UFC Vegas 5 Aftermath: Brunson Making Moves

#UFCVegas5: Brunson Making Moves

The UFC returned to Vegas after a five fight stretch in Fight Island. After a card marred by pullouts and positive COVID tests, the show went on. Trevin Giles, for example, was supposed to fight Kevin Holland but Giles passed out back stage before the fight. That’s the kind of week it was for the UFC. But, there were some good showings and it is time to get into what could be next on this week’s episode of Aftermath. Admittedly, I didn’t catch most the fights, but I’m diving in on the last three fights of the night.

Vicente Luque Drops Bombs

Next opponent for Vicente Luque: Michael Chiesa, Neal/Magny winner

We’ve known for some time that Vicente Luque throws hammers. He’s been the authors of several bangers including his fight with Mike Perry, Steven Thompson, and Bryan Barberena. Luque struggled early on in the fight with Brown’s length. Eventually, Luque found a way to get inside and hurt Brown, which really turned things around in the second. The finishing sequence was a borderline illegal knee that Luque landed by the skin of his teeth. Luque managed to hold up brown who was reaching down to ground himself. In the end, Brown slumped over and Luque started shoveling bombs against the cage and ending the fight.

Luque showed his tremendous power at UFC Vegas 5. Don’t let his 19-7-1 record fool you. Since being on The Ultimate Finale, he’s gone 12-3 in the UFC. He has only lost to Stephen Thompson, Leon Edwards, and Mike Graves, which Graves was his debut. Luque hasn’t passed a great skill check yet but another should be coming his way in the next fight or two. Until then, he will likely get a ranked opponent. As for the Nate Diaz callout, I’ll pass.

Putting him against a wrestler could be an option, even though Luque’s two main losses were to predominant strikers. Michael Chiesa is making a fantastic run at welterweight but has yet to fight a puncher who hits as hard as Luque. Putting Luque against Chiesa would be a good fight to see where the two are at this moment in time and to see who is ready to move up the division.

My second pick for Luque is the winner of Geoff Neal and Neil Magny. The two Nea/il’s are fighting at the end of the month and instead of throwing Luque to a wrestler, the winner of this potential Fight of the Night contender would be an ideal matchup to let either three of the fighters shine.

UFC Vegas 5 Win Puts Jennifer Maia Up Next for Title Shot

Next opponent for Jennifer Maia: Valentina Shevchenko

Women’s strawweight is not a deep division by any means. But Jennifer Maia May have punched her ticket to the next shot at the title. While Valentina Shevchenko has dominated everyone she has fought since getting the title, she’s always ready for new contenders.

Maia might not have the deepest of records, but her only two losses are to Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagain, Shevchenko’s last title defense. Maia even got a tweet from the champion saying they’ll see each other next.

And Maia fought well against Calderwood. The fight went to the ground at the end of the first round and it was basically over from there. But what do you expect from someone with the last name “Maia?” Maia locked in the arm bar and with some adjustments, Calderwood had her arm hyper-extended and tapped.

We could speculate on another opponent for Maia after her win at UFC Vegas 5, but it’s pretty apparent Shevchenko is the next opponent.

Derek Brunson Shows Heaps of Improvement

Next opponent for Edmen Shahbazyan: Ian Heinisch, Brendan Allen

Edmen Shahbazyan is an incredible talent. His hands are lightning fast and pack a punch. Unfortunately for him, he has a gym and coach that’s completely incompetent. Edmond Tarverdyan is famously the coach of Ronda Rousey. He’s left a wake of bodies in his path that are ruined careers such as Travis Browne and Jessamyn Duke. Tarverdyan is inept at game planning and doesn’t do a good job improving his athletes. In Rousey’s book, she even says he refused to train women at first. The dude is a complete hack and Shahbazyan is essentially caught up in the cult that is Edmond Tarverdyan. He needs to get out now.

Shahbazyan is a Contender Series by-product, meaning he’s the future of the sport. This young man spent years being a sparring dummy at the expense of the ego of Rousey in her heyday. Game planning against Brunson was just terrible. He went in guns blazing in round one hoping for a quick finish. He did not get it. Instead, he blew his wad and got beat up in round two before Herb Dean mercifully called the fight the second he started taking punishment in round three.

Brunson is always a good skill check and Shahbazyan is not there yet. But, he has the opportunity to improve himself. He will need some time to recover from the damage taken but there are some intriguing fights for him. Now that we know the gas tank is an issue, I’d like to see him paired up with some durable fighters. Enter Ian Heinisch. Heinisch is a very fun fighter with great wrestling and is able to take and absurd punishment. He could be that test Shahbazyan needs to show the world his cardio can be managed well.

Now that Shahbazyan has lost a fight, the UFC brass might see him as a skill check for other upcoming fighters. Brendan Allen is a surging middleweight and is looking for his way into the top 15 of the middleweight division. He could see himself benefiting from a fight with the well-known Shahbazyan and with his ground game, could win that fight. The Allen fight also gives Shahbazyan a chance to get a win under his belt to get his mojo back.

Also, if we’re looking for a new camp for Edmen Shahbazyan, Trevor Wittman is always the answer.

Next opponent for Derek Brunson: Darren Till, Jack Hermansson

On the other hand, Derek Brunson looked fantastic at UFC Vegas 5. Donning a Kevin Randleman hair style, Brunson decided to show everyone he is still a wrestler, and a damn good one at that. Since losing to Israel Adesanya and having a lackluster performance against Elias Theodorou, Brunson has come alive in his game planning. He handily weathered the early storm of Shahbazyan and dominated the second round. Derek Brunson has truly become a better and more well rounded fighter. When he started to revert to his old self and swung wildly, he reeled it in, and got back to the basics. I was super impressed with Derek Randleman-Brunson.

Brunson deserves another rise to the title, even if he was knocked out in the first round by the reigning champ. He needs to see if he’s ready for a striker the likes of Adesanya again. Darren Till is the perfect matchup for Brunson. Till is a great striker and struggles with wrestling at times. This would give both an opportunity to get a quality win under the belt.

Opposite side of the stylistic matchup is Jack Hermansson. Hermansson just took Kelvin Gastelum’s ankle home with him at UFC Fight Island 3. The classic wrestler versus Jiu Jitsu player is always a fun matchup. A win for either would be a great resume builder and would put both Brunson and Hermansson in line for a title shot.

Blaine Henry

Just your friendly neighborhood fight fan!

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