Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back at it again last night (Sat., Jan. 25, 2020) as UFC Fight Night 166 went down from inside PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the headlining act, Curtis Blaydes defeated Junior dos Santos via technical knockout in the second round to inch himself closer to a shot at the division strap (watch highlights). In the co-headlining act, Michael Chiesa scored a unanimous decision win over Rafael dos Anjos to give him his third straight win in the highly-crowded Welterweight division.
Winner: Curtis Blaydes
Who He Should Fight Next: Title Shot
There’s good news, bad news and then more bad news for Blaydes. The good news is that he should be in line for a championship fight. The bad news? Francis Ngannou is currently ahead of him because he has a recent knockout win over him. That said, Ngannou has a tough fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruick ahead of him in a few months, so if “The Predator” comes up short, Blaydes should take the No. 1 contender spot. Now, for more bad news: Stipe Miocic is nowhere near close to returning, which means his trilogy fight against Daniel Cormier is on hold. As a result, the rest of the contenders have to wait until that title fight plays out in order to get their shot. Blaydes can always take another fight in the interim to stay busy, but of course the risk of losing the title fight presents itself with that scenario. All Blaydes can do at this point is wait and see how the division plays itself out in the coming months.
Winner: Michael Chiesa
Who He Should Fight Next: Stephen Thompson
“Maverick” made the best of his time on the mic after his victory over Rafael dos Anjos, calling out former interim titleholder, Colby Covington, for a showdown in July. While I wouldn’t mind seeing that bout, I just don’t think Covington would be into it coming off a championship bout against Kamaru Usman. I could be wrong, but I see the promotion booking Chiesa against someone like Thompson, and booking Covington against the loser of Leon Edwards vs Tyron Woodley. “Wonderboy” is coming off a nice win over Vicente Luque, and should be primed for a summer return after tending to some injuries. It’s a great stylistic match up that could get Chiesa closer to the promised land with a win.
Winner: Alex Perez
Who He Should Fight Next: Matt Schnell
Perez has only competed three times in the last two years, so he has a lot of work to do before he can start climbing the 125-pound ladder toward bigger and better fights. After submitting Jordan Espinoza in Raleigh (see it), a fight against Schnell seems fitting at this point. Matt recently had his four fight win streak snapped by Alexandre Pantoja, but he is still ranked three spots ahead of Perez. A win for Alex here gets him into the Top 10, which is what he needs in order to start getting more exposure, bigger fights and eventually a potential shot at the strap. Making up for lost time is the key here, and a win over Schnell is a good way to speed things up.
Winner: Angela Hill
Who She Should Face Next: Brianna Van Buren
Hill stepped in to face Hannah Cifers after Van Buren came down with an injury. In doing so, Hill dominated Cifers, knocking her out in the second round with some nasty ground-and-pound (watch highlights here). So it only makes sense for Hill to face Van Buren next. Brianna is currently riding a six-fight win streak and is the former Invicta women’s Strawweight champion. A win over someone with those credentials will only do good things for “Overkill’s” stock.
Winner: Jamahal Hill
Who He Should Face Next: Cezar Ferreira
Hill impressed in his Octagon debut by defeating Darko Stosic via unanimous decision. With the win, Hill improves to 7-0, 1-0 UFC. So why a fight against Ferreira, a long-time veteran of the Octagon? Well, Cezar hasn’t had the best run as of late, losing two straight to Ian Heinisch and Marvin Vettori. So while the Brazilian bomber has the experience edge, I want to see if Hill is up for the task. You likely won’t get much resistance form Ferreira if the fight is offered, as two straight loses doesn’t give you many chips to bargain with. Hill started off great and if he can rack up some wins in a hurry, he could infiltrate the Top 15 sooner, rather than later. But no rush, he has plenty of work to do and the time to do it in at just 28 years old.
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