UFC Vegas 9 took place this past weekend and I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t watch the card live. Me and the misses went and saw Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and it was a mind boggling must watch. But, you didn’t come here to get my take on my latest cinema experience, you came to get my take about fights. So, I did manage to get in to a couple of the fights I was interested in and I will break them down on this week’s edition of Aftermath as well as look ahead to UFC Vegas 11 (more on that later on.)
Michel Pereira Is The Real Deal
Next opponent for Michel Pereira: (not Masvidal) Mickey Gall, Mounir Lazzez
Michel Pereira joined the UFC as a high flying, acrobatic character of a fighter that also possessed some very unique skills, athleticism tuned for fighting. But, many questioned the plausibility of how Pereira fought. We won’t spend too much time on what transpired throughout his career, we went through that in the UFC Vegas 8 Aftermath section from last week. What we did ponder is which Pereira would show up. Would we get the Danny Roberts high flying showboat or the more reserved gameplan we saw Pereira take in the Diego Sanchez fight. We got the latter.
While Pereira did show off and had some eye popping flying knees, a Showtime kick, and open hand slaps against Zelim Imadaev, Pereira’s gas tank issues seemed gone as he was controlling the fight. He showed great power with his hands and ended the fight with a rear naked choke that snapped his two fight losing streak.
Pereira needs to face a wrestler again to see if he has been working on his takedown defense that killed him against Tristan Connelly. The callout of Jorge Masvidal was a bit premature on Pereira’s part and, while that may be a fight for Pereira down the road, he still has work to do to get there. Mickey Gall is the perfect next matchup for Pereira. Gall has a bit of a name to him after beating CM Punk (laughable, I know but the point still stands). While Gall is slated to fight Miguel Baeza, win or lose, this is still a good match to make. Gall probably isn’t ready for Pereira but he is a talented wrestler and should Gall approach with the proper gameplan, the fight with Pereira would be a very interesting matchup.
But, if the UFC is looking to give him a little bit more time to work on it and still want fireworks, Mounir Lazzez is the next best bet. Lazzez is a striker that has dynamite in his hands. Being Moroccan, kickboxing is in his blood. Lazzez made his UFC debut against the dangerous Abdul Razak Alhassan and took a one sided decision. Lazzez has eight finishes by knockout in his ten wins. He and Pereira would be almost a shoe in for the Fight of the Night.
Alistair Overeem Out-Veterans Sakai at UFC Vegas 9
Next opponent for Augusto Sakai: Alexey Oleinik, Gane/Abdurakhimov winner
Augusto Sakai came in to UFC Vegas 9 with the biggest opportunity to shine. A win over a veteran like Overeem would push the Brazilian Contender Series prospect into the top five of the heavyweight division, giving him a chance to make his stake for the title. Sakai fought well in the first two rounds, he took advantage of a gun-shy Overeem who he pushed against the fence and caught with dirty boxing. Then all hell broke loose and Overeem started to find his rhythm and got the ground game working.
Sakai took on a tough opponent in Overeem and didn’t lose anything but pride in this fight. Overeem is supposedly better in his area of expertise, being a K-1 kickboxing champion, and Sakai competed. Now, he has a setback and fortunately, those are not as hard to fix in the heavyweight division.
If the UFC wants Sakai to work on his takedown defense and fight another tough fighter, Alexey Oleinik is a good option for him. Oleinik is coming off of a devastating loss to the every funny Derrick Lewis. Oleinik is well known for his grappling and would pose a great threat to Sakai on the ground, prompting him to make sure his take down defense is tip top.
Another banger of a fight is for Sakai to take on the winner of Shamil Abdurakhimov and Cyril Gane. Abdurakhimov has fantastic hands and should he beat Gan, the fight would make sense. But if Gane emerges victorious, the stakes are even higher. Gane is a fantastic kickboxer, as we all know, and he and Sakai could very well turn into that. Either way, the fight remains logical for Sakai.
