UFC Fight Night 92 (UFC: Salt Lake City) took place Saturday night and it’s safe to say the card had its ups and downs. The early prelims set the bar high, but the main card failed to follow through the hype until the the two feature fights at the end. Overall UFC: Salt Lake City was a decent card and these are the matches I would like to see now that the smoke has cleared.
Yari Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens
While it wasn’t Yari Rodriguez’ greatest performance he didn’t fail to impress with his multitude of spinning techniques and combinations you would never see coming. The split decision win over Alex Caceres makes Rodriguez 5-0 in the UFC and now after his first Main Event slot it is time for a step up in competition, enter Jeremy Stephens. While Stephens is going to be a big step up for the young Mexican prospect it will also be just the style of fight he loves to fight in and Jeremy Stephens, who is 2-3 in his last 5, just picked up a big win over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. Not only does this fight make a lot of sense it also would be a treat for the fans. A forward moving power puncher who’s always looking to finish against and quick unorthodox striker who’s willing to get in the face of his opponents and mix it up.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Frankie Edgar
Dennis Bermudez had a dominant performance over Rony Jason as he rained down elbows into the head of his opponent from top position. Despite Jason nearly pulling off a comeback submission in the third and final round Bermudez was very impressive with his striking and relentless ground and pound. Now “The Menace” is riding high on a 2-fight win streak and his next opponent should be Frankie Edgar, who he called out post fight. Edgar is fresh off of his interim title loss to Jose Aldo and while Max Holloway is also a great option for his next fight as well, I believe Holloway is next in line for a title shot and Bermudez vs Edgar makes sense.
Thales Leites vs. Rashad Evans
Former UFC middleweight title challenger Thales Leites returned to the UFC successfully defeating his first 5 opponents in impressive fashion before losing to Michael Bisping and Gegard Mousasi. Saturday night Leites bounced back from those losses with a dominant performance over Chris Camozzi, beating him by submission in the third round. His next fight should be against former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans who announced his drop to the middleweight division after a KO loss to Glover Teixeira. This will not only be a solid first test for Evans’ debut in the division but it also gives Leites a chance against a big name in the sport.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Nordine Taleb
Santiago Ponzinibbio pulled out a solid win over Zak Cummings Saturday night putting the American Top Team product on a three-fight win streak and making him 5-2 inside the octagon. The Brazilian power puncher’s impressive UFC run has flown under the radar but with a wealth of potential he can definitely make a run in this welterweight division. His next fight should be against fellow up and comer Nordine Taleb, who is 4-1 in the UFC and more recently picked up a impressive knockout victory over Erick Silva at UFC 196.
Trevor Smith vs. Anthony Smith
Fans might not have liked it, and it wasn’t pretty, but Trevor Smith got the job done Saturday at UFC: Salt Lake City. The unanimous decision over Joe Gigliotti puts Smith on a two-fight win streak obviously setting up the battle of the Smiths between Trevor Smith and Anthony Smith. Anthony Smith is currently 1-1 inside the octagon after losing to Cezar Ferreira, which snapped his eight-fight win streak. Now the two MMA vets should step in the cage against each other and figure out who’s the better middleweight Smith once and for all.
Maryna Moroz vs. Carla Esparza
Strawweight contender Maryna Moroz Motor is now 3-1 in the UFC after winning a rather lackluster decision over UFC newcomer Danielle Taylor. While Moroz didn’t look at her best Saturday she successfully impressed the MMA world with her debut submission win over Joanne Calderwood and her unanimous decision victory over Cristina Stanciu. Now on a two-fight win streak her next opponent should be first ever UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza who recently bounced back from her TKO title loss to Joanna Jędrzejczyk with a unanimous decision over Juliana Lima. This fight would be a big fight for Moroz as she enters title contention and Esparza as she looks to solidify her spot near the top of the division.
Court McGee vs. Li Jingliang
The Ultimate Fighter 11 winner Court McGee picked up a much needed win at UFC Fight Night 92 as he grabbed a unanimous decision win over Dominique Steele avoiding a two-fight skid with the victory. His next fight should be with Chinese welterweight prospect Li Jingliang. Both men are now 2-2 in their last four fights, both are well rounded fighters, and both could benefit greatly from another impressive win.
