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Dominick Reyes on Friday punched his ticket to a potential shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones with an impressive knockout of Chris Weidman in the UFC on ESPN 6 headliner at TD Garden in Boston.
Meanwhile, Yair Rodriguez outpointed Jeremy Stephens in a back-and-forth war; Greg Hardy’s unanimous decision win over Ben Sosoli was immediately overturned due to his illegal use of an inhaler in between rounds; Joe Lauzon enjoyed a victorious return with his technical knockout of Jonathan Pearce; Maycee Barber remained undefeated with a first-round stoppage of Gillian Robertson; and Darren Stewart handed Deron Winn his first professional loss by escaping with a split decision.
What becomes of the UFC on ESPN 6 losers? A few ideas:
Chris Weidman vs. Misha Cirkunov: Weidman suffered his fifth knockout defeat in his last six outings against Reyes. The future now looks uncertain for “The All-American” as questions abound. Does he call it a day? Does he return to middleweight? Does he continue competing at light heavyweight? If he chooses the latter option, he should face someone lower in the rankings and try to work his way up. The 13th-ranked Cirkunov -- whose strengths lie on the ground -- would make for a good opponent.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Yair Rodriguez or Shane Burgos-Makwan Amirkhani winner: After hot-button circumstances led to their rematch, Stephens and Rodriguez delivered in what was later awarded “Fight of the Night” honors. However, the general consensus was that it should have been two rounds longer. UFC President Dana White seemed to agree, so a trilogy fight is certainly not out of the question. However, if Rodriguez is not receptive to the idea, another bout that makes sense for Stephens would be the winner of the upcoming UFC 244 battle between Burgos and Amirkhani.
Jonathan Pearce vs. Fares Ziam: Pearce did not receive the warmest welcome to the UFC, as he was completely dominated by Lauzon. However, he entered the Octagon on a five-fight winning streak -- all finishes -- so it is difficult to see him drawing a pink slip from the promotion based on one appearance. One opponent who makes sense for him: Ziam, who also owns a 0-1 record in the Ultimate Fighting Championship following a unanimous decision defeat to Don Madge at UFC 242.
Gillian Robertson vs. Maryna Moroz: Some observers argued that Robertson was victimized by an early stoppage against Barber, but she did not immediately protest referee Gary Forman’s decision and acknowledged that her overall performance was not up to snuff. Regardless, the future remains bright for the Canadian, and she could attempt to return to her winning ways against Moroz, who has not fought since she took a unanimous decision from Sabina Mazo at UFC on ESPN 2 in March.
Deron Winn vs. Julian Marquez: Winn made some mistakes in his second UFC start, but may have felt he was done wrong in a split decision loss to Stewart. Having missed weight for the contest, the American Kickboxing Academy representative has some work to do away from the gym, as well. Marquez -- who owns a 1-1 mark with the organization and submitted Stewart in 2017 -- would serve as an ideal next opponent for Winn, once the 30-year-old feels up to competing again.