Delivering on what was tipped as an uninspiring supporting cast of fights, UFC Fight Night 151 was well and truly saved by an excellent main event between lightweight contenders Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Al Iaquinta.
With Cerrone and Iaquinta competing in an almost exclusive striking battle over 25 minutes, it was the more experienced Cerrone who emerged victorious as his more diverse arsenal allowed him to deal more damage and keep the fight within his wheelhouse.
Despite Iaquinta remaining a game combatant, Cerrone felt in control of the contest as he rarely backed out of the middle of the Octagon before ultimately extending his win streak to three.
With the UFC’s latest excursion to Canada chalked off, here are five fights that the UFC should pencil in before this upcoming Saturday’s UFC 237:
Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje
While Donald Cerrone is probably the most deserving of a money fight with Conor McGregor due to all that he has given the UFC, it’s simply too much of an unknown as to what is happening with ‘The Notorious One’.
As a result of McGregor being AWOL, the next best thing would be to set up one final title eliminator as the lightweight division sorts itself out over time.
With Justin Gaethje sitting just below the lightweight division’s ‘top 4’ alongside Cerrone, a match-up between the two would be a surefire fight of the year contender.
Derek Brunson vs. Brad Tavares
While Elias Theodorou made sure to keep his fight with Derek Brunson as a low output affair, Brunson didn’t help himself with his plodding footwork across the cage.
Admittedly, Brunson was the clear aggressor in UFC Fight Night 151’s co-main event and even scored a monstrous slam in the third and final round en route to a unanimous decision win.
With Brunson acting as a gatekeeper to the top 10, a fight with Brad Tavares would pit two middleweights in a similar situation against one another.
Shane Burgos vs. Josh Emmett
Shane Burgos was tasked with the toughest fight of his career on Saturday night and he duly delivered as his aggression ensured a split-decision win against Cub Swanson.
Burgos is now ranked unlucky #13 in a stacked featherweight division and his performance deserves another step-up in competition.
With Josh Emmett coming off of a big knockout win against Michael Johnson in March, a bout between Burgos and Emmett would pit two of the 145 lbs division’s heaviest hitters against one another.
Walt Harris vs. Aleksei Oleinik
Keeping up his 100% KO win ratio on Saturday night, Walt Harris made quick work of promotional debutant Sergey Spivak for his 12th professional win.
Harris’ combination of hand speed and power make for a tough problem to solve in the heavyweight division and with a friendly call-out of Aleksei Oleinik in his post-fight interview, that striker vs. grappler pairing makes a lot of sense.
Macy Chiasson vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Earning one of the three early stoppages at UFC Fight Night 151, Macy Chiasson continued her ascension through the women’s bantamweight division with a second-round TKO over Sarah Moras.
Chiasson could well prove to be title challenger sooner rather than later and with Yana Kunitskaya on a two-fight win streak, the former featherweight title challenger would provide a step-up in competition and exposure for Chiasson.