UFC Orlando went down last night (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., which saw Stephen Thompson defeat Kevin Holland via fourth round technical knockout (TKO) after “Trailblazer’s” corner threw in the towel in what truly was an exciting bout (highlights). In further action, Rafael dos Anjos submitted Bryan Barberena while Sergei Pavlovich stopped Tai Tuivasa via strikes in the very first round.
Winner: Stephen Thompson
Who He Should Face Next: Michel Pereira
Thompson got back into the win column after picking up a huge win over Holland snapping his two-fight skid. Thompson looked as good as he ever has thanks in large part to his opponent’s willingness to let the entire fight play out on the feet, which is “Wonderboy’s” specialty. In a perfect world, Thompson would always face a striker, but grappling is part of the game and he will eventually have to face that again. For now, a fight against Pereira makes sense if the promotion wants to pair him up against another standup specialist. Pereira is on a five-fight win streak and is ranked No. 14.
Winner: Rafael dos Anjos
Who He Should Face Next: Sean Brady
This is the only issue I have with fighters moving up and down in divisions, you gain no traction. dos Anjos defeated Barberena in 170-pound matchup after going 2-1 at lightweight since dropping back down where he is currently ranked No. 7. Winning this fight does nothing for him at any weight class because Barberena isn’t close to a Top 15 fighter. As for his post-fight call out, he isn’t ever going to get a fight against McGregor because he needs to get it through his head the only reason McGregor every wanted anything to do with him was because he had the title at the time. If he decides to stay at welterweight, then a fight against Brady sounds legit. Brady is coming of a tough loss to Belal Muhammad at UFC 280, so a win over “RDA” helps him get back on track.
Winner: Matheus Nicolau
Who He Should Face Next: Brandon Royval
Nicolau picked up his sixth straight win after dominating Matt Schnell and scoring a second round TKO win. This will go a long way in helping him crack the Top 5. If not, then perhaps a win over Royval — who is ranked No. 4 — will be enough to do the trick. Royval has won two straight but was forced out of a fight for this December due to a bum wrist. Perhaps he’ll be ready in early 2023 to face Nicolau.
Winner: Sergei Pavlovich
Who He Should Face Next: Curtis Blaydes
The heavyweight division has another big man making moves in Pavlovich, who has now won five in a row, all five first-round knockout. The only man that makes sense for him at the moment is Blaydes, who is currently ranked No. 3. Blaydes has won three in a row and is looking to fight his way into a title shot, but with the futures of Francis Ngannou, Jon Jones and Stipe Miococ rather muddy at the moment, these two big men can stay busy fighting one another.
Winner: Roman Dolidze
Who He Should Face Next: Gastelum vs Imavov winner
Dolidze is currently on a strong surge, having won four in a row including his latest conquest over Jack Hermansson. He is inching closer to a Top 15, but he will likely need one more win to put him over the edge. A fight versus the winner of the upcoming fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov — which takes place on Jan. 14 — makes sense. Granted, both men are ranked while Dolidze is not, but it would be a get test for all men involved regardless of how the chips fall. Gastelum hasn’t exactly been lighting it up over the last few years, but he is still holding on to a Top 15 ranking for his overall body of work. As for Imavov, he has was three straight.
Winner: Eryk Anders
Who He Should Face Next: Rodolfo Vieira
Anders snapped his two-fight losing streak by stopping Kyle Daukaus, pounding him out in the second round after two rounds of punishment. Up next, a fight against Vieira sounds appealing. Vieira is coming off a loss to Chris Curtis, but is 3-2 overall inside the Octagon. He was set to face Cody Brundage last month but was forced to pull out of the event. This would be a good test for both men to see who’s style, standup (Anders) or ground game (Vieiera) proves superior.
Winner: Phillip Rowe
Who He Should Face Next: Daniel Rodriguez
Rowe picked up his third straight win, all via technical knockout, by stopping Niko Price in the third round of their hard-fought battle. Rodriguez, meanwhile, recently has his four-fight win streak snapped by Neil Magny earlier this month. This is a good test for Rowe because it let’s us know jsut whee he is at because Rodriguez will be a huge step up in competition. For Rodriguez, stopping Rowe’s momentum gives him some much-needed, newfound confidence.
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