Here are the opponents we think should be next for the winners at UFC Vegas 19.
UFC Vegas 19 stuck to the theme of fights ending inside the distance, and the main event was no exception. Derrick Lewis, a +325 betting underdog, viciously knocked out opponent Curtis Blaydes 80 seconds into round two, further proving that he is one of the hardest punchers to ever compete in the UFC. The event also saw standout performances from heavyweight prospects Chris Daukaus and Tom Aspinall, both upending longtime veterans of the sport in Aleksei Oleinik and Andrei Arlovski.
Now that the event is over and the bonuses have been handed out, let’s take a look at what’s next for the winners from Saturday’s main card.
Potential next opponents for the UFC Vegas 19 main card winners
Next Opponent: Winner of Rozenstruik vs. Gane
Derrick Lewis will shut your lights off if he connects. After defending a single leg takedown from Blaydes and seemingly waiting for the right shot, Lewis hit Blaydes with an uppercut as he came in for a takedown. Blaydes immediately went stiff and crashed to the canvas, where he was met by a few brutal follow-up punches from Lewis. One of the biggest main event upsets in recent history in terms of betting odds.
With the win, Lewis moves into a tie with Vitor Belfort for most knockouts in UFC history with 12. The victory does move Lewis closer to another title shot, but not by much. Miocic and Ngannou still have to fight at UFC 260 in March, and with Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight, it seems pretty clear that he will fight the winner of that fight later this year. This leaves Lewis in an awkward position, and while he did mention his desire to fight Alistair Overeem next, that bout just doesn’t make sense. Overeem is coming off a knockout loss to Volkov, and Lewis will likely be No. 2 in the rankings come next week. If Lewis wants to remain active while the title situation plays itself out, a meeting with the winner of Rozenstruik vs. Gane makes a lot of sense. Lewis, who has fought just about everyone at heavyweight, would be presented a fresh matchup no matter who wins that one, and the winner would certainly deserve a higher ranked opponent.
Next Opponent: Irene Aldana
Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya has once again moved herself up the ladder at 135 pounds with a unanimous decision victory over No. 6 Ketlen Vieira. Kunitskaya got the nod from the judges after inflicting enough damage to Vieira, even opening up a nasty cut on the face of the Brazilian. With the UFC having now booked Holly Holm vs. Julianna Pena and Kunitskaya already having a loss to No. 3 Aspen Ladd, the next logical fight for her would be Irene Aldana. Aldana is the fourth-ranked women’s bantamweight in the world and is coming off a hard-fought loss to Holm in October. Both women now have victories over Vieira and need a few wins to earn a title shot against champion Amanda Nunes.
Next Opponent: Jared Gordon
Featherweight Darrick Minner proved that his last victory was not a fluke and that he really is just that good. Some had thought that his 2020 submission victory over highly-touted prospect T.J. Laramie was a bit lucky, but Minner showed he has what it takes to succeed in the UFC.
Minner defeated Charles Rosa via lopsided unanimous decision after three rounds of out-grappling and out-striking him. Minner frequently tried to lock up submissions throughout the 15 minute bout, but Rosa himself is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has never been submitted in his professional career. As for what’s next for Minner, there are plenty of options in the UFC’s stacked featherweight division. A bout that could be fun is Minner vs. Jared Gordon. Gordon competed earlier on the card and grabbed a dominant win over Danny Chavez.
Next Opponent: Marcin Tybura
That’s now three wins in a row for the Philadelphia police officer, and come next week, he’ll have a number next to his name. Daukaus put on a striking clinic in his bout against No. 10 Oleinik, pressuring the 43-year-old with constant output that eventually lead to a standing TKO. With the positive result comes a higher class of opponent for Daukaus’ next bout, and while he has just beaten a top-10 guy, it doesn’t seem likely that the UFC will throw him into a fight with the likes of Lewis or Overeem. A fight with someone like Marcin Tybura could be a viable option. Tybura is 4-0 in his last four bouts, which all occurred in 2020, and is due for a higher ranked opponent soon. If Daukaus can put away a streaking fighter like Tybura, he’ll only be able to go up from there.
Next Opponent: Dalcha Lungiambula
Although he almost lost it at the end, Hawes was able to grab a majority decision victory over opponent Nassourdine Imavov. Hawes stuck to a relatively wrestling-heavy game plan over three rounds, taking down Imavov multiple times while landing some solid shots in-between. Imavov landed some powerful shots that had Hawes on wobbly legs in round three, but never enough to put him away and steal the fight late. With the win, Hawes improves his UFC record to 2-0 and sets himself up for a solid opponent in his next outing. Someone like Dalcha Lungiambula would present an interesting matchup. Lungiambula is 2-1 in the UFC and made a successful middleweight debut with a decision win over Markus Perez in January. Both fighters have heavy hands and it’s one fans would surely want to see.
Next Opponent: Serghei Spivac
Even though he wasn’t able to finish Arlovski on the feet in round one, Aspinall was able to get it done on the mat in round two, submitting the former heavyweight champion via rear naked choke. Aspinall landed a barrage of punches when he had his opponent up against the fence in the first, but Arlovski was able to survive and see out the round. The Team Kaobon product eventually rushed at Arlovski, took him down, and then submitted him all in a matter of seconds to get the win. That’s now three UFC wins in three fights for the Englishman, and he’s due for a step up in competition. Fellow heavyweight Serghei Spivac competed on the preliminary portion of UFC Vegas 19, and a matchup between these two makes sense for both sides. Spivac also won via stoppage, is 3-2 in the promotion and is actually a year younger than Aspinall. If the fight is set up for later on this year, the winner would most likely be in line for a top-15 opponent next. Aspinall looks very promising, but there is no need to rush him into anything big at the moment.