This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 21, we saw a matchup of top fifteen light heavyweights in the co-main event of the evening. Veteran, Misha Cirkunov (15-6), was taking on the rising contender, Ryan Spann (19-6).
Going into this matchup, I really liked Cirkunov’s chances. I figured we would see these two primarily exchange in a grappling affair. Considering the track record of both men, I figured we’d see the two wrestle early on in the fight.
However, both seemed content with standing early in the first. The one knock on Cirkunov is that he’s been finished a few times by strikes in the first round. He needed to get this fight into a grappling exchange early and he didn’t do that.
Spann was able to catch Cirkunov with a huge right hand that sat him down. Cirkunov was able to get up, however, he didn’t stay there for long. Spann followed up with some big shots to get the TKO victory at UFC Vegas 21.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 21?
This was a tough loss for Misha Cirkunov and a crucial one considering where he stands in the UFC. While Cirkunov remains in the top 15, he’s now just 2-4 in his last six fights inside the octagon.
It’s not just the four losses, but it’s four losses by first round knockout. That’s not a great look for a guy who was looked at as a potential UFC title challenger just a few years ago. In 2016, Cirkunov was 13-2 after defeating Nikita Krylov.
He looked like he was surging towards a title shot before hitting this rough patch. So what should the UFC do with him next? Personally, I think he should be matched up with the loser of the eventual matchup between Paul Craig (14-4-1) and Jamahal Hill (8-0, 1 NC).
Both of these guys rank just below Cirkunov in the UFC rankings. They were supposed to fight recently, however, Hill came down with COVID and the fight is being rescheduled. The winner should move up and the loser should take on Cirkunov next.