Jason Knight says he's fighting Gabriel Benitez at UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno

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Fan favorite “Mississippi Mean” is headed to California.

Jason Knight (20-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) today announced he’s slated to fight fellow featherweight Gabriel Benitez (19-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 123 (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

UFC officials haven’t made a formal announcement.

UFC Fight Night 123 takes place Dec. 9 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Knight, also known as “Hick Diaz,” was recently riding a four-fight winning streak – one that earned him three fight-night bonuses and stoppage wins over Alex Caceres and Chas Skelly. However, in his most recent bout, the 25-year-old Mississippi native got a step up in competition and suffered a TKO loss to former title challenger Ricardo Lamas, who’s No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings.

He now meets Benitez, a semifinalist on “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.” The 29-year-old Mexican fighter, who has 16 stoppages in 19 career wins, was on a 4-1 run before a recent decision loss to Enrique Barzola in a back-and-forth bout at UFC 211 in May.

With the addition to the card, UFC Fight Night 123 now includes:

  • Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega
  • Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis
  • Scott Holtzman vs. Darrell Horcher
  • Eryk Anders vs. John Phillips
  • Trevin Giles vs. Antonio Braga Neto
  • Carls John de Tomas vs. Alex Perez
  • Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Davi Ramos
  • Bryan Caraway vs. Luke Sanders
  • Benito Lopez vs. Albert Morales
  • Gabriel Benitez vs. Jason Knight

For more on UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Valentina Shevchenko and UFC 215's other losing fighters?

Filed under: News, UFC

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 215’s winning fighters?)

UFC 215 took place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with a five-fight pay-pay-per-view main card.

Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fell short of claiming the UFC women’s bantamweight title in the headliner when she suffered a split-decision loss to Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to experience her second UFC blemish, both of which have come against “The Lioness.”

Some other fighters suffered notable losses, as well, with Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC) and Wilson Reis (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) suffering stoppage losses, and Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Gilbert Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) falling short on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters 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 215’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Gilbert Melendez

Jason Knight

Should fight: Jason Knight
Why they should fight: Melendez’s experimental drop to the featherweight division didn’t go according to plan against Jeremy Stephens, and now the former Strikeforce champion is sitting on a four-fight losing skid and is winless over a nearly four-year period.

Although he’s had two title shots and a “Fight of the Year” contender with Diego Sanchez in 2013, Melendez’s run in the UFC can likely be summed up as disappointing, especially when considering only the number of wins and losses.

At 35, it remains to be seen if Melendez will want to continue to fight much longer, especially with ownership of his own gym and an analyst gig with ESPN. Assuming he wants to continue, and stay at featherweight, a number of interesting fights are available in the division.

A slugger such as Knight (20-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) could potentially bring out the best in Melendez, and if it went the other way, Knight would add a legitimate name to his resume following a knockout loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC 214 in July.

Tyson Pedro

Gian Villante

Should fight: Gian Villante
Why they should fight: Pedro experienced the first defeat of his career when he fell short with a unanimous-decision loss to Swedish powerhouse Ilir Latifi.

After a six-fight winning streak to begin his career, Pedro couldn’t rise to the level of his most elite opponent to date, and that shows he’s not quite ready for the higher-tier fighters in the light-heavyweight division.

A matchup with Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) wouldn’t be a big step back from Latifi, but he would present a winnable fight for the Australian that would also afford him a chance to add a notable name to his resume.

Wilson Reis

Brandon Moreno

Should fight: Brandon Moreno
Why they should fight: After being handed a brutal beatdown at the hands of flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson earlier this year, Reis took an even more one-sided loss when Henry Cejudo knocked him out cold in the matchup of former title challengers.

Reis was unable to accomplish anything in just over a round of cage time with Cejudo, and he got picked apart and ultimately finished with a series of second-round strikes. It’s unfamiliar territory for the Brazilian, who had never been finished in the UFC prior to this current skid.

Given the nature of his past two fights, it would probably be in Reis’ best interest to take a little time off. Once he’s recovered and recharged, though, a bout with fellow grappling specialist Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) would be as compelling as any other available option at 125 pounds.

