5 Fights We Need to See After UFC on ESPN 37

5 Fights We Need to See After UFC on ESPN 37

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    UFC on ESPN 37 went down over the weekend in Austin, Texas, and it can safely be called one of the most entertaining Fight Night events of the year.

    The 13-fight event, which tied the record for most knockouts on a single UFC card at eight, was topped by a featherweight contender clash between destructive knockout puncher Josh Emmett and slick boxing specialist Calvin Kattar. It was as good as we all hoped it would be as Emmett defeated Kattar by split decision in a bloody, Fight of the Night-winning scrap.

    Co-headlining honors were supposed to go to lightweight veterans Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Joe Lauzon. When a last-minute Lauzon injury derailed that plan, a welterweight fight between Kevin Holland and Tim Means moved into the co-main event spot. Holland, a former middleweight, announced himself as a possible welterweight contender with a slick submission in Round 2.

    Elsewhere on the card, we saw impressive finishes from middleweights Joaquin Buckley and Gregory Rodrigues, who stopped Albert Duraev and Julian Marquez respectively, and surging bantamweight contender Adrian Yanez, who scored an undeniably satisfying TKO win over Tony Kelley.

    The card opened the door to a host of exciting possible matchups. Keep scrolling for the ones we’re hoping to see when the dust has settled.

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Josh Emmett’s split-decision victory over Calvin Kattar in the UFC on ESPN 37 main event was somewhat controversial but impressive nonetheless.

    It was his fifth victory in a row after a quartet of solid performances against Dan Ige, Shane Burgos, Mirsad Bektic and Michael Johnson. It’s not the greatest win streak we’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a good one, and it should earn him a crack at the featherweight title. Reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski defends the title against the division’s former king, Max Holloway, at UFC 276 on July 2.

    UFC 276 will mark Volkanovski and Holloway’s third fight, and any number of outcomes—most notably a close Holloway win—could force the pair into a rare fourth encounter in the Octagon. Provided we get a decisive outcome, however, Emmett should be next in line for a shot at the featherweight belt.

    Nobody deserves it more right now.

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    Calvin Kattar didn’t get the result he wanted at UFC on ESPN 37, but the competitive and controversial nature of his split-decision loss to Josh Emmett means he won’t lose much ground in defeat. All it will take is another win or two and he’ll be right back in the featherweight title conversation.

    You can do no wrong matchmaking for a guy like Kattar. Pit him against anybody in the featherweight Top 10, and you’re probably in for a great fight.

    One cool option would be a fight with the winner of a July 16 clash between Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez. But that fight could leave both guys banged up—they may not be ready to get back into the cage anytime soon. Instead, we’d like to see Kattar matched up with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

    Jung hasn’t fought since he was walloped to a stoppage loss by featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski in April. While he hinted at retirement after that setback, he’s since revealed he will fight at least one more time before he rides off into the sunset.

    Kattar is as good an opponent for him as any. It makes sense from a rankings standpoint, and it could easily be one of the best fights of the year.

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    Kevin Holland is looking like a new man at welterweight.

    After flaming out in the middleweight division, he’s gone 2-0 since dropping to 170 pounds, knocking out Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in his debut and then submitting Tim Means with a D’Arce choke in the UFC on ESPN 37 co-main event.

    After his win over Means, Holland called for a fight with Sean Brady, the UFC’s No. 9-ranked welterweight and one of the best grapplers in the division. It was a decent callout, but Holland hasn’t earned a Top 10 foe yet. To be frank, it’s unlikely he’s improved his wrestling enough to deal with a guy like Brady anyway.

    Allow us to offer an alternative, as suggested by MMA reporter Alex Behunin on Twitter: a fight between Holland and Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio.

    Like Holland, Ponzinibbio has a reputation for exciting fights and flashy finishes. While he was once ranked inside the welterweight Top 15, he’s on the outside looking in after a pair of split-decision losses to Geoff Neal and Michel Pereira.

    Pit him against Holland and give the winner a ranked foe.

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Rising middleweights Joaquin Buckley and Gregory Rodrigues both picked up impressive wins at UFC on ESPN 37, stopping Albert Duraev and Julian Marquez, respectively.

    It was Buckley’s third victory in a row after a knockout of Antonio Arroyo and a split decision over Abdul Razak Alhassan. Rodrigues, meanwhile, rebounded from a split-decision defeat to Armen Petrosyan to improve to 3-1 in the UFC.

    Neither guy took any real damage in his fight, and they’re on the same schedule. Given that they’re also hovering around the same place in the middleweight division—a couple of wins away from the rankings—it only makes sense to match them up with each other.

    With 21 stoppage wins between them, it would definitely be a fun one.

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Adrian Yanez picked up one of the best wins on the knockout-filled UFC on ESPN 37 card, shutting the lights out on Tony Kelley, who has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    The win pushed the 28-year-old Texan bantamweight to 5-0 in the UFC—and he’s won a performance bonus in every one of those fights.

    There’s no way around it: He deserves a Top 15 foe.

    At first glance, the best choice might seem like No. 15-ranked contender Raphael Assuncao, but the Brazilian veteran has lost his last four fights—including two knockouts. Pitting him against a buzz saw like Yanez feels cruel.

    Instead, we’d like to see Yanez matched up with a veteran in a slightly better position: former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.

    Edgar, ranked No. 11 at bantamweight, has lost his last two fights by knockout, but those losses came against two of the best fighters in the division in Cory Sandhagen and Marlon “Chito” Vera. His days as a title contender may be over, but he’s still a tough out for most bantamweights on the roster. And don’t forget: He’s derailed similar hype trains before. Remember his fight with Yair Rodriguez?

    It would give us a great sense of Yanez’s ceiling and an understanding of what Edgar has left in the tank.

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