UFC on May 31 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC Fight Night 42
UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, Germany and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 finales are in the book. The main card results are as follows:
The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale:
- Stipe Miocic def. Fabio Maldonado, TKO (Round 1, 0:35)
- Antonio Carlos Jr. def. Vitor Miranda, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Warlley Alves def. Marcio Alexandre Jr., submission (Round 3, 0:25)
- Demian Maia def. Alexander Yakovlev, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Robbie Peralta def. Rony Jason, split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
UFC Fight Night 41:
- Gegard Mousasi def. Mark Munoz, submission (Round 1, 3:57)
- C.B. Dollaway def. Francis Carmont, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sean Strickland def. Luke Barnatt, split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- Niklas Backstrom def. Tom Niinimaki, submission (Round 1, 4:15)
Next up? The surprisingly stacked UFC Fight Night 42.
Headlined by a lightweight tilt between Benson Henderson and Rustam Khabilov, and backed up with a bunch of really interesting fights in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions, there is a lot on the line for many fighters here. Title ramifications, legacies, job security...
There is also a lot to talk about, which is something I haven't said about a Fight Night card for a long while now.
So what burning questions are there heading into next week? Find out right here!
How Will Pat Cummins Do Against Somebody Less Elite?
Poor Patrick Cummins. He goes from being a pre-Popeye's snack for Daniel Cormier to opening up a Fox Sports 1 card on Fight Pass in just a couple of months' time.
Obviously, there are few draws tougher than Daniel Cormier for a UFC debut. The fact their fight lasted just a bit over a minute didn't give him any real opportunities to show that he isn't just some poor sucker thrown in there with with a lion.
Now, though, Cummins is getting the kind of fight a guy is supposed to get in their UFC debut. He faces off with Roger Narvaez, a regular presence in the southwestern scene, making his UFC debut.
So how good is Cummins, really? We shall see.
Will Scott Jorgensen's Bad Luck Run Out?
Whether you're a fan of Jorgensen or not, it's hard not to feel bad for the guy at this point. He finds himself on a three-fight losing streak where none of the bouts were competitive...through no fault of his own.
He was outright fed to Urijah Faber at The Ultimate Fighter season 17 finale. He got out-wrestled when he agreed to face Zach Makovsky on 11 days' notice. Most recently, the UFC hosed him to buoy Jussier da Silva by looking the other way on a submission set up by a blatant headbutt.
Now, possibly with his job on the line, he is set to face Danny Martinez. Martinez is 0-1 in the UFC, and he has lost to just about every noteworthy fighter he has faced. On paper, this should be easy pickings for a fighter of Jorgensen's experience and skill. On paper...
We'll see if Jorgensen actually gets a fair shot this time. Hopefully some other tragedy won't befall him.
How Will Sergio Pettis Rebound from 1st Loss?
Few modern prospects were as hyped entering the UFC as Sergio Pettis was. Going onto YouTube and watching his back catalog of fights makes it obvious why this was the case.
He has solid striking and great finishing skills with his Jiu-Jitsu. There are almost no fighters with dangerous striking and grappling in the UFC's bantamweight division. In the flyweight division, where Pettis was initially expected to debut, all the dual-threats happen to sit in the top five.
He had a decent effort in his UFC debut opposite Will Campuzano but fell short of the unrealistically high expectations that come with being an MMA prospect. When he was choked out by Alex Caceres back at UFC on Fox 10, though, it was one of those always-welcome wake-up calls regarding how we perceive up-and-comers in relation to moderately above-average fighters. Now the questions for Pettis the Younger are many.
How good is he at this point, really? How high is his ceiling? Given how young he is, will he come back from his first loss more timid, a la "post-George Roop" Josh Grispi? Or smarter and hungrier like "post-George Roop" Chan Sung Jung?
We shall see after his fight with Yaotzin Meza.
Is Erik Perez for Real?
The UFC really, really wants Erik Perez to succeed, you guys. Super bad.
They really want to get their foot through the door in Mexico, and they need successful Mexican fighters (or American fighters of Mexican descent, whatever) to pull it off. They've quietly tried to bolster up their roster with Mexican talent to no avail, and they've tried to rebrand existing fighters with mixed results. The one constant they've had success with in terms of developing Mexican fighters?
That would be rising bantamweight Erik Perez.
The UFC has been actively spoon-feeding him. There's no getting around that. The thing is, unlike other "demographic footholds," Erik Perez has actually proven himself to be a high-level fighter.
Now, after feasting on a diet of fighters who are no longer with the UFC, the training wheels are off. Perez is now slated to face off with Bryan Caraway, another decisively above-average bantamweight.
Perez's first three UFC fights were lopsided finishes. He lost a squeaker to Takeya Mizugaki but bounced back with a handy win over Edwin Figueroa. If he can imitate that level of success against Caraway, we have a clear-cut, top-10 bantamweight on our hands, and the UFC has cause to celebrate.
