Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 218

Originally booked for last November, we finally got watch Sergey Spivak face Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 218 on Saturday.

These were two fighters going in very different directions in their careers. Lewis had lost his last two fights in devastating fashion, being blasted unconscious by a Tai Tuivasa in Round 2 before being obliterated in 55 seconds by Sergei Pavlovich. For a fearsome striker whose weakness was always his grappling, being defeated purely in the standup was concerning. Meanwhile, Spivak had won five of his last six heading into his first UFC main event, the lone blemish a knockout loss to the tremendously talented Tom Aspinall. His last two outings were dominant stoppages of Greg Hardy and Augusto Sakai.

Both men continued their current trajectories, with Spivak getting a quick takedown and pounding on Lewis before tapping him with an arm-triangle a little over three minutes into the first round, only the second submission defeat of Lewis' career.

In the co-main, tough veteran Devin Clark used his wrestling, cardio, and improved stand-up to win a clear decision over Da Woon Jung. In the only other bout involving ranked fighters, Marcin Tybura, who holds a convincing victory over Spivak, used his wrestling to grind out a close decision over Blagoy Ivanov.

In the wake of “UFC Vegas 68,” here are a few potential matchups that suggest themselves:

Sergey Spivak vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Like Spivak vs. Lewis, this would be another matchup of grappler against striker, but with Rozenstruik being younger, faster, more dangerous, and at least recently, much better at surviving off his back. Spivak just turned 28 and is constantly improving, but I don't see him being able to defeat the elite of the division yet. Rozenstruik would be another good test against a ranked contender that would allow Spivak to build his profile without being a bad matchup that would stop his momentum. And this would likely be a fun fight with a good chance of a finish, whether it's Spivak pounding out or submitting Rozenstruik or the man from Suriname scoring a sensational knockout.

Devin Clark vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.

Even with the win against Jung, Clark is 2-3 in his last five, being quickly submitted by Anthony Smith, outpointed by Ion Cutelaba—which was Cutelaba's only win in his last seven outings—and knocked out by Azamat Murzakanov. He is, however, a good, tough test, which sounds perfect for the very talented, but often inconsistent Rountree Jr. A wonderfully dynamic striker, Rountree is riding a three-fight winning streak, but Clark would be the perfect test to whether he has turned the corner on his career and is now capable of being a serious contender. In the past, Rountree Jr. has struggled with his defensive grappling, ability to survive on the ground, and cardio, which are all areas that Clark would test.

Marcin Tybura vs. Tai Tuivasa

Spivak has now won six of his last seven, but the stalwart Polish grappler can do him one better, having now triumphed in seven of his last eight, including a win over Spivak in February of 2019. Tybura deserves another crack at a higher-ranked opponent, and why not the striker Tuivasa? After successive knockout losses against Ciryl Gane and Pavlovich, it's safe to assume that Tuivasa won't ever contend for the heavyweight crown, so there is no loss in seeing if his grappling has improved enough to defeat Tybura. The winner would become a fringe contender, while a loss wouldn't hurt either man. Tuivasa would merely reinforce that he has the same weakness against grapplers he possessed when Spivak dominated him, or Tybura would remind us that he is a good heavyweight, but not among the top contenders. Furthermore, this would be the most high-stakes type of striker vs. grappler match, where any punch Tuivasa lands could knock out Tybura, while any takedown could spell doom for Tuivasa.

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