UFC Fight Night 45: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Donald Cerrone doesn't have any plans to slow down.
On Wednesday, Cowboy picked up his third win in 2014, scoring a knockout over Jim Miller in the main event at UFC Fight Night 45. That gives Cerrone four straight wins, as he hurdles toward a shot at the lightweight championship.
The Jackson-Wink MMA product has been here before, but he has developed a tendency to falter in the fights that could get him over the hump. With his current winning streak, another big fight, possibly even a title shot eliminator, could be on the way.
Here are the bouts that should be next for Cerrone, Miller and the rest of the UFC Fight Night 45 competitors.
Preliminary Card Fighters
Preliminary Card Winners
|Gleison Tibau||Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa Winner|
|Leslie Smith||Sarah Moras|
|Aljamain Sterling||Chris Beal vs. Rob Font Winner|
|Yosdenis Cedeno||Jason Saggo|
|Claudia Gadelha||Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Juliana Lima Winner|
Preliminary Card Losers
|Pat Healy||None (Release)|
|Jessamyn Duke||Jessica Rakoczy|
|Hugo Viana||Marcus Brimage|
|Jerrod Sanders||Tiago dos Santos vs. Akbarh Arreola Loser|
|Tina Lahdemaki||Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Juliana Lima Loser|
Matchup: Maximo Blanco vs. Dan Hooker Loser
Alex White looked great in his UFC debut during April, when he knocked out Estevan Payan in less than two minutes. While White showed he can be dangerous offensively when standing in that outing, The Spartan revealed some serious defensive holes on Wednesday.
This guy Alex White went to the "Rocky Balboa" school of striking defense. Turrible.— Jonathan Snowden (@mmaencyclopedia) July 17, 2014
Rushing straight in on Lucas Martins, White continually ate big shots from the Brazilian. While White's chin held up well, he eventually ate a right hand that put him down in the third round.
At 25 years old, White should bounce back from this knockout loss. He is a talented athlete who should have a long UFC future ahead, and a bout with the loser of a September bout between Maximo Blanco and Dan Hooker could get him back into the win column.
Matchup: Kevin Souza
Since losing to Edson Barboza in his UFC debut, Martins has bounced around to different weight classes in an attempt to find his comfort zone. Following an excellent showing at 145 pounds, the Brazilian may have found his home.
On Wednesday, Martins picked White apart in a bout that remained standing for the entirety. While White hung tough for a while, he was eventually put away with a right cross in the third stanza.
Although he's had success in other weight classes, Martins should stay put and build himself up in the featherweight division. The smooth-striking Chute Box member would match up well against fellow Brazilian Kevin Souza.
Matchup: Danny Martinez
Alptekin Ozkilic came up short at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller, but he put on a show in the process.
The Turkish Delight was finished with strikes in the final minute of the third round. However, he valiantly stood with one of the heaviest hitters in the 125-pound division, John Lineker, for nearly three entire rounds.
Considering how hard John Lineker hits, the fact that Alptekin Ozkilic stayed on his feet for nearly 15 full minutes is pretty remarkable.— Robert Sargent (@MMARising) July 17, 2014
If he keeps putting on shows like the one he had on Wednesday, Ozkilic won't be going anywhere anytime soon. However, he has lost two in a row and could be battling for his UFC job next time around. So, a matchup with Danny Martinez, who has also dropped two straight, is a possibility.
Matchup: Dustin Ortiz
Lineker bounced back from his loss to Ali Bagautinov in a big way.
The Brazilian engaged in a wild brawl with Alptekin Ozkilic and came out on top. While he had trouble stopping a very tough Ozkilic, Lineker eventually scored a knockout in the closing seconds of the third round on Wednesday.
Sweet finish, as John Lineker continues down his path toward becoming the first UFC title challenger to miss weight since Travis Lutter.— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) July 17, 2014
With five wins in his past six fights, Lineker isn't far from the top of the flyweight division. Unfortunately, weight-cutting issues have made it hard for the UFC to trust him in a championship bout. Lineker will need to prove himself on the scale a few more times before getting a shot at the belt.
His next step toward the 125-pound title could come against Dustin Ortiz, who has won two in a row since narrowly losing to former title challenger John Moraga.
Matchup: James Vick vs. Walmir Lazaro Loser
Justin Salas continued his up-and-down UFC career on Wednesday.
Despite causing a nasty-looking hematoma on the side of Joe Proctor's head, Salas wound up on the wrong end of a knockout finish in the second round. Since joining the world's top MMA organization, Salas has alternated wins and losses over six fights.
At 32 years old, he is no longer a prospect in the lightweight division. He's a fighter who can beat the low-level UFC 155-pounders, but it doesn't look like he'll ever be ranked in the weight class.
