Thursday night at the Cosmopolitan marked the first night of three events listed to go down in the biggest week of the year in MMA. We now look forward for the sensational victors from that nights card to determine who should or could be next.
Aljamain “Funk Master Sterling vs. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway
After waiting for the better part of the year for a fight after an exhilarating submision victory over Takeya Mizugaki in April, the “Funk Master” went in there and turned heads again in earning his fourth straight victory in submitting Johnny Eduardo, who is ranked at No. 10 on the UFC’s rankings. It was Sterlings third straight finish, and Sterling would like to keep the pace busy going into the next year after such a long unecessary layoff. Sterling took to social media not long after the fight, calling out No. 7th ranked Bryan Caraway, who is coming off an impressive win over former WEC champEddie Wineland. Sterling has had his eye on Caraway for some time now, and it’ll be interesting to see if this match-up ends up happening, and if id does, how it plays out. Both men are some of the best grapplers in the division currently and a victory at this juncture could signal the difference between mainstay or contender.
Tim “Dirty Bird” Means vs. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal II
Tim Means ends 2015 on a high note after a busy year, going 3-1 inside the Octagon, with his only loss coming to top ranked Matt “The Immortal” Brown at UFC 189. After getting a spectacular win that also earned him Performance of the Night against John Howard, Tim Means looked to call out all of the top ranked fighters who have handed him losses, including the “Immortal” one. But while that bout may seem like much of a stretch at this point for both men, one rematch that certainly isn’t is one between Means and Jorge Masvidal. Back in the “Dirty Bird’s” first stint in the UFC, Means competed at lightweight and faced off against Jorge Masvidal in a losing effort. Now that Means is in a weight calss more suitable to his health and physique, as well as the fact that “Gamebred” has himself moved up in weight since, a bout between the two could spell more intrest and excitement this time around.
Thiago Santos vs. “Smile’N” Sam Alvey
Santos continued his winning ways Thursday in a grueling fight against Elias Theodorou. While Elias may have successfully pocketed round one early on in the fight, he couldn’t seem to keep his head in the fight. Thiago would supply almost all of the offense from rounds two and on, landing elbows and knees effectively from the clinch upon the cage and even landing a horrific gash over the eye of Elias. Santos has now won three straight, and in doing proved he not only has nightmarish knockout power, but also has the heart and will to power through tough fights and still pull out the win. I’d say thats earned him and the fans some fun, no? Equallydangerous Sam Alvey and Santos meeting inthe middle of the cage spells definite excitement for for the fans, and we’ll be sitting tight in our chairs waiting to see who’s left standing at the end.
“Super “Sage Northcutt vs. Johnny “Hollywood” Case
Sage Nothcutt continued to impress Thursday night, even overcoming a small bit of adversity after being taken down early by a very game opponent in Cody Pfister, who succeeded in gaining transitions and mild ground and pound. However Sage, ever the showstopper, got up to his feet and plowed on pedal. Taking the momentum immediately en route to a second round guillotine submission. For now the hype stays intact, and who the 19 year old faces next is really up in the air. Sage however isn’t the only lightweight making waves up in the pool of potential stars. Johnny Case has had some ears buzzing for sometime himself, and most recently raked up his fourth straight win in the UFC against Yan Cabrallast month in November. Both young men truly symbolize the future of the lightweight division and to see in a bout between them, who will make it to the present first, is an intriguing match-up that many fans are going to want to see.
Michael “The Maverick” Chiesa vs. “Raging” Al Iaquinta II
Chiesa took it to the always tough Jim Miller and capitalized on a crucial mistake made by veteran lightweight en route to a steller rear naked choke submission. Chiesa seemingly wants to take charge with his career, and after submitting the UFC’s no. 14th ranked fighter, he will not settle for any other quality opponent than above that. Being that the rest of the lower tier of the lightweight division is either tied up or not even competiting in the division at the moment, a rematch between Chiesa and Iaquinta could spark some intrest. Chiesa of course won his season of the Ultimate Fighter by submitting Iaquinta in their first bout. “Raging” Al has since gone on to top ten of their division. A rematch spells redemption for either man as both are clamoring for a chance to be considered the best in the world in one of the most stacked divisions in all of MMA.
“Thug” Rose Namajunas vs. “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson
“Thug” Rose put on the performance of her life Thursday night in, not only defeating, but dominating, Paige VanZant. Rose basically made the fight look like a mismatch, and exposed the wide differential in skill and technique possessed between the two fighters. The five round domination that lead to the rear nake choke submission is the latest stoppage in strawweight history, not only in the UFC, but in the divisions overall history among notable promotions. “Thug Rose herself is also still pretty young, though highly skilled, which has become very evident. Her level of competition is bound to pick back up soon, and what more of a phenomenal match-up could you make in the division outside of the championship than between “Thug” Rose and Michelle Waterson? That match-up bleeds excitement and the winner will take a giant step up the competitive climb towards the strawweight title.