UFC Vegas 62 it’s all over and the end result of a fight card that didn’t wow many fans wasn’t something that could change many hearts and minds. Alexa Grasso kept her spot in the top 5 flyweights with a closer decision than the cards would suggest. Jonathan Martinez made Cub Swanson regret trying to play bantamweight. And Raphael Assuncao turned back the time to get a victory over Victor Henry.
So, is Grasso closer to gold after his fourth consecutive win? Will Dominick Cruz spend more than 1 second considering a fight with Jonathan Martinez? And is Tatsuro Taira’s next potential flyweight candidate?
To answer these questions, and nothing else, I’ll use the classic UFC Silva / Shelby fight booking methodology of years past. This means pitting the winners against the winners, the losers against the losers and role-playing talents alike against each other. Hopefully, following that model, some of these dating ideas will actually roll off the page and into the Octagon. Now, let’s get to the fighting!
He did the big part at UFC Vegas 62, but if Alexa Grasso is hoping to turn a winning streak into a title shot, it looks like she’s going to have to put a much stronger footprint on things than she did here. Fat had the cleanest strokes, the best form, and the most consistent footwork. And when she came forward with pressure, she cleaned Araujo’s watch. But she only did it with sustained effort for about 30 seconds at the end of round 2. After that she was happy to work on the back foot in a neutral space, with 1 to 1 exchanges and hoping the judges would reward her form over power. by Araujo. There are two clear former title contenders out there right now who look great for testing whether Grasso can keep her momentum: Taila Santos and Lauren Murphy. Both fights would be a bout of a strong contender, but I like the feel of the Santos fight more. His physicality and her fighting ability seem to ask much clearer questions to Grasso than the likely sticky fight she would have with Murphy. Grasso vs Santos is the kind of win Grasso needs to be # 1. 1 contender.
I have to think that Viviane Araujo will look back on this as a bout she could have won very well, had she taken more chances with her aggression both on her feet and on the mat. Instead, Araujo fell into the same kind of problem she called her losses against Katlyn Chookagian and Jessica Eye, most notably the fact that she’s too busy trying to do one thing at a pace even when she’s constantly behind. in doing so. Grasso had a slight technical advantage on his feet, and despite her getting a couple of takedowns early, Grasso was mostly happy to engage in a slow kickboxing match that she hadn’t won.
There are still a lot of flyweights to contend with; fights with Lauren Murphy or Maycee Barber would both make great options right now, or maybe Jennifer Maia’s winner against Maryna Moroz. I’ll go ahead and say book Araujo versus Barber. Barber is getting a solid victory over Eye (a fight abandoned by Araujo) and has her own defeat to Grasso looming over her. A win for either woman would go a long way in establishing them as elite talents in the division. Barber vs. Araujo would be a fun flyweight fight.
A solid demonstration of Jonathan Martinez in the highest profile fight of his career so far. Swanson tried his best to turn this fight into a brawl and stay out of kicking range, but every time he got into the clinch, he got huge hits on the inside. This left Swanson with nowhere else to go but distance. The TKO via low kicks followed shortly thereafter. At the end of the fight, Martinez called for a match with Dominick Cruz, who was commenting on the match. To say that Cruz seemed uninterested in the idea would be an understatement.
If the UFC is happy to launch Martinez into the deepest part of the division, fights with Song Yadong, Pedro Munhoz or Ricky Simon would all be huge tests. Otherwise, meetings with Cody Stamann, Raoni Barcelos, Adrian Yanez or Alatengheili would all be decent options. Munhoz has struggled a lot with consistency lately and has had his share of setbacks, why not give Martinez a chance to jump into deep water and prove himself. Martinez versus Munhoz would be the kind of big test the “Dragon” seems to want.
This fight could never go any different than how it went. Jordan Wright came out, hit some strong takedowns and spent the entire first round over Dusko Todorovic throwing heavy jabs at him. But Todorovic survived, and Wright’s cardio and confidence were very successful in the process. “Thunder” entered round 2 with a severe fire under his ass and got into a fight with Wright. From there it was only a matter of time before Wright folded.
