The UFC’s latest Fight Night event is in the books, and the fans in Jacksonville, Florida were treated to some excellent levels of violence overall.
UFC Fight Night: Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria featured some big winners, but what should be next for them?
Some fighters have practically called their shots already, while for others, the matchmakers will have to think a little.
Here are five fights to make following UFC Fight Night: Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria.
#5. UFC heavyweight bout: Austen Lane vs. Justin Tafa
The biggest disappointment in last night’s UFC event was the fight between Austen Lane and Justin Tafa. The big heavyweights looked set to have a wild throwdown until a horrible eye poke from Lane meant that Tafa was unable to continue.
The incident didn’t appear to be intentional at all – Lane threw a punch with his right hand and never meant for his left to contact Tafa’s eyes.
However, the damage was done and nobody could’ve been shocked when ‘Bad Man’ was unable to continue.
Quite how long Tafa will be out probably depends on the damage done to his eyes, but with any luck, it won’t be anything serious and he’ll be able to return quickly.
If that’s the case, then the UFC’s matchmakers should simply run this fight back. It looked set to be exciting for the 30 seconds that it lasted, neither man warrants a bump up the card, and there’s an angle behind it to make it interesting for the fans now, too.
#4. UFC welterweight bout: Neil Magny vs. Randy Brown
Last night’s preliminary card saw two welterweights pick up solid wins. First, Randy Brown edged out Wellington Turman via decision, and then Neil Magny turned back the challenge of the surging Philip Rowe.
Given that he’s ranked at No.11, many people might suggest Magny should fight a higher-ranked opponent next time out, but the truth is that it would be a pointless move for him.
At this stage of his career, ‘The Haitian Sensation’ is not going to contend for the welterweight title. Instead, he’s much better suited to fighting up-and-comers.
Therefore, why not match him with Brown? ‘Rude Boy’ has won seven of his last nine bouts dating back to 2019, he’s got excellent skills in all areas, and his length and reach could give the similarly lanky Magny some trouble.
If Brown could win, then he’d quite rightfully move into the rankings, and after nearly a decade in the promotion, he’s earned that shot. Why not let him take it?
#3. UFC middleweight bout: Brendan Allen vs. Marvin Vettori
One of the biggest winners in action last night was middleweight contender Brendan Allen. He completely dismantled Bruno Silva to pick up his fifth win in a row and looked every inch the potential title threat he wants to be.
With that considered, who should ‘All In’ be matched with next? One option could be Marvin Vettori.
‘The Italian Dream’ fell to defeat against Jared Cannonier earlier this month, but he’s still ranked in the top five, and has beaten many of the top 185lbers in the world.
Could Allen really defeat him? It’s hard to say. ‘All In’ has improved his striking dramatically, showing this by dropping Silva last night, and he’s clearly a deadly grappler on the ground. However, he’s never faced anyone as good as Vettori.
With that said, Vettori is not the best finisher, with his last stoppage coming over three years ago. Therefore, there’d definitely be some opportunities for Allen to look to capitalize on.
Overall this would be an excellent middleweight bout well worth the UFC booking.
#2. UFC flyweight bout: Maycee Barber vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Arguably the biggest step forward taken by a fighter last night was from Maycee Barber. ‘The Future’ produced her best UFC performance to date, violently stopping Amanda Ribas in the second round after a head kick and a flurry of punches.
Barber should be elevated up into the top ten with this win, but based on her athletic prowess and her violent finishing skills, she could also be seen as a legitimate title contender now.
Therefore, an excellent opponent for her to take on next would be Katlyn Chookagian.
‘Blonde Fighter’ defeated Ribas last year and has turned back the challenge of most of the other top 125lbers in the world.
In fact, her only losses since 2019 have come to a pair of former champions in Jessica Andrade and Valentina Shevchenko, as well as highly-rated prospect Manon Fiorot.
Chookagian’s technical, by-the-book striking style would definitely be able to give Barber some issues, so if ‘The Future’ could find a way to get past that and perhaps stop the former title challenger, it’d become impossible not to take her seriously.
#1. UFC featherweight title: Alexander Volkanovski or Yair Rodriguez vs. Ilia Topuria
The big winner from last night’s show was undoubtedly Ilia Topuria. ‘El Matador’ absolutely dominated Josh Emmett, doing everything but finish him, en route to a lopsided decision victory.
After the fight was over, Topuria called for a shot at the UFC featherweight title, and realistically, it’s the only option for him that makes sense right now.
With Alexander Volkanovski due to face Yair Rodriguez in their title bout in two weeks, the timing for Topuria would be perfect, assuming there’s no controversy in the result of that fight, of course.
More to the point, ‘El Matador’ would be a fresh title challenger for either man, he’s unbeaten, looks to be in the form of his life, and has a lot of charisma, too.
Could he really dispatch Volkanovski with the ease that he’s stated he will? That seems doubtful, but based on the way he destroyed Emmett, it would also be impossible to count him out.
Essentially, Topuria has more than earned a title shot, and so hopefully, the UFC can put it together for the back end of 2023 or the early part of 2024.