Matchmaking for the UFC Vegas 21 main card winners

Here are the opponents we think should be next for the winners at UFC Vegas 21.

Leon Edwards simply cannot catch a break. The UFC Vegas 21 headliner will have to wait a little while longer to get his next win following a no contest in the main event against Belal Muhammad. Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye twice during the bout, with the second one leaving Muhammad writhing in pain on the canvas. The bout was called a no contest just 18 seconds into round two, leaving both the fighters and the fans dejected. While an extremely unfortunate night for both men, it’s hard not to feel for Muhammad who has won eight of his last nine and was making his first appearance in a UFC main event on short notice.

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 Saturday’s main card.

Potential next opponents for the UFC Vegas 21 main card winners

Leon Edwards, Belal Muhammad

As much as Muhammad would like to run this one back, it’s not a certainty that the UFC will rebook the two. Edwards was scheduled to fight Khamzat Chimaev in this spot, and in lieu of a rematch or a fight with Chimaev, the UFC will likely give Edwards a top-5 opponent next. Edwards is ranked No. 3 in the world at 170 pounds and should have been fighting someone of his caliber all along. Edwards vs. Covington would be a great No. 1 contender fight should the UFC not give Edwards a title fight next. As for Muhammad, he did call out Li Jingliang after his most recent win at UFC 258, and that would be a great fight. Muhammad might have to accept the fact that the UFC will want to move on from this matchup and get Edwards a higher-ranked opponent. Tough call either way.

Ryan Spann

Next opponent: Winner of Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute

It’s rare to see a fighter’s post-fight interview last longer than their fight, but Ryan Spann couldn’t help it when he knocked out Misha Cirkunov in just 71 seconds. Spann dropped Cirkunov twice in that short amount of time, finishing the fight and thus improving to 5-1 in the UFC. Spann made his future plans known in his interview, saying he would like to fight the winner of Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute, which take place at UFC 261 in April. Spann is ranked in-between Smith and Crute, and both of those are fresh matchups should either happen. Spann just beat Cirkunov, who coincidentally is the only man to ever beat Crute in his professional career, while he also shares a common opponent with Smith in Devin Clark, whom they both have beaten by submission. Regardless of who takes home the win, Spann should be waiting for them.

Dan Ige

Next opponent: Chan Sung Jung

Following his impressive 22-second knockout of Gavin Tucker, Ige used his time on the mic to call out Chan Sung Jung, better known as The Korean Zombie. The Hawaiian absolutely murked Tucker with a right hand that put him down hard, forcing the ref wave off the contest. Ige was originally scheduled to take on Jiu-Jitsu ace Ryan Hall, but an injury forced Hall off the card, and Tucker stepped in on a few weeks’ notice. Nobody in the featherweight division wanted to fight Hall given his awkward style and superb grappling abilities, but Ige was game, and despite not fighting Hall on Saturday, Ige certainly gained more respect from fans and fighters alike. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the UFC does end up rewarding Ige with a fight against Jung. Jung is ranked No. 5 in the featherweight division, and if Ige can get a win over someone as experienced and world-class as Jung, the sky’s the limit for that young man. And rankings aside, that is a fun fight any way you draw it up.

Davey Grant

Next Opponent: Andrew Ewell

Despite getting knocked down in the first round, Davey Grant rallied to score a second-round knockout over Jonathan Martinez. After building up his resume as a submission artist, Grant now has two KO’s in as many fights. After a shaky 1-3 start to his UFC career, Grant has three wins on the bounce and finished Martinez with a looping left hand that sent him crashing to the canvas. As for what’s next for Grant, lining up a fight with Andre Ewell makes a lot of sense. Both men have the same record of 4-3 in the promotion and also hold wins over Jonathan Martinez. If Grant can put away Ewell, then it would be hard to deny him an opponent that’s either in the rankings or hovering just below it.

Matheus Nicolau

Next Opponent: Tagir Ulanbekov

Flyweight Matheus Nicolau improves to 4-1 in the UFC following his split decision victory over Manel Kape. Kape took this fight on rather short notice, and despite being the betting favorite, was just edged out by Nicolau. Nicolau was able to mix up his wrestling and striking in order to get Kape to move backwards at times, something Kape really isn’t used to. Nicolau made his promotional debut in 2015, however he was let go from the UFC following the purge of many flyweights a few years ago. Now back with the company and in the win column, Nicolau should take on his original opponent, Tagir Ulanbekov. Ulanbekov was forced to withdraw from this fight with Nicolau twice now due to undisclosed reasons, but if they can rebook it, they should. Both men are exciting to watch, and it would be interesting to see how the fight plays out stylistically.

Eryk Anders, Darren Stewart

This is the second week in a row that a fight has ended due to an illegal knee. Last weekend’s bantamweight title fight ended in a disqualification for champion Petr Yan after he kneed Aljamain Sterling while he was grounded. Much of the same happened at UFC Vegas 21 when Eryk Anders kneed Darren Stewart in the head while he was on one knee, only difference being that this bout was ruled a no contest. There is a much larger discussion to be had about the difference between those two situations and what the correct call should be, but right this second. As for these two middleweights, they should just run it back in a month or two, so long as Stewart isn’t seriously injured. Anders was certainly on his way to being declared the victor, but he shot himself in the foot when he landed that knee to a downed Stewart. Let these two settle the score once and for all, and then they can move on to different matchups at 185 lb.

UFC Vegas 21 took place on Saturday, March 13, 2021, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.

Published at Sun, 14 Mar 2021 19:22:53 +0000

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