UFC Orlando certainly did not disappoint by giving us multiple finishes and edge of your seat action. Now, a recap of the event, and what matchups should be next for some of the fighters.
Stephens vs Emmett: After his performance Saturday night Jeremy Stephens has definitely proven he is the hardest hitting featherweight in the UFC. Emmett looked great in round one and even dropped Stephens, but Stephens survived and made it to round two. As Stephens regrouped Emmett pointed to the canvas to gesture to Stephens, you’re going down again. In round two Emmett looked over confident and started rushing in on Stephens. A mistake you don’t want to make against a fighter like Jeremy Stephens, and Emmett paid for it dearly. Stephens dropped Emmett midway through round two and followed up with some brutal elbows on the ground, which knocked Emmett out cold. The finish did have some controversy because after Stephens dropped Emmett, he followed it up with a knee that looked to be illegal. Emmett said he is going to appeal the fight because of the knee.
Illegal or not there is no denying that Jeremy Stephens looked impressive Saturday night. Stephens is on a three-fight win streak, and has been in the UFC for almost twelve years. After his win in Orlando, Stephens is most likely up next for a title shot. Obviously the winner of Edgar vs Ortega this Saturday will determine who will get the next crack at featherweight king Max Holloway. The winner of that matchup will get their title shot, and I believe Jeremy Stephens deserves his shot for the featherweight title in the near future. The fight I believe makes the most sense for Josh Emmett next is a rematch against Ricardo Lamas. Emmett brutally knocked out Lamas in their first matchup. Since Lamas is a veteran, I believe the UFC should give him a chance to avenge his loss against Emmett. A rematch against Lamas could also work out in Emmett’s favor, because if he’s able to finish Ricardo Lamas again it’ll prove Emmett is a future star in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Torres vs Andrade: Thanks to Jessica Andrade I got one of my predictions right. Andrade dominated Tecia Torres all three rounds earning her the win via decision. Tecia Torres did land some good shots throughout the fight, but the pressure and takedown ability of Andrade proved to be too much, as Andrade proved she is one of the scariest strawweight contenders. The fight that makes the most sense for Andrade next is a title shot. At UFC 223 Rose Namajunas will be defending her strawweight strap against former champ Joanna Jederzejczyk. Jessica Andrade will most likely be facing the winner of this fight. Andrade’s only loss at strawweight came against former champ Jederzejczyk via decision. Andrade has yet to face current champ Rose Namajunas, so either opponent will be an interesting matchup.
Tecia Torres proved her toughness last night by never giving up, even though she was getting dominated through most of the fight. Tecia Torres is a future challenger for the strawweight title, but since she lost against Andrade her matchup for the title will not be next. The fight I think makes the most sense for Torres next is a fight against the winner of Kowlkiewicz vs Herrig, which is occurring at UFC 223.
Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi: Ovince Saint Preux is usually hit or miss in his fights. Sometimes we get an explosive finish sometimes he comes out flat. He came out flat Saturday night at UFC Orlando. Latifi dropped Preux in round one, and followed that with a standing guillotine choke. Preux eventually went out instead of tapping out which got Latifi the win in round one. The fight that makes the most sense for Latifi is Glover Teixeira. Teixeria is currently ranked 3rd, and is coming off a win against Misha Cirkunov. The fight that makes the most sense for Preux after this loss is a rematch against number 6th rank Mauricio Rua.
Mike Perry vs Max Griffin: Mike Perry was looking to get back to his winning ways Saturday night in Orlando, unfortunately for him Max Griffin had different plans. Perry promised us a highlight reel knockout but instead got dominated in a decision loss. Max Griffin stayed composed throughout the fight and hit Perry with a lot of clean shots, even dropping the durable Mike Perry with a punch at one point. Griffin looked impressive and got some name recognition after his win Saturday night. The next fight I want to see after Saturday night is Max Griffin vs Alex Oliveria. They both are very entertaining welterweights and I believe they’d put on a memorable fight. This is Mike Perry’s second loss in a row; I believe he needs to take some time off and make the proper improvements to his game. Mike Perry looks very flat footed at times, and if he doesn’t land a big shot his chances of winning are minor. The fight I think makes the most sense for Perry next is Ben Saunders. Ben Saunders was on the under card of UFC Orlando and loss via KO to Alan Jouban. Perry and Saunders both lost Saturday night, and both men are more than likely to take some time off. When they do want to return I think a matchup between Perry and Saunders makes the most sense.
-Stephen Caloggero (@steveo_calo)