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UFC Vegas 19 may not have been the most star studded card the UFC has put on, but it was certainly entertaining, especially the main event. In today’s Aftermath edition, we will talk about Derrick Lewis vs. Curtis Blaydes, and Yana Kunitskaya. Let’s dive in.
Yana Kunitskaya and Ketlen Vieira finally meet at UFC Vegas 19
Next opponent for Yana Kunitskaya: Aspen Ladd 2, Irene Aldana
Both Yana Kunitskaya and Ketlen Vieira were supposed to fight at UFC Vegas 6 in August 2020, which was also headlined by Derrick Lewis when he beat Alexey Oleinik, before Vieira pulled out of the fight. I interviewed Kunitskaya before the fight when Stoliarenko stepped in for Vieira. When I asked Kunitskaya if she hoped to fight Vieira one day, she had this to say:
“I would like to meet her in the future.”Yana Kunitskaya: Training With Santos
Six months later, the two would meet and Kunitskaya would do enough to get the win at UFC Vegas 19. I was real big on Vieira going into her fight with Cat Zingano. She was undefeated and looked strong. Regardless, injuries took hold and Vieira became very inactive. Since the split decision win over Zingano, Vieira lost to Ladd, beat Eubanks, and now lost to Kunitskaya.
Vieira tried a myriad of submissions of which Kunitskaya thwarted every time. Her inactivity in striking on the ground cost Vieira the fight. But, credit to Kunitskaya for surviving on the ground and making the most of her situation. Kunitskaya stole the fight in the third when she landed the most significant strikes on the night. The ground and pound left Vieira bloodied up.
Now, Kunitskaya is a win or two away from a second shot at UFC gold. Her last loss came in 2019 against Aspen Ladd. Ladd handily won that fight and knocked out Kunitskaya. Coincidentally that was her last fight and has been out since June 2020 with a torn ACL and MCL. A rematch with Kunitskaya would be a good test to see if she’s back and looks good. Kunitskaya would get to
If Ladd isn’t available to come back yet, Irene Aldana is the fight to make. Aldana beat underdog odds when she beat Vieira herself. She then lost her title eliminator to Holly Holm. Aldana has decent hands and would be a decent test for Kunitskaya while the top of the division figures out who fights Amanda Nunes next.
Derrick Lewis does what Derrick Lewis does best
Next opponent for Curtis Blaydes: Rozenstruik/Gane loser, Sakai/Abdurakhimov winner
Curtis Blaydes has a habit of looking real good until he’s a step away from the title and he shits the bed. His last shot was when he rematched Francis N’Gannou and he was finished. The same thing happened with Blaydes at UFC Vegas 19.
Early on, Blaydes fought well on the feet, but gambled too much with it. He tore up the leg of Lewis and overall looked good on the feet. The issue arose when he shot the takedown in the second round. Blaydes didn’t set it up. He just shot on the hips and was looking down. Blaydes ate the uppercut from Lewis and was out cold.
Now Blaydes is at the back of the line in the heavyweight division. Losing to N’Gannou twice and now Lewis, Blaydes will need north of 4 wins to get a shot at gold, and that’s if everything goes his way. The winner of Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Cyril Gane will get a big push to the title. The loser will be looking for a fight. That is the prime real estate for Curtis Blaydes. Both Rozenstruik and Gane are kickboxers. Strikers versus grapplers are always fun toss up matches and would be a blast to watch in either case.
Alternatively, Augusto Sakai and Shamil Abdurakhimov are fighting in May and the winner will be looking for a reason to go to the next level. Blaydes and either of these fighters could be an option for the UFC to push new contenders to the top of the division.
Next opponent for Derrick Lewis: Alistair Overeem, Alexander Volkov rematch
Derrick Lewis did what Derrick Lewis does at UFC Vegas 19. In the weekly Aftermath sister section on Rokfin, Beforemath, I talked about Lewis showing his takedown defense. Well, he did well not letting Blaydes get the fight to the ground and did a good job defending Blaydes and his takedown attempt the best way possible: a stiff uppercut to knock him out. Sadly, we were not treated to the customary classic Derrick Lewis post fight interview we all love.
One fight Lewis has been lobbying for is with Alistair Overeem. The fight actually makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels. Lewis is not getting a title shot any time soon, despite being the number two contender. With Miocic-N’Gannou 2 booked and the imminent arrival of Jon Jones who will also get a title shot immediately after Miocic and N’Gannou fight, Lewis is third in line and he will need a fight. Overeem is looking for a shot at the title and Lewis will be ranked second in the heavyweight division. A win over Lewis would put him in that spot to get his last title shot after the heavyweight trio sorts itself out.
Alexander Volkov is my second option. The two fought at UFC 229 and we got the famous “my balls was hot promo.” The thing is, Volkov dominated that fight until the last ten seconds. We’ve seen Volkov improve and actually beat Overeem in his last fight. A rematch would be absolutely appropriate right now.