With the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) first show in Fresno, California coming to a close, we take a look ahead at the next set of must see match-ups involving the fighters from Saturday.
Brian Ortega vs. Ricardo Lamas
Ortega’s fight with Cub Swanson was undoubtedly the biggest test of his young career, and he came away from that fight looking like a true force in this ever-expanding Featherweight division. Now 13-0 and on a five-fight winning streak, Ortega stated in his post-fight interview that he is willing to take on one more fight before competing for the title. If that is to be the case then it needs to be a number one contenders match-up that leaves no doubt as to who should face Featherweight king Max Holloway next.
Ricardo Lamas was expected to face Jose Aldo at this Saturday’s UFC on Fox event, before he was removed in order to take Edgar’s spot in the 145 title fight at UFC 218. He will now face Josh Emmett who is no slouch at 12-1. If Ricardo should win, which he is certainly favored to, it will garner him a three-fight winning streak which would be the longest of any top ten contender outside of Ortega or Edger. Should Lamas lose his match-up with Emmet, then a potential bout with Jeremy Stephens could also make for an equally lucrative bout.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Mirsad Bektic
Ultimate Fighter: Latin America season one alumni Gabriel Benitez took on a hot up-and-comer in Jason Knight and put up the best performance of his short UFC career. Benitez showed off a stellar counter-based striking style that diffused anything Knight could throw at him across 15 minutes of action. Now 4-2 in the UFC and with a win over a ranked opponent safely placed in his back pocket, Benitez will likely see another ranked opponent across from him in the Octagon in his next bout and that opponent should be No. 13 ranked Mirsad Bektic.
Bektic will be looking to bounce back from his first career loss to Darren Elkins earlier in the year. Benitez meanwhile is looking to build upon the biggest win of his career.
Marlon Moraes vs. Dominick Cruz
Moraes has had a little bit of touch and go since joining the UFC earlier this year. But last night, he garnered the biggest win of his UFC tenure, and possibly in his career, after knocking out Aljamain Sterling with a huge knee in the very first round. Now likely placed among the top five of his division after going 2-1 this year, Moraes needs a big fight to propel him into the limelight as a legitimate contender.
Cruz, while out due to a broken arm, will miss some time until at least late February. When he returns, Cruz will be looking for a big fight to keep him placed firmly among the top three of his division. A bout with Moraes is certainly that.
Scott Holtzman vs. Gilbert Burns
“Hot Sauce” would not be denied after a dominant performance against Darrell Horcher. A performance in which Holtzman completed controlled the bout which his relentless takedowns. A career best 7 total to be exact.
Holtzman is now 4-2 and on a two-fight winning streak. He has shown that his high-pressure style of wrestling is key to earning him wins inside the Octagon. So what would happen if he faces a guy that implores his opponent to use that type of style? Gilbert Burns, one of the most dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artists in the Lightweight division, could make for an interesting challenge to Holtzman’s wrestling based style.
Eryk Anders vs. Ryan Janes
Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Eryk Anders turned in what could be argued as the most dominant fight of the night. Perez had no answer for his pressure on the feet, and tired as the fight played on while Anders never let up his pace. It was reflected on the scorecards as two judges gave Anders a 30-25 and a 30-26.
Anders has looked solid since joining the UFC roster and is now 2-0. He outlasted his last two opponents and has displayed quite the gas tank. We recently saw a Canadian standout pull off the same thing not too long ago after Ryan Janes came back from a hectic first round to win against Ultimate Fighter winner Andrew Sanchez via strikes in the final round. A bout between two men who refuse to get tired spells fun for us viewing fans.