Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged UFC Fight Night 146 last Saturday night (March 9, 2019) inside INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas, which saw Junior dos Santos knockout Derrick Lewis in the main event (see it again here). In the co-headlining act, Elizeu Zeleski dos Santos submitted Curtis Millender to score his seventh straight win (highlights).
Winner: Junior dos Santos
Who He Should Face Next: Francis Ngannou
When Daniel Cormier takes part in his farewell title fight (and against who) is still a mystery, so the rest of the contenders have to stay busy until their number is called. Junior has now won three in a row so he is in prime position to slide into a title fight. But, since he wants to be active, he will probably fight once more before he gets his chance to win UFC gold again.
He and Ngannou were set to tango once upon a time before United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) stepped in. After Francis knocked out Cain Velasquez (cleanly), it was his second straight finish in less than a minute, reminding everyone just how heavy his hands can be. He and Junior are two of the best strikers in the division, so the fight should be fireworks. And you know“The Predator” was watching dos Santos do work against “Black Beast.”
Winner: Elizeu Zeleski dos Santos
Who He Should Face Next: Demian Maia
If these panelists who decided who gets ranked where weren’t so hung up on names, Elizeu would be higher than No. 14. All the man has done is put in work since entering the Octagon back in 2015. He should be undefeated, as I had him beating Nicolas Dalby in his debut.
But after reeling off seven straight wins, dos Santos is here to stay and deserves someone like Maia, a big name that can help catapult him to the next level. Elizeu stated he wants a quick turnaround and wouldn't mind competing at UFC 237 on May 11. Demian made quick work of Lyman Good last month, so he should be good to go in a couple of months. Convincing the jiu-jitsu expert to face a rising contender like dos Santos instead of an established and big-name veteran, though, will be a tough task.
Winner: Niko Price
Who He Should Face Next: Mike Perry
Niko has won three of his last four inside the Octagon, with his latest win coming over Tim Means in a back-and-forth brawl that resulted in Means suffering a nasty ankle break. For Niko, taking on a “name” opponent has escaped him since first stepping foot in UFC. While Perry hasn’t had the best run inside the eight-sided cage over the last few years, he carries with him a following and an intrigue that quickly makes people forget he’s 1-3 in his last few fights. Niko can gain some traction in the division if he can hand “Platinum” his second straight loss.
Winner: Blagoy Ivanov
Who He Should Face Next: Junior Albini
Blagoy picked up his first UFC win after a close fight agaisnt Ben Rothwell in Wichita. Still, he needs a lot of work before he starts facing the higher-ranked big men inside the Octagon. I like fight against Albini, who is winless in his last three outings. While the pairing may sound odd, most of the men sitting in front of Blagoy in the rankings are already booked, and giving him someone in the top 10 simply doesn’t make sense at the moment.
Winner: Beneil Dariush
Who He Should Fight Next: Nik Lentz
Beneil picked up his second straight win -- as well as a cool $50,000 bonus — after submitting Drew Dober in Wichita last Saturday night. Lentz, meanwhile, is also riding a two-fight win streak and was last seen defeating Scott Holtzman at UFC on ESPN last month. Both men should be gearing up for a return around the same time, so a matchup between these two unranked contenders seems like a good pairing. A win for either man gives him a big boost to finally get some love from the voters.
Winner: Omari Akhemodv
Who He Should Face Next: Antonio Carlos Junior
Aside from his draw with Marti Vettori, Omari has won three straight including his dominant win over Tim Boetsch. “Wolverine” has the talent to make some noise in the division, but in today’s game, you need more than just wins to get noticed. That means someone like Omari -- who doesn’t necessarily often get the spotlight to spit fire — has to make it up in his performances and would need a lot more wins than someone like Mike Perry to get on people’s radar. A win over Antonio who has won five in a row, would help him get to the bigger fights, higher pay and a brighter spotlight.
For complete UFC: “Wichita” results and coverage click here.