5 Fights We Need to See After UFC Fight Night 194
UFC Fight Night 194 went down in Las Vegas Saturday night, and the card ended up being pretty entertaining despite being woefully understocked in terms of big names.
In the main event, Brazilian striking specialist Marina Rodriguez cruised into strawweight title contention with a lopsided decision defeat of grappling ace Mackenzie Dern. In the co-main event, hot-and-cold welterweight prospect Randy Brown put himself on a win streak, building on the momentum of a submission victory over Alex Oliveira with a decision defeat of Jared Gooden.
Some of the most memorable moments of the night occurred earlier on the card, including big wins from Matheus Nicolau, Mariya Agapova and Alexandr Romanov, who picked up wins over Tim Elliott, Sabina Mazo and Jared Vanderaa, respectively.
While Saturday night's jaw-dropping Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder boxing match promptly overshadowed much of the UFC Fight Night 194 action, the card remains important in the way it opened the door to some interesting matchup possibilities.
Here are a few of the fights we're hoping to see going forward.
Marina Rodriguez vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
After her unanimous-decision win over Mackenzie Dern, Marina Rodriguez is on the precipice of a strawweight title shot.
However, with champ Rose Namajunas and challenger Weili Zhang slated to collide at UFC 268 on November 6, she will either have to wait or take another fight in the meantime. The latter option seems more plausible.
If Rodriguez does take another bout before gunning for gold, no option is more compelling than one with former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The Pole, arguably the greatest fighter in the division's history, hasn't fought since an early 2020 decision loss to Zhang and seems content to bide her time. However, she matches up beautifully with Rodriguez on paper and could be coaxed back into the cage by the allure of a No. 1 Contender contest with the Brazilian.
If Jedrzejczyk isn't interested in ending her hiatus to fight Rodriguez, no matter. Give Carla Esparza, the UFC strawweight division's first-ever champion, a call. Like Rodriguez, she's right on the cusp of a title shot. The winner of their potential matchup would be undeniable.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Claudia Gadelha
After big wins over Hannah Cifers, Randa Markos, Virna Jandiroba and Nina Nunes, Mackenzie Dern looked like she was closing in on a title shot.
Unfortunately, after a decision loss to Marina Rodriguez, she's headed back to the drawing board.
From here, we're hoping to see Dern matched up with former strawweight title challenger Claudia Gadelha.
Like Dern, the Brazilian is an excellent grappler riding a tough decision loss; hers came against China's Yan Xiaonan. The pair match up well on paper, and the winner of a potential fight between them would be well-positioned for another big opportunity at 115 pounds.
Randy Brown vs. Max Griffin
Randy Brown has always been a good fighter, but he's struggled with consistency. After a UFC Fight Night 194 decision win over Jared Gooden, though, he's on a two-fight streak.
He should attempt to keep his momentum going against Max Griffin, who has struggled to maintain his own winning runs but is currently riding three consecutive victories over Ramiz Brahimaj, Kenan Song and Carlos Condit.
Book these two welterweights against each other on an upcoming Fight Night main card or pay-per-view undercard. It's not the kind of bout that will earn the winner a spot in the top 15, but it might just get them a fight with somebody on the outer edge of that vaunted list.
Mariya Agapova vs. Maryna Moroz
Kazakhstan's Mariya Agapova looked absolutely perfect at UFC Fight Night 194, dropping and choking Sabina Mazo en route to a second-round submission victory.
The 24-year-old then topped it all off with a sizzling call-out of her estranged American Top Team stablemate, Maryna Moroz.
"I would like to call Maryna Moroz because she talked s--t in an interview about me," Agapova told commentator Paul Felder post-fight. "Make sure you find someone else because I'm sure she'd get scared of this fight."
It would be criminal not to give Agapova what she's asking for. Not only do she and Moroz have a score to settle after some ugly trash talk, but they match up well on paper and are both gunning for a spot in the flyweight top 15.
The fight made sense before Agapova's call-out. After that, doing anything else would be a big-time blunder.
Alexandr Romanov vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Legitimate heavyweight prospects are rare, really rare. But as luck would have it, we seem to have three on our hands right now: Tom Aspinall, Chris Daukaus and Alexandr Romanov.
Romanov was in action on the UFC Fight Night 194 undercard, where he looked to improve to 4-0 in the UFC and 15-0 overall against Contender Series product Jared Vanderaa. He succeeded on his mission in decisive fashion, decimating his outmatched foe on the mat en route to a second-round TKO victory.
The Moldovan's win isn't particularly valuable on its own, but when combined with his previous success, it should be enough to earn him a fight with a top-15 foe.
We're hoping Romanov is matched up with Blagoy Ivanov, who is riding a pair of razor-close split-decision losses to Derrick Lewis and Augusto Sakai but remains a tough out for any heavyweight on earth.
The Bulgarian would make a great test for Romanov at this stage. Throw it on an upcoming Fight Night, and rest assured the winner will be able to call themselves a top-15 heavyweight.