After a four-year absence, the MMA world leader returned to Tennessee on Saturday night for UFC Nashville. With this latest UFC Fight Night card in the books, it’s time to look ahead to what could be in store for the main card winners including Cory Sandhagen and Tatiana Suarez.
Cory Sandhagen vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Cory Sandhagen took a tremendous risk agreeing to face Rob Font after his original opponent, Umar Nurmagomedov withdrew on short notice. Font represented a completely different style of opponent and is one of the most dangerous men in the bantamweight division.
The gamble paid off as Cory Sandhagen completely dominated after an intriguing first round. His top control sealed the deal and nullified Font’s dynamic offense on the feet.
Cory Sandhagen’s big risk should be rewarded with a journey up the ladder. Since Merab Dvalishvili wants to act as champion Aljamain Sterling’s enforcer, let’s see if he can keep the field clear for his friend again. Dvalishvili was most recently seen defeating former champ Petr Yan via decision in March.
Tatiana Suarez vs. Weili Zhang/Amanda Lemos winner
Tatiana Suarez has finally returned to the strawweight division and has picked up exactly where she left off. Submitting Jessica Andrade after besting her on the feet showed that the Lindenwood University wrestler has made good on the potential many saw in her when she made her UFC debut in 2017.
Sure, Andrade hasn’t had the greatest run as of late, but the argument can be made for her previous two opponents earning title shots in two different weight classes. Add Suarez to that list. With Weili Zhang putting her belt on the line against Amanda Lemos in less than two weeks, the UFC can take a few directions in the aftermath.
Xiaonan Yan might get the call especially if Zhang retains. That match-up would be perfect for the Chinese market. However, outside of business interests, Suarez might be the right call.
Dustin Jacoby vs. Anthony Smith/Ryan Spann winner
When Kennedy Nzechukwu was booked to face Dustin Jacoby, it was supposed to be the coming out moment for the Nigerian. A three-fight streak of finishes in a wide-open division with turnover at the top could surely lead to a title opportunity. Instead, Dustin Jacoby decided to steal that momentum for himself and score an upset with a ferocious first-round knockout.
While this win shouldn’t put Jacoby that much closer to the belt, it should earn him an opponent of name value that can possibly open that path. That’s why he should face the winner of Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann. Smith and Spann are scheduled for later this month in Singapore.
Diego Lopes vs. Sean Woodson
After a good showing in a short notice losing effort to Movsar Evloev at UFC 288, Diego Lopes got his hand raised for the first time in the Octagon. His first-round armbar of Gavin Tucker didn’t give us much in terms of footage to study but the Brazilian showcased an unorthodox approach and continued dedication to getting the finish.
Lopes seems to be primed for an accelerated rise in the featherweight division. The promotion should look to put him up against another winning 145er from last night. Sean Woodson and Lopes would not thin the herd among the talent outside of the top 15, but the action potential is off of the charts. Woodson won a decision over Dennis Buzukja on the preliminary card.
Tanner Boser vs. Anton Turkalj/Tyson Pedro winner
In a bout that was equal parts wild and sloppy as it was technical and strategic, Tanner Boser picked up a well-needed win over Aleksa Camur. A stiff jab, well-placed check hooks with a dash of old-fashioned knucklehead brawling was good enough to earn the unanimous decision.
This was the final bout of Boser’s contract so “The Bulldozer” couldn’t have picked a better time to snap his two-fight skid. A win over Camur won’t exactly shoot him up the rankings but should be enough to return to the Octagon to continue his new light heavyweight campaign. A fight with the winner of Anton Turkalj and Tyson Pedro makes sense here. Turkalj and Pedro will meet at UFC 293 next month in Sydney, Australia.
L’udovit Klein – Fares Ziam
While it was a competitive fight at times, L’udovit Klein had little trouble in handling hot prospect Ignacio Bahamondes. The shorter Klein was able to negate the reach and kicks of the Contender Series vet and employ his own boxing game along with strategic takedowns to secure the unanimous decision win.
Let’s put Klein in front of Fares Ziam next. As he did with Bahamondes, Klein can put a well-regarded up-and-comer to the test. In Ziam’s last outing, a decision win over Jai Herbert in July, the lukewarm showing provided little insight into what “The Smile Killer” has to offer. Klein can force a more revealing fight.