What’s Next For The Winners at UFC Greenville
By Jack Maher
After what seemed like a lengthy break by today’s standards, the UFC returned to our screens with an event that surpassed a lot of people’s expectations. Now that the event is in the books and focus has switched to the next event, we can take a look at what’s next for UFC Greenville’s winners.
It’s easy to forget that the 25 year old Pena has only 8 professional fights to his name, as his injury struggles on The Ultimate Fighter and his botched weight cut in his previous fight have been the main talking points of his UFC career so far, but last night Pena put in his most complete performance to date, recording a third round stoppage against Matt Wiman.
It is worth mentioning that Wiman came in to this fight having not competed in over 4 years, but Pena should definitely be proud of a good performance against a tough veteran of the lightweight division. Next for Pena should be Grant Dawson, who was most recently seen submitting Mike Trizano, who handed Pena his only career loss last year via split decision.
Dawson is 14-1 and entered the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series, and like Pena he is one of the better prospect at 155lbs. Both men are still young in their respective careers and have operated at a similar level, so a loss for either man wouldn’t be the end of the world, while a win opens up some big fights down the line.
The women’s flyweight division is gaining more and more structure and it’s becoming clear who the divisions front runners will be for the foreseeable future, and Lee is certainly one of them.
In her third successive win under the UFC banner, Lee defeated Montana De La Rosa on all three judges scorecards and now edges closer to a title shot. In truth it’s hard to see anyone taking the 125lb belt from Valentina Shevchenko, but Lee probably stands more of a chance than most of the competitors in the division due to her well rounded skill set.
Lee and Roxanne Modafferi seems like the fight to make next, as both women have similar levels of momentum and are two of the divisions top contenders. Modafferi is in need of an opponent after her scheduled fight with Liz Carmouche was cancelled as Carmouche has been awarded a title shot against Shevchenko which will take place in August in Montevideo, Uruguay. A fight between Lee and Modafferi will act as a clear final eliminator for whoever is victorious in Uruguay, and helps keep the top end of the division moving at a steady pace.
Ewell got back on track with a win in what I felt was a close fight against Anderson Dos Santos, after coming up short against Nathaniel Wood last time out. Ewell had a few scary moments against the Brazilian, but ultimately it was Ewell who left victorious.
Next for Ewell should be Luke Sanders, who recently defeated former bantamweight champion Renan Barao in what was the biggest win of his career to date. Ewell, who also has a win over Barao, albeit by split decision, finds himself in a similar situation to Sanders, as both men are talented bantamweights who are yet to really make their mark on the division. Sanders fights a fan friendly style and will be hoping to push Ewell just that bit further than Dos Santos did, whereas Ewell will also be hoping for a more clear cut win than he managed against Barao or Dos Santos, his two UFC wins.
After his stoppage win over Bryan Barberena, Brown shouted ‘Don’t doubt me’ from the top of cage, and mentioned he was aware of his underdog status going in to this fight. I’ll admit I thought Barberena would get the job done over Brown, but the Jamaican-born welterweight’s brilliant stoppage of Barberena will make me reluctant to bet against him in future.
There are lots of fun fights to be made in an around the fringes of the top 15 of the welterweight division, and one of those fights is Brown vs Geoff Neal. Neal has really impressed in the UFC so far, winning all three of his fights. Brown and Neal have a combined 17 finishes from a combined 22 wins, so there’s no reason to expect anything other than fireworks from these two exciting welterweights.
The 170lb division is a crowded one so you know both Brown and Neal will do their best to stand out amongst the rest and a stoppage win for either man would do just that.
Chan Sung Jung
In what was his first win since February of 2017, the ‘Korean Zombie’ established himself of one of the divisions best once again. 58 seconds was all it took for Jung to wipe out the number 5 ranked Renato Moicano, and the South Korean is right back where he left off.
There are plenty of exciting fights available for Jung now, but that one that excites me the most is a potential bout between him and Jeremy Stephens. As soon as the main event was over Stephens was quick to call for the bout on Twitter, saying: “I’ll take @KoreanZombieMMA next! Let’s go @danawhite @seanshelby @ufc it’s the most exciting fight to make. Congrats on quick work, see ya soon”
If Jung hadn’t suffered from large periods of inactivity throughout his career then you have to think that we would’ve seen this fight at least once already, considering that both Jung and ‘Lil Heathen’ are two of the best brawlers the featherweight division has ever seen. Both men carry astonishing knockout power at that weight and can take a punch well too, they are both typically reluctant to take a step back and this fight has Fight of the Night written all over it on paper.