Neil Magny

Gunnar Nelson

Should fight: Gunnar Nelson
Why they should fight: After sitting out for eight months, Magny suffered a setback in his return to the octagon in the form of a first-round submission loss to former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.

Magny has been stellar over the past few years, but in recent fights, he’s run into some issues that have prevented him from getting his hand raised. The American will need to make some adjustments in order to reach greater heights in the division, but many compelling matchups remain.

Nelson (16-3-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) dangerous ground game and evolving striking would clash well with Magny’s versatile offense and defense. Both men would enter the fight off a loss, meaning even greater stakes and risk when they share the octagon.

Valentina Shevchenko

Should fight: Sara McMann
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Shevchenko should fight McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) next after her title-fight loss.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Jason Knight explains how Ricardo Lamas' dad helped him deal with UFC 214 loss

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – After Ricardo Lamas spoiled his Saturday night, Jason Knight got his consolation from an unusual source.

Knight (17-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) had was coming off a TKO win of his own, over Chas Skelly at UFC 211, when Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) put a brutal first-round end to their UFC 214 featherweight scrap on Saturday. The loss snapped a four-fight winning streak for Knight, who had in ex-title-challenger Lamas the possibility of a huge career step up.

The abrupt halt in momentum could have been a tough blow for the 25-year-old up-and-comer, but with the help of some perspective offered by his opponent’s dad, he seems to be taking it quite well.

“I feel fine,” Knight told MMAjunkie. “Something that helped me out a whole lot: I talked to Ricardo Lamas’ dad after the fight. His dad, he said, ‘Man, this loss would have been catastrophic for Ricardo. It would have put him way back on his career. Probably pushed him more toward retirement.’

“For me, this loss is nothing. I lost to the No. 3 guy in the world (in the UFC rankings). I’m No. 15. And I’m just now getting started. He’s close to the end of his run. And I’m going to bounce back so much stronger, man.”

Here’s the end of the fight (via Twitter):

The preliminary-card scrap aired on FXX from  Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Lamas, who’d most recently scored a submission win over grappling specialist Charles Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 98, is now two finish wins removed from a decision loss to current 145-pound titleholder Max Holloway.

It probably helps his spirits that, when he spoke to MMAjunkie on Tuesday, Knight had just watched a friend and teammate Brandon Davis score not only a Dana White’s Contender Series 4 win over Austin Arnett, but looked impressive enough in three-round slugfest to earn himself a UFC contract.

“That’s Mississippi for you,” Knight said. “That’s our kind of fun. The guys from Mississippi, we’ve been throwing down like that our whole lives. That’s the only way we know how to do it.

“Now we’ve got three guys in the UFC. Mississippi – they aren’t know for UFC fighters. But give us five years; that’s all I’ve got to say.”

Other than that, Knight can also find solace on his own glass-half-full approach when it comes to setbacks. In his entire professional career, Knight has lost only three times – and those, he said, contributed more to his growth than the 20 wins on his record.

“If you don’t take nothing away from it, then yeah, you’re losing,” Knight said. “But it’s just a speed bump on the way to where I’m going. And I promise you, you’ll see me back better than ever.

“I won’t ever leave this sport until I’m something people are going to talk about for years and years. And make sure that I go down into that (UFC) Hall of Fame.”

To hear from Knight, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 214's 10 memorable moments: Jon Jones reclaims his crown, ends feud with Daniel Cormier

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The stacked main card of Saturday’s UFC 214 did not disappoint.

In the main event, Jon Jones returned to the octagon for the first time in 15 months and put on a nearly flawless performance, regaining both the light heavyweight title and his ranking as the best 205-pound fighter in UFC history with a third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier.

In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley focused on defense, much to the chagrin of fans and UFC President Dana White, while retaining welterweight crown against challenger Demian Maia with a unanimous decision.

In the first title fight of the night, the most feared woman in MMA, Cristiane Justino, became a UFC champion with a third-round TKO victory over a very game Tonya Evinger.

UFC 214 took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are the most memorable moments from the biggest UFC fight card of 2017.

