5 fights that should be booked following UFC Vegas 23

Julian Marquez, Daniel Rodriguez, Arnold Allen, Mackenzie Dern and Kevin Holland
Julian Marquez, Daniel Rodriguez, Arnold Allen, Mackenzie Dern and Kevin Holland

Another UFC 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 Vegas 23 card had some memorable moments. During the prelims, Impa Kasanganay returned to the win column with a submission victory over Sasha Palatnikov. An impressive display from the rising Jack Shore excelled him further up the 135-pound division. And in perhaps the most memorable moment of the card, Jarjis Danho returned and brutally knocked out Yorgan De Castro.

The main card also brought us several talking points. Another Mackenzie Dern masterclass shot her towards the top-five and a dominant win for Marvin Vettori in the main event might have set up ‘The Italian Dream’ for a meeting with Israel Adesanya:

So, what are the next steps we should see after some of those results? Here are five fights that should be booked following the events at UFC Vegas 23.

#5 Julian Marquez vs. Joaquin Buckley - UFC Middleweight

Julian Marquez (left) and Joaquin Buckley (right)
Julian Marquez (left) and Joaquin Buckley (right)

Julian Marquez is an absolute entertainer. After returning from a near-three-year period on the sidelines, ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’ came back this year and has already brought us two impressive submission wins and a pair of memorable post-fight interviews.

At UFC Vegas 23, Marquez faced veteran Sam Alvey. The 34-year-old moved back down to middleweight for the fight with Marquez and expected his experience to be the key to victory. Incredibly, Alvey has more knockouts than Marquez has professional fights.

Sadly for Alvey, experience wasn’t enough. Marquez put in a convincing and dominant performance. After rocking Alvey on the feet with crisp and powerful strikes, Marquez sunk in a rear-naked choke and put ‘Smile’n Sam’ to sleep.

After UFC Vegas 23, Marquez' direction in the division is firmly up. A number of names stand out as potential opponents for the 30-year-old. With names like Alessio Di Chirico and Anthony Hernandez recently agreeing to fights, one option without a booked fight is Joaquin Buckley.

A fight between Marquez and Buckley would certainly create an intriguing matchup. After one of the craziest knockouts in history against Impa Kasanganay last year, Buckley added another highlight reel KO against Jordan Wright last November. After a to Di Chirico in January slightly derailed his hype train, Buckley will be looking to rebound next time out.

Let's hope this matchup gets booked. It'll be viral knockout versus viral post-fight interview.

#4 Daniel Rodriguez vs. Niko Price - UFC Welterweight

Daniel Rodriguez (left) and Niko Price (right)
Daniel Rodriguez (left) and Niko Price (right)

Daniel Rodriguez is a dangerous welterweight. In one of the first jabs he threw this past weekend, he broke Mike Perry’s nose. Granted, against Perry, a broken nose is a likely outcome given his record for the injury, but Rodriguez has the power and the striking to damage just about anyone.

At UFC Vegas 23, ‘D-Rod’ showed his quality. Against a dangerous opponent in the experienced Perry, he was dominant. Rodriguez brought slick striking and impressive power to the cage. For 15 minutes, the 34-year-old battered and bloodied ‘Platinum’ Perry.

It can be strongly argued Rodriguez has earned a fight against a ranked opponent. If the UFC agree, perhaps a bout with Robbie Lawler or Sean Brady is a possibility. However, I don’t think the matchmakers will go down that route. Instead, I think the 34-year-old will be booked against a name like Niko Price.

Price is a welterweight warrior. Whenever he enters the cage, we can be sure of an entertaining contest. Price boasts UFC wins over the likes of Alan Jouban, Randy Brown, Tim Means and James Vick. A win for Rodriguez against an opponent like Price would ascend him towards the rankings.

After a majority draw against Donald Cerrone last year, Price was suspended for marijuana usage. After being given a six-month suspension, ‘The Hybrid’ will be allowed to compete again in the summer. If that timeline works for Rodriguez, this fight makes sense.