Salas can begin his quest to prove that wrong in his next outing, which could come against the loser of an August bout between James Vick and Walmir Lazaro.
Matchup: Mitch Clarke
Quietly, Proctor is becoming one of the better products from The Ultimate Fighter 15.
On Wednesday, he fought through some serious swelling to defeat Salas in surprising fashion. While it appeared on paper that Proctor's advantage would be on the ground, he was able to stop Salas with strikes in the second stanza.
Some sweet post fight hematoma pics from Joe Proctor. Word is he's increased his brain power by 18% http://t.co/THj992Dquk— MMAFNL (@_MMAFNL) July 17, 2014
While his striking looked improved, Proctor is still at his best when grappling. It would be interesting to see him meet an opponent who could really test him there. Mitch Clarke would be one good option.
Matchup: Pascal Krauss
Released by the UFC following a June 2012 loss to Thiago Perpetuo, Mafra earned his way back to the Octagon with five straight knockout wins.
On Wednesday, Mafra returned to a seemingly impossible matchup to win. Opposite Rick Story, Mafra had little chance to score his first UFC victory and ended up suffering a submission loss in the second round.
While he didn't look good against Story, Mafra got his foot back in the door and should get at least one more opportunity under the Zuffa banner. A bout with Pascal Krauss would give Mafra a more realistic chance to have success inside the Octagon.
Matchup: Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings Winner
The only fighter other than Georges St-Pierre to own a win over 170-pound champion Johny Hendricks, Rick Story hasn't reached his full potential. That said, he usually wins the fights he's supposed to and took care of business on Wednesday.
Story was originally booked to meet John Howard on the UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller card. However, an injury left him with a matchup against Mafra, who was clearly not near the same level. Story dominated the Brazilian on the ground before locking up a choke in the second round.
Having moved to The MMA Lab, home to former lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Story might be ready to take his career to the next level. He'll have to ease his way back up the ranks, though. For now, he'd be a good test for the winner of a bout between Gunnar Nelson and Zak Cummings on Saturday.
Matchup: Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Evan Dunham is headed in the wrong direction in a hurry.
On Saturday, Dunham ate a body kick in the first round and could not recover before being finishes with follow-up punches. The loss was Dunham's third in a row.
Evan Dunham has now lost 3 in a row, WSOF bound?— Jason Floyd (@Jason_Floyd) July 17, 2014
In most cases, three in a row would mean he gets released. However, all three losses have come against Top 15 lightweights, so he should get one more opportunity. That chance could come against Isaac Vallie-Flagg, who is also looking at a loser-leaves-town matchup following back-to-back defeats.
Matchup: Jorge Masvidal vs. Daron Cruickshank Winner
Barboza still has a long way to go before he earns a title shot in the crowded lightweight division, but he took a big step forward on Wednesday.
The dangerous kicker stopped a tough Dunham with a kick to the body that did not even appear to land clean. It was a good showing of how hard Barboza kicks. The Brazilian has also scored two leg-kick knockouts inside the Octagon.
Edson Barboza rearranges organs with his kicks. Dude kicks like a mule #UFC— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) July 17, 2014
Barboza is always fun to watch against fellow strikers, so here's hoping he gets matched up with the winner of a July 26 bout between Jorge Masvidal and Daron Cruickshank.
Matchup: Rustam Khabilov
Miller had a chance to break into the Top Five in the lightweight division on Wednesday, but Cowboy broke him down with kicks.
Cerrone could have finished Miller earlier in the second stanza, but referee Dan Miragliotta seemed to mistake a front kick to the abdomen with an illegal shot to the groin and gave Miller a moment to recover. Miller fought through the pain, but another body shot a short time later caused him to drop his hands, leaving an opening for a devastating head kick.
Despite the loss, Miller is still a legitimate Top 10 lightweight. So, he'd be a good test for Rustam Khabilov, who seemed a little unprepared for one of the best in the division, Benson Henderson, in his most recent outing.
Matchup: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Cerrone is climbing the ranks again and is getting closer than ever to his first shot at the lightweight championship.
On Wednesday, Cowboy lowered Miller's hands with some piercing shots to the body. That opened way for a head-kick knockout midway through the second round. It was Cerrone's fourth consecutive win by knockout or submission, all coming before the third stanza.
In case you missed it: Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller video highlights http://t.co/VZXHyzkEcT— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 17, 2014
Before his appearance inside the Octagon in New Jersey, Cerrone asked for a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since no other available lightweight seems willing to fight the Russian, Cerrone could battle The Eagle with a shot at the 155-pound crown on the line.