UFC on ESPN 2 has come to a close, as the ESPN-televised fight card went down on Saturday (March 30, 2019) inside Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which saw Justin Gaethje knockout Edson Barboza in the headlining act (see it again here). In the co-main event, Jack Hermansson made quick work of David Branch, while Josh Emmett pulled off a come-from-behind knockout win over Michael Johnson.
Winner: Justin Gaethje
Who He Should Fight Next: Anthony Pettis
After knocking out Stephen Thompson in his Welterweight debut last week (video here), Pettis took the opportunity to call out the winner of Gaethje vs. Barboza, stating that he still has plenty of work left to do at 155 pounds despite his recent move up to 170. And I’m digging the fight. Sure, “The Highlight” didn’t show much interest in the request from “Showtime,” saying he’s eying a rematch against Dustin Poirier.
The problem is that “The Diamond” has his eyes on bigger things as he is currently lined up to face Featherweight king, Max Holloway, for the interim lightweight title on April 13. While they take care of business, I’d love to see Gaethje accept Anthony’s challenge in what is sure to be another exciting affair.
Winner: Jack Hermansson
Who He Should Fight Next: Brad Tavares
It’s going on almost a year since Tavares last competed, losing to Israel Adesanya in July of 2018. Since Jack made quick work of Branch, he should be good to mount a quick return if Tavares is up for the challenge.
Ranked at No. 10, Brad — the longtime UFC vet — will be a tough out for Hermansson, who is slowly plucking away at a potential spot in the top 10. With his win over Branch, Jack should be getting lined up against high-caliber foes moving forward, and Tavares fits the bill perfectly.
Winner: Josh Emmett
Who He Should Fight Next: Yair Rodriguez
After knocking out Michael Johnson with a one-hitter quitter (see it here), Josh reminded everyone that he is a legit threat to any 145-pounder in the game today after being out of action for almost a year.
Up next for Josh should be a showdown against someone like Yair. “El Pantera” was last seen pulling out his own come-from-behind knockout win, sleeping Chan Sung Jung in the final second of their headlining fight last November (relive it here). Both men are eager to climb the Featherweight mountain, and a victory here could go a long way in helping them reach that goal.
Winner: Michelle Waterson
Who She Should Face Next: Suarez vs Ansaroff winner
Waterson has now won three in a row, her longest winning streak inside the Octagon since making her UFC debut in 2016. After her win over Karolina Kolwalkiewicz, “Karate Hottie” took her chance to call for a shot at the title.
The problem is, there are several other contenders who might be a bit more deserving at the moment, specifically undefeated (7-0, 4-0 UFC) sensation Tatiana Suarez. Tatiana is lined up to face off against Nina Ansaroff, who has also made a championship push as of late (at UFC 238 this June). Depending how things play out for her until then, and the result of Rosa Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade at UFC 237, Waterson could be in line to face either Suarez or Nina later this year.
Winner: Paul Craig
Who He Should Fight Next: Misha Cirkunov
Yes, Misha is coming off a knockout loss to Johnny Walker, but he is ranked in the top 15 while Craig is trying to finally nab a spot on the official UFC rankings. Craig looked great in his win over Kennedy Nzechukwu, so winning back-to-back fights — something he hasn’t done since 2016 — would be a good boost for his career.
Winner: Sodiq Yusuff
Who He Should Face Next: Kron Gracie
After defeating Sheyman Moraes, Sodiq called for a fight against Kron Gracie. And I really don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be made. Kron made a successful UFC debut by submitting Alex Caceres rather easily in February.
While Gracie carries the legendary name, he isn’t primed to be facing the cream of the crop just yet at 5-0. He needs to work his way up, and along the way defeat rising contenders. Sodiq, meanwhile, moved to 2-0 inside the Octagon and has won his last four fights. Both men seem to be poised for potential UFC stardom, so why not book them to tango to see who indeed is the real deal?
For UFC on ESPN 2 results, including play-by-play, click here.