UFC’s first event in Raleigh, North Carolina has come to a close and it was an event to remember. The UFC’s last event in the Tar Heel State was on January 27th, 2018 and it was headlined by Jacare Souza and Derek Brunson. The UFC reported a gate of $1,303,320 and an attendance of 14,533. Now, with the numbers out of the way, let’s talk about the fights.
Jamahal Hill Gets a Unanimous Decision Win Over Stošić
Dana White’s Contender Series Winner and UFC Debutant Jamahal Hill got a unanimous decision win over Darko Stošić. So who’s next for the unbeaten Hill? The first person to come to mind is Kennedy Nzechukwu. Like Hill, Nzechukwu is also a winner of Dana White’s Contender Series and currently stands 7-1-0 (1-1 in the UFC) with his last fight being a submission loss from Scotsman Paul Craig.
Craig also comes to mind but is currently scheduled to fight against Ryan Spann during Fight Night London this March, Maybe Hill could fill the spot if either Craig or Spann drop from the fight due to injury. As for Stošić, he currently stands 1-3 in the UFC and faces the possibility of being cut, which is disappointing for any fighter but maybe let him hone his skills and gain more experience before giving him another shot in the UFC.
‘Overkill’ Hill Gets a TKO Finish Over Native Cifers
Amanda ‘Overkill’ Hill finished Hannah Cifers via elbows and punches to secure the TKO finish late in the second round over the North Carolina native, which currently puts Hill on a two-fight win streak. So who’s next for ‘Overkill’? When looking at the strawweight rankings, Hill has choices. The first that comes to mind for me is Cynthia Cavillo.
She currently stands 8-1-1 (5-1-1 in the UFC), with her last fight resulting in a Draw with Marina Rodriguez. However, Cavillo has a habit of missing weight recently. Out of 3 recent fights, she has missed weight in 2 of those fights. As for Hannah Cifers, this loss puts a stop to her 2 fight win-streak, but she shows some promise. Originally, Cifers was supposed to face Brianna Van Buren but Van Buren dropped out of the fight due to reasons unknown. That means that there’s still a possibility of Cifers and Van Buren running it back once Van Buren is able to compete.
Perez Submits Espinosa Early in the First
California native Alex Perez put doubts and Jordan Espinosa to sleep via arm-triangle choke to leave his stamp in the flyweight rankings. Perez also made my job easier, by calling out exactly who he wants, and that man is Askar Askarov. Askarov is currently 11-0-1 (1-0-1 in the UFC) with his last win coming via decision over #10 ranked Tim Elliot. As for Espinosa, my first thought was Matt Schnell. However, Schnell already beat Espinosa last August, which then led to Tim Elliot being chosen in my head. Both Elliot and Espinosa are on a two-fight skid and Elliot fought last week on the McGregor v. Cowboy card so they can rest up at around the same time and fight later this year.
Michael Chiesa Upsets Rafael dos Anjos
Michael Chiesa pulled a unanimous decision upset win over Rafael dos Anjos to extend his winning streak to 3 fights, after his move to welterweight a year ago. Chiesa made my life easy, by taking out the guessing games by calling out exactly who he wants next by saying little words in his post-fight speech. “Colby Covington, I’ll see you in July”, which is a steep order to fill, considering that Covington is possibly still healing from a fractured jaw given to him by Kamaru Usman last December. With Colby currently sidelined and possibly not wanting to fight Chiesa due to other fighters, who else can Chiesa fight?
The first fighter that comes to mind is the current holder of the N.M.F title, Steven ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Thompson vs. Chiesa makes for an interesting fight due to their styles. Thompson being the striker with Chiesa being the grappler. As for Dos Anjos, he’s in a tough spot. 155 is a tough cut for him and he struggles against bigger wrestlers at 170. This recent loss puts him on a two-fight skid, so what can he do? A chance at 155 could work, but the cut is hell for the 35-year-old veteran. However, he’s 1-4 out of his last 5 at welterweight. If there was a weight class at 165, then maybe he could have success there. Unfortunately, there isn’t, so perhaps a fight against Al Iaquinta or even his fellow countryman Edson Barbosa can end his skid.
Blaydes Knocks Out Dos Santos in the Second Round
The main event between Curtis Blaydes and Junior Dos Santos ended with Curtis Blaydes taking the victory via TKO over the Brazilian heavyweight, but not the way many expected, including me. Blaydes finished Dos Santos early in the 2nd via TKO with a combination of knees and punches, surprising many in the MMA community, So what’s next for Blaydes? Blaydes called for a title shot in his post-fight speech, however, with the idea of Miocic vs. Cormier 3 still in the air, it’s highly doubtful. Perhaps he could fight for a contender’s spot?
Well here’s the thing, Francis Ngannou stands between Blaydes and a shot at the title, and Ngannou is scheduled to fight Jairzinho Rozenstruik in March in Columbus. Everyone close to him in the ranking has either lost to him or either has a fight already booked, except for one man, Alexander Volkov.
Personally, I think Volkov is a good challenge for Blaydes. Like Dos Santos, Volkov has a high takedown defense rate at 75% and his fighting style makes for a good match up stylistically, with the old “Grappler vs. Striker” stereotype. If he can get through Volkov and Ngannou, and gets through Rozenstruik, then they’ll have to meet for the 3rd time for a possible #1 contender’s spot. As for Dos Santos, I would love to see him fight Augusto Sakai. Sakai is currently on a 4 fight streak and is also known for his power, like his fellow countryman, Junior Dos Santos.
The next time we will see the Octagon is on February 8th in Houston, Texas. Lightweight Champ and Pound for Pound Great Jon ‘Bones’ Jones looks to defend his title against the unbeaten Dominick Reyes.
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