UFC’s Fight Night card Saturday was at best the third most important event happening in Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend, but at least fans weren’t really mad afterward? I don’t know, that must count for something. The last UFC event before the promotion takes a week off for American Thanksgiving saw a middleweight pick up his first-ever main event win, ranked strawweights throw down, an upset win from a short-notice promotional newcomer, along with a few other notable happenings.
What fights should follow UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig?
But here’s what’s so great: Whether notable things happen or not, fights have to be made! So let’s get to it. It’s never a quiet night at the office for this beat at Bloody Elbow. With that all being said: What fights are worth considering being made after UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig? Here are some ideas…
Brendan Allen didn’t struggle too much in his first-ever UFC main event appearance. He was able to close out quite a one-sided performance against Paul Craig in the third round, submitting him with a rear naked choke.
Unfortunately, I really don’t think this win does much for Allen. Craig was an inconsistent fighter at light heavyweight, and is now just two fights into his middleweight campaign. It’s hard to throw Allen too high up the middleweight rankings after a victory like that, even if it was a dominant one.
Because of this, I want Allen’s next matchup to be a name like him, who is up in the standings and has credibility. I have two ideas here. First would be that Allen could face Marvin Vettori. Vettori has lost some of his recent fights, although it has been against much more notable names in the weight class: Jared Cannonier, Robert Whittaker, Israel Adesanya. He has lots of big-fight experience and could take Allen into the championship rounds of a fight for the first time. If that’s too much of a leap, a fight against Roman Dolidze could be neat too, even though Dolidze is coming off a loss.
Craig is back to the drawing board. Who should the currently 13th-place middleweight face after suffering his first loss in the division? I think 15-place middleweight Anthony Hernandez would be a good matchup for him.
Hernandez has quietly been on a roll for years now. He has beat some of the lower ranked names in the division and strung together four victories since 2021. His last win, a May appearance, saw him stop Edmen Shahbazyan with strikes. This would be a big win for Hernandez if he wins — arguably the biggest of his career thus far. And while it wouldn’t be some earth-shattering win for Craig, it would be a solid bounce-back for him in the division.
The strawweight fight between Amanda Ribas and Luana Pinheiro deserved to be much higher on the card than it was. Ribas vs. Pinheiro was the perfect close matchup at strawweight. One talent was ninth, the other was 10th. It sure played out like a competitive battle too. While Pinheiro jumped out ahead early with sharp striking on Ribas, tides turned in later rounds and Ribas was able to earn a finish with just over a minute to go with the fight.
Since this was a clash between two ranked talents, we’ll go over both of them in this post. For Ribas, this was a fight where she showed her toughness on the feet. However, it certainly also revealed that striking is a weakness for her. I want to see her matched against more striking-based talents. A pair of names higher in the rankings that I would like to see her face are Jessica Andrade or Amanda Lemos.
They are both big step-up names for Ribas, considering Andrade just beat eighth-ranked Mackenzie Dern, and Lemos just lost to current champ Zhang Weili. However, to avoid rematches you have to jump up many places to find Ribas a match. She has faced Dern, Marina Rodriguez, and Virna Jandiroba, meaning that any challenge for her would come against a top five or higher name. Anyway, it seems like either Lemos or Andrade — two names that have some strong fists in the cage — would be fun matchups to test Ribas.
Saturday was certainly not an awful performance from Pinheiro. While she lost and was finished, she was tough and a challenge for Ribas. Because of this, I want to give her a name still within the top 15 at strawweight, instead of looking lower.
After suffering her first UFC loss, I want Pinheiro to meet someone else who is coming off a loss. What about Tabatha Ricci, who lost just last week to Loopy Godinez at UFC 295? Ricci, who is more of a grappler than striker, had a four-fight winning streak broken this month. This wouldn’t be an easy fight for Pinheiro, but any fight in the rankings will likely be tough for her. A matchup like this could show if she’s a fighter that can hang with that ranked group in the division.
Michael Morales improved his record to an impressive 16 wins on Saturday’s main card, beating veteran Jake Matthews via unanimous decision. Morales decent against an experienced name this weekend. He’s not ranked but I believe he’s ready to face a name that could throw him onto that list. What if Morales was placed up against 12th-place middleweight Kevin Holland?
Holland is, like Matthews, a veteran in the UFC. He is not the most consistent, having lost three of his last five fights. But his wins are against names above the current tier of Morales, and losses are to names much higher in status in the division. What do you think about this?
To read the rest of UFC 295’s Fights to Make head on over to Substack. We discuss Chase Hooper, Payton Talbott, Myktybek Orolbai, and Joanderson Brito. Plus, signing up gives you access to the rest of Bloody Elbow’s premium writing.
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