Who should the UFC Vegas 38 losers on the main card fight next? In a lackluster main event, Thiago Santos was able to land the more damaging strikes on Johnny Walker, en route to a unanimous decision win. Here are my thoughts on what the future may hold for the four fighters who lost on the main card on Saturday.
Stepping in to make his UFC debut for Leonardo Santos on two weeks’ notice, Mike Breeden was faced with the incredible difficulty of facing Alexander Hernandez. Hernandez made quick work of the newcomer, knocking Breeden out with a flurry of punches, 80 seconds into the fight. However, all was not a loss for Breeden, who should be able to get a full camp for his second UFC fight.
One potential matchup for Breeden is Rong Zhu. Both Zhu and Breeden have a win over Brandon Jenkins, and this matchup would help fans get a gauge on Breeden’s skill level. However, the matchup that makes the most sense for Breeden is Dakota Bush. Bush, like Breeden, stepped in on short notice earlier in the year and lost in his debut. Both guys like to exchange punches, and that fight would be fun to watch.
After ten UFC fights at 205, Misha Cirkunov made the cut to Middleweight but lost a split decision to Krzysztof Jotko on Saturday. Cirkunov had his moments and over four minutes of control time, but ultimately, Jotko did more damage in this bout. Cirkunov will lose the ranking he had next to name with the weight change, and it will be interesting to see if he stays at 185.
One potential matchup for Cirkunov is Ian Heinisch. Heinisch came into 2021 with a ranking next to his name but has since fallen off after back-to-back losses. However, the name that makes the most sense for Cirkunov is Punahele Soriano. Soriano is a top prospect at 185, but suffered his first professional loss against Brendan Allen in July. In a grappler vs. striker matchup, Cirkunov and Soriano would bring the heat.
Both Niko Price and Alex Oliveira have fan-friendly styles, but this fight largely took place on the ground. After Price dominated round one and Cowboy dominated round two, it came down to round three, where Price was able to land more damage. While Oliveira is now further from getting back to the top 15, he should get at least one more fight in the UFC, despite now being on a three-fight losing streak.
One potential matchup for Oliveira is Miguel Baeza. Baeza, like Oliveira, is exceptionally entertaining and coming off of a Fight of the Year contender against Santiago Ponzinibbio that he lost. However, the fight that makes the most sense for Oliveira is Mike Perry. Perry, love him or hate him, is well-known for all of his wild antics. Like Oliveira, Perry is a veteran of the Welterweight division and is now on a losing streak. A bout between Cowboy and Platinum has Fight of the Night written all over.
Kevin Holland v Kyle Daukaus
The co-main event had an unfortunate ending on Saturday as an accidental head-butt led to a no-contest as Holland was severely injured. Personally, I would have given the win to Daukaus. Holland made a bit of recovery, and Daukaus later sunk in a rear-naked choke, causing Holland to tap. However, the no-contest is far from a ridiculous decision.
There’s no need for further matchmaking here. Holland and Daukaus got off to a great start prior to that head-butt, and no one wants to end a fight with a no contest. As soon as they can get cleared, run this fight back, hopefully before the end of 2021.
With their explosive power and wild striking, a fight between Johnny Walker and Thiago Santos should have produced fireworks. However, Saturday was anything but a great fight. Both guys played it extremely conservatively as neither one wanted to be the one to enter the fire and risk getting hurt. Ultimately, Santos was able to accumulate more damage against Walker as he won a unanimous decision by a score of 48-47 across the board.
Walker was once a top prospect in the entire UFC, but his hype train is the lowest it has been as he’s now 1-3 in his last four. The fight that makes the most sense for Walker is Paul Craig. Craig pulled off an upset in June against rising prospect Jamahal Hill by pulling guard to set up an armbar. Craig was set for the biggest fight of his career against Alexander Gustaffson in September, but the Sweden-native pulled from the bout, leaving Craig without a fight. In a striker vs. jiu-jitsu specialist fight, Johnny Walker and Paul Craig would be fun to watch.
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