Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Kelvin Gastelum and UFC Fight Night 122's other winning fighters?


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UFC Fight Night 122 took place Saturday, and the four-fight main card from Mercedes-Benz Arena, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass, has to be deemed a success.

Three of the four bouts on the main card ended inside the distance, but no win was more emphatic than the main event in which Kelvin Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) put away former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC) with strikes inside the first round.

Prior to Gastelum’s win, Chinese fighters Li Jingliang (14-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Wang Guan (17-1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) put on impressive performances, while Alex Garcia (15-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) opened the main card with a submission finish.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 122’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Garcia

Peter Sobotta

Should fight: Peter Sobotta
Why they should fight: Garcia is pushing for a quick turnaround, ideally at UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg in December, after his upset submission win over touted promotional newcomer Muslim Salikhov.

Garcia spoiled Salikhov’s octagon debut with a second-round submission to help him bounce back from a loss in his previous bout. Garcia has alternated wins and losses over his past seven contests, and until he bucks that trend, he’s not going to be able to move up much in the welterweight pecking order.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of credible competition on the same level as Garcia at this time. Sobotta (17-5-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC), who is on a solid 4-1 run since returning to the UFC for a second stint more than three years ago, is well rounded and dangerous. His style meshes with Garcia’s powerful approach and the winner would be sitting in a good spot at 170 pounds.

Wang Guan

Chas Skelly

Should fight: Chas Skelly
Why they should fight: Guan showed why there was a lot of discussion and excitement around his UFC debut when he put his powerful hands on display over three rounds to take a unanimous decision over Alex Caceres.

Although he came close on multiple occasions, Guan couldn’t finish the featherweight fight. He still put a beating on an 18-fight UFC veteran in Caceres over three rounds, though, and that’s certainly not a bad look for an octagon debut.

With just one loss thus far in his 19-fight career, Guan has the style and poise which would make him a compelling matchup for many featherweights. It’s too soon for him to be fighting the biggest names at 145 pounds, but another notable, established member of the UFC roster like Skelly (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) would be helpful in further marking his UFC presense.

Li Jingliang

Alan Jouban

Should fight: Alan Jouban
Why they should fight: The most successful Chinese fighter in UFC history continued to roll when Jingliang extended his winning streak to four fights with a second-round TKO of Zak Ottow.

Jingliang’s run has been impressive to watch, and it’s clear “The Leech” is adding to his skillset and gaining confidence with every bout. He’s a sturdy, powerful welterweight who is not going to be an easy out for anyone, but now it’s time to find out where he stacks up against a more honest level of competition.

Jouban (15-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) might be coming off a pair of losses, but he’s shared the octagon with some of the best at 170 pounds. His size and length would be a difficult matchup for Jingliang, but if he could continue of his run of success through Jouban, he would be in position to start getting contender fights in his division.

Kelvin Gastelum

Should fight: Ronaldo Souza
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Gastelum should fight “Jacare” Souza (24-5 MMA, 7-2 UFC) next

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Mark Hunt and UFC Fight Night 110's other winners?

Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

The UFC made its second stop in New Zealand on Saturday with UFC Fight Night 110, which took place at Spark Arena in Auckland. The event, which aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, saw five of six main-card fights end in a stoppage.

In the main event, heavyweight veteran Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) dazzled once again when he stopped Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) by fourth-round TKO in a “Fight of the Night” affair.

Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC), Dan Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Ion Cutelaba (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) all put their opponents away in memorable fashion, which left Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) as the only main-card fighter who needed the judges to get his hand raised.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 110’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Volkanovski

Chas Skelly

Should fight: Chas Skelly
Why they should fight: Volkanovski has burst onto the UFC scene with consecutive wins, the latest a unanimous-decision triumph over veteran Mizuto Hirota.

A winner in 15 of his 16 pro fights, Volkanovski has displayed some solid skills in his two UFC outings, but how that will play out against a higher level of competition remains to be seen.

Volkanovski is still an unknown to many fans and won’t get a truly big fight until he establishes himself more in the featherweight division. Skelly (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) is not ranked in the weight class, but he has the experience and name value to help get Volkanovski there.

