Providing a healthy appetizer before McGregor-mania takes ahold this weekend, UFC on ESPN 20 would allow some fighters under the radar to take the spotlight before Michael Chiesa made a statement at the top end of the welterweight division.
Showing off his flowing grappling in a five-round fight against Neil Magny, Chiesa would control the vast majority of the contest on the mat before earning a unanimous decision.
Now in possession of a perfect four-fight record at 170 lbs, Chiesa will be looking at breaking into the top five in his next outing.
Elsewhere at UFC on ESPN 20, Warlley Alves would play the spoiler to Mounir Lazzez with a first-round sprint, Viviane Araujo and Lerone Murphy picked up impressive unanimous decision wins while Omari Akhemedov would hold off Tom Breese to retain his top 15 position at middleweight.
With a quick turnaround before UFC 257 this Saturday, here are five fights for the UFC matchmakers to consider with Wednesday’s big winners:
Michael Chiesa vs. Stephen Thompson
While post-fight Michael Chiesa would continue his callouts of Colby Covington, I think the UFC will eyeball a matchup for Covington against his budding rival Jorge Masvidal.
With that fight taken off the table, I think a fight with Stephen Thompson would give both men a chance to make their stake for a title challenge while offering an interesting clash of styles.
Warlley Alves vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Bursting out of the gates against Mounir Lazzez, Warlley Alves would quickly batter away at his opponent’s body forcing the hotly tipped Lazzez to crumble inside three minutes of the bout.
With wins over Alan Jouban and Colby Covington on his record, Alves has proven he can play the spoiler and a fight with Shavkat Rakhmonov would allow him the opportunity to do it once more.
Vivane Araujo vs. Lauren Murphy
Outworking Roxanne Modafferi over three rounds through her athleticism and work rate, Viviane Araujo would extend her UFC record to 4-1.
With arguably the biggest win of her career now on her record, Araujo should be looking at a title push due to the thin nature of the women’s flyweight division.
With Lauren Murphy also looking for that final push to secure a crack at Valentina Shevchenko, an Araujo – Murphy bout would make a lot of sense.
Lerone Murphy vs. Gavin Tucker
Besting a game and experienced Douglas Silva de Andrade, Lerone Murphy would put his slick striking on display in a big unanimous decision victory.
Holding an unbeaten 10-0-1 record, Murphy looks to be a genuine prospect for the British MMA scene to rally around and there is still room to improve.
While the featherweight division is incredibly deep, it will take a major winning streak before cracking the top 15 and a fight with the rejuvenated Gavin Tucker would be a great opportunity for both men to continue their 145 lbs climb.
Omari Akhmedov vs. Jack Hermansson
Rebounding from his first loss in seven against Chris Weidman last time out, Omari Akhmedov was made to work for his second-round submission against an aggressive Tom Breese.
Now with a 6-1-1 record in his last eight, Akhmedov should be looking back up the ladder at 185 lbs.
With Jack Hermansson on somewhat of a slump with two losses in his last three, a fight between Akhmedov and Hermansson would allow the weight class to decipher where they stand as respective gatekeepers to the top 10 and five.