UFC on ESPN 26: Fights To Make
Like most under-the-radar UFC events, UFC on ESPN 26 delivered finishes galore as eight out of 10 bouts came to a close inside the distance.
Headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s expected heir to the throne Islam Makhachev, the Dagestani grappler would control the proceedings in his first main event outing before securing a fourth-round submission on Thiago Moises.
Makhachev is now riding an eight-fight winning streak and looks all set to be paired up with a top contender after his latest dominant showing.
Elsewhere on Saturday’s event, there would be a triumphant return to the octagon for Miesha Tate as the former champion handed a retiring Marion Reneau a TKO loss in her first fight in five years.
UFC on ESPN 26’s main card would also see impressive wins by the likes of Rodolfo Vieira, Billy Quarantillo and Mateusz Gamrot so with another UFC event set for this upcoming weekend, here are some quick fights for the promotion’s matchmakers to pencil into their schedules:
Islam Makhachev vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Landing 130 more strikes than his opponent while holding eight minutes of control time on the mat, Islam Makhachev was near his best on Saturday night.
Tasked with a fighter who is both explosive on the feet and a highly-talented grappler, Makhachev would dictate proceedings before taking the Brazilian’s back in the fourth round to sink in a rear-naked choke.
Thanks to his impressive showing, Makhachev is undeniable in taking a big jump up in terms of opposition and a re-booking of a fight with Rafael dos Anjos would do just that.
With the former lightweight champion successful in his return to 155 lbs late last year, a fight between the two highly-skilled and well-rounded competitors would be a fascinating clash.
Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMann II
Looking like she had never been away, never mind for five years, Miesha Tate would turn up the pressure against Marion Reneau before a third-round TKO on the ground secured a triumphant return.
Proclaiming afterwards that she was not back just for the buzz but for genuine title aspirations, the UFC should act somewhat cautiously before throwing ‘Cupcake’ into a top-five match-up.
Instead, a second bout with Sara McMann would test just how well she can hang at 135 lbs going forwards.
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Renato Moicano
Quickly taking Jeremy Stephens down before cinching in a nasty kimura just over a minute into the contest, Mateusz Gamrot provided another reminder that he has a big future in the UFC.
As a former two-weight KSW champion, the 30-year old Polish fighter could well soon find himself as a top contender in the lightweight division.
Due to the shark tank nature of the UFC’s 155 lbs weight class, there are no easy fights inside the top 25 and so you can’t really go wrong with any match-up.
With that being said, a fight with the similarly well-rounded Renato Moicano would allow the winner to make real claims to be paired with a ranked fighter next time out.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Max Griffin
Proving too powerful on the feet for short-notice replacement Preston Parsons, Daniel Rodriguez would tee off on his opponent before securing a first-round TKO victory.
With a solid 5-1 record since joining the UFC in 2020, Daniel Rodriguez should see a step-up in competition and a fight with UFC 264 winner Max Griffin would pit him against a talented promotional veteran.
Amanda Lemos vs. Nina Nunes
Recording the quickest win of the night in just 35 seconds, Amanda Lemos’ power made quick work of Montserrat Ruiz.
Possessing arguably the heaviest hands in the strawweight division, Lemos should see a top 10 opponent next time she steps into the octagon.
With Nina Nunes currently sitting in the #7 position, a Lemos – Nunes bout would see who deserves their spot in the top 10.