UFC Fight Night 54: What’s next for the main card winners?

UFC Fight Night 54 is in the books, with the event delighting the masses at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The main event saw Canada’s own MMA star, Rory MacDonald, with an immaculate performance that saw him garner a TKO victory over former Strikeforce champ, Tarec Saffiedine. ‘Ares’ has now won three straight and looks in pole position to fight for the Welterweight belt next.

Two highly-ranked Bantamweights took the limelight in the co-main event, as Raphael Assuncao tussled with Bryan Caraway. Despite the latter’s ability to seemingly eat every shot thrown at him, he wasn’t able to get much going in terms of offense, eventually prompting the judges to award the final hearsay in Assuncao’s favor.

Elsewhere, Chad Laprise, Elias Theodorou and Nordine Taleb picked up decision victories while submission ace Mitch Gagnon added yet another submission win under his belt to kick off the night’s main card proceedings on FOX Sports 1.

In an otherwise decision filled fight card, it’s well worth noting that all four ‘TUF: Nations” competitors went a perfect 4-0 on the night.

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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  • Name: Mitch Gagnon (12-2)
  • Who he should face next: Kyung Ho Kang (13-7, 1 NC)

Knockouts are the ones which often take the spotlight, but you can’t argue it takes just as much skill and fitnesse to pull off a good submission. That so happens to be Mitch Gagnon’s bread and butter.

The 29-year-old has literally been pulling off submission victories left and right and his lone defeat in the octagon, to date, was against the high-flying, Bryan Caraway. While Gagnon looks to be a promising contender in the making, a bout with former ROAD FC champ Kyung Ho Kang next could turn out to be an exciting scrap.

Kang is just as strong on the canvas, as evident in his ‘Fight of the Night’ performance victory over Michinori Tanaka in Japan. The South Korean hardly came second best in any of the scrambles, and instead, asserted his authority in the fight by securing his own dominant positions.

Neither fighter is close to a title shot as well so it’s a great time for this match-up to materialize.

 

  • Name: Nordine Taleb (10-2)
  • Who he should face next: Alberto Mina (11-0)

It was another contest that Taleb had to work hard for to get his hands raised but there’s no denying the Canadian has deserved to bring his record with the promotion to a perfect 2-0 following his stint on “TUF: Nations”.

Another 170-pounder on a meteoric rise is Hong Kong-based Alberto Mina, who recently turned in an impressive showing in his UFC debut against Shinsho Anzai in Macau. Mina is also in the early stages of his UFC career and while it’s unlikely he’ll pivot above the top ten rankings anytime soon, he has the talent and undoubtedly the tools to test Taleb to produce an exciting Welterweight affair.

 

  • Name: Elias Theodorou (10-0)
  • Who he should face next: Sean Strickland (15-0)

I said before Theodorou is a well-oiled machine with the whole package to sparkle in the industry. With looks to go along with the right personality, he is a without a doubt a future talent in the ranks.

Now at 2-0 in the octagon, the Canadian once again proved on Saturday night that while his skills are still readily coming together, he’s more than ready for just another ‘warm up’ bout in his next appearance. With that said, fellow unbeaten prospect Sean Strickland would serve as a perfect opponent for Theodorou, in a bout that will determine if Theodorou is all hype, or not.

 

  • Name: Chad Laprise (9-0)
  • Who he should face next: Winner of James Vick (6-0) vs. Nick Hein (11-1, 1 NC)

A successful debut at 155-lbs has now gotten Laprise a myriad of potential opponents. It was noted that he was competing above his natural weight class, at Welterweight, for the ‘TUF: Nations’ show, but after Saturday night’s dominant performance, it looks like Lightweight will be a perfect fit for the 28-year-old.

Laprise is still relatively young in his Mixed Martial Arts career and it wouldn’t make sense to throw the Canadian to the wolves yet. With James Vick set to tussle with Nick Hein at UFC Fight Night 57, Laprise could very well get the winner of that one next.

 

  • Name: Raphael Assuncao (23-4)
  • Who he should face next: Urijah Faber (31-7)

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… and now 7.” That was the message sent by Raphael Assuncao following his triumphant victory over Bryan Caraway in Halifax.

Seven straight victories has given the Brazilian the right for a shout-out at the title, and with a victory over current champ, TJ Dillashaw, under his belt, the 32-year-old has cemented a place in the upper echelon of the division.

But before he gets there, former champ Dominick Cruz looks in pole position to challenge Dillashaw first, for the belt he never really lost in the first place. Right now, as it stands, all Assuncao needs is just one more match-up, and if he wins, the UFC will find it hard to go against his wishes.

With Urijah Faber also looking to get back into the mix at 135-lbs, a rematch with Assuncao, this time with number one contender stipulations, would be ideal where the victor should be in line for a shot at the belt.

 

  • Name: Rory MacDonald (18-2)
  • Who he should face next: Winner of [C] Johny Hendricks (16-2) vs. Robbie Lawler (24-10, 1 NC)

Canada’s gem, Rory MacDonald, has firmly situated himself on the number one contender’s throne. Saturday night’s TKO victory over a tough Tarec Saffiedine proved the 25-year-old is not only one of the best in the world at 170-lbs, but he is in fact, deserving of a shot at the strap next.

‘Ares’ owns a three-fight winning streak that has logically pushed him to the cusp of earning a shot at Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler, which goes down in December at UFC 181.

With that said, it just wouldn’t be sensible for MacDonald to take another match-up in the meantime, given the little options available to maneuver him up the division’s ladder.

For full UFC Fight Night 54 results, click here.

*Pictures credit: Ultimate Fighting Championship


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

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