Marcin Tybura vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
In a division that needs more great prospects Polish heavyweight Marcin Tybura certainly has the ability to fit that bill. “Tybur” impressed greatly Saturday night with a headkick knockout victory over Viktor Pešta making him 1-1 in the UFC. His next fight should be against Russian heavyweight veteran Oleksiy Oliynyk who is 2-1 since entering the UFC and just recently suffered a surprising defeat to Daniel Omielańczuk that snapped Oliynyk’s impressive 11-fight win streak. A win here could launch Tybura right in the mix with other prospects while a win for Oliynyk puts him back on track towards a big fight
David Teymur vs. Sage Northcutt
After the vicious display of striking David Teymur used to defeat Jason Novelli it’s hard to imagine the UFC wanting to throw Sage Northcutt at him but after calling Northcutt out this could be a perfect opportunity for the UFC to show they aren’t protecting the young American prospect. They can put the fight as a co-main event on a free card and promote it as two of the best prospects in the lightweight division. Should Northcutt pull off the win they have their young star looking better than ever and should Teymur win we have a new top prospect at 155. A win-win situation for the UFC.
Teruto Ishihara vs. Gray Maynard
It’s hard not to like featherweight Japanese star Teruto Ishihara. He knocks out his opponent, gets away with saying bitches on FOX, and says happy birthday to his mother all in one night. The win makes “Yashabo” 3-0-1 in his last 4 fights and he should now face off with former UFC lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard. Maynard made a successful featherweight debut as he picked up a unanimous decision win over Fernando Bruno that snapped a four-fight losing streak for the former lightweight contender. This fight provides Ishihara with a big name he has earned with his performances and Maynard with another good challenge to prove he can be a contender again.
Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi
Despite an early scare Cub Swanson was able to pull off a unanimous decision win over top ranked Tatsuya Kawajiri in a fun fight between two of the best featherweights in the division putting Swanson on a two-fight win streak. Swanson should now take on “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi who called out the winner of Saturday’s fight after his first round knockout of Thiago Tavares extending his win streak to 13 and making him 3-0 inside the octagon. Choi has been looking for a ranked fight since he entered the UFC and now is the time as fellow striker Cub Swanson awaits him.
Rony Jason vs. Thiago Tavares
After a 3-0 start to his UFC career Rony Jason has gone 1-3 with his loss to Dennis Bermudez at UFC: Salt Lake City. While Jason didn’t look great against Bermudez he is clearly one of the toughest and most exciting fighters in the division. Jason’s next fight should be against fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist Thiago Tavares who is 2-2 since moving down to featherweight after losing to Doo Ho Choi in his last outing.
Chris Camozzi vs. Elias Theodorou
UFC middleweight mainstay Chris Camozzi has never turned down a tough fight and he’s been in there with plenty of tough challenges. That didn’t change when he faced former title challenger Thales Leites and the submission loss snapped his three-fight winning streak sending him back to the drawing board. His next fight should be with Canadian middleweight up and comer Elias Theodorou who started his career 11-0 with three UFC victories before a unanimous decision loss to Thiago Santos. Theodorou bounced back with a decision win over Sam Alvey making him 4-1 in the UFC.
Zak Cummings vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Ground specialist Zak Cummings was unable to impose his game against the Brazilian up and comer Santiago Ponzinibbio and the loss 4-2 since his move to the welterweight division. Cummings should now face Siyar Bahadurzada who snapped a two-fight skid with a submission win over Brandon Thatch at UFC 196. This fight would be in interesting matchup essential for one of these men to get back on track in the welterweight division.
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Alex Caceres
Both Tatsuya Kawajiri and Alex Caceres didn’t come out on the winning side of their fights Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, but both performed well in fights they were expected to lose. Now the two featherweights should face each other in the cage as “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri puts his 3-3 UFC record up against “Bruce Leeroy” Alex Caceres’ 7-7 (1) UFC record. The style of this fight will also be interesting to see how Caceres’ unorthodox striking matches up with the pressure wrestling of Tatsuya Kawajiri.
UFC: Salt Lake City provided some fun fights and one of the most interesting main event fights I’ve ever seen. Now we look on to UFC 202 which features a massive rematch between UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor and long time UFC lightweight Nate Diaz. The card also features a number one contender fight between power punchers Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Glover Teixeira.