Another Saturday afternoon has passed and with it has passed another UFC event. With a somewhat strange airtime of 3:30 in the afternoon, the UFC still managed another successful event in the United Kingdom. Topped off by a highly entertaining Interim Bantamweight Championship bout which saw the champion Renan Pegado defend his title with a fourth round submission victory over challenger Michael McDonald.
Once again it was another rough afternoon for my fight picks, as I completely blanked the preliminary card of the event. Although, I did get some redemption in the form of a 5-1 record on the main card of the event. Some questionable judging marred this card and surprising scorecards, but all in all there were luckily no robberies on this card. Once again it’s time to take a look at what happened during the fights and what’s next for the winners and losers of the main card bouts.
Welterweight Bout: Matthew Riddle defeated Che Mills via Split Decision after 3 Rounds
What’s next for Riddle? Riddle is a big Welterweight and a talented wrestler. When he remembers that he’s a tough out for anyone. In this fight he remembered that getting punched in the face isn’t fun and decided to dominate his opponent on the mat. Riddle has called out Brit Dan Hardy in the past, should Hardy get by Matt Brown in April at the next UFC on Fox event, that fight makes some sense. If not Mike Pyle might be a good choice.
What’s next for Mills? Mills is a dangerous striker, but he’s pretty bad on the ground. He needs to prove that he can get by a competent wrestler or grappler before he can really move up the Welterweight rankings. Simeon Thoreson might be a good match up for a European card. Maybe even Jay Hieron, although that might be too big a step.
Light Heavyweight Bout: James Te-Huna defeated Ryan Jimmo via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds
Te-Huna probably wins the award for best walk-out of the night, as he came out dressed in full black suits with matching black sunglasses to the Men in Black theme and his similarly dressed corner men did a nice choreographed dance routine. Despite all that, he was in all kinds of trouble in the first round. After eating a head kick and being cut open he spent the rest of the round struggling to survive. After that he really turned it on and stormed back to take the last two rounds to take a unanimous decision. The scoring was somewhat controversial in this bout as well, as one judge managed to give Te-Huna a 10-8 round despite not having any rounds nearly as dominant as the first one for Jimmo, where he earned 10-9s across the board.
What’s next for Te-Huna? Te-Huna recovered well from a tough first round. He’s now 5-1 with the lone loss coming to top contender Alexander Gustafsson. He deserves a step up in competition, but many of the top talents in the division are booked. Fortunately there may be another 205’er in need of a big challenge that came from this card. Britain’s Jimi Manuwa is now 2-0 in the UFC and a bout with Te-Huna in the co-main event of a free card sounds like the kind of potential slugfest I can get behind.
What’s next for Jimmo? Unfortunately for Jimmo this loss is probably going to drop him down the Light Heavyweight rankings significantly. His first fight was a highlight reel finish and started this fight strong and kept it entertaining throughout the contest. It’s likely that the UFC will try to rebuild him. A bout against fellow Canadian Roger Hollett on a Canadian UFC card might make sense. Igor Pokrajac or Joey Beltran when he returns from suspension may also be suitable options.
Welterweight Bout: Gunnar Nelson defeated Jorge Santiago via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds
Santiago looked pretty impressive in this Welterweight fight and looks rejuvenated at this weight class. Santiago’s striking looked sharp in the first round enough so that two of three judges scored it for him. In the second and third round, Nelson took over. Nelson began to turn up the aggression and continued to work the fight towards the ground, where he was able to work efficiently from top control. Nelson’s striking looked improved from previous bouts, but his best work still came on the ground.
What’s next for Nelson? He’s an intriguing case. He looks like he just got out of bed, acts like he could care less about what he’s doing and is fairly nonchalant at all times. He needs a step up in competition that much is sure, but what do they want to give him next? A striker or a dominant wrestler? A bout with Demian Maia would be one hell of a grappling exchange, but I don’t think he’s earned that big of a step up yet. Perhaps fellow main card winner Matthew Riddle would be a good bout, to see how he deals with a big strong wrestler. If not the very well rounded Mike Pyle could be a good choice.
What’s next for Santiago? Unfortunately for him another likely exile from the UFC. He’s got a horrible record in the world’s largest promotion, but he looked impressive during this bout and put up a solid fight. If he does earn another shot from the UFC, a bout against fellow Brazilian Paulo Thiago on a Brazilian card could be a great move.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Jimi Manuwa defeated Cyrille Diabate via TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
This one takes bizarre finish of the night. According to Diabate’s Twitter account after the fight, he suffered a torn right calf muscle in the first round and it caused the doctor to wave the fight off in between the first and second round. Manuwa now owns the distinction of being 2-0, but never knocking out an opponent, submitting them or winning a decision as he’s gotten 2 victories via doctor stoppages between rounds in both of his bouts.
What’s next for Manuwa? In more recent news Manuwa seems to be headed towards a bout with James Te-Huna. Both men won on the main card and a day later has since said that the two Light Heavyweight bangers might be suitable coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter: UK vs. Australia. Seems a suitable fit to me.
What’s next for Diabate? He didn’t do much to deserve the loss, but he still lost, so a step down the rankings he must make. A bout with Brazilian Fabio Maldonado could be good given both fighters backgrounds in striking combat sports. A bout against Brandon Vera could also be an entertaining bout.
Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson defeated Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds
It’s hard to believe that Swanson struggled so mightily in the Featherweight division during his time in the WEC. Swanson has now won four straight bouts and is climbing the Featherweight rankings at a rapid pace. Even faster than the pace that this fight took place at. Swanson showed off an improving skillset on the ground and was much better rounded than many people gave him credit for. Swanson used a couple of well-timed takedowns and excellent ground defense to take a Unanimous Decision nod over Poirier.
What’s next for Swanson? A top contender for certain. Swanson has proven himself to be an elite fighter in the Featherweight division and is on an incredible winning streak. He was originally scheduled to fight Dennis Siver and that bout makes sense, although rumors are circulating that Siver is scheduled to fight Ricardo Lamas in May. Chan Sung Jung is supposed to be back from injury in spring and that fight as a number one contenders bout would be a great fight.
What’s next for Poirier? He’s young and he’s got tons of talent, but he’s come up short twice in possible number one contender’s fights. He’s still got a lot of potential and time to grow into that potential. Still, bringing him along properly should be the name of the game for the UFC. A bout with Jeremy Stephens should be a good match up for Poirier. A bout with Erik Koch could also be interesting but it threatens to send a young contender further down the divisional rankings.
Interim Bantamweight Championship Bout: Renan Barao defeated Michael McDonald via Submission in Round 4
What’s next for Barao? It has to be a title unification bout against champion Dominick Cruz. There are really not a whole lot of other options at Bantamweight for Barao. If Cruz isn’t healthy the only bout that really makes sense is Eddie Wineland as he’s the only one that has a winning streak over top competitors in the division. Cruz is definitely the superior option though.
What’s next for McDonald? He won’t fall too far from the top. He’s a strong striker with knockout power and he’s only 22, all kinds of time to grow into his full potential. Mike Easton is coming off of a tough loss and could be a decent fight for McDonald. A bout with Brad Pickett could also be all kinds of fun and an entertaining scrap.
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