Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night ‘Namajunas vs. VanZant’

By Brian Knapp Dec 11, 2015

Rose Namajunas was one step too far for Paige VanZant.

Namajunas systematically dismantled the Team Alpha Male prospect before submitting her with a fifth-round rear-naked choke in the UFC Fight Night “Namajunas vs. VanZant” main event on Thursday at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. VanZant tapped out 2:25 into round five after she had been picked apart for the better part of 20 minutes.

A finalist on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Namajunas executed her game plan with purpose and precision. Her performance was described as flawless -- and rightfully so. Per FightMetric, Namajunas surpassed VanZant in significant strikes (57-10) and total strikes (104-53), made good on eight of her 10 takedown attempts, executed 14 guard passes and attempted four submissions, the last of which was successful. As statistical blowouts go, few measure up to this one.

In wake of UFC Fight Night “Namajunas vs. VanZant,” here are five matchups that ought to be considered:

Rose Namajunas vs. Randa Markos-Karolina Kowalkiewicz winner: Namajunas has undeniable star power and will someday challenge for the UFC women’s strawweight championship again, provided she stays on her current trajectory and free from injury. Those expectations, however, have to be tempered with the fact that she is still just 23 years old and only six fights into her professional career. Namajunas has rebounded from her submission loss to Carla Esparza a year ago with back-to-back finishes against VanZant and Angela Hill, and her stock is no doubt trending upward in the division. Markos and Kowalkiewicz will meet at UFC on Fox 17 on Dec. 17.

Michael Chiesa vs. Beneil Dariush: Chiesa made the most of his opportunity to shine in a co-main event slot, as he submitted Jim Miller with a second-round rear-naked choke. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner has rattled off consecutive victories since his cut-induced technical knockout loss to Joe Lauzon in September 2015. Chiesa laid the matchmaking groundwork during his post-fight interview, training his sights on the once-beaten Dariush. A Kings MMA product, Dariush withdrew from a scheduled Jan. 17 showdown with Mairbek Taisumov because of injury.

Sage Northcutt vs. James Vick: Northcutt weathered some early adversity to submit Cody Pfister with a guillotine choke in the second round of their lightweight showcase. The 19-year-old Texan has finished all seven of his opponents since turning pro a little more than a year ago. Still years away from his competitive prime, Northcutt figures to receive a slow but steady push from the UFC, even as questions swirl regarding how much substance exists beyond the hype. Vick last appeared at a UFC Fight Night event on May 10, when he disposed of highly regarded Australian prospect Jake Matthews with a first-round guillotine choke at the Adelaide Event Center in Adelaide, Australia.

Tim Means vs. Tom Breese: A highlight waiting to happen, Means knocked out former Ring of Combat champion John Howard with a short left hook 21 seconds into the second round of their welterweight prelim. The 31-year-old “Dirty Bird” has won five of his last six fights, a July 11 submission loss to Matt Brown the lone hiccup. Means may never reach the upper shelf of the 170-pound division, but he packs some serious firepower into his 6-foot-2 frame and poses a legitimate threat to most anyone in the weight class. Tristar Gym’s Breese has finished all nine of his opponents, six of them inside one round. He made Cathal Pendred his latest victim on Oct. 24, when he put away the Irishman with a body kick and follow-up punches.

Aljamain Sterling vs. Urijah Faber-Frankie Saenz: It might not be long before Sterling earns a shot at the bantamweight championship. The burgeoning Serra-Longo Fight Team star ran his record to 12-0 by dropping a mounted second-round guillotine on Johnny Eduardo, becoming the first man in more than nine years to submit the Nova Uniao veteran. Sterling’s standup needs work, but he makes up for his deficiencies with creativity, athleticism and a lethal ground game. Faber and Saenz will lock horns at UFC 194 on Dec. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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