UFC Fight Night 52: What’s next for the main card winners?

Mark Hunt
Mark Hunt

Another weekend has come and gone, with the UFC this time pulling off a pit-stop in Tokyo, Japan for the 52nd installment in its ‘Fight Night’ series.

UFC Fight Night 52 took place at the Saitama Super Arena on Saturday, and featured a colossal main event tilt between famed Heavyweights Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. Dubbed as a ‘must watch’ fight by the masses, the bout delivered on all cylinders with Hunt eventually picking up a second round stoppage via a brutal uppercut.

In the co-main event, a battle between young and old blood ensued in the form of Myles Jury vs. Takanori Gomi. It was the former who prevailed on this occasion, however, as a neat setup for a straight right sent Gomi crashing straight onto the canvas. Jury not only became the first man to finish Gomi by strikes, but he’s now a perfect 6-0 under the UFC banner as well.

Elsewhere on the card, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Miesha Tate and Kiichi Kunimoto picked up decision victories while Japanese starlet Kyoji Horiguchi kicked off the main card with a TKO triumph over Jon delos Reyes.

So with that, it’s that time again where we at MMASucka.com play ‘matchmaker’ and derive match-ups that could materialize for the main card winners. Sitting on the matchmaker’s armchair is no easy task by any standards so if your solutions differ from ours, state them in the comments section below.

Let’s get started!

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KyojiHoriguchi_Headshot-NEW

  • Name: Kyoji Horiguchi (14-1)
  • Who he should face next: Zack Makovsky (18-5)

It seemed absolutely imperative for Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi to have a successful start in the UFC and thus far, everything has worked out well for the 23-year-old. In fact, with a well rounded game, Horiguchi looks to have a bright future in the 135-lbs division and might just be the right fighter to shrug off fans’ claims of Japanese competitors being unable to compete at the elite level.

Former Bellator champ Zack Makovsky would be the right type of step-up in competition Horiguchi needs, to pivot himself into the top 10 rankings. Makovsky might be coming off a loss in his previous outing but the 32-year-old’s performances have, to date, been eye catching to say the least, and will undoubtedly provide Horiguchi a stiff test.

KiichiKunimoto_Headshot

  • Name: Kiichi Kunimoto (18-5-2, 1 NC)
  • Who he should face next: Hyun Gyu Lim (13-4-1)

Former HEAT champ Kiichi Kunimoto has racked up three straight victories in this calendar year alone. The 33-year-old has been on tyrant run since 2009 losing just once and picking up 12 victories.

While Kunimoto might have barely irked out a split decision on Saturday, in the prelims, meanwhile, a fellow 170-pounder returned to his triumphant winning ways.

Korean Top Team’s ace Hyun Gyu Lim bamboozled Takenori Sato to get back on the win column, and it would make great sense to have the former PXC champ paired up with Kunimoto next, preferably on a card in Asia.

MieshaTate_Headshot

  • Name: Miesha Tate (15-5)
  • Who she should face next: Sara McMann (8-1)

Saturday’s win over a robust Rin Nakai saw Miesha Tate edge a step closer to number one contender status. With that said, however, the Women’s Bantamweight division is at a stand-still at the moment, with Ronda Rousey seemingly sitting comfortably at the top, destroying any contender that’s in her way; Lest for one Cat Zingano, of course, who’s set to lock horns with Amanda Nunes.

Right now, looking ahead, it would only make sense for the winner of that tilt to fight the winner of Tate vs. McMann in the near future. These quartet of women are at the top of the pile, and look the most likely to earn a shot at Rousey soon enough.

YoshihiroAkiyama_Headshot

  • Name: Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5, 2 NC)
  • Who he should face next: Ben Saunders (17-6-2)

Akiyama looked rusty after spending two years on the sidelines but suffice to say, the Japanese fighter got the job done on fight night, topping a very lackluster Amir Sadollah.

That win effectively snapped a four-fight losing streak, handing ‘Sexiyama’ his first victory in over four years.

Akiyama is known for not turning down easy fights and I for one believe the going will get tough for the 39-year-old. With Ben Saunders coming off an impressive Omoplata submission win just last month, a match-up with Akiyama could be in the books before the turn of the year.

MylesJury_Headshot

  • Name: Myles Jury (15-0)
  • Who he should face next: Bobby Green (23-5)

Khabib Nurmagomedov is said to be the fastest rising star out of the Lightweight ranks, but Myles Jury would love to have something to say about that. At just a tender age of 25, Jury is already making waves in the promotion, racking up six straight victories in the octagon.

While an argument could be made that Jury should face either the aforementioned Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson next, let’s not forget that a man called Bobby Green is climbing up the 155-lbs ladder steadily too. Furthermore, with Jury looking likely as a star for the future, it would be sensible to assume the Las Vegas-based outfit won’t rush him in terms of matchmaking.

As it stands, Jury vs. Green is capable of headlining any UFC Fight Night card or even serve as the co-main event on a PPV billing.

MarkHunt_Headshot

  • Name: Mark Hunt (10-8-1)
  • Who he should face next: Andrei Arlovski (23-10, 1 NC)

It would have been hard to imagine both Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski in the upper echelon of the UFC’s Heavyweight division at the start of this calendar year, but that’s how the situation is right now.

Hunt looks like the sort of fighter who’ll land a knockout on anyone outside the top five rankings. Arlovski, meanwhile, has won two straight since his return to the octagon, most recently scoring a first round TKO victory over Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva just over a week ago.

Hunt openly admitted he wanted a spot on the UFC’s return to Australia later this year. And with Arlovski leaving unscathed in his fight against Silva, it remains to be seen if the UFC will grant Hunt his wish. Either way, expect this one to materialize in the future.

For full UFC Fight Night 52 results, click here.


Follow Thinesh on Twitter (@ThineshJohnMMA), and keep up with the latest MMA news from MMASucka via Twitter (@MMASucka) and Facebook

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