With a surprisingly entertaining Fight Night 101 event, there were many noteworthy performances which saw many fighters stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers and what’s next for them. Ben Nguyen Overview: It’s always difficult to assess how a fighter will respond after taking a hellacious beating in his or her’s previous fight. For Ben Nguyen, it was going to say a lot about his career prospects how responded in his UFC Fight Night 101 fight with Geane Herrera. Nguyen fought an excellent fight from start to finish. He showed improvements in his stand up giving Herrera all sorts of different looks to throw him up. Nguyen was able to land from both southpaw and orthodox battering his opponent. He fought a tremendous pace for all three rounds landing between 30 and 39 strikes in each round for a whopping 105 significant strikes landed in a clear decision win. What’s Next: This was a great bounce back effort from Nguyen. The 15th ranked flyweight is now 3-1 in the UFC. His striking heavy approach from both southpaw and orthodox stances makes him a tough matchup for most fighters in the UFC. A good next step would be a fight with John Moraga. Despite Moraga coming off two straight losses, he’s currently ranked 9th in the division. A win Nguyen victory would move him into the top ten of the weight class, meanwhile a Moraga victory would solidify his position in the UFC. Nguyen had trouble defending submissions in his bout with Smolka, so I’d like to see how he does against Moraga who has a very good guillotine. Alex Volkanovski Overview: It’s not often that an intriguing Australian prospect emerges, but Alex Volkanovski certainly fits the bill. A former Australian national champion in both wrestling and jiu-jitsu, Volkanovski certainly showed his ground prowess in his debut fight against Yusuke Kasuya. Volkanovski’s high level pace and strength gave Kasuya all sorts of problems. In top control, Volkanovski dominated the fight with some of the best ground and pound I’ve seen in a long time. Volkanovski was able to finish the fight in the second round with a ground and pound win to the delight of the Australian crowd. What’s Next: Volkanovski said it best in his post-fight interview saying he’s just about the smallest lightweight in the division. He knows he needs to drop down in weight to be successful long term. At featherweight, his strength should be even a bigger advantage. For a market that is desperate for marketable fighters, Volkanovski has charisma and a style that can be successful in the UFC. Assuming he drops down to featherweight, a matchup with Charles Rosa would be a good start. Facing a high energy fighter with a good submission game is a solid first step to see just how good he is at this point in time. Robert Whittaker Overview: Easily the top performance of UFC Fight Night 101 card was by New Zealand middleweight Robert Whittaker. In what was a closely lined contest, Whittaker put in a Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night performance against Derek Brunson. This fight was a barn burner from start to finish. Each fighter had their opponent in trouble at some point, but was the difference was Whittaker defending the takedown attempts and catching Brunson with regularity on the counter. Whittaker feasted on Brunson’s desperation finding a TKO victory near the end of the first round for the biggest win of his career. What’s Next: With this victory, Whittaker has now solidified himself as a top middleweight just outside the likes of Michael Bisping, Jacare, Luke Rockhold, and Yoel Romero. With six straight victories (five of which are at middleweight), Whittaker has earned himself a marquee fight and is at most two fights away from a title opportunity. With Bisping and Romero likely to clash in early 2017, whomever is the odd man out of Jacare, Mousasi, and Rockhold should be Whittaker’s next opponent. Any opponent outside of that elite group would be taking a step backwards, not forward, for the surging New Zealand middleweight.