UFC ‘Fight Island’ came to an end this past Saturday night, ending with a technical and tactical showdown between middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
While Whittaker would emerge victorious via unanimous decision, both fighters proved their position as top fighters at 185 lbs and the loser in Till will still remain closer to a title shot than not.
Meanwhile in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 14, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua would defeat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for the third time, bringing an end to ‘Lil Nog’s’ legendary career in the process.
Elsewhere at the final ‘Fight Island’ event, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza continued her quest to reclaim UFC gold with a win over Marina Rodriguez, Khamzat Chimaev secured his second UFC win in 10 days in dominant fashion while heavyweight prospects Tom Aspinall and Tanner Boser picked up stoppage victories.
With the UFC now set for a return to their home base of the Las Vegas Apex Centre, here are five fights for the promotion to make with some of the big winners of UFC on ESPN 14:
Robert Whittaker vs. Jack Hermansson
Producing more output than Darren Till in the final four rounds, ‘The Reaper’ bounced back into the win column in his first fight since losing the middleweight championship to Israel Adesanya.
Thanks to the nature of his loss to Adesanya however, Whittaker will need to add at least one more victory to his name before the UFC thinks of a rematch between the two.
With that being the case, Whittaker should be matched up with another top contender and with Jack Hermansson calling out Whittaker following last weeks win over Kelvin Gastelum, it only makes sense to pair up the 185 lbs contenders.
Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua vs. Paul Craig II
Defeating ‘Lil Nog’ in a fun three-round battle, ‘Shogun’ Rua is now 5-1-1 in his last seven fights, bookended with bouts against the retiring Nogueira.
With a lot of miles on the clock for the legendary Rua, the Brazilian has spoken of his own approaching retirement so we might not see too much more of the former PRIDE and UFC champion.
Operating on the idea that he has at least more than one fight remaining, a rematch between Rua and Paul Craig could be an interesting idea to explore.
With their 2019 bout ending with a split draw, both men have talked of a potential rematch so why not run it back with the light heavyweights interested?
Carla Esparza vs. Jessica Andrade
Chalking up her fourth straight win at 115 lbs, Carla Esparza is making an understated run at the strawweight title.
Through takedowns and her grinding style, Esparza defeated Marina Rodriguez via split decision and could well be in the running for a title shot with one more victory.
With Esparza having already fought five of the six current contenders ahead of her in the rankings, a match-up with the one name missing on her resume would be wise.
As Jessica Andrade looks to get back to winning ways following back-to-back losses to the champion and #1 contender, an Esparza – Andrade bout would put the winner into the title picture.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Dhiego Lima
Picking up two wins in 10 days at two different weight classes Khamzat Chimaev has all the makings of a serious contender at welterweight and potentially even middleweight.
With Chimaev spending the majority of his career at 170 lbs, ‘Borz’ should stay at welterweight for the time being and look to build on his ridiculous UFC record of 83 strikes landed to 1 absorbed.
While Chimaev has looked unstoppable in his grappling, his next outing should be against a non-UK fighter and one with a decent grappling acumen.
As Dhiego Lima is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, the American Top Team fighter would make for a tougher test of Chimaev’s suffocating grappling.
Tanner Boser vs. Maurice Greene
Scoring back-to-back stoppage victories since taking the highly-rated Ciryl Gane three rounds (the first man to not be stopped by the Frenchman), Tanner Boser looks to be a solid prospect of his own at the heavyweight limit.
With his Canadian charm and solid striking, ‘The Bulldozer’ could go far in an ageing division and the UFC could do their part by taking a steady pace with the 28-year olds development.
Thanks to a call-out of Maurice Greene in the aftermath of his second win in a month, Boser vs. ‘The Crochet Boss’ seems to be a no-brainer for his next move.