On Friday night, the UFC crowned their first ever women’s strawweight champion in the main event of the TUF 20 Finale when Carla Esparza submitted Rose Namajunas with a rear-naked choke. It was a great fight on a main card filled with great fights, but now the fighters are ready for their next assignments. LWOS books the fights for the main card winners and losers below:
Carla Esparza: Esparza, the former Invicta FC strawweight champion, showed why she was the top seed on this season of TUF with her drubbing of Namajunas. She got more dominant as each round passed, and it’s clear she’s the best in the division right now. For her first challenger, it will be Polish striker Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Jedrzejczyk defeated Claudia Gadelha on Saturday night at UFC on FOX 13 to become the number one contender.
Rose Namajunas: Namajunas had a great run on the show, but she looked a touch overwhelmed on Friday night. She’s still extremely young, just 22-years-old, and her championship bout against Esparza was only her fourth professional fight. Her future is still very bright, and for her first post-TUF opponent, she should be matched with fellow TUF 20 competitor Bec Rawlings. Rawlings is a true gamer, but a winnable match-up for Namajunas, who the UFC clearly wants to build up.
Charles Oliveira: Oliveira’s world-class grappling skills were on full display in his win over Jeremy Stephens, his third win in a row. In February, Max Holloway and Cole Miller square off in Colorado. Olivera should face the winner of Holloway vs Miller. Both would be interesting match-up’s for Oliveira. Miller could challenge the Brazilian on the mat, and Holloway’s varied striking attack could pose problems for Oliveira as well.
Jeremy Stephens: After starting his featherweight run with three straight wins, Stephens has now lost back-to-back decisions. To see if he can get back on track, a fight against fellow heavy-handed striker Robbie Peralta would be a fun fight. Combined, Stephens and Peralta have 28 knockout wins on their records.
KJ Noons and Daron Cruickshank: This was the easiest call of the card: rematch. Noons and Cruickshank were just getting started when the fight was called off less than thirty seconds into the second round when Noons accidentally poked Cruickshank in the eye. Round one was very good, and the fans and fighters alike would like to see a proper conclusion to this one.
Yancy Medeiros: Medeiros looked great once again as he picked up his second straight submission win. Up next, a fight opposite Mitch Clarke would be intriguing. Both are on two fight winning streaks, and both has extensive submissions games. It would be cool to see their ground skills pitted against one another.
Joe Proctor: The loss to Medeiros was just Proctor’s second in the UFC, and with his solid overall skill set, he remains a good prospect on the rise. Next, a fight against Carlos Diego Ferreira would be good. Ferreira is coming off of his first career loss in October, and his elite submission skills would be a great test for Proctor, a skilled jiu-jitsu player himself.
Jessica Penne: Penne capped off her great run on TUF with a Fight of the Night win over Randa Markos. Up next, Penne, the former Invicta FC atomweight champion, should face off with Paige VanZant. VanZant is also 1-0 in the UFC after winning her debut last month against Kailin Curran. The winner of Penne vs VanZant would be a more-than-suitable challenger for the winner of the Esparza vs Jedrzejczyk championship fight.
Randa Markos: Markos, one of the biggest breakout starts of TUF 20, fell just short of picking up a win in her UFC debut, losing to Penne on two-of-three of the judges scorecards. For her sophomore effort inside the octagon, a fight with fellow TUF 20 competitor Emily Peters Kagan would be a good way to get Markos back in the win column. Peters Kagan is a game opponent, but Markos would have the advantage everywhere the fight could go.
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