Next opponent for Alistair Overeem: Jairzinho Rozenstruick rematch, Blaydes/Lewis winner
Alistair Overeem is in the middle of his “one last ride” as he makes his final attempt at UFC gold. If not for his loss to Rozenstruick, he’d be riding five straight wins and possibly in line for another title shot. Overeem fought well at UFC Vegas 9 too. While he wasn’t in shape like people remember him for, he is over forty and age falls to no man. Overeem came out trigger-shy slightly and got pushed against the fence a lot against the powerful Sakai. Eventually his confidence grew and Overeem started to open up more and eventually got the fight to the ground. Overeem has some of the best ground and pound in the heavyweight division and it was on full display last weekend.
Overeem is looking for a shot at the title, and he is one or two wins away. One good matchup for the Reem is a rematch with Jairzinho Rozenstruick. As you recall, Overeem was winning the entire fight at UFC DC last December until Rozenstruick caught Overeem in the last few seconds and knocked him out as the bell rung. The bell cannot save a fighter and Overeem had botched the near-flawless performance. A rematch of that fight seems pretty inevitable at this point and would be good to put that one behind both fighters.
If Overeem is looking for the fast track, the winner between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis is the fastest path. Heavyweight is muddled right now. Stipe Miocic just defeated Daniel Cormier and looks to make the second defense of his second stint at heavyweight. Francis N’Gannou is the obvious next choice for Miocic unless Jon Jones decides to not take a tune up. The UFC will likely go with Miocic-Jones over Miocic-N’Gannou 2. Either way, Overeem needs another win to tide him over.
Looking Ahead to UFC Vegas 11
I will not be watching UFC Vegas 10, sadly. No disrespect to the fighters, but we all need breaks in life and this card is the perfect one to take a break on. That said, UFC Vegas 11 is the next card and there is quite a few nougats to pick through on this one.
Will Khamzat Chimaev Continue to Impress?
The hype is fully behind Khamzat Chimaev. After two wins in two weeks, the Swiss-Russian has the entire MMA world talking about how good he is. He takes on Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11. This is a big step up in competition for Chimaev. He beat John Phillips and Rhys McKee in his first two fights. These two guys are fantastic fighters in their own right but Meerschaert is a whole different animal. In comparison, Meerschaert derailed another hype train in the form of Deron Winn at UFC 248. Winn is, of course a fantastic D1 wrestler with plenty of accolades. Winn couldn’t get anything going against Meerschaert and the experience difference really showed. The fight with Chimaev is another one where I’m questioning experience. But, if Chimaev wins, the UFC and Dana White says they want him to fight Demian Maia next. That’s interesting in it’s own right.
Cowboy Cerrone Returns
Donald Cerrone is my all time favorite fighter and I will always stan him. Cerrone takes on the very fun Niko Price who is coming off of a loss himself. Cerrone has dropped four straight fights and is in desperate need of a win. To be fair, he hasn’t fought creampuffs either. His last four were against Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, all four are champions in some facet. Cowboy tends to beat these fighters that are up and coming and hopefully we see a win come from Cowboy this weekend.
Covington and Woodley Finally Fight
This fight should have been made before the Usman fight when Tyron Woodley was champion. But, the UFC got tired of Colby Covington and gave the title shot to Kamaru Usman who eventually won. The UFC seems keen on running Woodley through the ringer, he’s lost two in a row to Usman and Gilbert Burns. This fight is no cakewalk either. Covington is a very similar fighter to Usman and Burns and brings the pace the entire five rounds. Woodley could be in for a long night against the MAGA-toting heel. But, it’s Woodley’s passion and hatred for Covington that could have him victorious in the fight with his rival.
On the other hand, this is Covington’s first fight back since losing to Kamaru Usman at UFC 245. He’s stuck to his guns as being the heel and he’s ready to return almost a year after his slobberknocker of a fight in his first attempt at the title. Should Covington and Usman win their fights, they could be on another collision course for another rough night at the office.