#3 Mackenzie Dern vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk - UFC Strawweight

Mackenzie Dern (left) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (right)
Mackenzie Dern (left) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (right)

Just thinking about this fight gets me hyped. There aren’t many potential matchups as exciting as a meeting between Mackenzie Dern and Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the entire promotion, yet alone just the women’s strawweight division.

Mackenzie Dern is a serious problem for the rest of the 115-pound weight class. If anyone doubted that before she added a fourth consecutive win to her streak, they certainly can’t now.

At UFC Vegas 23, the Brazilian-American locked in an armbar and Nina Nunes instantly tapped. Her submission this past weekend made history. Dern now boasts the most submission finishes in UFC strawweight history. She just keeps getting better.

Now on a four-fight winning streak, it's impossible for anyone to deny Mackenzie Dern's UFC title credentials. It wouldn't be a stretch to say she should face the winner of Zhang Weili's title defense against Rose Namajunas at UFC 261. However, should the UFC decide she needs another win to be eligible for a title shot, a matchup with Joanna Jedrzejczyk is just as mouth-watering.

Jedrzejczyk hasn't entered the octagon since her Fight of the Year contender with Zhang Weili last March. The former champion was certainly due a rest after that absolute war.

The Pole is without a doubt deserving of another title shot after that fight alone. But should the UFC go a different way, a number one contender matchup with Mackenzie Dern would be thrilling. It might even benefit her to enter the cage at least once before challenging for the belt again.

#2 Arnold Allen vs. Dan Ige - UFC Featherweight

Dan Ige (left) and Arnold Allen (right)
Dan Ige (left) and Arnold Allen (right)

At UFC Vegas 23 this past weekend, Arnold Allen secured the biggest victory of his career. Allen beat another exciting prospect in Sodiq Yusuff in Saturday’s co-main event. The victory extended his winning streak to 10 and moved him to 8-0 in the UFC.

Allen was impressive all-round. On more than one occasion he connected clean and rocked the Nigerian-born featherweight. Despite not finding the finish, the Englishman’s striking and ability to control the fight has firmly established his name near the top of the division.

Allen showed exactly why he is so highly touted as a future champion. A matchup with Dan Ige to determine the division’s top rising star is an exciting prospect.

What a matchup Arnold Allen versus Dan Ige would be. Ige’s potential has always been high and he is beginning to go someway towards reaching it.

A defeat to Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi last year provided a slight derail to the ‘Dynamite’ hype train, but the vicious right hand that rendered Gavin Tucker unconscious last month has the 29-year-old back on track.

Both Ige and Allen sit at the back end of the featherweight top 10. A fight between the two would perhaps establish the top prospect in the division and decide which of the pair is ready for a top-five challenge.

#1 Kevin Holland vs. Ian Heinisch - UFC Middleweight

Ian Heinisch (left) and Kevin Holland (right)
Ian Heinisch (left) and Kevin Holland (right)

At UFC Vegas 23, we saw that Kevin Holland is one of the most game fighters in the UFC. Holland fought five rounds against one of the division's best for the second time in just three weeks. But it's clear his poor takedown defense and groundwork is an issue that, as it stands, will stop him ascending the division and defeating the top contenders.

As with UFC Vegas 22, the 28-year-old had success during the limited time the bout spent as a stand-up battle, but he didn't have enough of an opportunity to utilize his striking. Holland was constantly taken down and controlled on the mat.

Recency bias is a painful element of the sport. It’s worth remembering that Holland’s 5-0 2020 wasn’t simply luck or a fluke. He has explosive power and talent and we witnessed it several times last year.


Holland's next fight is an important one. The matchup that makes sense is Ian Heinisch. The Denver-born middleweight looked like a dark horse in the division and found himself in the octagon with Kelvin Gastelum in February. His quality proved to be too much for Heinisch, who fell to a unanimous decision loss.

Just about everyone below Holland is scheduled to fight in the coming months. In a matchup with Heinisch, both men are coming off defeats to two top middleweight contenders and need to rebound in style in order to revitalize their careers. This matchup needs to happen.

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Edited by John Cunningham
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