The UFC’s quick-fire return to schedule concluded on Saturday night as Alistair Overeem recorded his 46th career win on the eve of his 40th birthday.
After wading through adversity early in the first-round, Overeem’s experience and underrated ground game allowed him to tie up Walt Harris on the mat and tire out his explosive foe.
With Harris noticeably slower in the second stanza, a flush head kick dropped the ‘Big Ticket’ before some controlled ground-and-pound ensured a win in Overeem’s fourth different decade of fighting.
Elsewhere at UFC on ESPN 8, the rest of the main card was filled with close decisions while the preliminary card saw four stoppages in six bouts.
With the UFC now on the sidelines until May 30th, with an event TBA at TBD, here are five fights for the promotion’s matchmakers to consider with the big winners of the final event of their Jacksonville, Florida residency:
Alistair Overeem vs. Derrick Lewis
If not for a last-second KO loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik in December 2019, Alistair Overeem would be currently riding a four-fight winning streak in the heavyweight division.
With his latest win over Walt Harris, however, ‘The Demolition Man’ is back in the win column and his declaration of one final UFC title push should not fall on deaf ears.
Due to his storied career, there are little in the way of new match-ups for Overeem to consider but with Derrick Lewis occupying a similar position in the UFC’s heavyweight rankings, an Overeem – Lewis bout is the best move for both men.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza II
Getting the nod on a dubious split decision against Angela Hill, Claudia Gadelha is now on a two-fight win streak at 115 lbs.
The former title challenger was immediately called out by a former opponent in the wake of her victory and a rematch with Carla Esparza makes sense.
With Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade likely to square off again sometime soon and Tatiana Suarez sidelined through injury, Gadelha – Esparza II sees the next two highest-ranked contenders coming off wins paired up.
Dan Ige vs. Shane Burgos
Another likely beneficiary of some dubious judges scorecards, Dan Ige picked up the win over Edson Barboza on the Brazilian’s featherweight debut.
Ige is now on a six-fight winning streak at 145 lbs and his impressive run is deserving of a top 10 opponent.
With Shane Burgos sitting at #10, that fight should be pencilled in for both men.
Song Yadong vs. Rob Font
Emerging victorious in the ‘Fight of the Night’, Song Yadong defeated Marlon Vera in an excellent back-and-forth bout.
While the Yadong – Vera fight was contested at 145 lbs, the two men fight primarily at the bantamweight limit and that is where the winners next fight should take place.
With Rob Font acting as a top 10 gatekeeper of sorts in his last two outings, Yadong should be next up for a crack at Font in what promises to be an excellent stand-up battle.
Miguel Baeza vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Knocking out UFC veteran Matt Brown, Miguel Baeza’s stunning second-round win made sure a lot of MMA fans take notice of the 27-year old from here on out.
With Daniel Rodriguez also stopping another UFC veteran in Tim Means recently, a Baeza – Rodriguez bout would see two exciting new UFC signees pit their skills against one another.