That win puts Todorovic up 3-3 in the UFC and keeps him firmly in position as a reliable mid-card action talent that will put on a show whether his hand raises or not. That said, fights with Denis Tiuliulin, Roman Kopylov, Jacob Malkoun, or Abdul Razak Alhassan would all be fun options. I really liked the way Tiuliulin presented himself last time against Jamie Pickett, showing a Todorovic-like willingness to swarm his opponent with aggressive presses and punches. It seems Todorovic’s wrestling would be a good test for Tiuliulin as well. Denis Tiuliulin vs Dusko Todorovic would be a fun fight at 185.
An absolutely masterful performance by the veteran. It is quite rare to see fighters in their forties find success in the upper divisions, but descend into the lower weights and it is exceptionally rare. With that in mind, seeing Assuncao come out, find his counters, keep his defense tight, and slow Victor Henry down to his own pace – coming out of a fight when Henry set the record for hits in a 3-round BW fight – not. could have been more impressive. After the meeting, Assuncao revealed that he was thinking about retiring, but he wasn’t quite willing to make a decision yet.
If he returns to the Octagon soon, fights with Raoni Barcelos, Adrian Yanez, Umar Nurmagomedov or Jonathan Martinez would all make sense. Given that Barcelos just left Henry a match and then came back with a win by foreclosure, it seems like an interesting test to see how much the matchup makes a difference. Assuncao vs. Barcelos would be a fantastic battle of Brazilian veterinarians.
In the past, when fighters pushed back Alonzo Menifield, they found an opponent willing to let the fight slip away. So it’s entirely due to ‘Atomic’ that when Misha Cirkunov stepped in, she traded jabs and sought eliminations early, Menifield never stepped back. He kept up the pressure, kept throwing big shots and went away with the first round knockout as a result. This puts him in line for potential fights with Jim Crute, Tyson Pedro, and Da Un Jung. With Pedro looking good in his return to the UFC recently, it seems like the best of the options available. Two men known for throwing heavy leather who are putting together some good wins after tough setbacks against better competition. Menifield vs Pedro is a great fight to see which fighter is ready to aim for the top 15.
Short-notice attacks on UFC newcomers have the feeling of high-risk, low-reward danger. But Joanderson Brito did exactly what every fighter hopes to do with such a bout, he blew Alexander away. Lots of pressure, huge takedowns, and an immediate response to NCR submission. A perfect fight of the Brazilian. After the fight, he called Dan Ige for a fight in Rio. It’s a pretty quick turnaround for a card that’s already filling up fast, so I’m not sure if that happens, but a caution against Ige in general would be a lot of fun. If that can’t be booked, fights with Lerone Murphy, Nate Landwehr, or Damon Jackson would also be great. Ige vs Brito is a great option Abut I’d also like to see Brito versus Jackson.
All in all, this was a truly fantastic performance for Tatsuro Taira. CJ Vergara had just come out of a big upset win over another great potential client and was proving his quality in the UFC as a non-stop, iron chin-guarded fighter. Taira immediately canceled that game with a series of slick bodylock eliminations, however, which immediately put the fight in an arena where he could have been in full control of the pace. A few climbs on quality terrain later and Taira hit a smooth transition from NCR to armbar to take home the victory by submission.
This could lead him to attacks on the likes of Bruno Silva, Tyson Nam, Manel Kape or David Dvorak. My first thought among those is that a match against Dvorak would be a great way to test Taira against another high-performing striker, this time one who can match him in speed and technique. But now that I think about it a little more, I like the idea of a fight with Tyson Nam. Nam’s power could be a big deal for Taira, and otherwise it looks like slow pressure from him will be a great opportunity for Taira to work a little more on her counters and setups. Nam vs. Taira looks like a good slow step forward for the undefeated youngster.
OTHER ATTACKS: Cub Swanson vs Brian Kelleher, Jordan Wright vs. Dustin StoltzfusVictor Henry v Douglas Silva de Andrade, Misha Cirkunov vs. And HermanMana Martinez vs Daniel Santos, Brandon Davis versus Trevin JonesJacob Malkoun v Punahele Soriano, Nick Maximov against Roman KopylovLucas Alexander vs Jarno Errens, Piera Rodriguez versus Luana PinheiroSam Hughes vs Ashley Yoder, CJ Vergara vs. JP buysPete Rodriguez vs Orion Cosce, Mike Jackson versus Martin Sano