After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next.
And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on ESPN+ 13’s most noteworthy winning fighters.
Those winners included Germaine de Randamie (9-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC), who defeated Aspen Ladd (8-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) by first-round TKO in the main event at Golden1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., as well as Urijah Faber (35-10 MMA, 11-6 UFC), Josh Emmett (15-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), Julianna Pena (9-4 MMA, 5-1 UFC) and Ryan Hall (8-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC).
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Should fight: Renato Moicano
Why they should fight: It came as no surprise to him, but Hall opened a lot of eyes when he used striking technique to defeat Darren Elkins in a relatively one-sided decision.
Hall was credited with two knockdowns in the fight, and if he’s striking game continues to improve at this rate, he’s going to be an even bigger problem than he already is. Hall’s skillset is extremely interesting for the featherweight division, and after running into almost no struggles against Elkins, he needs a bigger test.
With hopes of fighting a top-10 opponent at UFC on ESPN 7 in December, Hall should gets what he wants.
Moicano (13-3-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) took a tumble down the 145-pound rankings with back-to-back knockout losses against Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung. He will likely have to fight beneath him before moving back up, and that could present Hall’s opportunity to capitalize on a contender who had a ton of momentum just a few fights ago.
Should fight: Winner of Raquel Pennington vs. Irene Aldana at UFC on ESPN 4
Why they should fight: Pena returned to the octagon after a 29-month layoff and was able to pick up a notable victory for her resume against former UFC champion Nicco Montano.
It wasn’t the most decisive of performances, but Pena was able to outwork Montano for a unanimous decision in a hard-fought contest that consisted of some exhausting grappling. She took some damage to the face, as well, but more important than that left the cage with her first win since UFC 200 in July 2016.
Prior to the multi-year layoff that she used to start a family, Pena was a top-three contender in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. She lost an important fight to Valentina Shevchenko that could’ve led to a title shot, and the win against Montano was a reminder that she’s still very much a player in the division.
A single win isn’t enough to warrant a title shot, but the fact Pena hasn’t fought champion Amanda Nunes should make her path easier. One or two more quality wins would put her right there, and the same could be said for the winner of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 4 matchup between Pennington (9-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) and Aldana (10-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC). If Aldana in particular emerges from the fight, a matchup with Pena would be hight-stakes at 135 pounds.
Should fight: Yair Rodriguez
Why they should fight: Emmett showed once again that his power is to be feared in the featherweight division when he stopped Mirsad Bektic with strikes in the first round of an important featherweight fight.
Emmett has a remarkable eight knockdowns landed in just five fights since dropping to 145 pounds, and with several quality wins in that stretch, it’s time to looking at him as a potential title threat in the weight class.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Max Holloway if he defends his title against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240 later this month, but regardless of the result Emmett doesn’t seem like the frontrunner for the next shot. One more win could possibly get him there, though, and there’s a number of interesting fights for him.
A matchup with Rodriguez (11-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) might be atop the list, though, because both men have shown a pension for scoring spectacular knockouts in the octagon. Rodriguez is set to compete at the UFC’s return to Mexico this fall, and Emmett is a perfect candidate to be his opponent.
Should fight: John Dodson
Why they should fight: Faber’s return to the octagon after multiple years ended in a best-case scenario when he picked up the quickest victory of his entire career with a 46-second knockout of surging bantamweight contender Ricky Simon.
The UFC has an interesting case on its hands with Faber. The UFC Hall of Famer obviously still has a lot of star power behind his name, and with all this talk of a fight with current 135-pound champion Henry Cejudo, it’s entirely possible the promotion tries to capitalize on the 40-year-old with one last title fight.
That simply wouldn’t be fair to a proven contender like Aljamain Sterling, and frankly Faber should have to put more work in before a fifth UFC title shot. If he can beat another fighter in top 15 – and especially in a fashion like he did to Simon – then fighting for gold would be slightly more justifiable.
Faber should fight someone with a name, too, and while Dodson (20-11 MMA, 9-6 UFC) hasn’t been giving his best performances in recent fights, he could be a potentially exciting matchup for “The California Kid.”
Germaine de Randamie
Should fight: Amanda Nunes
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why de Randamie should rematch Nunes for the women’s bantamweight title next.