Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was at it again last night (Sat., June 20, 2020), as UFC on ESPN 11 went down from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Curtis Blaydes defeated Alexander Volkov after five rounds of Heavyweight action (see it) thanks to his outstanding wrestling. In the co-headlining act, Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos put on a “Fight of the Night” performance after 15 intense minutes of action that Saw Emmett score his third straight win (see it again here).
Winner: Curtis Blaydes
Who He Should Face Next:
Title shot Derrick Lewis or Jairzinho Rozenstruick
Blaydes secured his fourth straight win after putting on a wrestling clinic on Volkov. Since “Blaydes” is currently at No. 3 in the rankings, he won’t be making a jump this week since Francis Ngannou is at No. 2 and Daniel Cormier is at No. 1. And that’s okay because Blaydes should be in line for a title shot ... after Ngannou, of course. But here’s the problem: Dana White was not impressed with “Razor’s” performance, despite setting a takedown record with 14 in the 265-pound division. And if White is calling you “stupid,” a title shot is the furthest thing from his mind.
Sure, he may cool off in a day, week or month or two, but it doesn’t bode well for Blaydes’ title aspirations when the boss says you should stay busy and not wait around. And since Cormier and Miocic won’t fight until Aug. 15, 2020, which means Ngannou likely won’t get his title shot until November or December, Blaydes could be playing a long waiting game if he was even given that option. Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik are set to fight on Aug. 8, and if “Black Beast” should win, the no-brainer fight to make is Lewis vs. Blaydes. As far as Oleinik goes, it could prove to be difficult to get Blaydes to sign on the dotted line since he has a win over him already. If all else fails, there is Jairinzho Rozenstruick, who recently suffered the first loss of his career at the heavy hands of Ngannou. Assuming "Bigi Boy" gets through Junior dos Santos.
Winner: Josh Emmett
Who He Should Face Next: Winner of Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige
Emmett (No. 8) bagged his third consecutive win after a thrilling bout against Shane Burgos, which will likely put him right on the edge of the Top 5. While not official yet, Brian Ortega (No 2.) is set to face Chan Sung Jung (No. 4) and Zabit Magomedsharipov (No. 3) is set to take on Yair Rodriguez (No. 5) later this year. Furthermore, Calvin Kattar (No. 6) is in line to face Dan Ige (No. 11) next month on “Fight Island.” And Emmett should be a very interested observer while he nurses his apparent knee injury because he will likely face the winner given all of the pending bouts that will occupy all of the men ranked ahead of him.
Winner: Raquel Pennington
Who She Should Face Next: Julianna Pena
If Pennington wants to get back to a title shot again, she will have to start shooting higher and get more vocal about who she wants to fight next. She should be calling for a fight against Pena with a quickness, as “The Venezuelan Vixen” is currently ranked No. 4 at the moment and there is no dance partner anywhere to be found for her after her bout against Aspen Ladd was scratched earlier this year.
Speaking of Ladd, she will be out of commission for the remainder of the year because of an unfortunate injury. There is always the chance that UFC tags Pennington as Ladd’s replacement against Sara McMann, but I would much rather see a fight between Pena and Pennington, as they are closer to each other in the higher portion of the rankings.
Winner: Belal Muhammad
Who He Should Face Next: Santiago Ponzinibbio
Muhammad picked up his third straight win after decisioning Lyman Good, bringing him to 7-1 over his last eight fights. Despite that impressive streak, Belal, unfortunately, will still likely find himself on the outside looking in when it comes to the rankings since he is fighting in the highly-competitive (and stacked) Welterweight division. I am digging a fight against Ponzinibbio very much, as the Argentinian bomber is another streaking Welterweight who — despite winning seven in a row — still can’t get any love from the rankings panel.
I’m going to take this moment for a quick gripe: Both Ponzinibbio and Muhammad should be ranked anywhere between the No. 10 and No. 15, and can easily replace Robbie Lawler, Anthony Pettis, Neil Magny and Nate Diaz (yeah I said it) based on their bodies of work. Anyways, a match up between Muhammad and Ponzinibbio sounds appetizing and will almost assure the winner a nice spot in the Top 15.
Winner: Jim Miller
Who He Should Fight Next: Bobby Green
Both Green and Miller picked up huge wins in “Sin City,” with Miller defeating Roosevelt Roberts via first-round submission and Green outscoring Clay Guida. Miller and Green were in line to face each other six years ago before “King” was forced out with an injury. Neither man is anywhere near the Top 15 at the moment, so might as well throw them into the cage against one another and see what’s what.
For complete UFC on ESPN 11 results and coverage click here.