This weekend’s UFC Fight Night card was easily one of the strongest this year. It included many notable talents and a main event between two relevant and high-ranked names in the crowded lightweight division.
After an evening that featured many quick finishes, an egregiously late stoppage, two slam stoppages (what?), and numerous returns, it’s time to look ahead. We have fights to make, folks. Here are some ideas for the most notable names coming out of UFC Austin.
Fights to make after UFC Austin
There aren’t many more options for Arman Tsarukyan, and I mean that in a good way. After his quick win over Beneil Dariush this weekend, Tsarukyan is likely set to become a top-five lightweight, putting him in the upper echelon of the division.
After beating fourth-ranked Beneil Dariush, Arman Tsarukyan said he was ready for a fight against UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev. There’s some history between them that could make for an interesting storyline, as they shared the cage for a 2019 matchup that Makhachev prevailed in. However, something tells me that’s not what will happen next. I personally believe that the option for Makhachev’s rematch against Charles Oliveira — which was supposed to happen in October but was cancelled due to an injury on Oliveira’s behalf — might get rebooked.
I’m not against Tsarukyan facing Makhachev hypothetically. But for the sake of discussion, let’s just assume that’s not what will happen. In that case, I think third-ranked Justin Gaethje is the name who should face Tsarukyan. Gaethje is coming off a great year, beating Rafael Fiziev and Dustin Poirier in just five months time. While Gaethje has lost two title shots since 2020, he would have a solid case if he can beat Tsarukyuan. And Tsarukyan would likely be next in line for a shot if he could beat Gaethje. So, this might be the way to go if the title is tied up.
2023 was not kind to Beneil Dariush. The lightweight contender took two losses, both via first-round finish. In June, Charles Oliveira stopped him at UFC 289. And this weekend, Tsarukyan knocked him out. It’s going to take a lot for him to return to the position he was in at the start of this year, when he had eight consecutive wins.
Dariush should go lower in the rankings to face someone who isn’t in that title conversation currently. He should ideally go lower than eighth, where Tsarukyan was heading into this weekend. He could maybe go up against 14th-place Renato Moicano, if that works. Moicano has been out of the cage for a year, but last appeared at UFC 281 for a win over Brad Riddell. Before then, he had a loss to Rafael dos Anjos. He’s a dangerous and strong talent, but not one that Dariush can’t handle, I imagine.
Jalin Turner’s win featured an incredibly late stoppage by referee Kerry Hatley, taking a lot of the spotlight away from the performance itself. But the truth is, it was a great showing by a name who quite honestly needed a big win.
Turner snapped a two-fight skid with his first-round stoppage over Bobby Green. He did lose twice earlier this year, although it was against a pair of tough names at lightweight (Dan Hooker and Mateusz Gamrot).
I think it would be fun to put Turner against a rising talent, providing the opportunity for either Turner to gain another win or for that prospect to pick up a massive victory. I’m going to turn to Mateusz Rebecki, a three-fight UFC vet that has won all of his appearances in the promotion thus far.
Rebecki kicked off his UFC run with the rookie year people dream about having: fitting three fights in and winning all of them. This included finishes against Loik Radzhabov and Roosevelt Roberts. Now I want to see what he can do against Turner, who just put away a veteran early (early as in the length of the fight, and not the stoppage). What do you think about this matchup?
Deiveson Figueiredo is a two-time UFC Flyweight Champion, one-half of the longest in-cage rivalry in UFC history, and he’s now on a new campaign at bantamweight. Figgy’s quest towards gold at 135-pounds kicked off this weekend with a solid win over Rob Font, clearing all three scorecards after a stand-up performance.
Figueiredo getting Font for his first bantamweight fight is a testament to the level of skill that UFC see him at. Font is ranked eighth in the division and has faced many tough names recently. After such a strong showing, it would only make sense to give Figueiredo another high-up name that can throw him into the title conversation. Not to sound like we need to rush things, but he’s no spring chicken at 35 years old and numerous years of UFC title fights now in his past. And even if he doesn’t have the mileage, you could argue he deserves to jump ahead of some due to his past success.
Figueiredo getting fourth-rankled Cory Sandhagen next would be great, and making this bout in a five-round setting would be ideal. Sandhagen is coming off a trio of stellar wins: Song Yadong in 2022, Marlon Vera in March, and Font in August. Because of how crammed bantamweight is, he’s not next in line for a title shot. But it would certainly help him a lot if he could beat a name like Figueiredo, who has shown his technical skills for years at flyweight. And for Figueiredo, to stop Sandhagen’s momentum and launch into the top five at 135 pounds would be ideal.
