June 21, 2024
5 Fights We Need to See After UFC Fight Night 221 | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

5 Fights We Need to See After UFC Fight Night 221

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Merab Dvalishvili defeats Petr Yan by unanimous decision.

Merab Dvalishvili defeats Petr Yan by unanimous decision. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC Fight Night 221 went down on Saturday night in Las Vegas, and it was pretty stacked compared to many of the events the promotion hosts at its APEX facility.

Headlining honors went to a high-stakes bantamweight showdown, with No. 2 contender Petr Yan locking horns with the third-ranked Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili won the fight with a game plan that hinged on non-stop aggression, shooting for a record 49 takedowns and throwing 338 significant strikes over the course of five rounds, per UFCStats.com.

The co-main event also had major rankings implications, as No. 8 heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov picked up an effortless first-round TKO victory over No. 14-ranked contender Alexandr Romanov.

Earlier on the card, Nikita Krylov, the UFC’s seventh-ranked light heavyweight, picked up a first-round win of his own, choking Ryan Spann out with a guillotine choke.

Rising flyweight Bruno Silva also posted a huge win on the card, dropping No. 15-ranked contender Tyson Nam with a front kick to the face, then finishing him off with a rear-naked choke.

It was the kind of card that opened the door to some great fights—some obvious, others not. Keep scrolling for the matchups we’re hoping to see when the dust has settled.

Merab Dvalishvili vs. Sean O’Malley

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Merab Dvalishvili punches Petr Yan.

Merab Dvalishvili punches Petr Yan. Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By beating Petr Yan in the UFC Fight Night 221 main event, Merab Dvalishvili became one of the top contenders in the promotion’s jam-packed bantamweight division. There’s just one problem: he’s a close friend and training partner of the reigning champion Aljamain Sterling, and both men have made it clear they have no intention of fighting the other.

Things could work out well for Dvalishvili if Sterling is beaten by former champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 this May, but that is far from a certainty. That fight is also still almost two months away, and it will be much longer than that before Sterling or Cejudo is ready to fight again, so Dvalishvili will most likely take another fight in the meantime.

The good news is that there’s a pretty obvious choice for his next opponent: No. 1 contender Sean O’Malley.

O’Malley, arguably the division’s sharpest striker, is also riding a decision win over Yan and was left out in the cold when the UFC decided to grant the next bantamweight title shot to Cejudo.

A fight with Dvalishvili seems like a great option for him, too, given the circumstances, and the winner would be absolutely undeniable for a title shot.

Petr Yan vs. Font-Yanez winner

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: (L-R) Merab Dvalishvili controls the body of Petr Yan in their Bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night: Yan vs. Dvalishvili event at The Theater at Virgin Hotels on March 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, USA. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With his loss to Merab Dvalishvili in the UFC Fight Night 221 main event, Petr Yan is now on a two-fight skid. However, both of his recent losses have been competitive, so it should only take another win or two for him to get back into contention.

Our pick for his next opponent is the winner of Rob Font and Adrian Yanez’s upcoming fight, which is set for UFC 287 on April 8. Font and Yanez are ranked No. 6 and 12 at bantamweight, respectively, so the winner of their fight will be well-positioned for a showdown with a big name like Yan.

The real appeal of this fight, though, is that all three men are among the best boxers in the UFC bantamweight division. So no matter which matchup we get, we’re probably in for some entertaining action with a high possibility of a knockout.

Alexander Volkov vs. Serghei Spivac

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Alexander Volkov beats Alexandr Romanov by TKO.

Alexander Volkov beats Alexandr Romanov by TKO. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

No. 8-ranked heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov defended his spot at UFC Fight Night 221, picking up a quick win over Moldova’s Alexandr Romanov, who is ranked No. 14 in the division.

From here, it’s pretty obvious who he should fight next: another Moldovan contender in Serghei Spivac.

Spivac is ranked one spot ahead of Volkov, at No. 8, so the fight makes sense from a rankings standpoint.

The real appeal of the fight, though, is that Spivac is one of the few heavyweight contenders available for Volkov. Most other fighters near the Russian in the rankings are either booked, like Curtis Blaydes, or recovering from punishing losses, like Tai Tuivasa.

It’s a good, winnable fight for both men on paper, and it would be hard to deny the winner a top-five opponent.

Nikita Krylov vs. Jan Błachowicz

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Nikita Krylov

Nikita KrylovChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

No. 7 light heavyweight contender Nikita Krylov finds himself in a similar position to Alexander Volkov after UFC Fight Night 221.

After beating Ryan Spann with a first-round choke, he is ready for a step up but short on options. In fact, the only men ranked above him who are not booked or recovering from injuries are Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Błachowicz, who battled to a split draw last December.

Krylov has lost to both men. He lost a decision to Ankalaev, ranked No. 2, in 2021, and was submitted by the No. 3-ranked former champ Błachowicz in 2018.

Given that his loss to Błachowicz was much longer ago, there’s far greater reason to believe a rematch between them would unfold differently—they’ve just had more time to evolve since they first met.

A fight with Ankalaev is also a bigger step up in the rankings—arguably a bigger step than Krylov, who is maddeningly inconsistent, actually deserves. So a fight with Błachowicz is probably the better choice.

Bruno Silva vs. Tagir Ulanbekov

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Bruno Silva kicks Tyson Nam

Bruno Silva kicks Tyson NamChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

In terms of pure spectacle, Brazilian flyweight Bruno Silva probably had the best win of the whole UFC Fight Night 221 card, as he dropped No. 15 contender Tyson Nam with a front kick, then choked him out on the mat.

The undeniably brutal win has earned Silva a spot in the flyweight top 15, where a host of high-stakes matchups await him.

Our pick for his next opponent is No. 14 contender Tagir Ulanbekov, who is riding a similarly impressive submission win over Nate Maness.

It’s a great fight on paper, and the winner would make a big leap up the rankings.