UFC 206’s Biggest Winners

ufc-lando-vannata-vadapt-664-high-34With an entertaining UFC 206 behind us, there were many noteworthy performances which saw fighters’ stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers and what’s next for them. Kelvin Gastelum Overview: After missing weight for a fight at UFC 205, Kelvin Gastelum was forced to move up to middleweight. The UFC did him no favors by booking him against top 10 middleweight Tim Kennedy. Gastelum not only won the fight, but he did so in decisive fashion knocking out a very durable fighter. It was Gastelum’s movement and hand speed that gave Kennedy all sorts of problems. What’s Next: Gastelum wants to return to welterweight after this victory and there’s little doubt he can contend for the championship at welterweight. Gastelum has already beaten former champion Johny Hendricks and lost a three round split decision to current champion Tyron Woodley. The biggest issue for Gastelum is to consistently make weight. If he can do that at 170, I believe he will have an opportunity to fight for the championship by 2019. It seems like he may get one more shot at welterweight to prove that, otherwise he will be forced to fight at middleweight where size could potentially limit his ceiling. A matchup with Robbie Lawler would be an action packed fight and one that can work for both fighters.   Max Holloway Overview: Max Holloway has been in the UFC for close to five years. He’s made steady improvements from fight to fight and has become a force to be reckoned with.  After nine consecutive wins in the featherweight division, Holloway was given the opportunity to fight for the championship. In a matchup with former lightweight UFC champion Anthony Pettis, Holloway dominated a proven fighter from start to finish. His length and volume caused Pettis all sorts of problems. Holloway became the first fighter to ever finish the durable Pettis and stamped his name right at the top of the featherweight division. What’s Next: Max Holloway wasted no time and calling out Jose Aldo for a fight to unify the featherweight title in early 2017. It’s an incredibly intriguing fight as Holloway is a young, hungry fighter with a 10 fight winning streak poised to face the best featherweight in history. Holloway’s size and conditioning could provide Aldo problems he hasn’t had to face before.   Cub Swanson Overview: Cub Swanson was booked in a fight against Doo Ho Choi to provide a stern test for the fast rising featherweight. Many had thought he was on a steady decline and this was a great opportunity for the young “Super Boy” to earn a win over a high ranked opponent. Swanson went toe to toe with Choi in the striking game and put on one of the most entertaining fights in memory. Swanson had Choi hurt multiple times in the fight and won a deserved decision on the scorecards. It’s the type of victory that has Swanson top of mind again in what is becoming a stacked featherweight division. What’s Next: Swanson has faced nearly every top level fighter in the featherweight division, however Ricardo Lamas is a fighter he hasn’t faced in five years. Swanson lost to Lamas by submission in 2011, but given their place in the rankings it’s time for the two fighters to fight again. The winner of that bout would affirm their position within the top five of the division while giving time to a slew of rising featherweights (Mirsad Bektic, Brian Ortega, and Yair Rodriguez) to build their way up for more compelling fights.   Lando Vannata Overview: After an entertaining and competitive performance in defeat against lightweight contender Tony Ferguson, it was difficult to assess just how good Vannata was going to be in the UFC.  In a much different type of bout against John Makdessi, Vannata landed one of the best head kick knockouts one will ever see. His spinning kick was smooth, fast, and devastating. That knockout really puts Vannata on the map in the lightweight division. What’s Next: Vannata has now faced two fighters who are primarily strikers, so I think it’s critical to see how he’d perform against a fighter who excels as a grappler. Perhaps Dagestani lightweight Rustam Khabilov or Brazilian Gleison Tibau. A victory over either of those two fighters would give me belief that Vannata is a top 15 lightweight in the world.

Written by Jay Primetown

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