Saturday was a loss for Rob Font, but he shouldn’t feel so down. Deiveson Figueiredo is a highly respectable name to go the distance with. But what should he do now?
Font took a loss this weekend, but in a performance that wasn’t awful from him and was against a respectable name. So, I want to give him another challenge, except lower in the rankings. What about a booking against Jonathan Martinez?
You might see that Martinez is riding a five-fight winning streak and think: “Hmm, should we really give that to Font after a loss?” Yes! Martinez has beat solid names, but nothing wild. He beat Adrian Yanez in October — who lost to Font before — which tells me this is around the skill level of Font to get after that defeat.
Sean Brady made things easy for us on Saturday night. After a great performance over Kelvin Gastelum that culminated with a third-round kimura submission, he set his sights on undefeated welterweight contender Ian Machado Garry.
This is a great matchup to make, but it comes with a caveat. Machado Garry is currently booked to face Vicente Luque in a couple of weeks at UFC 296. So, this seems like the perfect matchup to say whoever wins later this month would be great for Brady to face.
If Machado Garry wins, it’s a battle between two rising and fresh names in the division. Machado Garry has an undefeated record of 13 wins currently, with six in the UFC. He’s ranked 10th in the division, just one spot below Brady. He also carries a lot of clout, being a name that the promotion often gives high visibility.
And if Luque wins, also great. He’s a 20-fight UFC vet that has crushed the dreams of many at welterweight before. His last appearance was a five-round win over Rafael dos Anjos. What if he put a main event test to Brady?
Welcome back to bantamweight, Miesha Tate. After a pit stop at flyweight and a pair of unsuccessful performances in recent years, the former champ returned to her winning ways with a rear naked choke against Julia Avila in Saturday’s feature prelim. So, after her 20th win as a pro, who should Tate go up against next?
Well, at women’s bantamweight there always isn’t a ton of options. What makes things worse, there’s a lot of names high-up on the standings that are all booked up right now. So, I actually don’t have a name for her currently. Instead, I have an idea that will eventually line her up with someone.
Norma Dumont is currently on a roll, having picked up three wins since 2022. And before her 2022 loss to Macy Chiasson, she had three other wins. She’s currently booked to face Yana Santos early next year. Considering that Santos has lost three consecutive fights since 2021, it seems likely that Dumont will emerge victorious. However, just to hedge here a little, we’re going to say whoever wins this upcoming booking should be Tate’s next opponent. It’s not throwing Tate right back into the top of the division, but it’s also not going to force her to dwell against struggling or lesser known names.
If you’re reading this article, you have likely already seen that this week’s UFC card had two slam finishes. Wild, right? But the absurdity of that fact distracted people from another shocking thing around the same part of the night: cold, hard, honesty. After his win, Drakkar Klose was asked a typical post-fight question: who do you want next? Klose said: “The easiest guy in the UFC.”
You don’t always get what you want. While I respect that Klose wants the easiest opponent possible (and I’m not going to name names about who that would be, let’s be nice!), we don’t do that around here. Matter fact, I’m going to actually give you a great opponent instead!
Since his last loss, an early 2020 defeat to Beneil Dariush, Klose has been given matchups that are just okay. He beat Brandon Jenkins, who has already exited the UFC roster. Then came Rafa Garcia, who is decent (to date has four wins and three losses in the UFC). And today he beat Solecki, who was definitely a step up but not a big one.
Last month, Benoit Saint-Denis picked up his fourth consecutive finish win within 14 month’s time. He’s been on a roll for the past little while and has beat some solid names (Thiago Moises, Matt Frevola). This would not only be a great matchup for Klose, but also Saint-Denis. A win/win! They’re also both exciting fighters. So let’s do that.
On Saturday night, Rodolfo Bellato showed that he’s an exciting fighter. In a comeback win, Bellato put away Ihor Potieria in the second round with strikes to win his UFC debut. Bellato came into the promotion with a decent rap sheet: he has a finish win on “Dana White’s Contender Series,” four wins in notable regional promotion LFA (including a five-round performance for them earlier this year!), and pro fights since 2017.
Now that he has a UFC win, let’s figure out what’s next. For his next fight, I want Bellato to get someone who isn’t a super big step-up — let’s remember, he had a comeback here and not necessarily a dominant win — but I also don’t want to give him another person coming off a loss. What if we put him up against another action-friendly fighter, like Michal Oleksiejczuk?
Oleksiejczuk has fought on the UFC roster since 2017, but has struggled with consistency. He currently boasts a promotional record of seven wins and four losses. He returned to the win column in August, stopping Chidi Njokuani in the first round. He has a longer track record and is coming off a win — that’s a step up compared to Potieria, but I think a fair one for Bellato.
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