Matches to Make After UFC 203

By Brian Knapp Sep 10, 2016

Alistair Overeem was not the man to pry the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title out of Stipe Miocic’s hands (online betting).

Miocic knocked out the Dutchman with crushing first-round ground-and-pound to retain his championship in the UFC 203 (online betting) main event on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, as the Euclid, Ohio, native sent his fellow Buckeyes home with smiles on their faces. Overeem succumbed to punches 4:27 into round one.

The successful title defense was not without adversity for Miocic, who was felled by a left hand and forced to defend against a subsequent guillotine choke. The 34-year-old Strong Style Fight Team withstood Overeem’s advances, returned to his feet and imposed his will with relentless pressure. Miocic took down the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix winner after he threw an ill-advised side kick, settled in top position and beat him unconscious with three right hands from inside guard.

Miocic has rattled off four straight victories, all of them finishes, since his December 2014 decision loss to Junior dos Santos. None of his last three opponents -- Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Andrei Arlovski -- have survived the first round against him.

In wake of UFC 203 “Miocic vs. Overeem,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Stipe Miocic vs. Fabricio Werdum: Miocic took the best Overeem had to offer and refused to surrender his throne. He weathered an early knockdown, freed himself from an attempted submission and zeroed in on Overeem. The former Dream and Strikeforce champion tried to maintain a safe distance from Miocic but lacked the wherewithal to keep him at bay. Late in the first round, Miocic pinned the Pride Fighting Championships veteran to the mat and blasted him with punches until he was unconscious. Werdum, the man Miocic dethroned at UFC 198, claimed a unanimous decision from Travis Browne in the co-main event.

Jimmie Rivera vs. John Lineker-John Dodson winner: A former Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder, Rivera climbed several rungs on the bantamweight ladder with his one-sided unanimous decision over Urijah Faber. The blossoming Team Tiger Schulmann star blew up Faber’s base with leg kicks and piled up points with crisp punching combinations and sneaky counters. Rivera, 27, has won 19 fights in a row and figures to be in line for another high-profile bout in the not-too-distant future. Lineker and Dodson will lock horns in a UFC Fight Night main event on Oct. 1.

Jessica Andrade vs. Carla Esparza: Andrade has looked the part of potential title contender since leaving the women’s bantamweight division and downshifting to 115 pounds. The Brazilian submitted Joanne Calderwood with a guillotine 4:38 into round one, improving to 2-0 as a strawweight. Andrade executed multiple takedowns, sliced through Calderwood’s guard and applied her ground-and-pound before catching the choke during a scramble. Esparza held the UFC women’s strawweight championship from Dec. 12, 2014 until March 14, 2015. She made a successful return to the Octagon at UFC 197 in April, when she carved out a unanimous decision against Juliana Lima.

Urijah Faber vs. Aljamain Sterling: His best days clearly behind him, the 37-year-old Faber could not match the aforementioned Rivera’s output and wound up on the wrong side of a clear-cut unanimous decision; Rivera threw 49 more punches than “The California Kid,” according to FightMetric. Faber has lost three of his last four fights and appears to be ticketed for gatekeeper duty at 135 pounds for whatever time remains in his hall-of-fame career. Sterling last competed at a UFC Fight Night event in May, when he fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and lost a split decision to Bryan Caraway.

Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne: Overeem saw his run of four consecutive victories come to a screeching halt in the UFC 203 main event, as he was victimized by savage Miocic ground-and-pound in the first round. The 36-year-old had a few brief moments of hope -- he knocked down Miocic with one left hand and buckled his knees with another -- but could not close the deal. For now, his career collection still lacks an Ultimate Fighting Championship title. Browne dropped a unanimous decision to Werdum in the co-main event but holds an August 2013 come-from-behind knockout victory over Overeem.

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