1. New reign, new man?

After dispatching Cormier in the third round with a head kick and ground strikes, Jones began his second stint as light heavyweight champion. The “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning victory solidified Jones as the greatest light heavyweight in MMA history. The respect Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) paid Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) after the fight was almost as noteworthy as his victory.

We don’t know if Jones has turned a corner in his life. We don’t know if the time he spent on the sidelines due to his actions and decisions has made him a more thoughtful person. But during that brief speech, Jones provided some hope that he has learned at least some lessons.

As for Cormier, he offered his congratulations to Jones and his team via social media late Sunday night.

2. Heartbreak and confusion

The decision to speak to Cormier after his knockout loss was unwise, something UFC commentator Joe Rogan acknowledged on Sunday in his apology, but Rogan did make that decision. The brief interview provided fans a glimpse of a man who was heartbroken and confused.

“I don’t know, man,” Cormier said when asked what he was feeling. “I thought the fight was going well. I don’t even know what happened. I think I got kicked in the head. It’s so disappointing.”

The raw moment revealed to everyone just how much this fight meant to Cormier and how emotionally invested he was in defeating Jones and cementing his legacy as an all-time great.

“I guess if he wins both fights, there is no rivalry,” Cormier said, fighting back tears. “I don’t know.”

3. Recoup the losses

During his first title reign, Jones defended the light heavyweight title eight times. In his last defense, Jones earned a reported $500,000. Since then he has fought twice, taking in a reported $1 million in total for those two contests. In short, Jones left a lot of money on the table while he sat on the sidelines due to his self-destructive behavior.

What better way to get some of that money back than to follow Conor McGregor’s lead and call for the most bankable fight possible?

“Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy that weights 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the octagon,” Jones said after defeating Cormier.

While that fight is far from a lock, Jones’ callout did get the attention of the former heavyweight champion.

4. Losing by winning

Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) stopped each of the 21 takedowns Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) attempted during their fight. That defense-first strategy allowed Woodley to retain his title via decision. Unfortunately, it seemingly cost him a fight against former champion Georges St-Pierre, which UFC President Dana White had said was “the plan” just days before Woodley’s win over Maia.

“Michael Bisping will show up, and he will fight,” White said when revealing the change at the post-fight press conference “So, yeah. I’m going to give it to him.”

Woodley, who predicted the St-Pierre fight wouldn’t come to fruition, was not surprised with the switch.

5. So dominant

How good is Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)? So good that a lot of the post-fight talk wasn’t about her knockout win over Evinger but of how tough Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) was for extending the fight into the third round before Justino finished her.

“Tonya Evinger was awesome,” a smiling Michael Bisping said on the UFC on FOX post-fight show. “She went out there and took a beating really, really well.”

Justino was patient and technical. She never got too aggressive until the finish was in sight. While Justino’s approach might have disappointed fans of her previous fights, it showed she’s added a new, and maybe more frightening, wrinkle to her arsenal, that of the predator tiring her prey before moving in for the kill.

6. Taking shots

For someone who didn’t compete at UFC 214, former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie took a beating in Anaheim.

“I think it’s really important to mention that Germaine de Randamie, who won the title against Holly Holm, just did not want to fight this woman,” Rogan said before the Justino vs. Evinger fight began. “She said, ‘I’m not doing it. I’m stepping down, and I’m relinquishing my title.”

Rogan later said that while he was enjoying the Justino-Evinger bout, he felt “robbed” that de Randamie was not fighting.

“That proves that Evinger would put up a better fight,” replied fellow commentator Dominick Cruz. “She (de Randamie) didn’t even want to get in here; Evinger’s here.”

The duo then speculated what de Randamie must be thinking knowing someone was “tougher than her to take the fight.”

These comments came days after Evinger referred to de Randamie as a “coward” during her pre-fight media interview.

De Randamie was stripped of the belt in June due to her unwillingness to fight Justino.

7. Back in the mix

Almost one year to the day since losing the welterweight title to Woodley, Robbie Lawler returned to the title hunt with a unanimous-decision victory over Donald Cerrone.

