UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Harris - What's next for the big winners?
- The UFC's latest card is in the books, but what should be next for the big winners from UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Harris?
- Alistair Overeem, Claudia Gadelha and Song Yadong all picked up big wins last night.
The UFC's third show in the space of a week, UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Harris went down from Jacksonville, Florida last night and gave us some big winners and losers. A mix of veterans and rising stars picked up some major victories on the card, and with the UFC set to continue its operation during the Covid-19 pandemic, there's every chance we see some of these fighters again in the near future.
So what's next for last night's big winners?
#1 Alistair Overeem
Alistair Overeem's win over Walt Harris was his third in his last four fights, and although he showed issues with his chin – he was close to being stopped by Harris in the first round – he also displayed a ton of heart and toughness to come back and win.
The problem with trying to book the next fight for 'The Reem' is that he's basically fought everyone in the division already. There doesn't seem to be much point in rematching him with someone like Curtis Blaydes or Junior Dos Santos, but a fight with an up-and-comer doesn't feel right either.
With that in mind, two names come to the forefront: Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov. Both men are ranked above Overeem right now, and both are coming off wins – but neither is within touching distance of a title shot.
Of the two, I'd rather see 'The Reem' face Lewis. The fight would be a massive test for both men; could Overeem really take a shot from 'The Black Beast'? But equally, could Lewis survive the kind of body shots that the Dutchman can dish out – and could he avoid going to the ground with an underrated and dangerous grappler like Overeem?
Overall, this would be a genuinely excellent fight.
#2 Claudia Gadelha
It wasn't the cleanest victory, but Claudia Gadelha picked up her second win in a row by edging out Angela Hill on the judges' scorecards last night.
The fight showed both Gadelha's strengths – her strong ground game and underrated striking – and her weaknesses – a lesser gas tank and a penchant for trading – all in one. But the fact is that she remains a highly respectable contender in the division.
Like Overeem though, the issue for her next fight is that she's basically fought everyone in the division at least once before. I feel like the former champion – Rose Namajunas – would be a great fight to make, but the UFC may still want to rematch 'Thug Rose' with Jessica Andrade.
If that's the case, then the best opponent for Gadelha might be Tatiana Suarez. Sure, it sounds like a horrible match for the Brazilian on paper, but if she could win, then it'd be hard not to justify handing her a title shot. And a win for Suarez would be a huge feather in the cap for one of the UFC's best up-and-comers.
#3 Dan Ige
Hawaii's Dan Ige picked up the biggest win of his career last night, taking a decision win over former top Lightweight contender Edson Barboza. The win should come with an asterisk; most fans felt Barboza deserved the nod and it was also the Brazilian's first fight at 145lbs, but the result should still propel 'Dynamite' forward.
Ige now has six wins in a row, meaning it's time for him to take a step up the ladder again. 145lbs is a packed division, meaning there are a lot of options for the Hawaiian, but for me, a great fight would see him face off with Shane Burgos.
Like Ige, Burgos is primarily a striker, and 'The Hurricane' has had a number of massively entertaining fights during his UFC career. The New Yorker's 2019 wins over Cub Swanson and Makwan Amirkhani might mean he's looking further up the ladder himself, but realistically, he may not be able to net a fight with someone like Brian Ortega or Yair Rodriguez yet.
That means that he'll need some kind of placeholder to keep him going – and Ige would work perfectly in that sense. The fight would likely be an exciting brawl, and Ige's toughness would mean it could go either way.
#4 Song Yadong
Song Yadong picked up a big – if contentious – win over Marlon Vera last night in the show's best fight, moving to 5-0-1 in the UFC in the process. Despite last night's fight taking place at 145lbs, Song is undoubtedly a contender in his regular stomping ground of 135lbs.
Who could be next for 'The Kung Fu Monkey'? I'd love to see him face Pedro Munhoz next. 'The Young Punisher' was last seen in a losing effort against top contender Aljamain Sterling, but his style would definitely mesh well against Song's.
Would Song's boxing-heavy, counterpunching style be enough to get past Munhoz's kicking game, as well as his array of dangerous skills on the ground? It'd be a fascinating match to watch, and a win for Song would propel him into title contention instantly.
#5 Miguel Baeza
In last night's most entertaining prelim fight, prospect Miguel Baeza went toe-to-toe with former title contender Matt Brown, and despite taking his licks, he came out on top – stopping 'The Immortal' with a second-round barrage.
Were this 2014, Baeza could well be in line for a title shot. Of course, a win over Matt Brown in 2020 doesn't mean quite so much; Brown is an aging veteran and although he's dangerous, he's still a fighter who was stopped three times in a row in 2016.
The win does give 'Caramel Thunder' much more name-value though, and it should be enough to give him an opponent a little higher on the totem pole again next time out. My pick? I'd love to see him throw down with Niko Price.
'The Hybrid' is 7-4 in the UFC, and none of his fights have gone the distance. That means he guarantees excitement every time he steps into the Octagon – and that'd mesh well with Baeza's own action-heavy style.
Basically, this would be a classic kill or be killed fight, and after it, we'd definitely know where Baeza belongs in the division.