While it may not have had the usual fanfare of your average UFC event, UFC: St. Petersburg delivered some great fights and some big wins for some exciting prospects.
With an amicably contested main event between two of the heavyweight division’s elder statesmen, Alistair Overeem showcased his magnificent clinch work against his short notice opponent Oleksiy Oleinik.
Elsewhere at UFC Fight Night 149, Islam Makhachev defeated promotional newcomer and rising star Arman Tsarukyan in one of the best grappling bouts you’ll see this year, Sergei Pavlovich bounced back into the win column after being thrust into the deep end in some promotional malpractice last year while Roxanne Modafferi pulled out another win against the odds as she defeated Antonina Shevchenko.
So, with the latest UFC card in the books and some fairly pertinent questions needing answering before the promotions next outing this Saturday, here are five fights that the UFC should be making with the big winners in St. Petersburg:
Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
Alistair Overeem rolled back the years against Oleksiy Oleinik as his punishing clinch work pathed the way for his second straight first-round TKO win.
While ‘The Demolition Man’s’ win was an impressive one, Overeem will still find himself in the same position when it comes to another potential title shot.
With Alexander Volkov’s status still in the air after his removal from his scheduled bout with Overeem, if the chance is there to re-book Overeem vs. Volkov, the UFC has a ready-made title eliminator waiting to go.
Islam Makhachev vs. Gregor Gillespie
Taking on the unheralded debutant Arman Tsarukyan, Islam Makhachev’s incredible grappling ability was on full display as he stuffed takedown after takedown in a gruelling three-round bout.
After three gruelling rounds where Makhachev emerged victorious, the 27-year old should be looking up the rankings for his next opponent.
With Gregor Gillespie on a similarly impressive run earned through his own grappling pedigree, the current #10 lightweight would provide all the makings for another brilliant fight.
Sergei Pavlovich vs. Arlovski/Sakai Winner
After drawing the shortest of straws for his UFC debut last year against Alistair Overeem, Sergei Pavlovich was handed a more palatable opponent in Marcelo Golm this past Saturday and duly delivered with a first round KO.
As a result of Pavlovich’s quick work, a sizeable yet manageable step-up in competition would make sense for his next outing and with Andrei Arlovski set to take on Augusto Sakai this weekend, a bout between the Russian and the Arlovski – Sakai winner should be the way to go.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Jennifer Maia II
As one of the pioneers of women’s MMA, it’s always nice to see Roxanne Modafferi get her hand rightfully raised in the Octagon.
‘The Happy Warrior’ is now 2-2 in the UFC and there are a handful of opponents that would be sensible options for her next bout.
With Jennifer Maia ranked just below Modafferi at women’s flyweight, a rematch of their 2016 fight in Invicta would make for an entertaining affair.
Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Jim Crute
Michal Oleksiejczuk has quietly gone about his business in the light heavyweight division but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him crack the top 15 sooner rather than later.
With his second first-round TKO win in as many fights now in the record books for Oleksiejczuk, a fight with fellow big hitter Jim Crute would offer the winner a potential top 15 ranking.