UFC Fight Night 101 is in the books following the comay’s return to Melbourne, Australia. The card was originally set to feature a rematch between former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and–another former Strikeforce middleweight champion–Jacare Souza. In the month leading up to the event, Rockhold was forced out of the fight due to a knee injury. Leaving Souza without an opponent. In turn, Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson was promoted to serve as the event headliner. The co-main event would feature a clash between two lightweight prospects, American Andrew Holbrook and Australian Jake Matthews. Following Saturday’s event “Down Under,” it’s that time again to provide options for fights to make after UFC Fight Night 101.
Robert Whittaker (17-4)
Last Opponent: Derek Brunson
Who Should be Next: Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
What a great fight. The 25-year-old Australian Whittaker would put away Brunson in the first round, earning both “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night” honors. He currently rides a six-fight win streak dating back to June of 2014. He has victories over Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, and Rafael Natal. Whittaker now resides near the top of the middleweight ladder and is within one or two more victories of a title shot. It may be tough choosing an opponent for Whittaker, as the entire 185 pound division is stacked at the top. Champion Michael Bisping will more than likely recieve Yoel Romero next, while plans of rescheduling the rematch between Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza may happen (once again). A match-up with Gegard Mousasi would be a great test. Mousasi currently rides a four fight win streak of his own. A winner between Whittaker and Mousasi would surely be in the discussion for reciving the next attempt at the champion.
Andrew Holbrook (12-1)
Last Opponent: Jake Matthews
Who Should be Next: Alan Parick (14-1)
Andrew Holbrook got back in the win coloumn, utilizing a variety of grappling skills to edge-out a split decision victory over Jake Matthews. We have not seen a full fight performance from Holbrook since his close decision win over Ramsey Nijem in July of 2015. In Holbrook’s last outing, before Matthews, he was knocked out by Joaquim Silva in only 34 seconds. A fight that could test his ground game could be against Brazilian Alan Patrick. Patrick’s lone mixed martial art loss came against Mairbek Taisumov last year. However, he is coming off two decision victories this year over Stevie Ray and Damien Brown. Expect an entertaining grappling fight if this one were to go down.
Omari Akhmedov (16-4)
Last Opponent: Kyle Noke
Who Should be Next: Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1)
In what was possibly the best performance of his career, Omari Akhmedov dominated the Australian native Kyle Noke to earn a unanimous decision win. This was an important fight for his career, since he had been knocked out in back-to-back bouts by Sergio Moraes and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Akhmedov has wild, powerful, striking when he lets his hands go and tends to look for takedowns to grind out his opponents. Akhmedov’s next opponent could be Siyar Bahadurzada. The lone Afghan fighter on the UFC roster had two different fights scheduled in 2016, after his return victory over Brandon Thatch. However, an injury forced is opponent off one fight, and an illness forced him out of another. We can say that if he is healthy, a fight with Akhmedov could be one to watch.
Alex Volkanovski (14-1)
Last Opponent: Yusuke Kasuya
Who Should be Next: Magomed Mustafaev (13-2)
Alex Volkanovski performed very well in his UFC debut, giving Yusuke Kasuya his first loss, due to strikes. Volkanovski landed some strong and effective ground-and-pound, once he managed to get the fight there. He is one of Australia’s top prospects, and he has put together an 11-fight win streak. With ten coming by stoppage. A fight that could produce fireworks could come against Russia’s Magomed Mustafaev. Mustafaev was on a 13-fight win streak (all by stoppage) until being submitting in the second round by Kevin Lee last week. A win for Volkanovski against Mustafaev could be huge for his career and future.
Tyson Pedro (5-0)
Last Opponent: Khalil Rountree
Who Should be Next: Jonathan Wilson (7-2)
Not many were aware of the name Tyson Pedro coming into this event. That is until submitting Khalil Rountree. The Aussie remains unbeaten with every win coming in the first round. His four submission wins show he can be a threat on the ground, in the light heavyweight division. Jonathan Wilson’s UFC career is on the line, having lost his last two in a row to Luis Henrique da Silva and Ion Cutelaba. If Wilson could defeat an undefeated guy like Pedro, it would surely save him from being released. If Pedro could beat Wilson, then he’d become an that much more of a name to watch.
Danielle Taylor (8-2)
Last Opponent: Seohee Ham
Who Should be Next: Amanda Cooper (2-2)
Danielle Taylor edged out a split-decision victory against Seohee Ham, despite most fans and media not scoring the bout in her favor. Taylor’s only loss in the octagon came to Maryna Moroz back in August. Her other professional loss came by TKO in August of 2015, to Jamie Colleen. However, she would avenge that loss in a March rematch this year. Last week, we saw Amanda Cooper score her first UFC victory over Anna Elmose. Both Cooper and Taylor are hungry for a win coming off their first success in the UFC and are probably ranked around the same place in the division.
Other fights to make after UFC Fight Night 101:
Dan Kelly vs. Tim Boetsch
Damien Brown vs. Marco Polo Reyes
Jonathan Meunier vs. Tom Breese
Ben Nguyen vs. Brandon Moreno/Ryan Benoit winner
Jason Knight vs. Luke Sanders
Marlon Vera vs. Albert Morales
Jenel Lausa vs. Geane Herrera
Derek Brunson vs. Chris Weidman
Jake Matthews vs. Drew Dober/Olivier Aubin-Mercier loser
Kyle Noke: retirement (announced on Twitter following fight)
Yusuke Kasuya: released
Khalil Rountree vs. Joachim Christensen
Seohee Ham vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
Chris Camozzi: released or retirement
Jon Tuck vs. Jason Novelli
Richard Walsh: released
Geane Herrera vs. Jenel Lausa
Dan Hooker vs. Alex White
Ning Guangyou: released
Yao Zhikui: released