The UFC returned to Sao Paulo on Saturday night, and brought with them a great night of fights, sans Viscardi Andrade-Gasan Umalatov. In the main event, Vitor Belfort knocked out Dan Henderson for a second time, showing no new wrinkles in his game. For Henderson, he has dropped six of his last eight. There was also important divisional action in the light heavyweight and bantamweight divisions, with two strong Brazilian contenders picking up wins. Here are who the aforementioned winners, as well as the rest of the main card victors, should face in their next bouts.3
What’s Next for UFN 77 Winners?
Vitor Belfort Should Fight: Michael Bisping
If you take a look at Vitor Belfort’s career in the past several years, the only people he has lost to since 2007 have been UFC champions Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Chris Weidman. Checkered with asterisks though his record may be due to his failed drug tests and testosterone replacement therapy, on paper he is still among the elite of the middleweight division. Winning the rubber match against Henderson immediately in the aftermath of his loss to Weidman was the perfect way to maintain his relevance. Belfort should get a fighter who is similarly just outside of contention talk, yet has name value and can sell a fight.
Enter England’s Michael Bisping, who is riding a winning streak for the first time in four years. Bisping fell to a Belfort head kick in 2013 while the Brazilian was still on TRT. Bisping has positioned himself in title picture talk by beating two credible talents in the middleweight division. Should he beat Belfort, he would have a win over a division staple and avenge a loss. If Belfort defeats Bisping, he can lay to rest some of his detractors calling his win a fluke or the product of his TRT use.
Glover Teixeira Should Fight: Alexander Gustafsson
Glover Teixeira showed that his defensive wrestling can get him by a tough divisional grinder in Patrick Cummins. Teixeira repeatedly got back to his feet when he was put down, and stuffed the American’s takedowns en route to a TKO stoppage. In winning back to back fights over divisional prospects Cummins and Ovince St. Preux, Teixeira has put himself back onto the short list of title contenders at 205lbs. Enter Gustafsson, another contender who, despite dropping three of his last four, is still incredibly relevant in the title picture. A win for either man in this hypothetical bout would guarantee that the winner would be competing for a title within a fight or two.
Thomas Almeida Should Fight: John Lineker
Thomas Almeida shined again, disintegrating the game but ultimately overmatched Anthony Birchak. The exciting Brazilian should fight a fellow countryman who announced his presence in the UFC’s bantamweight division with a similarly violent finish. Lineker choked out the much larger Francisco Rivera after a firefight exchange on the feet. Almeida and Lineker would guarantee fireworks, and the winner would stake a case for a top five opponent in the near future.
Alex Oliveira Should Fight: Francisco Trinaldo
Alex Oliveira picked up a very impressive win on Saturday, with a one sided knockout victory of Piotr Hallmann in the third round. Oliveira has now won his last three fights since stumbling in his UFC debut to Gilbert Burns, and has been taking fights at both lightweight and welterweight. He deserves the opportunity to capitalize on this momentum he’s built up by fighting another Brazilian on a tear. Francisco Trinaldo has put together a four fight win streak capped off with his knockout of TUF Nations winner Chad Laprise. While both of these fighters are still far from being title contenders, and both have areas that could stand technical improvement, at this stage of the game they were meant to put their streaks on the line to move on up the ladder.
Rashid Magomedov Should Fight: Adriano Martins
Magomedov is 20-1 overall, and is 4-0 in the UFC. He is a patient fighter, and that has showed throughout his last couple fights, being content to counter his opposition, and avoid any real damage or compromising positions. Adriano Martins is riding a three fight win streak with two knockouts in the mix. Also a bit of a counter fighter, Martins ground game and one punch knockout power would put the nearly unbeaten Dagestani to the test, while also moving him up the ladder in terms of competition. Magomedov should be done fighting regional circuit prospects and has-been journeymen; Martins represents a step in the right direction.
Corey Anderson Should Fight: Jimi Manuwa
Corey Anderson improved his overall record to 7-1 with a lop sided decision victory against brawler Fabio Maldonado. Anderson’s takedowns and improved boxing allowed him to cruise through, and with the win comes a chance to take a step up the ranks. In potential opponent Manuwa, Anderson would face a very real knockout threat and a much more polished striker. If Anderson can pass by the power striking of Manuwa and find victory, it would portend great things about his future in the division.
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