Glover Teixeira earned his 20th straight win at UFC Fight Night 28. In doing so, he may have set himself up for a shot at the winner of a UFC 165 championship bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
Although he got clipped by Ryan Bader a few times on Wednesday, Teixeira dug in and answered with a heavy shot while backed up against the fence in the first round. Teixeira is without a win over a top-10 light heavyweight, but he's one of the few fresh challengers remaining for Jones.
If Gustafsson upsets Jones later this month, Teixeira may still have some work to do, but the fact that the Brazilian is a new face in the race for a light heavyweight title shot makes him an intriguing opponent for the current champion.
Here are the fights that should be next for Teixeira and the rest of the UFC Fight Night 28 competitors.
Sean Spencer may have saved his UFC job on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old was coming off a loss in his UFC debut. So, another loss to an opponent who had been defeated in back-to-back fights himself could have been grounds for Spencer's release from the top MMA organization.
Spencer found a way to win on the scorecards at UFC Fight Night 28, though. As a result, it is likely his opponent, Yuri Villefort, who won't be competing inside the Octagon again soon.
As Spencer looks to earn job security now, a bout with the winner of a possible loser-leaves-town matchup between Seth Baczynski and Neil Magny could be next up.
UFC newcomers Elias Silverio and Ivan Jorge were victorious in their first trips to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 28.
Silverio bested Joao Zeferino on the scorecards, while Ivan Jorge was also given an edge by the judges in his bout with Keith Wisniewski. Zeferino and Wisniewski looked unimpressive on Wednesday and are both likely to be cut after losing multiple fights in a row.
Meanwhile, Silverio and Jorge will now have chances to make names for themselves under the UFC banner. Since they both have one UFC win and should be ready to return at around the same time, it seems possible they could meet in early 2014.
Ramiro Hernandez was overwhelmed in his UFC debut, but the 27-year-old should have at least one more chance to prove himself inside the Octagon.
Competing in enemy territory in his first UFC outing, Hernandez had trouble dealing with the size and striking of former lightweight Lucas Martins.
Hernandez's next bout will likely come against a low-ranked bantamweight coming off a loss. Johnny Bedford seems like a fitting adversary.
Lucas Martins made a successful move to 135 pounds on Wednesday and looks like he could be a significant player in the division moving forward.
The Brazilian dropped to the bantamweight class after fighting at lightweight in his first two UFC outings. Despite moving down by 20 pounds, Martins looked fresh in a submission win over Ramiro Hernandez at UFC Fight Night 28.
With back-to-back wins, Martins is ready for a step up in competition. A matchup with Bryan Caraway could get interesting on the ground.
After going undefeated in three straight fights, Felipe Arantes was stumped by a UFC newcomer in Kevin Souza on Wednesday.
Though Arantes had an edge in terms of grappling, he could not find his range when standing with Souza at UFC Fight Night 28. It was a close contest, but Arantes could only get one judge to side with him in a split-decision loss.
Now, Arantes is likely to meet another featherweight coming off a loss. Robert Peralta is one potential adversary for the Brazilian.
Kevin Souza's UFC debut wasn't without flaws, but the newcomer looked like a solid addition to the featherweight roster at UFC Fight Night 28.
After beating Felipe Arantes, Souza has won seven straight fights. His slick striking, even with hands down, will make him an interesting opponent against almost any 145-pound fighter on the UFC roster.
Maximo Blanco tends to throw wild, looping punches. So, a fight with Blanco could allow Souza to put his striking prowess on full display.
Marcos Vinicius has suffered knockout losses in back-to-back fights, but his spot on a shallow flyweight roster should allow him a longer leash than most.
Though two rounds, Vinicius was very much in his fight with UFC newcomer Ali Bagautinov. However, in the closing minutes of the bout, a punch sent the Brazilian crashing to the canvas.
If Vinicius is given another shot to compete inside the Octagon, it's likely to come against another 125-pound fighter who has lost consecutive fights. That really narrows down the options, so a fight with Azamat Gashimov seems likely.
In a shallow featherweight division, UFC newcomer Ali Bagautinov is already a fighter to watch.
On Wednesday, Bagautinov picked up his ninth straight win with a third-round knockout of Marcos Vinicius. Bellator MMA had beaten the UFC to the punch when it came to procuring Russian talent, but the additions of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Bagautinov appear to signal the UFC is ratcheting up its Russian scouting.
With Chico Camus likely moving to 125 pounds, Bagautinov could have his next opponent lined up soon.
After beating Adam Cella to maintain a spot on the UFC roster, Tor Troeng suffered a setback against Rafael Natal at UFC Fight Night 28.
