Booking 6 UFC Singapore Main Card Winners, including Max Holloway at Lightweight

Now that the UFC Singapore has concluded, it’s time to look ahead for the main card winners like Max Holloway and Erin Blanchfield.

Related: Max Holloway wins in KO; ‘Korean Zombie’ retires

Max Holloway vs. Beneil Dariush

As advertised, two of the most exciting history of mixed martial arts did exactly what we would expect from them. The Korean Zombie threw caution to the wind and Max Holloway showed his unique ability to remain technical in a brawl. Max Holloway’s one shot kill KO is certain to be of the year end conversations we’ll be having soon. 

Max Holloway finds himself in a strange place in the featherweight division. He still has the ability to defeat at the very top of the division but after coming up on the losing end three times to Alexander Volkanovski, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get another chance to become champion as long as the belt stays in New Zealand. Perhaps it’s time for Max Holloway to fully commit to a move up scale. Unlike his attempt at capturing interim gold at 155 at UFC 236, this should be more than just skipping the weight cut. A new approach to strength, conditioning and nutrition should lead into a fight with a highly ranked lightweight that’s barely outside of the title conversation. Michael Chandler would be the ideal option. But just in case he actually does fight Conor McGregor, let’s go with Beneil Dariush. Dariush recently dropped a title eliminator to Charles Olivera at UFC 289.

Anthony Smith vs. Dustin Jacoby

Both Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann had to dig deep to make it to the final bell. Smith’s swollen eye and Spann’s damaged lead leg made them both wounded animals depending on pure grit and determination to survive. A razor thin margin separated the two with Smith earning the decision and defeating Spann for the second time. 

Smith desperately needed the win to snap his two-fight skid and keep his title hopes alive. But before “Lionheart” can climb the ladder, let’s give him another test against a fresh face that’s looking to break through. Someone like Dustin Jacoby makes sense. Jacoby finished Kennedy Nzechukwu in the first round earlier this month in Nashville.

Giga Chikadze vs. Arnold Allen

For the first few minutes Giga Chikadze looked like a man who had been out of action for 18 months. The long layoff and the unconventional style of Alex Caceres was a lot to work through. But after shaking off the rust, Chikadze was able to take control with precision and power. Although Caceres made a good account for himself and landed just as much as “Ninja,” the power differential was apparent and likely was the primary reason “Bruce Leeroy” came up short on the scorecards. 

Now that Chikadze is back in action, he fits back into the crowded mix of the featherweight division. Arnold Allen makes for an interesting opponent. In April, Allen was defeated by Max Holloway via unanimous decision.

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Rinya Nakamura vs. Brian Kelleher

Rinya Nakamura justified the hype surrounding him. He didn’t just beat Fernie Garcia, he forced the Contender Series vet into a defensive shell for most of the fight. The wrestling and forward pressure of “The Hybrid” put Garcia in survival mode until his gutsy fury in the closing seconds of the final round.

While he’s clearly still a work in progress, Nakamura showed he’s more than capable of leaving his mark in the bantamweight division. The trick is finding matchups that cater to his skill set against names that are more established. Brian Kelleher fits the bill. Before “Boom” withdrew from an April bout with Journey Newsome, he was submitted by Maurio Bautista in June of 2022.

Erin Blanchfield vs. Rose Namajunas/Maron Fiorot winner

It wasn’t pretty but it was effective. After Talia Santos put on a striking clinic in the opening round, Erin Blanchfield adjusted appropriately. She closed the distance, slowed down the pace, tested Santos’ cardio and grinded out a decision win.

Even though it wasn’t her most impressive performance, Blanchfield has certainly earned a title shot. Her biggest obstacle to face the winner of Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko is the UFC’s habit of prematurely forcing title trilogies. Shevchenko evening things with Grasso is very likely to lead to a third consecutive bout. She matches up well with Grasso and would provide a fresh opponent for “The Bullet.”

With that being said, if that hypothetical trilogy does happen, look no further than the winner of Rose Namajunas and Maron Fiorot. That bout takes place next week in Paris.

Junior Tafa vs. Chris Barnett

Junior Tafa barely had time to work up a sweat before dismantling Parker Porter. The Glory Kickboxing vet displayed the perfect balance of crushing power, patience, and killer instincts. 

As exciting as his win was, Porter is the model opponent for Tafa to shine. But maybe that’s exactly what we want to see from “The Juggernaut.” We can lean into that bloodlust while also turning up the notch on the level of opposition. Chris Barnett fits those criteria. Barnett was last seen nearly a year ago at UFC 279 defeating Jake Collier in the second round.

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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