Rosi Sexton came up short at UFC 161, but she was not supposed to win that fight. She showed her toughness and gained a lot of support.
Sexton survived multiple submissions and bad positions against Alexis Davis, and she even got in offense of her own. For a natural flyweight against one of the bantamweight division's best, it was a good showing.
Now, the question becomes who does she face next? The UFC will want to keep her around, but competitive options are few and far between. She will constantly be facing larger opponents.
Here are five possibilities for Sexton's next fight.
Invicta FC and the UFC have a good working relationship. Thus, it is not out of the question for Rosi Sexton to appear on any upcoming Invicta cards. This is a realistic possibility that we should all hope happens.
Sexton was atop the flyweight rankings for quite a while, and she should go back down to her natural weight for big fights.
Barb Honchak recently won the inaugural Invicta FC Flyweight Championship, and there is no better challenger awaiting her than Sexton. This would be a marquee match-up in the division. It could headline a future Invicta card.
With top flyweights Jessica Eye and Michelle Ould contracted to Bellator, there are limited options to immediately challenge Honchak. Hopefully the UFC and Invicta can reach an agreement.
Sheila Gaff, much like Sexton, was a top ranked flyweight before signing to the UFC. It is a natural match-up to make happen.
It would be better to see these two talented 125-pound fighters go to Invicta and fight in their natural weight class, but if they step back inside the Octagon at least they won't be outgunned in this match-up, even at 135 pounds.
This would be more of a test for Gaff. She is a powerhouse with KO/TKO wins over Jennifer Maia and Aisling Daly. Sexton would be the last test to see if she is truly an elite flyweight.
With both under UFC deals, this is a prime chance to see which is still a top five flyweight right now. And with a working relationship with Invicta, the flyweights of that organization will also keep a close eye on the action.
With no flyweight division, and Gaff signed up to fight Amanda Nunes, Sexton's next bout may have to be against another bantamweight.
Her options are limited, and she can't fight any of the top-ranked fighters.
The loser of Kedzie vs. De Randamie is one of the easiest fights to make. Neither are top ranked bantamweights and are several fights away from challenging for the title. It would still be a tall order for Sexton, but it is the best option she has under the UFC banner.
The loser of that fight will still be an exciting fight for Sexton, but it doesn't really offer any redeeming qualities.
This is much the same as the previous suggestion.
The loser of Carmouche vs. Andrade will not be close to a title shot, and a fight against Sexton gives them the best fight available.
It is unfortunate that someone the caliber of Sexton is relegated to this position, but it is the current state of the division. As the UFC continues to sign talent and help foster it along, they need talented fighters to step up.
Sexton is a good name in the sport for any woman to fight. If they defeat her, they add a quality win on their resume, and Sexton has all the tools to upset the larger women if the opportunity presents itself.
The best option for Rosi Sexton is to wait until The Ultimate Fighter finale and battle with one of the cast members that didn't reach the finale.
There are a few flyweights who have moved back up in weight to do the show. Roxanne Modafferi (pictured) and Tara LaRosa to name two. If either miss the finals, that would be a fun fight for Sexton.
It would be a level playing field for each and a fun bout between veterans.
On the other hand, the UFC could use it as an opportunity to challenge one of the young prospects of the show. Regardless, there will be plenty of cast members that need a fight on the finale and Sexton would make a prime opponent for any of them.