The UFC visited Raleigh, North Carolina last night for Fight Night 166, and in a largely entertaining show, we saw plenty of finishes, including one in the main event as Curtis Blaydes stated his claim as the top contender at Heavyweight by stopping former champion Junior Dos Santos in the second round.
Elsewhere on the card, Michael Chiesa picked up his biggest win to date by outworking Rafael Dos Anjos for a unanimous decision, while in the most relevant fight on the preliminary portion, hot prospect Arnold Allen defeated hardened veteran Nik Lentz.
So where should last night’s big stars go from here? Here are a few suggestions.
#1 Curtis Blaydes
Last night’s biggest winner was Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes, who overcame former UFC champion Junior Dos Santos in the main event. The hulking wrestler continued to show new wrinkles in his overall game, as when he found that he couldn’t take JDS down as he’d done to practically all of his previous opponents, he simply used the threat of the takedown to set up a huge right hand that led to his TKO win.
So who should Blaydes face next? The problem the UFC has is that with a third fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier for the Heavyweight title booked, and Francis Ngannou – who has already beaten Blaydes twice – booked against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, not only is there a logjam at the top of the division, but ‘Razor’ has already fought many of the other fighters available.
A lot then depends on whether Blaydes wants to stay active, or wait and hope for the title shot that might come if Rozenstruik upsets Ngannou. The former would probably be more advisable given that he isn’t a mainstream star yet and the UFC could easily give ‘Bigi Boy’ a shot with a win over ‘The Predator’, so with that in mind, a showdown with Derrick Lewis – if ‘The Black Beast’ overcomes Ilir Latifi at UFC 247 – could work, as it would offer Blaydes a chance to beat a former title challenger and would be a winnable fight due to Lewis’s negligent takedown defense.