1 – Holly Holm
After losing three straight, Holly Holm needed last Saturday’s knockout of Bethe Correia. Note that I didn’t say she needed a win, but that she needed that kind of win to remind the world just how good she is and what she brings to the table in not just one, but two weight classes. Does Holm’s head kick finish of Correia put her in line for a bantamweight title shot? Not particularly, though stranger things have happened. But with Monday’s announcement of the Cris Cyborg-Megan Anderson bout for the now vacant featherweight title, Holm could conceivably be next up for the winner, especially considering the controversial nature of her loss to ex-champ Germaine de Randamie. And with the way she finished Correia, she’s got much needed momentum on her side to get the public behind her for such a fight.
2 – Colby Covington
Carrying on the theme of Holm’s win over Correia, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion needed more than “just” a victory in Singapore to get back on track. But when it comes to welterweight up and comer Colby Covington, a win would suffice in terms of breaking into the top 15, and while his decision over Dong Hyun Kim won’t wind up on any Fight of the Year lists, it was a dominant shutout performance against the No. 7-ranked 170-pounder in the world, and there’s no denying that. Renowned boxing trainer George Benton said it best: “Win now, look good next time.” Covington, 4-0 with two finishes in his last four bouts, will get an even bigger fight the next time out, and if he wants to bring fireworks, he can do it then. But for now, he’s in the game, and that’s half the battle.
3 – Li Jingliang
One of the most underrated fighters on the roster at the moment is China’s Li Jingliang, and hopefully that will be changing after his second consecutive Fight of the Night victory, this one over Frank Camacho. Simply put, Li is fun to watch every time out, he hits hard and he is always looking for a finish. That’s a winning formula, and if the two FOTN awards, three-fight winning streak and 5-2 UFC record isn’t enough to get him on your radar, maybe a match against one of the welterweight division’s top 15 will do the trick.
4 – Ulka Sasaki
As I noted before last weekend’s card, the flyweight bout between Ulka Sasaki and Justin Scoggins could have been a title eliminator if the MMA Gods had put some light on the talented 125-pounders. But that wasn’t the case, so Sasaki entered the fight with a 2-3 UFC record and the need for a win. He got it, impressively submitting Scoggins in the second round to earn his second Performance of the Night bonus in the Octagon. Maybe this will be the catalyst for him to build some momentum and get back to where he was expected to be when he made his UFC debut in 2014.
5 – Marcin Tybura
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski entered Saturday’s card with a four-fight losing streak, but even more pressure may have been on Poland’s Marcin Tybura, who was tasked with the assignment of fighting a hero of his while trying to keep moving forward in the heavyweight division. Tybura answered that pressure with a win that wasn’t spectacular, but it served its purpose in helping “Tybur” keep his top 15 ranking and his winning streak intact, and in the process, he guaranteed himself another fight that can get him closer to a title shot should he win. Not bad for a night’s work.