After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next.
And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on ESPN+ 21’s most noteworthy winning fighters.
Those winners include Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC), who defeated Calvin Kattar (20-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) by unanimous decision in the main event at CSKA Arena in Moscow, as well as Alexander Volkov (31-7 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and Rustam Khabilov (24-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC).
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Should fight: Belal Muhammad
Why they should fight: Khabilov was dominant in his welterweight debut when he used his superior grappling game to shut down Sergey Khandozhko en route to a clear unanimous decision win.
After flirting with the top 15 in the lightweight division for years, Khabilov decided to make a change and move up. His skillset appears to transfer to 170 pounds quite smoothly, because he was able to wear down a big, strong opponent. Khandozhko is unproven at the UFC level, though, so it would be good to see Khabilov get a sterner test to see if he’s a real threat at welterweight.
Muhammad (16-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) has been putting solid work in the division in recent years, winning six of his past seven fights. No one in that stretch has a style as grappling-oriented as Khabilov, though, and it’s a stylistic test that wu
Anthony Rocco Martin
Should fight: Niko Price
Why they should fight: After experiencing his first welterweight loss against Demian Maia in his previous outing, Martin got back on track when he outworked Ramazan Emeev to a unanimous decision.
It wasn’t the flashiest affair for Martin, but he went into enemy territory and beat a Russian fighter, which should serve as a feather in his cap regardless of how it unfolded. It was clearly an emotional win, too, because afterward Martin dedicated the fight to his mother, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
With a 5-1 record in the UFC at 170 pounds, Martin is in position to get another notable fight. It might not be quite the level of Maia, but it should be an opponent with name recognition, and Price (14-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has that to his credit. “Hybrid” is quickly becoming known as one of the most exciting fighters in the division, and his style matched against Martin would make for another potential highlight-reel moment.
Should fight: Junior Dos Santos
Why they should fight: Volkov took care of business with a unanimous decision win against late replacement opponent Hardy and got his first win in 20 months. Now the Russian is once again a factor in the heavyweight division.
Volkov was originally scheduled to fight Dos Santos (21-6 MMA, 15-5 UFC) in the main event, but the Brazilian had to pull out of the fight due to a grotesque leg issue that required an intensive surgery. It’s not expected to keep him out long, though, and once he’s healthy, there’s a fight waiting for him.
Given the divisional landscape it makes sense to put that fight together. It’s clear Volkov agrees – he called out Dos Santos post-fight.
Should fight: Yair Rodriguez
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Magomedsharipov should fight Rodriguez (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) next.