Last night, Dana White told fans who weren't interested in attending or buying UFC 177 to "go to the movies". Personally? I had a full plate of Chinese food and watched some college football. So I spent much of this morning catching up on what I missed last night, and I must admit there were plenty of good finishes, a great performance by T.J. Dillashaw, a gutsy effort by Joe Soto, and then an underwhelming pair of outings by Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo.
It's not often the main card makes up more than 50% of an entire UFC show, but the umpteen canceled fights dwindled the evening's schedule to just 3 preliminary bouts. We're here to focus on the main card fighters and who they should fight next.
T.J. Dillashaw. Even with the late change of opponent, he was a massive favorite and he won (with another 5th round finish!) as expected. He's not re-matching Renan Barao next, so he's down to two options. Either Dillashaw fights the winner of Dominick Cruz/Takeya Mizugaki or Raphael Assuncao if he gets past Bryan Caraway. I think they'll push for the Cruz/Mizugaki winner.
Joe Soto. Hats off to Soto for having occasional moments of success against the best bantamweight in the world. He was thrown into the spotlight under extreme circumstances, and while he was clearly losing and ultimately knocked out, I think he's shown enough improvement from his Bellator days to be a mainstay in the top 15 of the division. Soto deserves some sort of a "gimme" fight considering the nature of the Dillashaw fight, and I think Vaughan Lee is the perfect guy for him to dominate.
Tony Ferguson. I'm not entirely sure Ferguson won against Danny Castillo, and he sure wasn't that impressive. He ain't Rousimar Palhares so the leg-lock stuff should cease immediately. I know some are not too keen on "Prospect vs. Prospect" but I'd like to see him fight Rashid Magomedov, which is a fight that should be stylistically pleasing for fans.
Danny Castillo. The tough thing with Castillo is he dominates lower-level fighters like Charlie Brenneman and Shamar Bailey, but when put up against top 20 opposition he comes up *just* short of victory. He had Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza close to being knocked out before losing both, and he probably should've gotten a draw against Barboza if the judges had scored round 1 a 10-8. Now he fights Ferguson and is on the wrong end of a split decision. Castillo is no spring chicken, so any slender chance he had at making that late push towards the top of the division were ended last night. Give him the recently defeated Justin Salas next.
Bethe Correia. Unless you are utterly consumed with her quest to beat the "Four Horsewomen", any justification for a title shot is based purely off of that storyline. Yes, Correia was dominant last night and peppered Baszler like she was an amateur, but her 3 UFC wins consist of a retired Julie Kedzie, a 1-2 Jessamyn Duke, and Baszler, who last won an MMA fight in 2012. The Brazilian needs a real test against someone on the upswing and who is an established top 10 fighter. I think she'll face Sara McMann, maybe on a Brazil show.
Shayna Baszler. Harsh truth about Baszler - She's 1-3 in her last 4 and she's 34 years old. Correia brutalized her and it's very evident that she doesn't have much to offer against top 10 fighters in her division. I see a big step down in competition for her, possibly against Alexis Dufresne.
Carlos Diego Ferreira. What a great time to pick up your first ever knockout or TKO win, eh? Ferreira's striking is definitely not polished and I'm not sold on it being incredibly powerful, but it's serviceable enough that he was able to get the win. Why not book him against Yancy Medeiros, who picked up only his 2nd submission win earlier in the night?
Ramsey Nijem. He is what he is. Nijem is defensively deficient and his chin is not good enough for him to just recklessly come forward without running the high risk of getting knocked out even by guys not known for punching power. It may not be correctable at this stage in his career, so in Nijem's case it may just be a matter of staying in preliminary card purgatory in the long-term. I think he gets Naoyuki Kotani next.
Yancy Medeiros. Hopefully Medeiros can pass his drug test this time so that this stands as his first official UFC win. He styled on Damon Jackson and finished the deal with a fantastic bulldog choke. I already suggested a fight with Ferreira, so no need to repeat myself here.
Damon Jackson. It's a tough ask to move up a weight class to win a fight on a few day's notice, and Jackson was out of his depth here. I imagine he'll return to featherweight soon and face a lower-end opponent like Alan Omer.