What’s Next For The TUF 28 Finale Winners?
By Myles Hutton
This weekend, the famous UFC octagon made its return to the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, with a clash between 2 ferocious welterweights headlining the bill. We also saw the finals of the ‘TUF 28 Heavy Hitters’, with Spanish standout Juan Espino taking on Justin ‘The Grizzly Bear’ Frazier in the heavyweight finale, and Team Gastelum’s Pannie Kianzad facing #1 pick for the women, Macy Chiasson.
In this write-up, I’ll be expressing my thoughts on what’s next for the winners of the TUF 28 Finale:
Kamaru Usman def Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision
With the betting odds in favour of ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’, the winner could possibly determine the next challenge for welterweight king Tyron Woodley. Both fighters looked in very good shape going into this, both also had their moments however Usman was the more effective man in all areas of the fight, getting the victory in dominant fashion. Personally, I believe Usman deserves the winner of Tyron Woodley vs Colby Covington (fight yet to be made official). He is on a 9 fight winning streak in the UFC and is the only clear contender behind Colby Covington at this moment in time.
Juan Espino def Justin Frazier via Keylock in the 1st round.
38-year-old Spaniard, Juan Espino, proved to be an assertive force, especially in his wrestling and control game, which ultimately helped him get the stoppage and become the TUF 28 Heavyweight winner. Espino, fighting out of American Top Team, simply outclassed Frazier throughout the duration of the fight, earning a performance bonus off Boss Dana White to top it all off. I believe he can compete with the majority of the heavyweight division, even though he is inexperienced fighting at the highest level; I’d like to see him matched up against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who recently got a decision win at UFC 230.
Macy Chiasson def Pannie Kianzad via Rear Naked Choke in the 2nd round.
A fight between two TUF teammates resulted in both thrill and agony as the up and coming finisher Chiasson beat Kianzad fairly comfortably to win the Women’s featherweight final and earn a 6 figure UFC contract. Chiasson escaped an early armbar attempt to then go on and submit Kianzad to get her 2nd professional submission. With Macy Chiasson only being 3-0, if I was the UFC I wouldn’t throw her into the deep end too early; but there is almost no choice as the UFC’s womens featherweight division is still extremely raw. A fight with Megan Anderson is one which could potentially happen in the near future, and I’d love to see it.
Pedro Munhoz def Bryan Caraway via TKO in the 1st round.
In my opinion, Brazilian bantamweight Pedro Munhoz is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. He has proved time and time again that he can compete with the top of the division and has the complete game to back that up. For his next matchup, I’d love to see Munhoz vs John Lineker. It would be great to see the clash of styles with a composed martial artist in Munhoz against a brawler in Lineker.
Edmen Shahbazyan def Darren Stewart via Split Decision.
Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series winner Edman Shahbazyan took Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart into deep waters by using relentless wrestling and top control to get the split decision victory. Shahbazyan, managed by Ronda Rousey, had 7 consecutive first round knockouts going into this fight, so when the game plan was to use his wrestling skills, most of us were surprised. Baring in mind he is only just 21 years of age and still new to the game, the fight that makes most sense for Edmen is to face Adam Yandiev.
Antonina Shevchenko def Ji Yeon Kim via Unanimous Decision.
The sister of flyweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina is one of the biggest prospects in women’s MMA today. By defeating Ji Yeon Kim in her UFC debut, she made a big statement to the rest of the flyweight division. A fight between the winner of Andrea Lee vs Jessica Rose Clark and Shevchenko is one for the future, and is definitely an exciting matchup.