The UFC returns this Saturday to the Apex in Las Vegas, where Anthony Smith battles Ryan Spann in a pivotal fight in the light heavyweight division. Here’s a look at who the winner of Saturday’s headliner could fight next.
Dominick Reyes (12-3)
Dominick Reyes knocks down the champ in round 1 😳#UFC247
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 9, 2020
Reyes is in the midst of the worst losing streak of his career, dropping his last three fights but has had arguably the toughest stretch of opponents in the UFC. The 31-year-old suffered his first career loss to Jon Jones at UFC 247 (in a title fight where many felt like Reyes won), current champion Jan Blachowicz and potential future champion Jiri Prochazka in his last fight. Not only is it a fresh matchup for both UFC Vegas 37 headliners, but it’s also a great style matchup with Reyes primarily loving to stand and trade. With Smith specifically, there has been a bit of beef between both sides for years and would make a very interesting matchup in the light heavyweight division.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir Winner (UFC 267)
Another great match-up added to already phenomenal #UFC267 card in Abu Dhabi on October 30th.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Magomed Ankalaev will now happen on that card. The fight was originally booked for September 4th. pic.twitter.com/WMOQfOur65
— Marcel Dorff 🇳🇱🇮🇩 (@BigMarcel24) August 24, 2021
Rankings-wise, this makes a ton of sense with Ankalaev #7 and Oezedmir #8 just behind Smith and a bit ahead of Spann. With an Ankalaev win, this would be a fresh matchup for both fighters and the Russian would be 16-1 with a win at UFC 267. Oezdemir would be a rematch for Smith when the pair fought at UFC Fight Night 138 in Oct. 2018. Many (including myself) felt like Oezdemir was winning that fight prior to getting submitted in the third round, so a rematch between the pair would be very interesting. Spann has never fought Oezdemir and style-wise, that would be a fun matchup as well.
Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker (UFC Vegas 39)
— Lewis Simpson (@LewisSimpsonMMA) June 15, 2021
The winner of this fight might make the most sense timing-wise, with the pair fighting two weeks after Smith vs. Spann. Now I know what you’re thinking, Walker and Spann both fought each other last year at UFC Vegas 11 (with Walker knocking Smith out) so that scenario likely won’t happen. But considering the pair are both betting underdogs in their respective matchups, I like those odds of that not happening. Should Santos and Smith both win, this would be a rematch when the pair fought at middleweight in Feb. 2018, where the Brazilian knocked out Smith in the second round at UFC Fight Night 125. Walker against Smith would be really fun and interesting, while Santos hasn’t fought Spann before either so there’s another fresh matchup. Rankings-wise, Santos is ranked #4 while Walker is ranked #10, so from that perspective it also makes sense.