Fight week has officially ended after the UFC successfully put on three events in a matter of seven days. Fans were treated to many entertaining bouts that saw the rise and fall of several fighters and gave birth to new stars and future contenders. With the conclusion of fight week and June right around the corner, let us look at some of the most interesting fights the UFC can put on as we head into June!
Stephen Thompson vs Leon Edwards:
The welterweight division of the UFC continues to be one of the most competitive and talented divisions of the UFC as we head into the second half of 2020. With Tyron Woodley scheduled to face Gilbert Burns on the final weekend of May and Colby Covington refusing to fight anyone besides Kamaru Usman or Tyron Woodley, there are few fights to make in the ultra-competitive division that boasts some of the most prominent names in mixed martial arts today. As a result, a top five bout between Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards makes all the sense in the world.
Edwards is currently sitting at #4 in the rankings and is currently riding an eight-fight win streak which includes names such as Donald Cerrone, Vicente Luque and Rafael dos Anjos. The quiet Edwards has faced everyone the UFC has put in front of him and performed in spectacular fashion while establishing himself as a candidate for UFC gold simultaneously. The southpaw striker likes to pepper his opponents with jabs and straight lefts before using his wrestling to take the fight to ground and inflict further damage. Some of Edwards most effective weapons are his straight left and left kick which he throws to his opponents’ leg, body and head keeping them constantly guessing.
Even at 37, Stephen Thompson is the type of fighter you need to beat to prove you are ready for that title shot. The #5 ranked UFC welterweight has fought for the belt twice and shared the octagon with most of the top welterweights on the UFC roster. Thompson is coming off a masterful performance where he effectively out struck Vicente Luque with two broken hands back in November of 2019. The flashy and always exciting striker has the ability to the defeat anyone at welterweight due to his unorthodox movement, crafty striking and stellar cardio.
Although Edwards was scheduled to face Woodley back in March of 2020, fighting Thompson is the next best thing for the surging welterweight contender. A bout between these two tacticians will deliver one of the most high-level bouts in mixed martial arts and set the winner up for a top three opponent.
Glover Teixeira vs Thiago Santos:
If you were one of the folks watching Glover Teixeira throw down with Anthony Smith last Wednesday, you probably watched the first couple rounds thinking is it only a matter of time until Smith puts Teixeira away. Instead, fans were treated to one of the most impressive performances of the week that witnessed Teixeira effectively revive his career with a fifth round TKO stoppage of the #4 light heavyweight contender Smith. After a slow start, Teixeira found his range and blasted Smith with countless vicious shots while avoiding any return fire that Smith was attempting to fire off. The 40-year-old Teixeira has quietly compiled a four-fight win streak and will no doubt improve his current #8 ranking once the official rankings are updated. The big question? Who should Teixeira face next? Answer: Thiago Santos.
After a performance like that, Teixeira deserves a big fight that can put him in line for possible title contention. The quickest and most entertaining way the UFC can do so is a showdown with the #2 ranked Thiago Santos who is coming off a closely contested split decision loss to current champion Jon Jones. Santos is one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC today due to his thunderous power and willingness to throw hands with anyone who stands across him in the octagon. The 36-year-old former title challenger averages 4.44 significant strikers per minute and a 1.25 knockdown ration per bout making him incredibly dangerous for any top light heavyweight contender.
Booking Santos and Teixeira makes total sense as the two top light heavyweights combine for 33 knockout victories and boast some of the most hard-hitting punches in mixed martial today. This is one of the most fan friendly matchups the UFC can opt to make, and the winner will move one step closer to another chance at UFC gold.
Drew Dober vs Al Iaquinta:
Drew Dober is on fire, plain and simple. The 31-year-old Nebraska native has recently found his stride and compiled an 8-2 record since 2016. Dober is coming off an impressive second round TKO over Alexander Hernandez which will no doubt add a ranking next to his name in the coming days. Dober overcame adversity in round one against Hernandez as he continued to try and find a home for his powerful left hook. Dober’s persistence paid off in round two where he hobbled Hernandez with a powerful left hook and continued his attack until he earned himself a TKO at 4:25 of the second round. There is not much else to say about the newly established lightweight contender except that he deserves a top 10 opponent.
I miss Al Iaquinta. It was a little over two years ago where the no sense New Yorker took on current UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on 24 hours’ notice and went the distance! The #8 ranked Iaquinta has had a rough going in his last two performances where he has suffered back to back unanimous decision losses to Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker. Still, Iaquinta is one of the most entertaining lightweights on the UFC roster and has proven his ability to stand and bang with anyone the UFC has put in front of him.
A fight between Dober and Iaquinta is going to happen, mark my words. Both give off that Pitbull vibe who fear no opponent and are willing to fight as often as possible. Dober needs a top 10 opponent and Iaquinta needs a return fight that makes sense after compiling a 1-3 record in his last four UFC appearances. Match two of the toughest lightweights in the world together and get ready for an all-out stand-up war!
Ryan Hall vs Bryce Mitchell:
The thought of the Ryan Hall and Bryce Mitchell locked in an epic chess match on the ground literally gives me goosebumps. After a masterful performance against Charles Rosa that ended in total domination, Bryce Mitchell has easily earned himself a top 15 opponent at featherweight. The undefeated BJJ ace is 4-0 in the UFC and quickly established himself as a fan favorite due to his stellar ground game and likable personality. Ryan Hall is one of the most accomplished and decorated grapplers on the UFC roster and has collected nine gold medals throughout his BJJ/grappling career. Hall has been lobbying for an opponent willing to fight him for over a year now and his most recent booking against Ricardo Lamas has been postponed/cancelled.
I want to see these two on the ground, pretty please. Both are incredible on the ground and the high-level exchanges fans will get to see will be an incredibly rare treat. Hall is currently ranked #13 in the UFC featherweight rankings which gives Mitchell the opportunity to fight a ranked opponent while giving the UFC the opportunity to book one of the most intriguing matchups at featherweight today!
Andrew is a lifelong follower of combat sports. His passion began as a child and has only grown as an adult. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University and a master’s from Texas A & M University. Outside of combat sports, Andrew currently works as a program manager for an aerospace manufacturing company. He has trained Muay Thai for seven years and continues to spar and train on the weekends when time permits.