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UFC Fight Night 53: What’s next for the main card winners?

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Two UFC events went down on October 4, the first of which was UFC Fight Night 53 at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

UFC Fight Night 53 was the UFC’s third event in Sweden, following UFC on FUEL TV 2 in 2012 and UFC on FUEL TV 9 in 2013.

The night’s running order featured eleven fights which streamed entirely on UFC Fight Pass. The main card was headlined by a Welterweight tussle between Rick Story and Gunnar Nelson, a bout which the latter was heavily fancied to win. However, Story didn’t get the memo and ensured his Icelandic counterpart succumbed to all his striking exchanges on his feet for twenty-five straight minutes, eventually doing enough to merit 49-46 and 50-44 scores to garner a split decision victory.

In the co-featured bout of the evening, Max Holloway extended his win streak to four with a first round TKO triumph over Sweden’s own Akira Corassani.

Elsewhere, Ilir Latifi suffered an upset of sorts against Jan Blachowicz while Mike Wilkinson silenced the Swedish crowd with a first round knockout finish of Niklas Backstrom in the main card’s opener.

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: Mike Wilkinson (9-1)
  • Who he should face next: Chas Kelly (13-1)

Wilkinson had a successful start to life in the UFC after a stint in “TUF: Nations”, gaining a Unanimous Decision victory in his promotional debut. After a falling short at UFC on FUEL TV 10 in Brazil though, Wilkinson needed to make a statement to prove he was a force at 145-lbs. He did just that, defeating Niklas Backstrom is his own backyard.

The future looks promising for the Leigh, Wigan native who has seemingly meshed his MMA skills really well, notching his fair share of submissions and TKO victories in the recent times.

A match-up with Chas Kelly next would be perfect for the 27-year-old. As with Wilkinson, Kelly is on a 2-1 run in the UFC as well and most recently featured just a month ago, defeating the Blackzilians’ Sean Soriano at UFC Fight Night 50.

  • Name: Jan Blachowicz (18-3)
  • Who he should face next: Winner of Patrick Cummins (6-1) vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. (4-0)

The former KSW champ is now undefeated in his past six outings and after bringing his dangerous kickboxing credentials to his UFC debut, fans are itching to see if the 31-year-old has more in his arsenal.

However, with that said, while Blachowicz looks to be a talented individual in what is a very shallow Light Heavyweight division, it wouldn’t make sense to throw the Polish fighter to the wolves yet. It is safe to assume the UFC will bide its time in nurturing Blachowicz to ensure he moves up the ladder steadily.

As such, a bout against the winner of UFC Fight Night 58’s Patrick Cummins vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. next would be logical.

  • Name: Max Holloway (11-3)
  • Who he should face next: Chan Sung Jung (13-4)

Four straight wins with four straight stoppages; Simply put, Hawaii’s Max Holloway is on a roll. Furthermore, it’s astonishing to think Holloway’s only 22-years-old given his veteran status already in the octagon.

Holloway is continuing to improve with each outing and is well on his way to being a future UFC star. A match-up with Chan Sung Jung, who hasn’t competed since his 2013 title defeat to champ Jose Aldo, would truly cement the Hawaiian’s place in the upper echelon of the division.

‘Korean Zombie’ has faced a string of injuries which has kept him sidelined but when healthy, the South Korean is arguably one of the best 145-pounders to watch. This is a match-up worthy of headlining any UFC Fight Night card and is one that will have fans on the edge of their seats for either 15 or 25 straight minutes.

  • Name: Rick Story (18-8)
  • Who he should face next: Winner of Hector Lombard (34-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Josh Burkman (27-10)

Apparently, Rick Story was only one of few people who refused to fall prey to his opponent’s hype. Instead, a well-worked game plan that prevented Gunnar Nelson from using his stellar Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills was all he needed to rack up his first win streak in nearly three years.

Is Story a legitimate contender at Welterweight though? That’s a tough question. While the 30-year-old is known to provide any 170-pounder a stern challenge, he has struggled to shine against the big names of the division in recent years.

Former Bellator champion Hector Lombard welcomes Josh Burkman back to the UFC at UFC 182 at the turn of the year and Story could well be pitted against the winner. And a win would do wonders for the MMA Lab disciple, who might finally find a way to get in the running to be in the mix for the 170-lbs title.

For full UFC Fight Night 53 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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20, Asian MMA enthusiast in Singapore.

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