The final UFC event of 2022 has come and gone. UFC Vegas 66 was a triumphant night for some, a frustrating one for others, and there were definite ramifications for several sectors in the promotion.
Sean Strickland came out on top in the main event against Jared Cannonier and later slammed the judges (more on that later), while Bobby Bobby Green was stopped by a heavy punch from Drew Dober. What’s next for those two key players and the rest of the Warriors who underperformed Saturday? Let’s take a closer look.
It’s been two fights in a row now, and Strickland’s bite doesn’t match his bark. That’s the danger of promoting yourself as a loose cannon: if you’re going to make wild, funny, outlandish statements, you need to back them up. In other words, the level of craziness outside the cage needs to match inside the cage. In July, ahead of UFC 276, Strickland stole the show during his pre-fight press conference, Chatting with then-champion Israel Adesanyathen stood in front of Alex Pereira and devised a convoluted game plan (or lack thereof) that resulted in a one-round knockout.
Prior to UFC Vegas 66, Strickland’s frenzy was more media-oriented in nature, so the loss didn’t sting that much. It’s easy to make fun of the media library; we need to come across as professional, not up against caged fighters.Other than that, Strickland didn’t have a bad fight in a loss to Jared Cannonier at UFC Vegas 66, but Failing to heed the advice of one’s own cornerwhich got him into trouble.
Neither loss by itself is that important, as the two go back to back.Strickland keep blaming the judge, not surprising after the Doug Crosby fiasco a week earlier. But that handy scapegoat won’t produce any milk this time: Cannonier’s score against Strickland isn’t bad. It’s just a close fight.
What Strickland needs most now is to earn a famous name. He’s gone 1-2 in the main event, and if he’s going to keep doing that, you’ve got to win more than you lose. He’s been doing that until recently, so he’s clearly talented. The question is, what happens next? Darren Till lost another one recently, and Strickland vs. Till will be interesting — but Till may be on the sidelines for a while. With Nassourdine Imavov fighting Kelvin Gastelum on the first UFC card in 2023, the loser could be an option — as after two losses, Strickland will likely fight in that division anyway.
Strickland’s Next Fight: Imavov vs. Gastelum Loser
Arman Tsarukyan received a lot of praise after his UFC Vegas 66 co-main event opponent Damir Ismagulov’s lightweight fight. It was very sporty for him, but the fact remains that Ismagurov lost one-sidedly, his first setback in the UFC so far.
Thus ended the former M-1 champion’s 19-game winning streak. At 31, he still has a few good years to go, and he’s likely to remain in the top 15 in the class (Ismagulov is currently No. 12).
Next, the fight with Grant Dawson makes sense. He’s No. 14 and, like Ismagulov before Saturday, has never lost in the UFC. Dawson last played in November and doesn’t appear to be scheduled; March or April sounds good.
Imagulov’s Next Fight: Grant Dawson
Alessandro Costa’s fight against Amir Albazi at UFC Vegas 66 didn’t last long, but that’s beside the point. Costa showed up in short order and put on weight. In these situations, that’s really a requirement for any fighter. A win would have been icing on the cake, but Costa is now on the doorstep, having been denied a UFC deal despite his Contenders win.
Costa’s next should be a rookie, or someone who has only recently entered the promotion. Carlos Candelario is 0-2 with the organization and last fought in November. He’s in a must-win situation; the winner here gets their first UFC victory.
Costa’s next game: Carlos Candelario
“Juicy J” has become popular among fans in recent years, but he will always be part of Alex Caceres’ highlights after Saturday’s perfect header KO.
Ouch. The loss ended a three-game winning streak and Erosa is expected to get back on track after a break.
Alexander Hernandez recently lost to Billy Quantilo in her featherweight return. Hernandez is 5-5 in the UFC. Erosa is 6-6. Both shrugged off losses in December. One of those talents returns to their winning ways in the spring of 2023.
Erosa’s next fight: Alexander Hernandez
Bobby Green had a solid first-round fight against Drew Dober at UFC Vegas 66 with a solid performance. Then came a well-timed knockout that saw him go down in the second round. In the one-inch game, Green was a little off.
It was two straight losses for Green, but losses to Dober and current champion Islam Mahachev in extremely short order are nothing to be ashamed of. He should still have a pretty big name next — and the question becomes, who fits Green hasn’t played yet?
We’re leaving this one: Tony Ferguson. “El Cucuy” has lost five games in a row. He’s somehow kept his No. 15 ranking, but hasn’t actually won since 2019. This match felt like an interesting fight for one to win and was high-profile enough to be a co-main event. The conversation before and during the fight can be crazy.
Green’s next fight: Tony Ferguson
At UFC Vegas 66, Cody Brundage replaced Albert Duraev against Michal Oleksiejczuk. The move didn’t pay off. Brundage was stopped in Game 1, the victim of a violent KO that ended a two-game winning streak.
Brundage is now 2-2 through and could be a good foil for “Ugly Joe” Joseph Holmes. He is recovering from a late October loss.
Brundage’s next fight: Joseph Holmes