Matches to make for Michael Chiesa, other UFC Fight Island 8 winners

Here are the opponents we think should be next for the winners at UFC Fight Island 8.

For a midweek card taking place in the earlier hours of the day, UFC Fight Island 8 sure did provide fans with some excitement. Headliner Michael Chiesa was able to neutralize most of Neil Magny’s offensive arsenal by smothering him over five rounds.

The main event might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but stoppage wins from Ike Villanueva, Warlley Alves and Omari Akhmedov certainly made up for it. We also saw impressive victories from flyweights Matt Schnell and Viviane Araujo. Now that the event is over and the bonuses have been handed out, let’s take a look at what’s next for the winners from Wednesday’s 7-fight main card.

Potential next opponents for the UFC Fight Island 8 main card winners

Michael Chiesa

Next Opponent: Stephen Thompson

Michael Chiesa proved on Wednesday that he belongs in the conversation at 170 lb. “Maverick” was able to out-grapple Neil Magny for 25 minutes en route to the first main event win of his career. Chiesa just looked extremely comfortable in the Octagon, transition from one position to another with relative ease, forcing Magny to play his game instead of striking.

Although Chiesa has called out No. 1 contender Colby Covington after his last two fights, it doesn’t seem likely that the UFC will book that fight, not next anyway. Chiesa is likely another fight or two away from fighting someone like Covington. However, a fight between him and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a very intriguing matchup. Each fighter’s style could not be more different than the other, but that is usually where we see who can impose their style and will on their opponent. Thompson is known for his karate-style attacks, while Chiesa is a true grappler through and through. Both men are on winning streaks, and unless the UFC wants to see Tyron Woodley get out-grappled yet again, a fight with Thompson could be on the books for later in 2021.

Warlley Alves

Next Opponent: Khaos Williams

Welterweight Warlley Alves had as great a start to his UFC career as one can ask for, rifling off four-straight wins over guys like Colby Covington and Alan Jouban. Alves would go on to lose his next two bouts before putting together back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018. Alves has since alternated wins and losses, struggling to find the form he once held. Wednesday night showed us the vintage, more aggressive Alves as he defeated highly-touted prospect Mounir Lazzez via first-round TKO. Alves came off a 14-month layoff guns blazing, throwing powerful shots that were hurting Lazzez. Alves ultimately fired off a kick to the midsection of Lazzez that put him down, finishing the fight via punches on the ground, earning himself a performance of the night bonus in the process. A good next step for Alves would be a scrap with Khaos Williams. Although coming off a loss, Williams (11-2) brings the heat in every fight, and these two throwing heavy leather would be a real treat for the fans.

Ike Villanueva

Next Opponent: Aleksa Camur

Ike “Hurricane” Villanueva most likely saved his job in the UFC following his knockout victory over Vinicius Moreira in the second round. Villanueva landed a powerful overhand right that hit Moreira flush, putting his lights out and ending the contest. Villanueva isn’t the most technical fighter or even the fittest, but what he does have is heart. Like he said in his post-fight interview, “it’s just hard work”. This was his first victory in the promotion, so there is no point of feeding him to the wolves, so a bout with Aleksa Camur sounds like a fair match to make. Camur is currently 6-1 and coming off his first professional loss to William Knight. Prior to the loss, Camur was victorious on Dana White’s Contender Series and won his Octagon debut via unanimous decision. This seems like a good next step for both fighters.

Viviane Araujo

Next Opponent: Cynthia Calvillo

Viviane Araujo is certainly the dark horse in the UFC’s women’s flyweight division. Araujo was able to completely dominate No. 8 Roxane Modafferi along the way to a unanimous decision victory. Araujo is 4-1 in the promotion, losing only to former title challenger Jessica Eye. The win will certainly bump up her ranking a spot or two, and a fight that could be entertaining would be her versus Cynthia Calvillo. Calvillo, currently ranked No. 5, is coming off a loss to Katlyn Chookagian that put a halt to her three-fight winning streak. Calvillo presents a very different stylistic matchup  than Modaferri, and Araujo is a fighter that certainly needs a step up in competition.

Matt Schnell

Next Opponent: Brandon Royval

Matt Schnell is no easy outing. The former TUF 24 competitor successfully defended his No. 9 ranking in the division with a split decision victory over Tyson Nam, though some would argue it should’ve been unanimous. Schnell’s striking continues to improve with every fight, and the issues he had with speed and head movement are in the past it seems. Schnell got off to a rocky 0-2 start with the promotion, but has since compiled a 5-1 record in a talented flyweight division. With the victory, Schnell has surely earned himself a crack at someone ranked above him, and a great test of his mettle would be against a guy like Brandon Royval. Royval is coming off a shoulder injury he suffered in his UFC 255 loss to Brandon Moreno, and with No. 7 and No. 8 already scheduled to fight, why not book No. 6 vs. No. 9 for later this year?

Lerone Murphy

Next Opponent: Bill Algeo

Still undefeated is England’s Lerone Murphy. Now 2-0-1 inside the Octagon, Murphy has shown he is able to fight through a bit of adversity.  Opponent Douglas Silva de Andrade had accumulated plenty of damage to both legs due to Murphy’s powerful leg kicks, enough to change the dynamic of the fight early on. Andrade really began throwing some heat in round three, but plenty of damage was already done to Andrade in rounds one and two. Murphy’s looked solid in all three of his UFC appearances and has certainly become one to watch at 145 lb, but there is no need to rush him into a massive fight just yet. I’m sure we’d all love to see the rematch with Zubaira Tukhugov, but a fight with Bill Algeo next seems more appropriate right now. Algeo (14-5) sits at 1-1 in the promotion after defeating the always electric Spike Carlyle via unanimous decision in November. Algeo is a solid all-around fighter who would definitely push the pace against Murphy.

Omari Akhmedov

Next Opponent: Ronaldo Souza

Many thought that Omari Akhmedov was heading in a downward trajectory following his loss to former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, but boy did he prove everyone wrong. His opponent Tom Breese was not only the betting favorite come fight night, he’s also a fighter that many tabbed as someone who could make a real run at 185 lb. However, Akhmedov had a different idea. Akhmedov came right out of the gate throwing hard punches and landed on Breese plenty of times. Akhmedov was eventually able to hurt Breese and get him to the ground, eventually submitting him in the second round with not a scratch on him. Prior to the Weidman loss, Akhmedov was unbeaten in his last six UFC fights, and even with the win most people still couldn’t tell you who Omari Akhmedov is. A great matchup for him would be Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Souza has name value, has lost three in-a-row, and could be an easier fight for Akhmedov than he would have been 2 years ago. Yes, Souza is no longer ranked at 185, but a win over a name like Jacare could help Akhmedov land bigger names in the future.

UFC Fight Island 8 took place on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, live from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.

Published at Thu, 21 Jan 2021 17:56:39 +0000

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