The submission heavy UFC Fight Night 62 is in the books and with its conclusion comes a bevvy of new UFC storylines. In the night’s main event, Demian Maia returned from a year long lay-off and smothered the rising Ryan LaFlare en-route to a unanimous decision victory. In other action on the card Brazilians Leo Santos, Godofredo Pepey, and Erick Silva all impressed with savvy submission victories. What should be next for Maia and the rest of the night’s big winners? Take a look below for a full breakdown.
Outside of a lackluster fifth round against Ryan LaFlare, Demian Maia looked like the man we saw dominate the likes of Jon Fitch and Rick Story. Maia was able to take LaFlare down over and over again and nearly locked up a fight ending arm-triangle in the fourth round. The performance, while impressive, lacked the emphatic nature that we’ve seen in recent victories by the welterweight division’s elite fighters. That leaves Maia on the outside looking in with regards to a title shot. In his next bout, Maia needs to take a significant step-up from LaFlare and I believe that will come against number eleven ranked Jake Ellenberger.
How many times can a hype train be resuscitated? In the case of Erick Silva, it seems like it’s as many times as deemed necessary. The hot and cold welterweight prospect finally picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in the UFC with a first round submission over late-replacement Josh Koscheck. Silva once again looked great over a mid-tier fighter, but he can never be considered elite until he finally defeats a top of the line welterweight. As shown in his losses to Matt Brown, Dong Hyun-Kim, and Jon Fitch, Silva tends to come up extremely short against the upper tier welterweights. Because of that, I cannot see Silva getting a top ten opponent in his next bout. A bout with Rick Story is a much better fit for the thirty year old.
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 winner Leo Santos continued his undefeated streak in the Octagon with a second round rear-naked choke of Tony Martin. Santos looked a bit tentative in round one, but once the bout hit the mat in round two he showed why he is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the lightweight division by quickly mounting his opponent before taking his back and locking in the fight ending submission. Santos needs to stay active as he does not have much time left in his career at the age of thirty-six. A bout against fellow UFC Fight Night 62 winner Francisco Trinaldo would be a logical step forward for Santos.
Amanda Nunes did exactly what was expected of her at UFC Fight Night 62, dispatching Shayna Baszler just one minute and fifty-six seconds into round one with a brutal leg kick. A fearsome striker, Nunes could pose an interesting challenge for current UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey if she is able to string together multiple victories. With the current lack of challengers for Rousey’s belt, Nunes should get a rematch with Alexis Davis in what could prove to be a bout that gets the Brazilian title shot with a win.
Brazilian super-prospect Gilbert Burns was nearly derailed at UFC Fight Night 62 by Alex Oliveira. Oliveira was easily up two rounds to nothing before Burns locked up a fight ending armbar with just forty-six seconds left in the fight. Burns was originally scheduled to take on Josh Thomson at the event before an injury removed the former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion from the bout. While many may have soured on Burns’ talents after the come-from-behind victory, I think that the bout with Thomson should be re-booked for the Brazilians’ next outing.
Godofredo Pepey seemed to be destined for UFC purgatory after four fights inside the Octagon. The Ultimate Fighter Brazil runner-up was just 1-3 and didn’t inspire much gusto with his performances. Since then, Pepey has finished three straight fights culminating in his UFC Fight Night 62 submission of highly-regarded Andre Fili. Pepey slapped on a flying triangle midway into round one and force Fili to tap after a few adjustments on the mat. Pepey should get a higher level opponent in his next bout and the winner of April 18th’s Diego Brandao vs. Jimy Hettes bout fits that bill perfectly.