3 fights that should be booked following UFC Vegas 28

UFC Vegas 28
UFC Vegas 28

Another UFC Fight Night card has passed us by and with it comes a host of possibilities moving forward for both the victors and the unfortunate fighters who were defeated.

The UFC was once again back at the Apex facility for this card, which came a week prior to another blockbuster pay-per-view set for this weekend. Despite a number of largely forgettable matchups, UFC Vegas 28 provided some memorable moments and a 'Fight of the Year' contender.

In the headlining fight, Jairzinho Rozenstruik returned to winning ways with another knockout. In the final seconds of the opening round, the Suriname-born heavyweight finished Brazil's Augusto Sakai in devastating fashion.

So, what are the next steps we should see after some of those results? Here are three fights that should be booked following the events at UFC Vegas 28.

#3 Miguel Baeza vs. Alex Morono - UFC welterweight

Miguel Baeza (left) and Alex Morono (right)
Miguel Baeza (left) and Alex Morono (right)

At UFC Vegas 28, Miguel Baeza narrowly lost a classic. Against Santiago Ponzinibbio, 'Caramel Thunder' played his part in what was a certain 'Fight of the Year' contender. Despite falling to his first loss in the sport of MMA, Baeza was one of the UFC's hottest prospects before the defeat, and he remains one now.

At just 28-years-old, Baeza has immense potential, and his UFC career so far has shown that. Since debuting for the promotion in 2019 as a 7-0 professional, wins over Hector Aldana and Takashi Sato, as well as a memorable knockout of Matt Brown, have ascended Baeza to a double-figure win tally. A victory over Ponzinibbio would have been huge for his immediate career, but his performance did his reputation no harm.

One potential opponent for Baeza to attempt to rebound against is Alex Morono. At UFC Vegas 26, Morono put in the biggest performance of his career on less than a week's notice. Against Donald Cerrone, a UFC legend who has fought some of the best in the promotion, Morono made a statement.

A perfectly placed overhand right and some fast and furious shots after 'Cowboy' became hurt led to the fight being stopped inside the opening round. Morono needed to rebound after a loss to Anthony Pettis last December and he did exactly that. It was a seriously impressive display from 'The Great White'

Given their style and ability on their feet, a matchup between Baeza and Morono would likely provide entertainment and would ascend one of the two close to a spot in the rankings.

#2 Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Muslim Salikhov - UFC welterweight

Santiago Ponzinibbio (left) and Muslim Salikhov (right)
Santiago Ponzinibbio (left) and Muslim Salikhov (right)

How good is it to see Santiago Ponzinibbio back to his best? The Argentinian was the other half of Saturday night's best fight against Baeza. After battling back from some rough early damage to his lead leg, Ponzinibbio threw viciously for the remainder of the fight and earned a decision victory. After a knockout loss in his return against Li Jingliang, he needed this.

'The Argentine Dagger' has often been on the cusp of becoming a star at 170-pounds in the UFC. His record is more than impressive, but a serious injury provided a setback at the worst possible time. Ponzinibbio was riding high in the UFC after accumulating a seven-fight winning streak that featured wins over Neil Magny, Mike Perry, Gunnar Nelson and Zak Cummings. After a staph infection stalled his rise, he aimed to pick up where he left off when he returned in 2021.

After a setback against Jingliang earlier this year, Ponzinibbio showed what he is capable of in the division at UFC Vegas 28.

Although he called out Vicente Luque, I think it's fair to say the Brazilian is in line for a top five or at the very least a top 10 opponent next time out. Ideally, I think a matchup with Geoff Neal would make the most sense and would be a mouthwatering prospect. But understandably, Neal is set to take some time away from MMA to look after his body.

With that said, how about a matchup with another of last weekend's winners, Muslim Salikhov? The Russian is riding high after extending his UFC winning streak to five against Francisco Trinaldo on Saturday. With just one defeat since 2012, the 'King of Kung Fu' has gone under the radar as a prospect in the division due to his age (36) and his recent time on the sidelines with health issues.

But his striking is as fast and slick as ever and a matchup with Ponzinibbio could provide us with another classic. For Salikhov, it would offer him the chance to add a big name to his resume and make a push for a ranking. For Ponzinibbio, it would give him the opportunity to form a winning streak and really show he is a contender again.

#1 Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Marcin Tybura - UFC heavyweight

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (left) and Marcin Tybura (right)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (left) and Marcin Tybura (right)

It's always satisfying when two winners from the same card go on to face each other next. Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Marcin Tybura are another pairing that could meet later this year.

The main and co-main event victors both made statements at UFC Vegas 28. Rozenstruik returned to winning ways with a brutal main event knockout against fellow contender Augusto Sakai. The finish happened right at the first-round buzzer, which isn't the first time we've seen the Suriname-born heavyweight leave it late in the round. He's certainly one you have to keep full focus on right until the end...

Poland's Marcin Tybura put in a similarly destructive performance in the card's co-main. Against Walt Harris, 'Tybur' survived an early onslaught and secured a first-round TKO. Having extended his UFC winning streak, which includes victories over Greg Hardy, Ben Rothwell and Sergey Spivak, to five, the 35-year-old should find himself inside the heavyweight top 10 come the next set of ranking updates.

With Rozenstruik just outside the top five, a fight with Tybura makes sense positionally and in the context of their careers. Rozenstruik has been inconsistent since his win over Alistair Overeem and his stock had slipped slightly. Meanwhile, Tybura has strung wins together and climbed closer to 'Bigi Boy'. While Rozenstruik could fight Curtis Blaydes, I feel a fight against Tybura is more appropriate at this stage in his UFC stint.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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