in her past three fights and at her age, it is time to go.
Belal Muhammad def. Lyman Good via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner: Belal Muhammad
Next Opponent: Santiago Ponzinibbio
This one is a bit of a stretch as Ponzinibbio hasn’t fought since November of 2018, but Muhammad did call him out post-fight and maybe Santiago is looking to come back sometime soon. Muhammad was quite impressive in his win against Lyman Good on Saturday but calling out a power puncher like Ponzinibbio after barely surviving Good’s power seems like quite the bold move. If Ponzinibbio is fully healed from his injuries and ready to go, a fight with Muhammad would certainly have a lot of eyes and would be a good return fight.
Loser: Lyman Good
Next Opponent: Alexey Kunchenko
Coming into the fight on Saturday Lyman Good was facing some personal issues with the passing of his father and the restrictions that COVID-19 has put on training. Good isn’t one to use excuses and will likely try to get back into the octagon to redeem himself after his close fight with Muhammad. Kunchenko will be a tough opponent but during Good’s up-and-down UFC career he’s been no stranger to a tough fight.
Jim Miller def. Roosevelt Roberts via first-round submission (armbar)
Winner: Jim Miller
Next Opponent: Who Knows? (Donald Cerrone)
Following his armbar win over Roosevelt Roberts early in their fight on Saturday, Jim Miller said he’d be willing to take fights at welterweight or even Middleweight. Miller has made it clear he has no intention of slowing down and with the possibility of him fighting at three different weight classes draws far too many matchups to pick just one. If he stays at lightweight he should face another promising prospect like Nasrat Haqparast, if he moves up to welterweight he should fight Matt Brown for a bit of a dream matchup if it was over five years ago, and if he does climb up to middleweight he should fight Maki Pitolo, who’s one of the smaller middleweights which would give Jim Miller the slightest chance to win. All this talk of jumping divisions could mean nothing and the UFC just books the fight that everyone wants which is a rematch of his fight with Donald Cerrone in 2014, and the fight would keep both locked in as tied for the most walks to the Octagon in UFC history.
Loser: Roosevelt Roberts
Next Opponent: Damir Hadzovic
After losing to Jim Miller it may be time for a bit of a step down in competition in Damir Hadzovic. Roberts is certainly still a talented fighter and still has a lot of potential and room for growth at only 26 years old. There’s no shame in losing to Jim Miller and it certainly doesn’t hurt his stock too much. Hadzovic is just about at Roberts level so this fight will allow either guy to prove themselves and right some wrongs they’ve made in their UFC careers so far.
Bobby Green def. Clay Guida via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner: Bobby Green
Next Opponent: James Vick (Mark O. Madsen)
In the post-fight press conference with the media, Green was informed of James Vick’s callout of his via Twitter and accepted the challenge. However, with Vick on a four-fight losing streak, this fight makes little to no sense at all. Vick needs to look further down the rankings and step down in competition but he’s never been one to back down from high-level fighters, to his demise. A fight that would make sense would be Bobby Green taking on the Olympic silver medalist wrestler Mark O. Madsen. Madsen beat Austin Hubbard earlier this year and with his skill set, he seems very tough to beat. This fight being booked depends on how active Madsen wants to be given he’s struggling with injuries and what kind of competition the UFC wants to see him face yet. It would be quite the compelling fight with a possibility of moving closer to the top 15 as opposed to the Vick fight where a win over Vick won’t do much for your ranking.
Loser: Clay Guida
Next Opponent: Lando Vannata
Guida had been calling out Nate Diaz before his fight on Saturday but it’s pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen even if he had beaten Bobby Green. Diaz is far too big of a star for Guida but a fight that has the possibility of being equally as entertaining as that fight would be one with Lando Vannata. Vannata is coming off of a win in March against Yancy Medeiros and is looking to fight again soon. The fan favourite Lando has regressed a bit and lost some of his flair and appeal but he can certainly still put together a strong performance. Guida and Vannata can put on quite the show on a main card somewhere this summer.
Tecia Torres def. Brianna Van Buren via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner: Tecia Torres
Next Opponent: Yan Xionan
On Saturday Tecia Torres looked phenomenal, she was fending off takedowns, getting back to her feet and constantly pressuring with effective and powerful strikes. When going up against someone her size she looks like a world-beater. Xionan is a tough prospect who’s looked amazing so far during her five-fight tenure in the UFC and would benefit greatly from a win over a perennial top 10 gatekeeper like Tecia Torres. And Torres could find herself back into the top 5 if she could manage to beat Xionan. The strawweight division has a lot of parity and the possible great matchups of ranked fighters are endless.
Loser: Brianna Van Buren
Next Opponent: Randa Markos
Van Buren has a skillset to cause a lot of problems for fighters in this strawweight division, it will be her size that will hold her back from reaching the elite but she has tons of potential and strong wrestling background. Markos would be a good matchup for her and give her another shot at cracking the top 15 with a win.
