What Next For The Winners at UFC Fight Night 150
By Ben Jessop
The UFC made its way once again to Florida to the BB&T arena to showcase Fight Night 150. The main card treated us to every finish we could ask for, decisions, submissions and first round KO’s. Headlined by Jacare Souza vs Jack Hermansson we were in for a treat from the word go.
The fight that kicked off the main card was Roosevelt Roberts vs Thomas Gifford. Roberts added another win to his unbeaten record making him 8-0 throughout his professional career, now including two in the UFC and one on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series. Unfortunately, Gifford has now lost his UFC debut and his record in littered with losses from other promotions but I am here to have a look at what is next for Roberts as he tries to continue up the ladder in arguably the most stacked division in the entire UFC.
Whilst Roberts cannot underestimate the difficulty of his journey if he decides that one day he’ll break into the top fifteen of the division, he is equipped with the tools to start making some waves amongst the MMA community. I would like to see Roberts face off against Devonte Smith in the octagon – both fighters have near impeccable records with Roberts 8-0 (2 in the UFC) and Smith with 10-1 (2 in the UFC) both fighters have something to prove and will need to attempt to discount the other on the ascent to the top. We’ll see in time, if this is the fight the UFC want to see also.
The next fight on the card was one of the match ups that had me most excited for the evening. We had a bantamweight showdown between veteran John Lineker and Cory Sandhagen. You cannot argue the stature of Lineker, who has a record of 31-9 across a whole host of promotions. His most recent loss, prior to his bout, was against the then champion TJ Dillashaw back in 2016. Despite only being a year younger than Lineker, Sandhagen has a record of 11-1 with now four fights within the UFC.
This win for Sandhagen really does upset the rankings as he just won via unanimous decision against the UFC’s number 8 bantamweight in the world. People will want to see Sandhagen given an even harder task to prove his worth amongst the best of the best.
Before we get too far into wanting to throw Sandhagen to the wolves we need to have a genuine think about who in the top fifteen need a win to throw their own name back in the mix, along with if Sandhagen gets another win, who would propel him into stardom? I think the answer is in John Dodson. He’s currently on a two fight slide with losses to Jimmie Rivera and Petr Yan so he desperately needs a win to get himself back on track and potentially stopping one of the best ‘up and comers’ in the division could be hugely beneficial.
Next in line to the main event, we saw a light heavyweight bout between the vet Glover Teixeira and Ion Cutelaba. Teixeira managed to secure another win this time round bringing his record to 29-7. The 39 year old put on a strong display and managed to secure a rear naked choke in the second round. Currently sat at #11 in the official UFC rankings, he has a huge amount of talent ahead of him, although a huge amount of the top ten already have scheduled fights and having already lost to Corey Anderson in 2018 the next fighter available for Teixeira is #5 ranked Dominic Reyes who currently holds a 11-0 record, having beat Volkan Oezdemir in March 2019 under debatable circumstances we would be able to see if Reyes can hold is own against a UFC legend in Teixeira, and a win for either fighter only propels them to the top of the board.
The welterweights were next on the roster and we were given a fantastic matchup between Mike Perry and Alex Oliveira. With both fighters coming off of losses, Perry vs Cerrone and Oliveira vs Nelson it was a fight to get back on the winning side and fight for a space in a heavy crowded top fifteen. Perry won via unanimous decision after three rounds of combat and it was hard to argue with the decision. I genuinely think Perry has the opportunity and skill set to upset the top fifteen, after his loss to one of the best versions of Cowboy Cerrone I’ve ever seen, and then this big win it’s only a matter of time before he breaks that boundary. I’d like to see Perry go up against Belal Muhammad who is also coming off a win against Curtis Millender only this month. I’m excited to see Perry in the octagon again.
Our co-main event hosted the controversial Greg Hardy against Dmitrii Smoliakov in a heavyweight clash. Hardy’s UFC debut was arguably one of the most controversial fights the UFC has put together in recent years due to Hardy’s history with accusations of domestic abuse, coupled with an illegal knee that saw him lose his debut due to disqualification.
Once again, the fans have speculated that this fight was only really put together to hand Hardy a win and in turn, hopefully make him more marketable in the promotion. The Russian has a tough record of 9-3 in his professional career with Hardy handing him his third loss in three fights within the UFC and it came in the form of a round one KO. I think Hardy is going to prove near on impossible to market to MMA fans across the board but it appears the UFC does not agree.
The question really is now, who does he fight next? Fans will be eager to feed Hardy to a top fifteen contender, not because he stands a chance, but because they want to see him looking like a deer in the headlights. There is no question Hardy remains a long way off anywhere even remotely close to the top but I think there are still fighters that offer him to difficulties the fans want to see him face, and also a fight, that if he wins has the chance to push him just that little bit closer. I’m talking about Sergei Palvovich who of course just won in Russia against Marcelo Golm and prior to that faced the force of Overeem in his debut. Palvovich has the tools to dismantle Hardy, but it’s not a clear cut win – it could go either way and that’s interesting to the heavyweight division.
The ‘upset’ of the evening was featured in our main event. Jacare Souza vs Jack Hermansson. For many, this was supposed to be whitewash. Souza came into this fight a heavy favourite but as often happens in MMA, the logical choice was not the decided outcome. Hermansson came out looking like a different beast and if we were to be entirely honest he managed to pick apart Souza in pretty much every department and secured the win via unanimous decision, when you couple that with a round one submission of David Branch less than a month ago, it’s impossible for fans or the UFC to ignore his rise.
Having defeated the divisions number four, and with Rockhold moving up to 205 to face Jan Blachowicz, there seems to be only one option, Yoel Romero. The Soldier of God. If Hermansson manages to pull off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history and defeat Romero, he’s in with the title shot and with Romero coming off of his loss to the dominant champ in Robert Whittaker, a win for him would hold him in good stead to take on Whittaker for the trilogy.
All the fights that took place have paved the way for great opportunities, not only for the fighters involved but also for the fans, the divisions and the promotion itself.