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Matches to Make After UFC on ESPN 57


The Ultimate Fighting Championship attempted to clarify its middleweight standings after Jared Cannonier and Nassourdine Imavov clashed in the UFC on ESPN 57 main event. However, it wound up being more muddled than before due to a controversial stoppage that saw Imavov get his hand raised. There’s no doubt that both the main event and other main card bouts will have an impact on what goes down in the Octagon in the coming months.

Here are five matches to make following UFC on ESPN 57.

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Nassourdine Imavov vs. Jared Cannonier 2

For three rounds, Cannonier (17-7) showed that age is just a number by outstriking Imavov (14-4, 1 NC) on the feet. However, “The Killa Gorilla” was clearly hurt in Round 4 by the French fighter and was in trouble. Sadly, Imavov’s chance at a clear win was taken from him after referee Jason Herzog stopped the fight early while Cannonier was moving and recovering. With both fighters near the top of the division but no one clamoring for either in a title shot, a rematch makes sense. Imavov will get a chance to prove that his win wasn't a fluke, while Cannonier will get a proper chance to go out on his shield. It’d certainly make for a good Fight Night main event in Paris.

Dominick Reyes vs. Anthony Smith

Reyes finally got back into the win column after picking up a quick TKO finish over an outgunned Jacoby. The former title challenger had been on a four-fight skid to some of the division's best. "The Devastator" had previously picked up huge wins over the likes of Cannonier, Ovince St. Preux, Volkan Oezdemir and Chris Weidman. One name missing from his resume is fellow veteran and former title challenger Anthony Smith. A fight between Reyes (13-4) and “Lionheart” seems overdue and now is a great time to do it with Smith coming off a submission win over Vitor Petrino.

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Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Victor Hugo

Bantamweight prospect Rosas Jr. passed another test by submitting Ricky Turcios with a slick rear-naked choke. The 19-year-old is now 3-1 inside the UFC and has picked up two wins since losing a decision to Christian Rodriguez. There’s no need to rush Rosas (9-1), who should be focused on facing different types of opponents and gaining experience. Hugo would be a great next opponent as the Brazilian recently won his UFC debut over Pedro Falcao and has a variety of submission and knockout wins, showing that he's dangerous no matter where the action goes. The 31-year-old, who is riding an impressive 14-fight win streak, would prove a proper challenge.

Brunno Ferreira vs. Roman Kopylov

Ferreira continued rising up the middleweight rankings by finishing Dustin Stoltzfus with a gorgeous spinning back elbow. The Brazilian has now won two in a row since suffering his first career defeat against Nursulton Ruziboev. To see where the 31-year-old is at skills-wise, a fitting test would be against Kopylov. The Russian has won five of his last six inside the Octagon, including wins over Cesar Almeida and Josh Fremd. A victory would help either fighter take a crucial step forward toward being a contender.

Zachary Reese vs. Edmen Shahbazyan

Reese needed just 20 seconds to shock Julian Marquez and pick up a TKO victory. "Savage" lived up to his nickname and is now 1-1 inside the UFC after losing his debut against Cody Brundage. The quick victory for Reese (7-1) means he should get to go up against an even more talented middleweight in his next outing. Shahbazyan would fit the bill as “The Golden Boy” has won two of his last three fights after a three-fight skid. It screams a fun striking match for as long as it lasts.
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