Can Mr. Miesha Tate Move Up the Rankings?
As stated, the guy Erik Perez is facing off with is Bryan Caraway. Also known as "Mr. Miesha Tate."
While he is mainly known for being Miesha Tate's boyfriend—and known outside of that for saying he wants to beat up Ronda Rousey, and known outside of that for his stints as the guy constantly freaking out on TUF 14 and the guy at the center of every inter-coaching and staff argument on TUF 18—he is actually a pretty darn good fighter. In three of his four UFC bouts, he scored impressive submission wins. In that fourth one, he was a good cornerman away from beating current no. 6 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki.
Perez currently sits at no. 11. Caraway sits at no. 14.
There's no reason to believe that Caraway can't beat anyone ranked in the top four in the UFC. After a year out of the cage spent taping TUF 18 and nursing injuries, can he start making Miesha Tate "Mrs. Bryan Caraway?"
Can Rafael Dos Anjos Maintain Top-10 Status?
After putting together an impressive five-fight winning streak—which included a decisive 29-28 over Donald Cerrone and a pillar-to-post beating of Mark Bocek—it seemed as though Rafael dos Anjos might finally be headed toward a title shot after six under-the-radar years in the UFC.
Then he came across Khabib Nurmagomedov, and, no, he's not giving him a big ol' hug up there. That's him getting tossed for the sixth or seventh time in their fight. Indeed, dos Anjos neglected to check himself and, in turn, got wrecked by the surging Russian. It was a big disappointment for the veteran lightweight, and he now finds himself in a far too familiar spot: in a throwaway fight on a card nobody really cares about.
He faces off with Jason High, whose nickname may as well be "Some Guy" (it sounds better than "The Kansas City Bandit" at least). High is decent enough but pretty much completely unknown to anybody that didn't follow Strikeforce closely.
That makes this a high-risk, low-reward fight for dos Anjos. He needs to win, and win decisively, if he wants to maintain his place near the top of the lightweight division. So can he do it?
Will John Dodson Reassert His Contender Status?
John Dodson has gotten absolutely hosed by the way the chips have fallen for the flyweight division. The UFC's willy-nilly management of its roster and the always-annoying knee troubles that pop up for long-time wrestlers have kept him from getting multiple wins in since losing to Demetrious Johnson in December.
While Dana White used Dodson's inactivity to defend the UFC's decisions to cut perennial contenders like Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch (oh, and Jake Shields, too, now), far be it from me to point out how they cut Yasuhiro Urushitani, who actually previously beat Dodson, long before they cut Leonard Garcia.
But no, John Dodson is elite. Like really elite. Like fringe top-10, pound-for-pound elite.
He knocked out now-bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in his UFC debut and actually came very close to knocking out flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson when they faced off last year. He has high-level wrestling, high-level striking, quickness, physical strength, cardio, power...everything you could possibly want in a fighter.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been anybody for him to fight until very recently. He faces off here with John Moraga, a fighter with solid wrestling and little else who, frankly, should be very easy pickings for Dodson.
If he wins in his usually spectacular fashion, he might have just earned himself another title shot. Can he do it again?
Which Lightweight Will Fall into the Pit?
Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson. Two guys who are pretty darn good but have fallen on some seriously hard times of late. Two guys who, basically, are a loss away from irrevocably falling into the middle of the always-crowded lightweight pack.
Nothing cute here, and no snark.
Both of them need a win here, and if they don't pull it off, it will be hard for them to ever climb back. Who will do it? The crafty British striker or the wild American brawler?
How Good Is Rustam Khabilov?
Rustam Khabilov certainly looked like a beast when he literally tossed around Vinc Pichel and Yancy Medeiros until they broke. He didn't look quite as fearsome against Jorge Masvidal, mind you, but he still took a convincing decision win over the veteran.
Now, though, he is facing off with Benson Henderson. A guy who has beaten Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez, Nate Diaz, Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone. A guy that is a nightmare matchup for him, stylistically.
A guy that, on paper, should be able to absolutely crush him.
So how will this fight pan out? Has the Russian bitten off more than he can chew, or is he way better than we're giving him credit for?
Will Ben Henderson Get a Convincing Win?
As stated, Ben Henderson is a guy who has fought and beaten many of the greatest lightweights in MMA history. Rustam Khabilov, in all likelihood, is not one of the greatest lightweights in MMA history.
While a disappointingly large portion of MMA fans downright loathe Ben Henderson for the fact that he hasn't blown away any of the elite fighters he has faced...it is probably because he has been facing elite fighters.
Well, we'll see now. Khabilov is an exciting prospect, but an exciting prospect should be a slam dunk for a long-time champion.
With so many amazing lightweights breathing down his neck, can "Bendo" remind everybody that the line starts behind him? Or will he give his critics some credibility?