Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Kelvin Gastelum and UFC Fight Night 122’s other winning fighters?
UFC Fight Night 122 took place Saturday, and the four-fight main card from Mercedes-Benz Arena, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass, has to be deemed a success.Three of the four bouts on the main card ended inside the distance, but no win was more emphatic than the main event in which Kelvin Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) put away former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC) with strikes inside the first round.
Prior to Gastelum’s win, Chinese fighters Li Jingliang (14-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Wang Guan (17-1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) put on impressive performances, while Alex Garcia (15-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) opened the main card with a submission finish.
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 Fight Night 122’s winning fighters.
Should fight: Peter Sobotta
Why they should fight: Garcia is pushing for a quick turnaround, ideally at UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg in December, after his upset submission win over touted promotional newcomer Muslim Salikhov.
Garcia spoiled Salikhov’s octagon debut with a second-round submission to help him bounce back from a loss in his previous bout. Garcia has alternated wins and losses over his past seven contests, and until he bucks that trend, he’s not going to be able to move up much in the welterweight pecking order.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of credible competition on the same level as Garcia at this time. Sobotta (17-5-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC), who is on a solid 4-1 run since returning to the UFC for a second stint more than three years ago, is well rounded and dangerous. His style meshes with Garcia’s powerful approach and the winner would be sitting in a good spot at 170 pounds.
Should fight: Chas Skelly
Why they should fight: Guan showed why there was a lot of discussion and excitement around his UFC debut when he put his powerful hands on display over three rounds to take a unanimous decision over Alex Caceres.
Although he came close on multiple occasions, Guan couldn’t finish the featherweight fight. He still put a beating on an 18-fight UFC veteran in Caceres over three rounds, though, and that’s certainly not a bad look for an octagon debut.
With just one loss thus far in his 19-fight career, Guan has the style and poise which would make him a compelling matchup for many featherweights. It’s too soon for him to be fighting the biggest names at 145 pounds, but another notable, established member of the UFC roster like Skelly (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) would be helpful in further marking his UFC presense.
Should fight: Alan Jouban
Why they should fight: The most successful Chinese fighter in UFC history continued to roll when Jingliang extended his winning streak to four fights with a second-round TKO of Zak Ottow.
Jingliang’s run has been impressive to watch, and it’s clear “The Leech” is adding to his skillset and gaining confidence with every bout. He’s a sturdy, powerful welterweight who is not going to be an easy out for anyone, but now it’s time to find out where he stacks up against a more honest level of competition.
Jouban (15-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) might be coming off a pair of losses, but he’s shared the octagon with some of the best at 170 pounds. His size and length would be a difficult matchup for Jingliang, but if he could continue of his run of success through Jouban, he would be in position to start getting contender fights in his division.
Should fight: Ronaldo Souza
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Gastelum should fight “Jacare” Souza (24-5 MMA, 7-2 UFC) next