As expected, Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Cerrone (32-8 MMA, 19-5 UFC) delivered an exciting back and forth striking battle.

The win showed that Lawler remains one of the best welterweights in the UFC. More impressive was Lawler was without his good friend, former UFC champion Matt Hughes, who was in a terrible accident, throughout training camp. Lawler acknowledged it after the fight.

“I’m pretty good at focusing on the task at hand,” Lawler said post-fight. “But obviously, it’s a buddy of mine. He would’ve been right around the corner right now. He would have been here this whole week. It’s tough, but he’s fighting a fight now.”

8. Big time

Jimi Manuwa was an insurance policy, booked on UFC 214 as a safety net in case Cormier or Jones could not compete in the main event.

Manuwa (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) did not get the opportunity to fight for the title in Anaheim, and after getting knocked out in 42 seconds by Volkan Oezdemir (a.k.a. “No Time”) he won’t be getting a title fight soon. As for Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who joined the UFC in February, he’s now 3-0 with two knockouts, including his “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning stoppage of Manuwa.


9. Nice try

Jason Knight attempted to leap up the featherweight rankings at UFC 214, stepping in to face former featherweight title contender Ricardo Lamas. It didn’t work out well for Knight.

Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) was too technical for the brawling and still developing Knight (17-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC), picking him apart on the feet with precise striking. Knight showed he’s a game fighter, taking everything Lamas had to offer before referee Mike Beltran came in to stop the fight in the first round.

The win gives Lamas two-straight victories and stops Knight’s four-fight winning streak. Lamas remains a player in the featherweight division, and while Knight lost via TKO, it’s hard to see the defeat hurting him too much since he took the fight on short notice against a more seasoned opponent.

10. Keep away

A word of warning for the featherweight division: If you think you have a lead over Brian Ortega heading into the third round, do whatever you can to stay out of his grasp for those 5 minutes.

At UFC 214, Ortega finished his record-breaking fourth consecutive fight with a third-round submission of Renato Moicano. Like his previous three wins, this one looked like it could have gone either way had it made it to the scorecards, but once again Ortega ensured it didn’t.

Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) slugged it out on the feet for the majority of this “Fight of the Night” winning contest, but for some reason, Moicano attempted a takedown halfway through the final stanza. As soon as Ortega hit the mat he locked in a guillotine choke and forced the quick tap from Moicano.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 214 results: Ricardo Lamas brutalizes Jason Knight for 1st-round TKO win

Jason Knight was doing well when attacking Ricardo Lamas with leg locks from his back, but when that failed and he went to stand up midway through the opening round, he took a lackadaisical approach to protecting his face.

That was all the opening Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) needed to land a series of damaging punches that left Knight (17-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) wobbling around the cage, with the TKO finish soon to follow at the 4:34 mark of Round 1.

The featherweight bout closed out the preliminary card of today’s UFC 214 event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. It aired on FXX following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on pay-per-view.

Lamas got off to a good start by taking Knight down early in this fight, but once he got Knight on his back he struggled to mount much of an effective offense against the active guard game of Knight. After very nearly getting snared in one of Knight’s leg locks, Lamas escaped, giving Knight the opportunity to get back to his feet.

That’s when Knight made a critical error, however, as he failed to protect his head while scrambling up, leaving his chin open for a hard right hand from Lamas. That punch wobbled Knight, and it only increased the output from Lamas, who began hammering away at the wounded Knight with both fists.

Knight staggered away, trying his best to fire back even as his balance failed him, and when a takedown attempt by Knight resulted in Lamas shrugging him to the mat, referee Mike Beltran moved in for a close look.

A few more punches from Lamas forced Knight to roll to his side and cover up, which proved to be all Beltran needed to see, as he jumped in to call it off with less than 30 seconds to go in the opening round.

The win makes it two in a row for Lamas, who hasn’t lost since his unanimous-decision defeat to current UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway last June. Knight’s loss snaps a four-fight winning streak in the UFC.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 214 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Dann Stupp, John Morgan, Ben Fowlkes, Mike Bohn and Ken Hathaway contributed to this report on site in Anaheim.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 214 prelims pre-event facts: Renan Barao's takedown defense is absolutely flawless

Filed under: News, UFC

UFC 214 is hands down the most stacked event of the year – so much so that the preliminary card for Saturday’s event, which takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., is worthy of its own pre-event facts showcase.

