UFC Fight Night 99 took place on Saturday from Belfast, the UFC’s second trip to Northern Ireland in promotional history. This was the first event of a double-header weekend as well, seeing UFC Fight Night 100 follow after completion of the card in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The main event of Belfast’s card featured a rematch between Top 10 middleweights Gegard Mousasi and Uriah “Prime Time” Hall. The co-main event showed a battle between Stevie “Braveheart” Ray and UFC veteran Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson. Also making up the Fight Pass main card was a heavyweight clash between UFC newcomer Alexander “Drago” Volkov and Timothy Johnson, and a featherweight fight between Straight Blast Gym’s Artem Lobov and Team Alpha Male’s Teruto Ishihara. Following Saturday morning’s UFC Fight Pass event, it is time to provide options for fights to make after UFC Fight Night 99.
Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
Last Opponent: Uriah Hall
Who Should be Next: Luke Rockhold (15-3)
Gegard Mousasi scored his revenge in the rematch, earning a first round TKO over Uriah Hall. Their first affair showed a dominate performance from Mousasi until a brutal spinning-back-kick-flying-knee-with-punches combination from Hall sent the Dutch crashing to the canvas. Mousasi now rides a four fight win streak in 2016, having also defeat both Vitor Belfort and Thiago Santos by knockout and earning a unanimous decision over Thales Leites. The middleweight division is currently filled with action at the top. Yoel Romero finishing Chris Weidman last week will more than likely propel him to receive a shot against Michael Bisping, the current middleweight champion. Luke Rockhold was supposed to fight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 101 opposite of Jacare Souza until an injury forced him off the card, leaving Souza open for a fight. I first advocated for Mousasi to receive the winner of next week’s main event between Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker. However, I personally think the best option would be to have Mousasi and Rockhold face off. The two have yet to meet and are both so close to content for the title. The winner would easily be in talks of receiving the next shot at UFC gold.
Stevie Ray (20-6)
Last Opponent: Ross Pearson
Who Should be Next: James Krause (23-7)
Stevie Ray picked up the biggest win of his career, out-working Ross Pearson throughout the 15 minute fight to earn a split decision victory. Ray’s UFC debut came in April of 2015, compiling a three-fight streak in the promotion before losing a unanimous decision to Alan Patrick in his September. Ray is only 26 years old and has time to continue evolving his skill set. Ross Pearson was originally supposed to face James Krause at this event until a torn hamstring forced Krause off the card. Now with Ray coming out victorious, I think scheduling between the two is the fight to make.
Alexander Volkov (27-6)
Last Opponent: Timothy Johnson
Who Should be Next: Stefan Struve (28-8)
Alexander Volkov picked up a close and controversial split decision win over Timothy Johnson, seeing the majority of fans and media score the bout in favor of Johnson. A huge uppercut from Johnson sent Volkov down in the first round; however, he weathered the storm and would be given the decision nod from the judges. Volkov is now 8-2 since March of 2014, having both losses come by decision in Bellator. Volkov has a very similar style and physique to Stefan Struve in the way they strike and engage in the clinch. This would be a reasonable fight to make, with Struve riding a two fight win streak over Bigfoot Silva (a 15-second knockout) and Daniel Omielanczuk (a second-round submission).
Artem Lobov (13-12-1, 1 NC)
Last Opponent: Teruto Ishihara
Who Should be Next: Makwan Amirkhani (13-2)
Artem Lobov earned a solid unanimous decision victory over Teruto Ishihara, utilizing effective footwork and combinations over the Japanese fighter. His record is not the best; however, he has two straight UFC wins having also defeated Chris Avila at UFC 202. Lobov has earned a lot of attention through fans and media, being a training partner of Conor McGregor. He was part of McGregor’s team on The Ultimate Fighter 22, losing a unanimous decision in the finale to Ryan Hall. An opponent to match Lobov against next could be top Finnish prospect Makwan Amirkhani, who is 3-0 in the UFC with only two losses on his resume. Both Amirkhani and Lobov have personalities to hype up the fight and make it something worth the watch.
