The UFC returned to this weekend with their seventh event at the APEX in Las Vegas. The card was ripped to shreds by pullouts, injuries and failed COVID tests. With that said, the fighters on the smaller card delivered a great night of entertainment for fans. So knowing that, it’s time to dive into this week’s episode of Aftermath.
Joe Solecki Shines at UFC Vegas 7, Makes Statement
Next opponent for Joe Solecki: Mark O. Madsen, Yancy Medeiros
Joe Solecki and Austin Hubbard were originally scheduled to fight at UFC Vegas 3. Solecki pulled out due to a failed COVID-19 test and Hubbard fought Max Rohskopf. Hubbard shined against Rohskopf and the UFC rebooked the Solecki fight.
Joe Solecki did his thing and looked well rounded against a tough Hubbard. As all fights start, both fighters started standing on the feet. Hubbard theoretically had the advantage standing up, but even there, Solecki got the best of the exchanges. Then the two got tangled in the clinch and Solecki managed to get the back of Hubbard standing up. Solecki locked up the rear naked choke and Hubbard tapped standing.
Joe Solecki made a giant leap with his win over Hubbard. His first fight in the UFC was a win over Matt Wiman at UFC DC last December. Solecki caught a bit of flack for not finishing Wiman. This time, he won’t face that same criticism by finishing a much tougher opponent.
The lightweight division is quite deep and I don’t believe Joe Solecki is ready for a ranked opponent after his win at UFC Vegas 7. One or two more fight before taking on the rankings will do Solecki some good. Mark O. Madsen was the last guy to beat Hubbard and put on a wrestling clinic against Hubbard. Solecki is a great grappler and jiu jitsu player and would be a good matchup with plenty of scrambling for you to feast on.
Second option is for Solecki to take on Yancy Medeiros, a veteran of the sport. Medeiros has been in his share of battles and could drag Solecki into the later rounds and force him to seek a finish. Should Solecki beat Medeiros, he has another veteran and tough opponent under his belt and looks to take a stab at the rankings within the next fight.
Frankie Edgar Moves Down Again
Next opponent for Pedro Munhoz: John Dodson, Merab Dvalishvili
Unfortunately for Pedro Munhoz, he was on the wrong end of the exodus from featherweight. While Marlon Moraes had success beating Jose Aldo at UFC 245, Munoz was beat by Edgar in his bantamweight debut. After beating Cody Garbrandt, Munoz has now dropped two straight. Don’t sleep on Munoz, however, he fought Edgar well. The fight wasn’t one sided and he gave the former lightweight champion hell.
His speed has always been his best asset, so for Munhoz, I would like to see him face someone fast as well. John Dodson is coming off of his most recent loss to Merab Dvalishvili. His speed gives his opponents fits and a potential fight with Munhoz and Dodson would have to be played in slow motion just so fans could keep up with what’s going on. Dodson and Munhoz fought previously in 2018. The fight ended in a split decision in the favor of Dodson. Running it back now would be ideal to have these two go at it again.
The man previously mentioned is our second option for Munhoz. Merab Dvalishvili is looking for a shot into the top ten and Munhoz could provide that shot for him. Dvalishvili would be a tough test for Munhoz who did decent against the wrestling of Edgar. Taking his take down defense to the next level would be what’s needed to beat Dvalishvili, and we should give Munhoz the opportunity to prove himself.
Next opponent for Frankie Edgar: Dominick Cruz, Moraes/Sandhagen winner
Frankie Edgar showed everyone that bantamweight isn’t a problem for him at UFC Vegas 7. He handled the weight cut with ease, kept his pace high for five rounds and took the shots from one of the division’s harder punchers. He did have a harder time wrestling, but he did get the fight to the ground a couple times, although he didn’t do much with them.
As for what’s next, I would really like to see Edgar take on a legend of the division. Dominick Cruz is that legend. He’s the former king of the division, and arguably the greatest champion the division has had. Cruz and Edgar would be a star-powered fight and would be another good fight for Edgar to make bantamweight again.
Should the UFC run him to the top of the division and give Petr Yan his third legend to fight, they could make him fight in a title eliminator fight. With Dana White saying that Aljamain Sterling is “probably” next for Yan, there aren’t many options for Edgar which narrows it down a bit. But, one option is for Edgar to take on the winner of Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. Both Moraes and Sandhagen have recent losses and likely need another win while Yan and Sterling sort things out. Edgar could be The Answer (couldn’t resist, I’m sorry) to the title eliminator as for what’s next for Yan or Sterling.
Looking Forward to UFC Vegas 8
UFC Vegas 8 is the last card of August and has a trio of high level fights that have large implications on their divisions. Let’s dive in to what is on the horizon!
Ankalaev and Cutelaba to Settle the Score
Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba are set to settle the score finally. The two last fought at UFC Norfolk and the fight ended in controversy. The fight only lasted 38 seconds and Kevin McDonald called the fight off after Ankalaev had Cutelaba hurt and was hunting him down. Cutelaba then bent over and McDonald called the fight and it turned out that Cutelaba was playing opossum, faking to be hurt.
While Cutelaba hasn’t really had much success in a shallow light heavyweight division, he has put on exciting shows for fans with awesome ground and pound as well. But Cutelaba has largely been a stepping stone for the resurgence of Glover Teixeira and was supposed to be a skillcheck for Ankalaev. I see Ankalaev getting the job done here, without controversy this time. He’s the recent surge of talent in the light heavyweight division that this card is trying to showcase. Ankalaev will beat Cutelaba in a Fight of three Night contender and put this chapter behind him once and for all.
The Return of Robbie Lawler
The former champion, Robbie Lawler, returns for the first time since his defeat from Colby Covington last year. Lawler has taken time off and has taken a very tough fight on short notice against Neil Magny. Lawler is on a three fight skid, and is 1-4 since losing his title to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201. Neil Magny is surging, on the other hand. Since Magny has returned from his USADA violation earlier this year, he’s been active. This year he’s beat Jingliang Li at UFC 248 and and Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC 250.
Magny was originally slated for Geoff Neal in this fight but Neal pulled out for health reasons. So now, he gets an even bigger test in Robbie Lawler. Magny will come out and do what he always does. The big question is what Robbie Lawler will show up. He’s been passive his last few fights and didn’t bring the fight. While Covington and Dos Anjos certainly made that hard for Lawler, he did bring it in the Ben Askren fight, even though he lost. Which Lawler shows up will be the big question of this fight.
Aleksandar Rakic Looking To Correct Course
Aleksandr Rakic was on the bad end of a decision against Volkan Oezdemir last December. He’s taken eight months off and now he’s ready to get back to action. This time, he takes on former title challenger, and the great game planning Anthony Smith. Rakic has produced some awesome knockouts including the early headkick finish of long time division staple, Jimi Manuwa. Rakic is part of the new wave of light heavyweight talent, much like Ankalaev. Smith is coming in after the one sided beat down he got from Glover Texiera at UFC Jacksonville. Smith took a hellacious beating and I am questioning if he’s coming back too soon.
Smith has been incredibly active and is likely looking to stay active. But after such a beating, time off could have done him some good. All’s fair for Rakic, however. He could be the benefit of a compromised Anthony Smith. Should he beat Smith, he would put his name back into the top contenders of the division.