#UFCNorfolk Aftermath: Between a Rock and a FlyweightTweet
UFC Norfolk turned out to be a night of fun fights and controversy. With the flyweight division still held in limbo along with several other division shaping fights, it is time to take a look at what’s next in this week’s Aftermath article!
Violent Bob Ross Paints Another Massacre
Next opponent for Luis Pena: Jared Gordon, Jalin Turner
Luis Pena was originally slated to take on Alex Munoz at UFC Norfolk. Unfortunately, Munoz pulled out due to injury and in stepped Steve Garcia, a bantamweight turned featherweight. Pena fought intelligently in his fight with Garcia, but couldn’t put the tough “Mean Machine” away. He dominated Garcia on the ground and threaded in chokes and ground and pound one after another. It may be too early to see the benefits Pena is getting from American Top Team, but his fight IQ was much better than past fights here. Weather that be from his opponent being from a weight class below or the new training he is getting remains to be seen.
Luis Pena is one of the more popular fighters on the roster due to his aptly coined nickname. The fight with Garcia was way under Pena’s skill set and that could have played to his advantage. His new camp at American Top Team is still tweaking his game. The Garcia fight gave Pena some time to put what he’s learned at ATT to practice in the cage. He can continue to grow as a fighter, and he will. Pena is still only 26 years old.
Pena deserves a fight in the skill level of the Munoz fight now. Jared Gordon is one of those guys that would be a good test for Pena. Gordon is more than twice as experienced as Munoz is. Pitting Pena and Gordon together would be a fun matchup that would bring the pain for the fans and see if either fighter is ready for the next step.
Another option is Jalin Turner who fought just a week ago at UFC Auckland. Turner and Pena have similar experience and would be another skill check for both fighters.
Megan Anderson Is Getting In the Groove
Next opponent for Megan Anderson: Amanda Nunes, Pam Sorenson
Megan Anderson has struggled ever since coming to the UFC from winning the title in Invicta. She was chasing a fight with Cris Cyborg but now, that’s out the window with Cyborg being signed with Bellator. Norma Dumont, Anderson’s opponent at UFC Auckland, never stood a chance against Anderson. Anderson set her shot up well and put Dumont down. After a rocky 1-2 start, Anderson has now put two fights away in a row. Unfortunately, she isn’t next in line for the title. Felicia Spencer is next in line for a shot at the 145 title against WMMA GOAT, Amanda Nunes. Spencer beat Anderson last year and deserves the next shot.
That said, a title shot is not quite out the answer for Megan Anderson. Her popularity is quite substantial and fans enjoy watching her fight. Anderson has more of a cult following than Spencer does. The UFC likes to make fights that will sell more over who deserves it in recent times. Anderson could very well get a shot at Amanda Nunes’ 145 title next.
Should Spencer get the title shot instead of Anderson, pickings are slim at featherweight. The UFC has cut many of their 145 contenders, including Cris Cyborg, Cat Zingano, and Leslie Smith. The UFC is keen on pulling champions from Invicta to stock their women’s divisions. Current 145 Invcita champ is Pam Sorenson. It would be a good fight to see if Anderson can piece a win streak together a little longer to fight for the title.
Magomed Ankalaev Is A Glimpse of Rising Light Heavyweights
Next opponent for Magomed Ankalaev: Walker/Krylov winner, Misha Cirkunov
Magomed Ankalaev is a new generation of light heavyweights with a much higher skillset that the division has ever had. While Ankalaev is not quite there yet, his ceiling remains to be quite high. The controversy between him and Ion Cutelaba, from the fighter announcement to the finish, will overshadow the performance. Ankalaev was aggressive and fast. He did throw four head kicks in a row which won’t cut it at the top of the division, but that can be easily fixed.
Ankalaev deserves a ranked opponent next. Johnny Walker and Nikita Krylov are getting ready to face off. The winner will have many eyes on their next fight. Ankalaev getting plenty eyes jumpstarts his run at his inevitable light heavyweight title run. It will propel him into the top 15 of the light heavyweight division.
Ankalaev received hardly any damage in his fight with Cutelaba. A quick turnaround is possible for him. Should he want to fight again soon, Misha Cirkunov is another ranked opponent to pit Ankalaev against to get him into the top 15 for the first step into that title run.
Felicia Spencer Ready For Second Title Chance
Next opponent for Felicia Spencer: Amanda Nunes, Holly Holm
Felicia Spencer gained her popularity in her first title fight with Cris Cyborg. She fought smart and went the distance with the dominant champ. Now, she’s back on a win and prime for a fight with Amanda Nunes. Unfortunately, things look worse for Spencer against Nunes than Cyborg. In the fight with Zarah Farin, Spencer struggled early on to find distance and get in on Farin to get to there ground where she knew she’d win the fight. Farin caught her with some shots that would be costly against a fighter with the striking of Amanda Nunes.
Nunes is the logical next choice for Spencer. That’s my number one pick for what’s next for her. But, as mentioned in the Megan Anderson section, Felicia Spencer might get passed over for the more popular fighter. If that’s the case, instead of simply calling Pam Sorenson the option, I would like to see Spencer fight someone long and experience with world championship fights. Holly Holm has had a million title shots. Spencer and Holm would be a good test to see if Spencer has worked adequately enough on closing the distance and getting in on a strike-first fighter.
Deiveson Figueiredo: The People’s Flyweight Champion
Next opponent for Joseph Benavidez: Deiveson Figueiredo, Kai Kara-France
There are not many people Joseph Benavidez hasn’t fought in the flyweight division. The long-time staple of the division came into the fight with Figueiredo with a well known, sky high fight IQ. Benavidez didn’t show that in his fight with Figueiredo. He lunged in, throwing big over hand shots leaving his opposite side exposed. With a striker like Deiveson Figueiredo, it is only a matter of time before you’re put out cold. That’s exactly what happened in the second round.
Fortunately for Benavidez, there’s prescient for an immediate rematch. The flyweight title is presumed vacant because Figueiredo missed weight and wasn’t eligible to win the vacant title. Running the fight back makes sense to see if Figueiredo can repeat his success or if Benavidez can make adjustments to his gameplan and finally take home UFC gold.
If Benavidez doesn’t get the rematch for reasons I will dive into next section, there’s not much for him to fight that’s new. The last man to give him a loss before Figueiredo, Sergio Pettis, is in Bellator now. He’s ran through Jussier Formiga. Kai Kara-France is coming off of a win at UFC Auckland and is looking for a crack into the top five. A win over Benavidez would be that exact thing. Benavidez would get to fight another dangerous striker and redeem himself with a win.
Next opponent for Deiveson Figueiredo: Henry Cejudo, Joseph Benavidez
Deiveson Figueiredo fought quite well against Joe-B at UFC Norfolk. He withstood the quickness and attacks from Benavidez and made the proper reads to put the fight away. While Figueiredo is not the official UFC flyweight champion, he’s the people’s champ and he deserves every opportunity to seize the title.
Because Benavidez was put away clean, the best option is for Figueiredo to take on the former/current flyweight champ (nobody knows what the UFC is going to do, honestly), Henry Cejudo. Having the two fight for the title would be a great fight and wouldn’t mess up the short lineal history the division has had. Plus, it is a hell of a fight.
Should Henry Cejudo not want to return to flyweight, Benavidez is the obvious choice, except both fighters make weight this time. Have a proper fight for the vacant flyweight title and see who is the champ for real.
Thanks for reading. Next week, Aftermath will be back with UFC 248 breaking down what’s next for both Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero as well as our other favorites on the card!
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