Marc-Andre Barriault def. Oskar Piechota via second-round TKO (punches)
Winner: Marc-Andre Barriault
Next Opponent: Saparbek Safarov
Barriault needed to show up and perform in this fight or he would’ve likely been cut given he came into the fight on a three-fight losing streak. But now after scoring a dominant knockout, he can go back to the drawing board and find his next opponent. Saparbek Safarov will be a tough test, but if Barriault wants to prove that he has improved and that he belongs in the UFC, he’ll need to take high-risk high reward fights. Another string of losses and he’ll surely be leaving the promotion.
Loser: Oskar Piechota
Next Opponent: Cut
This is the end of the road for Piechota after such an awful run in the UFC. Four losses in a row to unranked opponents and all of them by finish will result in a cut for any UFC fighter. Oskar certainly isn’t the worst fighter in the promotion but his recent fights have proven he just doesn’t belong.
Gillian Robertson def. Cortney Casey via third-round submission (rear naked choke)
Winner: Gillian Robertson
Next Opponent: Andrea Lee
Despite getting the finish, Gillian Robertson still has major flaws in her game but luckily for her, her strengths matched up perfectly with Casey’s weaknesses. Robertson wasn’t impressive enough to earn a rematch with Maycee Barber but she still should get a fight with a tough ranked opponent like Andrea Lee. Lee lost her last fight to Lauren Murphy in a close decision and should give Robertson a lot of issues. A fight with Lee would be Robertson’s chance to show some improvement.
Loser: Courtney Casey
Next Opponent: Antonina Shevchenko
There are massive holes in Courtney Casey’s game, her takedown defence and overall ground game was completely exposed on Saturday and if she wants to get back on track she’ll need to find a fight where she can stay on the feet and utilize her strengths with her striking. Shevchenko lost her last fight and fell out of the rankings so her and Casey find themselves in similar positions in the flyweight division.
Justin Jaynes def. Frank Camacho via first-round TKO (punches)
Winner: Justin Jaynes
Next Opponent: Mike Davis
On Saturday Justin Jaynes had just about as perfect of a UFC debut as someone can have, with a first-round knockout of a six-fight UFC veteran in Frank Camacho. Jaynes was a late replacement for Matt Frevola for Saturday’s fight and was quite impressive, showcasing his striking ability and knockout power. Next for him should be another impressive powerful fighter coming off of a win in Mike Davis. A fight between Jaynes and Davis would certainly be an exciting fight on a prelim card.
Loser: Frank Camacho
Next Opponent: John Makdessi
This loss against Jaynes makes two in a row and a UFC record now with two wins and five losses. Another loss and Camacho may be out of the UFC, 155 is a division chock full of great fighters and maybe he just doesn’t have what it takes to compete in it. The UFC should give him another chance to prove that he belongs against a strong opponent in John Makdessi.
Lauren Murphy def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Winner: Lauren Murphy
Next Opponent: Winner of Jennifer Maia vs Viviane Araujo
Lauren Murphy looked as impressive as ever in her decision win over Modafferi, she was the bigger and stronger fighter and used that to her advantage well. Although she’s been inconsistent early in her UFC career, she has found herself on a three-fight win streak against high-level competition. One more win and she could be a potential challenger for the champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Loser: Roxanne Modafferi
Next Opponent: Jessica Eye
Modafferi’s stock was at an all-time high after her massive upset victory over undefeated prospect Maycee Barber, but Saturday night it came crashing back down as she was thoroughly beaten by Lauren Murphy. Modafferi may be 37 years old but she has no intention of slowing down and is constantly looking to improve. Perennial top 5 contender Jessica Eye has found herself on a bit of a skid and with Roxy losing and still ranked in the top 10, it makes sense to have these two go at it.
Austin Hubbard def. Max Rohskopf via second-round TKO (doctor stoppage)
Winner: Austin Hubbard
Next Opponent: Joe Solecki
This fight was already scheduled for Saturday until Solecki had to pull out of the fight and Rohskopf stepped in. Hubbard looked great in the two rounds this fight lasted and a fight with the man he was already preparing to fight makes all the sense in the world. It’s unclear when exactly Solecki will be ready to fight again as he did not disclose the exact reason that forced him to withdraw from the fight but Hubbard took little to no damage on Saturday and should be able to get back in the Octagon soon.
Loser: Max Rohskopf
Next Opponent: Debuting Fighter
It’s optimistic to think that Rohskopf will be getting another shot in the UFC due to the nature of the stoppage. Rohskopf essentially called the fight himself in between rounds, calling many people to label him a quitter and Dana White himself did not like what he saw on Saturday from Rohskopf. Rohskopf did take the fight on five days’ notice and was nursing a few injuries when he stepped into the octagon, and while it would be understandable if he were not given another chance, he does have the skills and talent to be in there.