Uriah Hall (12-8)
Last Opponent: Gegard Mousasi
Who Should be Next: Anderson Silva (33-8, 1 NC)
Uriah Hall was unable to strike twice against Gegard Mousasi, being taken down with a minute remaining in the first and finished by TKO. Hall currently rides a three-fight losing streak, his last win coming over that of Mousasi in September of 2015. Hall is a fighter the UFC can promote and one that people will watch; he has a name and can do a variety of unpredictable things once the cage doors close. A match-up that could be fun and somewhat reasonable for Hall’s position could be against Anderson Silva. The two were supposed to face off against each other at UFC 198 until a surgery forced Silva off the card. This is an absolute stretch, especially with Hall being on the losing streak he rides. However, this fight is stylistically close and could provide viewers with something worth the watch.
Ross Pearson (19-13, 1 NC)
Last Opponent: Stevie Ray
Who Should be Next: Takanori Gomi (35-12, 1 NC)
Ross Pearson has now suffered three straight decision losses to Will Brooks, Jorge Masvidal, and now Stevie “Braveheart” Ray. He continues to stay active, having fought five times in 2016; however, Pearson’s record is just 1-4 this calendar year, which unfortunately is not the best. Pearson has been fighting for years and could definitely be getting closer to retirement. The UFC will more than likely not cut him either, as the fighter is still a marketable guy. A lightweight fight to make next for Pearson could be against another mixed martial arts veteran like Takanori Gomi, who rides a three-fight TKO losing streak. This could be a loser-leaves-town fight by either retiring or cut from the roster. Pearson vs. Gomi would be watched by many for everything they’ve achieved in their highly-respected careers.
Timothy Johnson (10-3)
Last Opponent: Alexander Volkov
Who Should be Next: Alexey Oliynyk (27-6)
The judges awarded Alexander Volkov with the split decision victory and not Timothy Johnson. The fight was close overall with Johnson landing an uppercut in the first round to hurt Volkov, along with grinding the Russian up against the cage. Johnson’s only other loss in the UFC came against Jared Rosholt in August of 2015, losing a unanimous decision. Even though the majority believed the decision should have probably gone in his favor, the judging cannot be changed. With Johnson coming off this loss, he should recieve submission specialist Alexey Oliynyk. This would be an important fight for both, knowing a loss could slip them towards the very bottom of the heavyweight division.
Teruto Ishihara (9-3-2)
Last Opponent: Artem Lobov
Who Should be Next: Tae Hyun Bang (18-10)
Teruto Ishihara took the first loss of his UFC career to Artem Lobov, struggling for 15 minutes with his range and avoiding Lobov’s consistent pressure. Ishihara competed on Road to UFC: Japan, making it to the finals against Mizuto Hirota. The bout was ruled a split draw, and both men were signed with a UFC contract. Before this loss to Lobov, Ishihara rode a two-fight knockout streak earning two straight “Performance of the Night” bonuses. A next possible opponent for Ishihara could South Korean Tae Hyun Bang, coming off a loss in September to Nick Hein. A loss from one or the other in this fight may put their UFC contract on the bubble.
Other fight suggestions for the remaining victorious and defeated from UFC Fight Night 99:
Jack Marshman vs. Vitor Miranda
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Trevor Smith/Andrew Sanchez loser
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Wilson Reis
Ali Bagautinov vs. Sergio Pettis
Kevin Lee vs. Abel Trujillo
Magomed Mustafaev vs. Chad Laprise
Amanda Cooper vs. Alex Chambers
Anna Elmose: Nina Ansaroff or released
Justin Ledet vs. Marcin Tybura
Mark Godbeer vs. Chase Sherman
Zak Cummings vs. Leon Edwards
Alexander Yakovlev vs. Nicolas Dalby
Marion Reneau vs. Bethe Correia
Milana Dudieva: released or retirement
Brett Johns vs. Marco Beltran
Kwan Ho Kwak vs. Joey Gomez
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
Charlie Ward: released