Troeng did win Fight of the Night honors in his decision loss to Natal, so he should still have a couple more chances to prove he can be a long-term UFC middleweight. However, the Swedish fighter is going to have to work his way out of the division's basement soon.
A matchup with fellow TUF veteran Bubba McDaniel could be intriguing and would allow one fighter to get back into the win column.
Since losing to Andrew Craig, Rafael Natal has found himself competing against low-ranked opposition.
At UFC Fight Night 28, Natal earned his third straight win. By beating Troeng in an entertaining scrap, Natal should earn a step up in competition.
While Brad Tavares is a TUF veteran, like Troeng, he's much further up the 185-pound ladder. A bout with Tavares could force Natal to show improved striking, as Tavares often finds a way to stay on his feet against grapplers.
Francisco Trinaldo appears to be headed toward a career as a mid-level lightweight gatekeeper.
After back-to-back wins, Trinaldo had a chance to take another step forward at UFC Fight Night 28. Instead, the Brazilian gassed in the second round and suffered a submission loss to UFC newcomer Piotr Hallman.
At 35 years old, Trinaldo has probably already peaked. He's showed he can win inside the Octagon, but Wednesday's loss puts Trinaldo on a path toward testing up-and-comers. A matchup with the winner of a UFC Fight Night 29 bout between Allan Patrick and Garett Whiteley would prove that is the role the UFC brass has in mind for him.
Piotr Hallman showed toughness in a come-from-behind victory in his UFC debut.
In the first round, Hallman was blasted with multiple Francisco Trinaldo body kicks. Though he looked near finished, Hallman survived and took advantage of a fading Trinaldo in the second stanza.
At 26 years old, Hallman is a bright prospect in the 155-pound class. A matchup with another fighter coming off a win in their UFC debut would make sense now, so look for Hallman to meet the winner of a bout between Allan Patrick and Garett Whiteley.
Jussier Formiga has been thrown to the wolves of the UFC flyweight division.
Although the Brazilian is a top 125-pound fighter himself, Formiga has had to face Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson in two of his first three trips to the Octagon. On Wednesday, Benavidez made quick work of Formiga, beating the Brazilian with strikes in the first round.
Formiga really hasn't a much of a chance to show off the strongest part of his game inside the Octagon. A bout with Darren Uyenoyama could allow Formiga to get into some fun scrambles and submission battles on the ground.
It hasn't been a year since Joseph Benavidez's loss to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, but the Team Alpha Male member has already separated himself as the biggest threat to Johnson once again.
At UFC Fight Night 28, Benavidez picked up a third straight win by knocking out Jussier Formiga. In his 22 MMA fights, Benavidez's only losses have come via decisions against Johnson and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
With a resume like the one he has, Benavidez is one of the best non-champions competing inside the Octagon. It's time for him to get another crack at a UFC belt.
Yushin Okami looked to be on his way back toward a title shot with three straight wins, but a loss on Wednesday sent him crashing back down.
The Japanese middleweight was on the defensive against Ronaldo Souza at UFC Fight Night 28. Caught standing still, Okami was picked apart along the fence and couldn't make it to the three-minute mark of the first round before being overwhelmed with strikes.
Despite the deflating loss, Okami is still a top-10 middleweight and a fighter who probably will be fighting big names for the rest of his career. A matchup with the loser of a UFC Fight Night 30 bout between Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz would give Okami a chance to bounce back against a big name, and it could mean a rematch of a fight with Munoz that ended in a split decision.
Ronaldo Souza might have earned a middleweight title shot on Wednesday were it not for Vitor Belfort.
"Jacare" has stopped his past four opponents in the first round. Aside from champion Chris Weidman, only Belfort has been more impressive in the 185-pound division over recent months.
There's a good chance Belfort could finally earn another middleweight title shot with a win over Dan Henderson in November, so Souza should meet the winner of an upcoming matchup between Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz. Another impressive win over either of those potential opponents would put "Jacare" near the front of the line for a spot in a championship bout.
Ryan Bader continues to come up short against elite competition, but he's still one of the best light heavyweights outside the top 10.
While he was ultimately knocked out on Wednesday, Bader put Glover Teixeira on some bad spots. Had he found a way to stop Teixeira, Bader would be considered one of the top contenders in the 205-pound division right now.
Mauricio Rua may be an even bigger name than Teixeira, but he makes sense as an opponent for Bader. "Shogun" seems to be fading quickly and could use another bout with someone outside the top 10.
Even after his knockout of Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 28, Glover Teixeira is without a win over a current top-10 light heavyweight.
Still, Teixeira has looked the part of a title threat and would be a fresh challenge for dominant champion Jon Jones. Right now, that seems to be enough to put the Brazilian at the front of the line for a title shot.
Teixeira will likely meet the winner of a UFC 165 championship bout between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson in early 2014.