Ben Nguyen

Jussier Formiga

Should fight: Jussier Formiga
Why they should fight: Nguyen pulled off his biggest UFC victory to date when he shocked former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott by submission in just 49 seconds.

Nguyen was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez, but when an injury occurred, a game Elliott stepped in on short notice. He came flying out of the gate, but Nguyen was ready for it and locked up the quick rear-naked choke for his fourth victory in five UFC appearances.

The fact Nguyen has been booked against the likes of Elliott and Benavidez prove UFC matchmakers consider him one of the best prospects on the 125-pound roster. He validated that status with the big win, which should put him in line for another marquee fight.

It’s one thing to find a way to submit Elliott, but repeating the feat against a grappling ace such as Formiga (19-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) would be an entirely different task. Along with Nguyen, the Brazilian is one of few ranked 125-pounders who has yet to share the octagon with champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson. Both men want their shot, and the winner of a potential fight would help build a legitimate claim to making it happen.

Ion Cutelaba

Josh Stansbury

Should fight: Winner of Josh Stansbury vs. Jeremy Kimball at UFC Fight Night 112
Why they should fight: The once-dead UFC light-heavyweight division has begun to thrive again in recent months, and Cutelaba added himself to the excitement when he scored a 22-second knockout victory over Henrique da Silva.

Cutelaba has split results over his four-fight UFC career, but at just 23, there’s a lot to like about “The Hulk.” His performance against da Silva was further evidence of why. There’s still room for development, but in each fight, the Moldovan fighter has shown growth.

The 205-pound weight class is unquestionably top-heavy, which is both a positive and a negative for a fighter such as Cutelaba. He would have to do something dramatic to be thrown in the octagon against one of the division’s biggest names, so he will continue to be pitted against fighters positioned in a similar spot.

Whoever wins the scheduled bout between Stansbury (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Kimball (14-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 112 on June 25 would be coming off his first UFC win and would be a suitable next opponent for Cutelaba.

Dan Hooker

David Teymur

Should fight: David Teymur
Why they should fight: Hooker’s move up to the lightweight division after spending his first six UFC fights at featherweight proved wise when he defeated longtime UFC vet Ross Pearson by second-round knockout.

Hooker has shown flashes of brilliance with some spectacular UFC wins, and the crushing finish of Pearson was another example. He’s failed to be consistent, though, while alternating wins and losses over his seven-fight tenure with the organization. Pearson is by far the biggest win of his career, but Hooker’s main focus should be finding a wave of momentum.

It remains to be seen if the jump to 155 pounds will mark a turning point for Hooker, but Pearson has been slumping, and a win over “The Real Deal” isn’t quite as significant as years prior. Nevertheless, Hooker put himself in a spot to fight another fan-friendly name in his new division. Teymur (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who is coming off an impressive “Fight of the Night” win over Lando Vannata at UFC 209 in March, is just that.

Derek Brunson

Chris Weidman

Should fight: Winner of Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25
Why they should fight: After a two-fight losing skid that resulted from poor fight IQ and lousy judging, Brunson got back on track when he snapped the surprising winning streak of Daniel Kelly with a thunderous first-round knockout victory.

Around this time in 2016, Brunson was riding a five-fight winning streak and considered a rising threat in the 185-pound division. A first-round knockout loss to Robert Whittaker and controversial decision defeat to Anderson Silva derailed his momentum, but “The One” proved that was only a bump in the road with the 76-second destruction of Kelly.

Brunson has been booked in several notable fights over the past few years, and after beating Kelly, there’s no reason that should change. The winner of July’s UFC on FOX 25 headliner between Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Gastelum (14-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) would be coming off a high and represent a step up in competition from Kelly.

Beating a former champion in Weidman would be a massive statement for Bruson, and taking out a rising star in Gastelum would also be significant. There’s upside regardless of who wins – more so than a matchup with Antonio Carlos Junior, whom Brunson specifically called out post-fight.

Mark Hunt

Should fight: Cain Velasquez
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Hunt should fight former UFC champ Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie