This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 54, we saw a matchup between two solid contenders in the light heavyweight division. Ryan Spann (20-7) was looking to defend his ranking against Ion Cutelaba (16-7-1).
A big key going into this matchup would be where the fight would take place. For Cutelaba, he wanted to mix in his wrestling with his power striking. This was a strategy that worked perfectly when he fought Devin Clark back in September.
However, it was evident from the opening bell at UFC Vegas 54 that the strategy wouldn’t work against Spann. Cutelaba was able to get some a couple of takedowns, however, he couldn’t do anything with them.
When they were on the feet, it was Spann that was showing off his power. Spann was able to wobble Cutelaba which forced “The Hulk” to lean heavily on his wrestling. Near the halfway point, Cutelaba was able to get another takedown.
However, Spann was able to get back to his feet before Cutelaba shot again. When he did, Spann locked in a deep guillotine and the fight went to the ground. The choke was incredibly deep and Cutelaba was forced to tap and take the loss at UFC Vegas 54.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 54?
Back in 2016, Cutelaba signed with the UFC and had a professional record of 11-1. He looked like a very solid prospect and someone that the promotion could push should he have some success inside the octagon.
However, he lost his debut and started out 1-2. After winning back-to-back fights, he was given a big fight with Glover Teixeira and was stopped in the second round. However, he bounced back in a huge way with a knockout win over Khalil Rountree.
At this point in his UFC career, Cutelaba was 4-3. Since that win over Rountree, he’s gone 1-3-1 in his five trips inside the octagon. He’s always struggled when he’s faced ranked opponents and that’s becoming a troubling sign for his career.
After this latest loss, what should be the next fight for him? Well, call me crazy, but I like him against another ranked opponent and that opponent is Jimmy Crute. Crute was being looked at as one of the brightest prospects in the UFC.
However, he’s suffered back-to-back losses and now is barely holding on to a ranking. Both men would need a win badly and I think it would make for a very solid fight.