The UFC made its return to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., for the first time in more than 13 years Saturday with UFC Fight Night 128, which had a six-fight main card that aired on FS1.
In the main event, Kevin Lee (17-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) continued to establish himself as threat in the lightweight division when he picked up a fifth-round TKO victory over Edson Barboza (19-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC).
Ex-champ Frankie Edgar (23-6-1 MMA, 17-6-1 UFC) added another memorable win to his lengthy UFC career in the co-headliner, while other winners included Justin Willis (7-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), David Branch (22-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Aljamain Sterling (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) and Dan Hooker (16-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC).
After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 128’s winning fighters.
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Should fight: Alexander Hernandez
Why they should fight: Hooker’s decision to move up to the lightweight division continues to prove to be a good one. He improved to 3-0 since jumping to the weight class when he took out one of the organization’s most respected veterans in Jim Miller.
The striking talent of Hooker has always made him enjoyable to watch, but the first-round knockout win over Miller showed he can put more of a complete game together, and that makes him a wildcard in a stacked 155-pound weight class.
Miller joins Marc Diakiese and Ross Pearson on the list of names on Hooker’s recent winning streak. That’s a mix of veteran talent and a younger prospect, so Hooker’s next fight should come somewhere in between. Hernandez (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) might be unproven overall, but his 42-second starching of Beneil Dariush in his octagon debut at UFC 222 put him on the radar in the weight class. Hooker has been around long enough that he could help prove whether “The Great” is as good as his nickname states.
Should fight: John Dodson
Why they should fight: Following an ugly knockout loss in his previous fight, Sterling got himself back on track and made a statement in the process when he put the first blemish on the record of unbeaten bantamweight prospect Brett Johns.
Johns came into the fight with a 15-fight winning streak, but Sterling shut that down with a unanimous decision win. The type of knockout Sterling suffered against Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Night 123 in December would be hard for some athletes to come back from, but Sterling showed to be an improved version of his previous self, and that puts him back line with name fight in the 135-pound weight class.
Many of the notable names in the division are tied up with injuries or fight bookings, but Dodson (20-9 MMA, 9-4 UFC) is someone who is available. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a catch.
Dodson became a free agent following his split-decision victory over Pedro Munhoz at UFC 222 in March. He said he’d like to remain with the UFC, but whether or not that happens remains to be seen. If he does stick around, though, a showdown with Sterling would be a compelling clash of styles.
Should fight: Derek Brunson
Why they should fight: Branch got his best win since returning to the UFC for a second stint this past year when he shut down the winning streak of Thiago “Marreta” Santos with a wild first-round knockout.
The former two-division WSOF champ may have fallen short in his big main-event spot against Luke Rockhold in September, but taking out Santos is an impressive way to get some momentum back on his side and put his name in the running for key middleweight fights.
Branch will be looking to fight up in the divisional rankings, and Brunson (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) is someone willing and able to fight. “The One” is coming off a loss to Ronaldo Souza at UFC on FOX 27 in January, but is looking to get a fight in soon. Branch would be a logical foe.
Should fight: Adam Wieczorek
Why they should fight: Willis continues to show promise in his young UFC career when he scored his third-straight win to kick off his octagon tenure with a unanimous decision victory over a tough fighter in Chase Sherman.
“Big Pretty” is one of the primary training partners of UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier at American Kickboxing Academy, and he’s certainly shown traits of a fighter who could come out of that camp. Willis is someone who could have a future in the heavyweight division, but as is said so many times with a newer fighter: He should be groomed carefully.
Wieczorek (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is coming off a huge win of his own against Arjan Bhullar at UFC on FOX 29 this past weekend. He scored just the second omoplata finish in UFC history, and against a credentialed wrestler at that. Willis comes from a similar background, and you can be certain he doesn’t think Wieczorek can do the same thing to him.
Should fight: Chan Sung Jung
Why they should fight: Edgar put himself back near the top of the queue in the UFC featherweight title picture when he defeated fellow contender Cub Swanson for the second time.
Although there were critics about the turnaround time from his first career knockout loss against Brian Ortega at UFC 222 just six weeks ago, Edgar once again displayed his resilience when he scored a unanimous decision victory over Swanson.
Edgar managed to beat Swanson by fifth-round submission in their first meeting at UFC Fight Night 57 in November 2014, and his second win proved without a doubt that he’s the superior competitor. “The Answer” may have lost out on his title shot against with his loss to Ortega, but as has been the case so many times in his career, he’s managed to rebuild himself.
He may not get a title shot for the win off Swanson, but he’s right in position. He can prove worthy with another win, and Jung (14-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is someone who could help him get there. “The Korean Zombie” is looking to come back from injury later this year, and although he’s been inactive in recent years, he’s still one of the best at 145 pounds and in all likelihood would give Edgar a thrilling fight. In fact, he even called for the fight himself.
Should fight: Eddie Alvarez
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should fight Alvarez (29-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) next.
The UFC Fight Night 128 headliner between Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee presents an intriguing clash of styles. read news >>
See the top Twitter reactions to Kevin Lee’s win over Edson Barboza in the UFC Fight Night 128 main event. read news >>
Kevin Lee closed out UFC Fight Night 128 with a memorable performance that saw him completely shut down Edson Barboza as he claimed a fifth-round TKO victory via doctor stoppage in the main event fr read news >>
Check out highlights from Kevin Lee's dominant victory over Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 128 on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
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The UFC returns to Atlantic City for the first time since 2014 with tonight’s UFC Fight Night 128 event. Here’s how to watch. read news >>
Check out live play-by-play and official results from UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
UFC Fight Night 128 takes place today in Atlantic City, N.J., and you can discuss the event here. read news >>
Check out a live stream of the UFC on FOX 26 post-event press conference. read news >>
MMAjunkie’s Dan Tom looks at betting and fantasy options for today’s UFC Fight Night 128 fight card. 1 2 read news >>
Watch the UFC Fight Night 128: Barboza vs. Lee post-fight press conference shortly after the conclusion of the night's main event in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
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Frankie Edgar made a quick return to the Octagon to get the win over Cub Swanson on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
Siyar Bahadurzada, David Branch, Ricky Simon and Merab Dvalishvili earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 128 event drew an announced attendance of 9,541 and a live gate of $923,720. read news >>
Two title contenders were likely created Saturday at UFC Fight Night 128. Happening almost entirely on Fox Sports 1, the event took place from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey... read news >>