Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put a bow on its latest event last night (Sat., June 1, 2019) after UFC Fight Night 153 blew the roof off Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. In the headlining act, Anthony Smith returned with a vengeance following his loss to Jon Jones to submit Alexander Gustafsson (recap), prompting “The Mauler’s” retirement. In the co-headlining act, Aleksandar Rakic knocked out Jimi Manuwa in just 47 second of the opening round to score his fourth straight win inside the Octagon (highlights).
Winner: Anthony Smith
Who He Should Face Next: Jan Blachowicz Luke Rockhold winner
The Light Heavyweight division will lose two big players this year, as Alexander Gustafsson is now retired following his loss to “Lionheart,” and Daniel Cormier will follow suit after he fights Stipe Miocic in a rematch at UFC 241. That means Smith will likely take the No. 1 spot and Dominick Reyes will occupy No. 2. After Jon Jones and Santos take care of business at UFC 239, Reyes should be the next man up for a shot at the title if he doesn’t get matched up against Corey Anderson. It’s a fight that should have been made long ago.
Blachowicz, ranked No. 6, is set to welcome Luke Rockhold to the 205-pound division at UFC 239, so I’d like to see Smith face the winner of that fight. He has yet to take on Jan, which would be a fresh matchup, and he and Luke already have some odd rivalry going for whatever reason. Either one would be a good fight for Smith to see if he deserves another crack at the title.
Winner: Aleksandar Rakic
Who He Should Face Next: Nikita Krylov
Rakic may earn a spot in the top 15 soon, and if he doesn’t after his spectacular knockout over Jimi Manuwa, perhaps a good showing against Krylov – who is holding down the No. 15 spot at the moment – could be what puts him over the top. Krylov is coming off a win over Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 236, so he could be up for another fight soon, as should Rakic since he barely broke a sweat against “Poster Boy.” Both men like to bang, so this could be a show stealer.
Winner: Makwan Amirkhani
Who He Should Face Next: Miles Jury
After suffering the first setback of his Octagon career in 2017, Makwan has bounced back nicely with two straight wins, his most recent one coming over Chris Fishgold in Stockholm, which came by way of anaconda choke. Up next, I’d like to see Amirkhani take on Miles Jury.
Both men are far from the top 15 at the moment, so a fight between the two of them won’t have a big impact on the rankings. That said, they each are trying to get in, especially Jury, who is the owner of two straight defeats. If he can stop Makwan’s momentum, it could be just what Miles needs to give his combat career a much-needed boost.
Winner: Christos Giagos
Who He Should Face Next: Lando Vannatta
After failing to impress in his UFC debut, Christos has won two straight including his dominant win over Damir Hadzovic in Sweden. Lightweight is a stacked division, so Christos – and any other up-and-comer looking to break in to the top 15 – have their work cut out.
I’d like to see Giagos face Vannatta next. “Groovy” has had a rather rocky start to his UFC career. After nearly upsetting Tony Ferguson in his debut, he hasn’t really found a groove. He has an odd record of 2-3-2, so he isn’t exactly a top contender who is going to go around turning down fights against relative newcomers, as he recently defeated Marcos Rosa Mariano – a UFC rookie — at UFC 234.
Winner: Daniel Teymur
Who He Should Fight Next: Frank Camacho
Teymur snapped his three-fight losing streak by spoiling Sung Bin Jo’s UFC debut after dominating for 15 minutes. With some newfound confidence in his back pocket, Teymur vs Camacho seems like a logical matchup. Frank broke his two-fight losing streak – also in Sweden – by knocking out Nick Hein in round number two. With both men back in the win column after bad skids, booking them together makes sense seeing as how they’re in a similar bout -- win-loss wise -- and can both mount comebacks around the same time. A win for either man will be a big boost for their goals of moving up the pecking order in a very stacked 155-pound weight class.
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