UFC Fight Night 104’s Biggest Winners

Korean ZombieWith UFC on Fight Night 104 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. Curtis Blaydes Overview: After Blaydes lost to Francis Ngannou in April 2016, it was unclear how he’d respond. In his next two fights, he put on an absolute clinic in strength and domination. He never gave latest opponent, Adam Milstead, an opportunity in this fight. He took him to the ground at will and completely controlled the fight for his second consecutive win inside the Octagon. What’s Next: Outside of Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes appears to be the best heavyweight prospect in the UFC. He’s already shown to have one of the best wrestling games in the UFC. Given his youth, size and athleticism, he’s poised to be a Top 10 heavyweight in the not so distant future. The next test for him is to beat a veteran. Former Bellator veteran Alexander Volkov could be that guy. Volkov has the size to stand and potentially strike with Blaydes, but at the same time, it’s a winnable fight for Blaydes. In order to develop a prospect, the best thing to do is give them a winnable fight, yet challenge the fighter in a new way. A fight with Volkov certainly does that. Chan Sung Jung Overview: Throughout UFC history, fighters have struggled coming off of long layoffs. Whether it’s coming off a bad injury, out of retirement, or simply ring rust, fighters have traditionally had difficulties in that first fight back. That’s what makes “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung’s performance even more remarkable. He not only beat a solid veteran in Dennis Bermudez, but did so in spectacularly with a knockout in the opening round. What’s Next: Korean Zombie’s first-round finish was the best possible scenario for the UFC. The world’s biggest MMA promotion has been looking to head back to Korea for an event, and having the nation’s most well-known MMA star return following a knockout win over a Top 10 opponent is great momentum to build a fight card. Look for the UFC to book Korean Zombie against number fourth-ranked featherweight Cub Swanson in Korea. A compelling fight pitting two fighters coming off exciting wins is a perfect fight to make, with the winner next booked in a No. 1 contender’s bout. Volkan Oezdemir Overview: The rather unheralded light heavyweight made his UFC debut and was tasked with fighting the sixth-ranked fighter in the division. He not only forced Ovince St. Preux into a stand-up fight but also outworked him for significant portions of the fight. While it was a very close fight, two judges believed Oezdemir did enough to earn a decision for easily the biggest win of his professional career. What’s Next: In what has become easily the shallowest division in the UFC, light heavyweight is desperate for new blood. While this fight may have been more about St. Preux’s flat performance, it’s important to be able to introduce new fighters into the weight class. Oezdemir’s victory over the sixth-ranked light heavyweight will likely see him ranked in the division’s Top 15 when introduced later in the week. I expect him to get another Top 15 fighter when that happens. Gian Villante seems like a perfect next step for him.

Written by Jay Primetown

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