In the main event of UFC Vegas 81, we saw an absolute banger in the featherweight division between two fan favorites. Ranked contenders battled it out as “Super” Sodiq Yusuff (13-3) was taking on veteran contender Edson Barboza (24-11).
Entering the bout, Yusuff was looking for his third straight win. However, he hadn’t fought in over a year since his quick submission win over Don Shainis. There is no questioning the talent of Yusuff, but injuries have really plagued his progression inside the octagon.
Entering the cage on Saturday night, he had only fought three times since January 2020. He was hoping to get a win over Barboza and have a healthy 2024 to get into title contention. I was wondering if he’d have any ring rust considering the lack of activity, but boy, he started fast on Saturday night.
He rocked Barboza multiple times in the first round and looked very close to getting the finish. However, he couldn’t quite land the finishing blow and Barboza survived. Unfortunately for Yusuff, he used all of his best stuff in the first round. Starting in the second round, Barboza completely took over the fight and went on to win a lopsided decision at UFC Vegas 81.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 81?
For a moment there, it really looked like Yusuff was going to make a big statement. His third straight win including back-to-back first round finishes. However, it just wasn’t meant to be and now “Super” Sodiq must go back to the drawing board as we enter 2024.
Now, he didn’t seem like he was too hurt when the fight ended so I think the UFC can turn him around relatively quickly. Probably in the first couple of months of the new year. With that potential timeframe in mind, what should be next for Yusuff?
In looking at the rankings, there’s one fight that just makes too much sense not too happen. In my opinion, the clear fight to make is a matchup between Yusuff and Dan Ige. Ige just lost a decision to Bryce Mitchell and Yusuff lost a decision to Barboza. Sometimes fights line up perfectly, this is one of those times.