A pair of featherweight contenders get a prominent role on the preliminary card, which FXX and UFC Fight Pass carry, when former title challenger Ricardo Lamas (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) takes on Jason Knight (20-2 MMA 4-1 UFC) in a potential “Fight of the Night” affair.

Check below for 25 pre-fight facts about the UFC 214 preliminary card.

* * * *

Featured FXX prelim

Ricardo Lamas

Lamas is 8-3 since he dropped to the UFC featherweight division in June 2011.

Lamas’ five stoppage victories in UFC featherweight competition are tied for fourth most in divisional history behind champ Max Holloway (eight), Conor McGregor (seven) and Charles Oliveira (six).

Lamas’ three submission victories in UFC featherweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Oliveira (six) and Chas Skelly (four)

Lamas is 8-1 in UFC/WEC competition when he completes at least one takedown.

Jason Knight

Knight’s four-fight UFC winning streak in featherweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Holloway (10), McGregor (seven) and Darren Elkins (five).

Knight is 13-1 in his past 14 fights dating back to July 2012.

Knight has earned 16 of his 20 career victories by stoppage.

Knight attempts 2.8 submissions per 15 minutes in UFC featherweight competition, the highest rate in divisional history.

Other FXX prelims

Aljamain Sterling

Aljamain Sterling (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) absorbs just 1.34 significant strikes per minute in UFC bantamweight competition, the second-best rate in divisional history behind Chico Camus (1.31).

Renan Barao (34-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is 2-3 in his past five fights after going on a 33-fight unbeaten streak that lasted more than nine years.

Barao’s seven stoppage victories in UFC/WEC bantamweight competition are tied with Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland for most in combined divisional history.

Barao is one of two fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a spinning back kick to the head. He accomplished the feat against Wineland at UFC 165.

Renan Barao

Barao is one of seven fighters in UFC history to register two arm-triangle victories.

Barao has defended 100 percent of all opponent takedown attempts in UFC competition, the highest rate in company history. He’s successfully stopped 33 consecutive takedown attempts, a UFC record.

Brian Ortega (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned all three of his UFC victories by stoppage.

Ortega’s three-fight stoppage streak in UFC featherweight bouts is the second longest active streak in the division behind McGregor (five).

Ortega is the only fighter UFC history to earn three consecutive third-round stoppage victories.

Andre Fili

Andre Fili (16-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his seven-fight UFC career. He won his most recent bout at UFC Fight Night 96.

Fili completes 46.2 percent of his takedown attempts in UFC featherweight competition, the second highest rate among active fighters in the weight class behind Mirsad Bektic (53.6 percent).

Calvin Kattar (16-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut on a nine-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since February 2010.

UFC Fight Pass prelims

Kailin Curran

Kailin Curran (4-4 MMA, 1-4 UFC) has suffered four losses in her past five fights after starting her career with four consecutive wins.

Aleksandra Albu (2-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) returns to competition for the first time since April 2015. She’s had just two pro bouts since her debut in June 2013.

Jarred Brooks (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 24, is the youngest of the 24 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Josh Burkman (28-15 MMA, 6-10 UFC) is 1-5 with one no-contest since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in January 2015.

Josh Burkman

Burkman is 1-2 since he dropped to the UFC lightweight division in February 2016.

Burkman is one of eight fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a slam. He accomplished the feat against Sam Morgan at The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale.

Burkman’s 21-second knockout of Morgan at the TUF 2 Finale is the fastest slam knockout in UFC history.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Chris Weidman and UFC on FOX 25's other winning fighters?

Filed under: News, UFC

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What next for UFC on FOX 25’s losing fighters?)

Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 main event had an important impact on the middleweight division. Former champ Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) put himself back in the mix as a relevant player in the weight class with a third-round submission of Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC)

“All-American” wasn’t the only one to get a meaningful victory at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. In the FOX-televised co-main event, Darren Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) strengthened his featherweight contender status, Patrick Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) won another grueling fight, and Jimmie Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) shut down a hyped up-and-comer in the network-televised opener.

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 on FOX 25’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Jimmie Rivera

Dominick Cruz

Should fight: Dominick Cruz
Why they should fight: Rivera pushed his winning streak to a remarkable 20 consecutive fights when he defeated bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision.

Rivera’s nearly nine-year run without a loss continued when he handed a rare defeat to the Brazilian, providing the 135-pound division with further notice that he’s coming for the title. Rivera has had some bad luck with injuries and fight cancellations, but he hopes the latest win secures no less than a No. 1 contender fight.

Immediately following his win, Rivera targeted former UFC champ Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who was calling the action from cageside. “The Dominator” hasn’t fought since losing the 135-pound belt to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207, and with Garbrandt pegged to defend against T.J. Dillashaw next, setting up a fight between Rivera and Cruz would be perfect for the advancement of the division.

Patrick Cummins

Jared Cannonier

Should fight: Jared Cannonier
Why they should fight: Cummins’ up-and-down UFC career once again took an upward turn when he scored a split-decision win over Gian Villante in a hard-fought light heavyweight matchup.

Until Cummins can put together a big run, he’s going to remain relegated to mid-tier 205-pound matchups. That’s a perfectly fine role for now, especially because he’s likely to get more chances to break into the elite going forward.

Cummins’ wrestling is going to be a big threat against any opponent he fights. He’s struggled against hard hitters, though, and Cannonier (10-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) matches the power of anyone in the weight class. Cannonier has had difficulty with grapplers during his career, so the danger of the matchup would go both ways.

Darren Elkins

Ricardo Lamas

Should fight: Winner of Ricardo Lamas vs. Jason Knight at UFC 214
Why they should fight: Elkins once again pulled off a huge victory when he went into hostile territory and defeated Dennis Bermudez in a crucial featherweight bout.

Elkins pushed his winning streak to five when he earned a split-decision win over Bermudez in the co-main event affair, setting himself up for more big things in the future.

With the top of the division locked up with a number of potential title-fight scenarios, Elkins is going to need to put in even more work to get in the conversation as a realistic challenger to champ Max Holloway. He’s already on the best run of his UFC tenure, and a victory over the winner of the UFC 214 bout between Lamas (17-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Knight (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) would elevate his position even more.

Chris Weidman

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

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Jason Knight replaces 'Korean Zombie' at UFC 214 in Anaheim

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Ricardo Lamas has a new opponent for next month’s UFC 214 event.

UFC officials today announced Jason Knight (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and has stepped in for injured featherweight Chan Sung Jung (14-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and now meet Lamas (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC). Jung’s injury was revealed this past week.

UFC 214 takes place July 29 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the fight card hasn’t been finalized.

Lamas is No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings. Knight is an honorable mention and just outside the top 15.

Lamas, a former title challenger, is coming off a second-round guillotine win over Charles Oliveira this past November at UFC Fight Night 98, which earned “Performance of the Night” honors. The 35-year-old vet is 4-2 since falling short to then-champ Jose Aldo at UFC 169 in 2014.

Knight looks for his fifth straight win and is coming off back-to-back stoppage victories over Alex Caceres or Chas Skelly, both of which eared “Performance of the Night” honors. The 24-year-old has three overall bonuses with his current four-fight winning streak.

The latest UFC 214 card includes:

  • Champ Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones – for light heavyweight title
  • Cristiane Justino vs. TBA
  • Dooho Choi vs. Andre Fili
  • Jason Knight vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Renan Barao vs. Aljamain Sterling
  • Alexandra Albu vs. Kailin Curran
  • Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober
  • Dmitrii Smoliakov vs. Adam Wieczorkowski
  • Jarred Brooks vs. Eric Shelton
  • Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir
  • Sage Northcutt vs. Claudio Puelles
  • Renato Moicano vs. Brian Ortega
  • Sara McMann vs. Ketlen Vieira

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie