After his big win at UFC Vegas 22, what’s next for Derek Brunson?

Derek Brunson

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 22, Derek Brunson (22-7) was once again tasked with taking on a promotional hype train. This time, the hype train was that of Kevin Holland (21-6). Holland was on the shortlist for male fighter of the year in 2020 after going 5-0.

Derek Brunson has been with the UFC for a very long time. He’s also been one of the more consistent fighters at middleweight over the last several years. Brunson has only lost to the very best that middleweight has to offer.

When a contender defeats Derek Brunson, they are well on their way to either being a UFC champion or challenging for a title. Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero are the best examples.

However, since Brunson seems to lose to the elite of the elite at middleweight, the UFC has unofficially given him this gate keeper status. Last August, Brunson took on Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan was supposed to be the next big thing, but Brunson finished him.

As a reward, the UFC gave Brunson the next hype train in Kevin Holland. Holland’s precision striking looked like it was going to be an issue for Brunson. At times on Saturday night, it was. However, at the end of the day, Brunson went out and grinded out a dominant decision and once again derailed a hype train.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 22?

Now that Brunson has derailed two consecutive hype trains, what will the UFC give him next? In his post-fight interview, Brunson made a callout and it’s actually one that makes a lot of sense in my opinion.

Brunson used his moment in the spotlight to challenge Paulo Costa (13-1). Costa recently had to pull out of his upcoming main event against Robert Whittaker due to an illness. At the moment, there’s not a timetable for his return.

However, if he’s able to return in the summer, the UFC should set this fight up. Costa is coming off of a title fight loss and Brunson is on a winning streak. Costa wants to get back on track and Brunson wants to prove he can challenge for the title. To me, it’s the perfect matchup to setup.

Kevin Holland interested in moving to welterweight after UFC Vegas 22 loss

Kevin Holland

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 22, we saw a matchup of top ten middleweights in the main event. Kevin Holland (21-6) was looking to build off of his incredible 2020 and get a win over the tough veteran, Derek Brunson (22-7).

Brunson has proved to be somewhat of a gatekeeper in the UFC‘s middleweight division. He usually takes on some of the best contenders that are on the rise. He’s only lost to the very best in the middleweight division.

Kevin Holland has all the makings of a superstar. He’s incredibly entertaining and he has such a fun personality. However, he’s got the skills inside the octagon to back it up. However, this was going to be a massive test to see where Holland was at.

Unfortunately for Kevin Holland, Saturday night showed that he still has a ways to go. Holland had some bright spots at UFC Vegas 22 including hurting Brunson on the feet a few times. However, when he did hurt Brunson, his wild style ultimately prevented him from getting the finish.

In the end, Holland had no answer for the wrestling attack of Derek Brunson. For the most part, Brunson was able to get Holland down throughout the fight and walked away with a decision victory at UFC Vegas 22.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 22?

After the event, Holland was still positive. However, he did mention that he’s interested in dropping down to the UFC’s welterweight division. Holland weighed in at 183 pounds for the main event on Saturday night.

In his post-fight remarks, Holland had mentioned getting a nutritionist and dropping down a weight class. I believe this might be the best thing for Holland’s career if he can make the weight with relative ease.

So let’s say he drops down to the UFC’s welterweight division, what’s next? Holland had mentioned that he would love a fight with Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC). The two men have had some back and forth, and Holland would love that matchup.

However, I don’t see the UFC giving him that fight right away at 170 pounds. I think a better option would be the winner of the Daniel Rodriguez – Mike Perry fight. These two fight on April 10th and whoever wins would be the perfect matchup for Holland’s debut at welterweight.

Derek Brunson grinds out decision over Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 22

Derek Brunson

In the main event of UFC Vegas 22, we saw a pivotal matchup in the middleweight division. One of the fighters of the year in 2020, Kevin Holland (21-5), was getting his toughest test yet in the form of Derek Brunson (21-7). The winner of this matchup would put themselves in excellent position in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

As mentioned, Holland had a sensational year in 2020. After getting submitted by Brendan Allen in late 2019, Holland made his return in May. From May through December, Holland went 5-0 inside the octagon. His most impressive victory coming at UFC 256 against Jacare Souza.

Early on in the fight, Souza was able to land a takedown. However, Holland showed great skills and composure on the ground. Out of no where, Holland whipped a right hand from his back that hit Jacare flush. Holland got up and cracked him again and got the finish.

With that knockout, the UFC hype train was off and running with Kevin Holland. Taking on hype trains is nothing new to Derek Brunson. Brunson has been tasked with taking on the hype trains of Israel Adesanya, Ian Heinisch, Yoel Romero, and Robert Whittaker.

The last UFC hype train Brunson faced was Edmen Shahbazyan. The two men went head-to-head back in August and there was a lot of money backing Shahbazyan. The Golden Boy was looked at as the next big thing, but Brunson completely shut him down and finished him. Derek Brunson was looking to do the same thing at UFC Vegas 22.

UFC Vegas 22 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 22 main event kicked off no touch of the gloves. Holland immediately pressed forward with a little pressure on Brunson. Holland slips and pops up but as he bounced up, Brunson clipped him with a shot that put him down.

However, Holland recovered quickly and Brunson settled into the guard. Brunson started trying to softened up Holland with big shots from the guard. Holland was able to keep Brunson in the guard, but Brunson was generating a lot of power with his short shots.

Brunson continued to be heavy in the guard as Holland started talking to him. One thing I was really impressed with is the posture of Derek Brunson here in the first round. The round comes to a close and it was a dominant one for Derek Brunson. 1-0 Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Round 2

Holland spent the break chatting it up with former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov who was watching the fight with Dana White. The second round started with some big shots from Holland, but nothing was landing.

The two come together in the clinch, but Brunson couldn’t get the takedown. Brunson throws a big shot off the break, but Holland just shrugged it off. Holland then lands a few massive shots that hurts Brunson badly.

However, Brunson is able to grab a leg and regain his composure. The two end up in a clinch and Brunson lands the takedown. Once back on the ground, Brunson immediately started working on an arm-triangle choke.

Brunson is able to lock it in and he moves to side control. The choke appears deep, Holland remained composed. Holland is able to force a scramble and got back to his feet. However, just before the end of the round, Brunson lands another takedown. 2-0 Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Round 3

The third round began with more talking from Holland. Holland moves forward trying to land a lead left, but it wasn’t there. Another takedown attempt from Derek Brunson and Brunson gets Holland down again.

Brunson looked really tired as he laid in the guard of Holland. No offense from Derek Brunson for the first minute that he held Holland down. Holland was looking for opportunities to scramble, but couldn’t get anything going.

Holland was actually landing more strikes off of his back with how tired Derek Brunson was. With a minute left in the round, Brunson started working the elbows, but there wasn’t a lot on them. The round comes to a close and it’s 3-0 Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Round 4

Entering the main event rounds at UFC Vegas 22, and Kevin Holland needs to get going. A low kick from Holland opens the striking here in the fourth. A very nice 1-2 lands for Kevin Holland and Holland hurts Brunson again.

Brunson is staggered, but he does a good job of surviving. Holland was swinging a little wild and Brunson was able to get a takedown. Holland was able to get back up to his feet quickly. However, Brunson takes him write back down.

On the ground, Brunson would land a nice shot here and there, but a lot of inactivity. The referee was warning Brunson to remain active and he started throwing more. Holland didn’t have any answer on the ground for Derek Brunson.

A big elbow lands for Derek Brunson. Holland uses the fence to explode up, but as soon as he gets up, Brunson immediately was on him. Brunson spent the rest of the round clinching Holland against the fence. In my opinion, it’s 4-0 Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Round 5

Entering the final round at UFC Vegas 22 and Kevin Holland needs a knockout. Holland goes for a front kick that comes close to landing to start the striking. Derek Brunson seems a lot more fresh in the fifth and he throws a couple of big power shots that land.

Another wild shot from Holland results in Brunson clinching him. Brunson grabs the body lock, but then Kevin Holland is able to land his own takedown out of no where. He starts celebrating as if he won the fight, but he wasn’t really doing much in terms of creating damage.

Holland starts landing some good shots to the body, and then he lands two clean shots to the head. Brunson then explodes up and as the two come together, Brunson lands his own takedown. Holland settles into the guard and it doesn’t look like he has anything left.

Derek Brunson rode out the final minute of the fight inside Holland’s guard. This is going to be an easy win for Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Derek Brunson def. Kevin Holland by Unanimous Decision (49-45, 49-46, 49-46)

UFC Vegas 22 Preview: Derek Brunson – Kevin Holland

Derek Brunson

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 22, we have a huge matchup in the main event of the evening. Top ten middleweights Kevin Holland (21-5) and Derek Brunson (21-7) will go head-to-head as both look to continue their march towards a UFC title shot.

You couldn’t have had a better 2020 than Kevin Holland. After getting submitted by Brendan Allen in late 2019, Holland took some time and returned to the octagon in May. That night, Holland knocked out Anthony Hernandez in just 39 seconds.

However, that was just where the party began for Kevin Holland. Overall, Holland went 5-0 inside the octagon between May and December. He finished things off at UFC 256 with a highlight reel knockout over Jacare Souza.

Holland has everything you look for in a star. He’s got an exciting style and an entertaining personality to match. However, he’s going to have his hands full tomorrow night with the veteran, Derek Brunson.

While overlooked by many, nobody should sleep on Derek Brunson. Since 2014, Brunson has gone 10-5 in the UFC. However, his losses are to Israel Adesanya, Jacare Souza, Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero.

Only the best of the best have gotten the better of Brunson inside the octagon. Last August, Brunson was tasked with taking on another UFC hype train in Edmen Shahbazyan. Brunson dominated the fight and he’s looking to derail another hype train tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 22 Prediction

This is such a fun matchup and to me it will tell me a lot about Kevin Holland. When it comes to Derek Brunson, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. He’s been in there with the best the UFC has to offer.

Holland has incredible striking, speed, and he’s very underrated on the ground. However, we have seen him gas out in fights when he can’t get a finish. The Darren Stewart fight was the perfect example and Holland almost lost that fight.

For Derek Brunson, he needs to wrestle to get the win tomorrow night. He’s not going to get his hand raised at UFC Vegas 22 if he tries to strike with Holland. He’s at a disadvantage in power, technique, and speed.

However, Brunson has the wrestling advantage and the cardio advantage. For Brunson, it’s going to be about surviving the early onslaught. We’ve seen Brunson dropped and finished by elite strikers early. However, we’ve also seen him break guys as the fight goes on.

The first two minutes is going to tell me all I need to know. Either Kevin Holland is going to immediately start lighting Brunson up, or Brunson’s going to take him down. I’m extremely torn on this one.

The safe pick to me is Derek Brunson. You know what you’re going to get and he’s been in there with the UFC’s best. Holland is unproven against the elites of the division. However, call me a sucker for the hype, but I’m buying into it. I think Kevin Holland is going to find the shot he’s looking for in the second round.

Prediction: Kevin Holland by TKO – Round 2

UFC books headliner between Darren Till and Marvin Vettori

The UFC is making moves with their middleweight division. Last night, we learned that the promotion had finalized a bout between Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker that would headline a Fight Night on April 17th. 

Today, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the UFC has finalized another incredible middleweight matchup. On April 10th, Darren Till (18-3-1) and Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) will headline another Fight Night.

This is going to be a massive seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Darren Till last fought back in July when he took on former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

The fight was extremely close, but Whittaker pulled out a decision. Till was originally supposed to headline a card against Jack Hermansson (21-6) in December, however he ended up injured and the promotion moved to Kevin Holland (21-5).

However, Holland ended up testing positive for COVID and he was pulled from that fight. That is when Marvin Vettori stepped into the picture. Vettori had another fight booked, but stepped up for the UFC and took that fight against Hermansson.

UFC’s Middleweight Division

Marvin Vettori looked sensational in December when he fought Hermansson. In his first UFC headliner, Vettori dropped and hurt Hermansson early on. He went on to dominate the fight for all five rounds.

The win was a massive statement and the fourth straight for Vettori. Vettori now finds himself fourth in the UFC’s middleweight rankings one spot behind Darren Till. However, Vettori has expressed frustrations with being ranked behind Till.

Nevertheless, now the two will get a chance to prove who is the better fighter. As mentioned, this is a huge seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Let us not forget that Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson (21-7) are also headlining a Fight Night on March 20th. 

This stretch from March through April has big implications for the middleweight division. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to challenge for the light heavyweight title, however, upon his return to middleweight, there should be a lot of clarity with all these matchups.

State of the UFC’s middleweight division entering 2021

Last night, we learned that the UFC‘s middleweight champion is officially moving up in weight for his next fight. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. 

Adesanya is trying to become just the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two belts at the same time. There have been a lot of questions surrounding Adesanya’s future at 185 with him moving up.

The UFC middleweight champion has been very vocal about his desire to potentially fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in 2021. If the UFC makes that fight should Adesanya win the light heavyweight title, the middleweight strap would be on ice.

However, Adesanya has said that he will definitely return to the UFC’s middleweight division no matter what. He stated that 185 is his natural weight class and where he feels the best. This move is to just challenge himself and further his legacy.

In all honesty, the move is actually a good thing for the middleweight division. There are great fights inside the division, however, Adesanya has defeated most of the fighters that sit inside the top ten.

UFC’s middleweight division in 2021

The top contender in the middleweight division is former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5). Whittaker went on an incredible run to grab the middleweight title, but was easily defeated by Adesanya last October.

Since then, Whittaker took out two of the more compelling contenders in the division. He defeated Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) by decision. Both of those fighters were guys Adesanya was interested in fighting.

However, Whittaker turned them away. With the way Adesanya defeated Whittaker last year, the champion isn’t motivated for the rematch at this time. The word is that the UFC is looking to book Whittaker against former title challenger, Paulo Costa (13-1).

Costa was just knocked out by Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that, many thought he was the most dangerous contender in the division. There is preliminary talk about that fight being for an interim title, but that’s far from confirmed.

The two fighters I have my eyes on entering 2021 is Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) and Kevin Holland (21-5). Vettori has busted through in 2021 on the heels of four straight wins to fifth in the middleweight rankings.

The Italian middleweight has already lost to Adesanya, but he lost by split decision. One big win for Vettori in 2021 could make him next in line. Kevin Holland was our breakout fighter of the year in 2020.

Holland has become a star after going 5-0 this year. The entertaining middleweight gets his first main event opportunity against Derek Brunson (21-7) in March. Should he win that, he could be just a win away from a title shot.

If Holland can get a couple of wins, he’s probably the most compelling UFC challenger at 185 for Adesanya. There’s a little beef there already, and the fight’s buildup would be a lot of fun. Should be an interesting year at middleweight.

UFC books headliner between Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson

Kevin Holland

The UFC has booked the 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year for his first fight in 2021. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news that the promotion is booking a headliner between Kevin Holland (21-5) and Derek Brunson (21-7).

The headliner will take place on March 20th. Holland became a breakout star for the UFC in 2020. His incredible year is why we named him the Breakout Fighter of the Year here at Empire Sports.

Holland entered 2020 coming off of a loss to Brendan Allen. However, he was getting ready to show the world how good he really is in 2020. Holland went an astonishing 5-0 with four finishes in 2020.

His last win came against Jacare Souza at UFC 256. Holland was taken down moments into the fight. I figured if the fight touched the ground, Holland would be in a lot of trouble. However, I was dead wrong.

Holland showed incredible skills on the ground. Then he whipped a right hand at the forehead of Jacare Souza which dazed him. Holland followed up with shots and ended up scoring the TKO victory.

In 2020, Holland went from an entertaining character to a serious contender. His year has put him tenth in the UFC‘s middleweight rankings. This headliner will be the first time he takes on someone in the top 10.

UFC’s Middleweight Gate Keeper?

Derek Brunson is going to enter the octagon on March 20th being looked at as the UFC‘s middleweight gate keeper. A title that Brunson is not really a fan of, however, it’s a title that’s fitting.

Brunson is on a three-fight winning streak. Two of those wins came against rising contenders that were looked at as the next big thing. Those contenders were Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan.

I’ll admit it, I bought into the UFC hype of Shahbazyan. However, Brunson proved when they fought that there are levels to the game as Corey Anderson would say. Brunson dominated and finished Shahbazyan in the third round.

He’s currently ranked as the seventh best middleweight in the UFC. Brunson and Kevin Holland have been beefing over Twitter and both wanted this fight. Well, the UFC was happy to make it happen.

Given Holland’s desire to stay active, I’m a little surprised it’s booked so far out. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic matchup in the middleweight division. Whoever wins should be guaranteed a top five opponent in their next trip inside the octagon.

What happened to Paulo Costa at UFC 253?

Prior to UFC 253, Paulo Costa was known as the most terrifying force in the middleweight division. Undefeated and looked to be chiseled out of rock, Costa would push forward against all opponents with a pace and pressure that most couldn’t withstand.

The UFC‘s top middleweight contender was thought to be the one middleweight who could give Israel Adesanya some problems. The thought was that Costa’s style and pressure could disrupt the brilliant distance controlled striking from the champion Adesanya.

UFC President Dana White was building up this fight all summer, and he was calling it a fight of the year candidate. It was supposed to be a true bull versus matador matchup at UFC 253. However, the actual result was anything but what the build up said it would be.

Everyone expected Costa to push forward like he always does, but he appeared to be frozen in time. On the outside mocking Adesanya, but getting lit up in the process. The lack of aggression and playing into Adesanya’s hands led to him getting knocked out in the second round.

I will be the first to admit that I bought into the Paulo Costa UFC hype. Costa looked to be a monster, and I thought his pressure and ability to mix up his shots would give Adesanya problems. Myself and many others were dead wrong. So what happened?

What went wrong at UFC 253

As mentioned, Costa has a style that relies on breaking his opponents with his pressure. As fighters try to get away from the hurricane force he brings, he normally catches his opponents. That’s how he earned a perfect record prior to UFC 253.

Something was wrong as soon as the fight started on Saturday night. Costa came out extremely relaxed with virtually no sense of urgency. This wasn’t the Paulo Costa that UFC fans have come to know over the last few years. It was puzzling watching it unfold live.

Adesanya started working vicious leg kicks early and Costa did nothing. Costa threw a few good kicks throughout, but it was all Adesanya. Costa was finished with a flurry and suffered the first lost of his professional and UFC career.

I think the five round factor really freaked Costa out. Costa almost lost his last fight against Yoel Romero because he gassed out after his quick start. Costa was beating Romero up, but as the fight went on, Costa began to really fade.

I think there was a serious worry that if he faded badly at UFC 253 he would get finished. I think Costa didn’t believe that Adesanya could finish him with strikes while he wasn’t tired. This assumption proved to cost Costa dearly.

Now, Costa will have to go back to the drawing board. I suggested a potential fight with Derek Brunson next to try to get him back on track. Costa will be back, and he’s way too talented to not get another shot one day. However, on Saturday night, it was proven that Costa was not in the same league as Israel Adesanya.

What’s next for the losing fighters of UFC 253?

Last night at UFC 253, we saw two incredible title fights. The promotion’s first PPV back on Fight Island featured a fight for the vacant light heavyweight title and the undisputed middleweight crown. It was a huge night for the UFC.

In the end, Israel Adesanya (20-0) and Jan Blachowicz (27-8) walked out with UFC gold wrapped around their waists. That left Paulo Costa (13-1) and Dominick Reyes (12-2) behind. Both fighters were finished in the second round of their title fights last night.

It was a rough night at the UFC office for those two. Also, it was a rough night at the office for my predictions as I missed both title fights. I predicted Costa and Reyes to walk out as champions. It was not meant to be for either man at UFC 253.

What does the UFC do with Costa?

Dana White had been pumping up the main event as a potential fight of the year because of the two men’s styles. I was extremely excited for UFC 253 because it seemed like a true bull versus matador matchup. It was anything but that last night.

Paulo Costa normally fights with reckless abandonment as he did at UFC 241. He normally pushes forward and throws bombs that causes his opponents to fold. That’s what he needed to do at UFC 253 against Israel Adesanya.

Instead, Costa stayed tentative on the outside. Adesanya had his way with Costa as he was just picking him apart. Eventually in the second round, Adesanya put Costa down for good in what was a bizarre finish to UFC 253.

This is going to be a tough fight to get over for Costa. He didn’t fight like himself and he played right into Adesanya’s hands. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for him, but I think there’s a good fight that could be already materializing.

Derek Brunson (21-7) makes a lot of sense for Costa. Brunson is currently ranked seventh in the division and is on a three fight winning streak. His last loss is also against Adesanya. To me, this would be the perfect fight for the UFC to make for Costa’s return. Brunson has already called for the fight.

What’s next for Dominick Reyes?

It’s been a tough 2020 for Dominick Reyes. Back in February, Reyes got the shot of a lifetime against Jon Jones. Reyes fought his heart out and many people believed that he defeated Jones back at UFC 247. However, the judges disagreed and Jones walked out with the belt.

After Jones vacated the title, Reyes got another chance. It was almost looked at like a title defense for Reyes. Reyes was stifled from the very beginning by Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz hurt Reyes bad with kicks and combinations.

The Polish Power was in full effect last night. In the second round, Reyes succumbed to Blachowicz’s power. It was a crushing defeat for Reyes and he has now gone 0-2 in UFC title shots in 2020. So what’s next for The Devestator?

There are a couple of options out there for Reyes. I think one that makes a lot of sense is taking on the loser of the Thiago Santos – Glover Teixiera fight which takes place in November. The winner is likely to get a title shot, so it would make sense that Reyes fights the loser.

A couple of other possibilities could be Aleksandar Rakic or Jiri Prochazka. Although, I think the UFC would be better served making those two fight each other next. I think Reyes will need a little time off after this one which would lineup perfectly with facing the loser of the Santos – Teixiera fight.

Three fights to make after UFC Vegas 5

UFC, Dana White

Last night, the UFC returned home to Las Vegas with an event at the APEX. The main card didn’t disappoint and there were several story lines that came out of last night.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at three fights the UFC should move to make following UFC Vegas 5.

Derek Brunson vs Jack Hermansson

Derek Brunson (21-7) made a massive statement last night. Everyone (including myself) thought that Brunson was going to get run over like he did against Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker.

However, Brunson was composed and put on arguably the best performance of his career in stopping Edmen Shahbazyan. Now the question becomes, what’s next for Brunson.

In looking at the rankings, a match that makes a ton of sense is a fight with Jack Hermansson (21-5). The Joker is also coming off of a big win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Island 2.

Hermansson has been vocal about wanting to fight Darren Till next, but with Till’s injury, I think Brunson makes a lot more sense. Plus the two men are both coming off big wins.

If the UFC were to pair these two up against each other, the winner could be next in line to fight for the title. Obviously the title is booked up for a while as Adesanya fights Costa and Whittaker fights Cannonier for the next shot, but a Brunson/Hermansson winner wouldn’t be far behind.

Valentina Shevchenko vs Jennifer Maia for the UFC Flyweight Championship

Despite the impressive performance last night from Derek Brunson, the star of UFC Vegas 5 for me was Jennifer Maia (18-6-1). Maia took on JoJo Calderwood who was supposed to fight Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) for the title.

Shevchenko got hurt so the UFC title fight with Calderwood was called off. Calderwood didn’t want to wait around so she decided to take a fight against top contender Jennifer Maia. This has proved to be a massive mistake.

Maia looked tremendous last night. She was winning the stand up battle and when Calderwood took her down, it didn’t take long for the BJJ blackbelt to throw up a slick arm bar. The champion tweeted out her thoughts after the fight.

Maia poses an interesting challenge given her skills, but she will be a massive underdog against Shevchenko. Shevchenko is head and shoulders ahead of anyone in her division. However, Maia proved last night that she’s a game opponent and she’ll be willing to bring the fight to the champ.

Edmen Shahbazyan vs Ian Heinisch

Last night we saw the Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) hype train hit a wall. The Golden Boy was being touted as the next big thing. However, after he wasn’t able to finish Brunson early, it appeared that Shahbazyan still had miles to go in development.

The UFC is in an interesting spot trying to book Shahbazyan’s next fight. He definitely needs a top 15 opponent. In looking at the rankings, I think a fun matchup could be with Ian Heinisch (14-3).

Heinisch bounced back big time after back-to-back losses back in June with a first round TKO over Gerald Meerschaert. Heinisch is currently ranked as the thirteenth best middleweight in the UFC.

These two would make sense from a rankings perspective and it would be a really fun fight for fight fans. I think the style matchup would be a lot of fun. If the UFC would rather aim lower to build Shahbazyan back up, another option could be Antonio Carlos Junior.

I believe that Shahbazyan will work his way back up eventually. He’s still extremely young and has all the talent in the world. Last night was a humbling fight and a reminder of just how special young Jon Jones was.