The UFC's return to Cincinannti was easily one of the best events of the year so far, filled with magnificent performances by pretty much all the fighters who competed. However, in the last three matches of the main card three fighters in particular really stood out for picking up huge wins.
The most obvious being Matt Brown for his ruthless destrution of Erick Silva in the nights headliner. Prior to that, Costas Philippou dismantled Lorenz Larkin in the nights co-main event to get himself back to winning ways. The third big star last night was Daron CruiCkshank who managed to shoot himself up the lightweight rankings with a brutal first round TKO over Erik Koch.
Heres whats next for the three big performers below:
Fighter - Daron Cruickshank
Weight Class - Lightweight
Ranking in the UFC - Outside the top 15
Who they should fight next - Jorge Masvidal
Cruickshank showed the world last night that he has some of the best striking in the lightweight division with his brutal finish over Koch. He now has two spectaular back-to-back finishes and I think he has earnt a shot next against someone a lot higher up in the weight classes rankings.
We know "The Detroit Superstar's" striking is at a very high level but I would like to see if it's good enough alone to get him past someone as highly ranked as Jorge Masvidal who can be a handful on the feet himself. Masvidal is currently unbooked following his unanimous decision win over Pat Healy in April so the bout shouldn't be a problem to be arranged and the chances are it would turn out to be a war.
Fighter - Costas Philippou
Weight Class - Middleweight
Ranking in the UFC - No.12
Who they should fight next - Winner of Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi
I think it's fair to say Philippou put in the performance of his career last night. The Cypriot was throwing bombs from the start, but he also managed to absorb some hard shots from Larkin before nailing him with a pin-point right hand to turn his lights out. After such a big win he has to be matched up next with another high ranking middleweight, so the best match for him to take would be against the winner of Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz who meet later this month.
Both Munoz and Mousasi are coming of losses in their last fights, each losing to Lyoto Machida, so the winner would match up well with Philippou who is also be coming off a win and a loss against a top ten opponent. If the former pro boxer was able to get past either of UFN 41's headliners in dominant fashion he will likely find himself back into title contention.
Fighter - Matt Brown
Weight Class - Welterweight
Ranking in the UFC - No.7
Who they should fight next - Hector Lombard
With his third round TKO over Erick Silva last night Brown proved once again why he's one of the most dangerous fighters in the welterweght divison. "The Immortal" has now won his last seven in the UFC, with six coming by way of KO/TKO. His winning streak is staggering considering he was on a four fight losing streak prior to his current run and personally, I wouldn't mind seeing him get the next crack at Johny Hendricks' title.
But, I also think he could use a win over one of the divisions current top ten to solidify his case for a title shot and for that reason I think he should take on Hetor Lomabard next. The former Bellator champion has been tearing his way through the 170 pound weight class since his drop down from middleweight and he would be a good test to see whether "The Immortal" can handle someone with elite grappling, as well as striking, like Hendricks.
"The Immortal" would also be a great test for the Cuban to see if he can handle someone who is going to push him for an entire fight; something he hasn't had that so far in his two fights at welterweight. Plus, Brown vs. Lombard has the potential to produce fireworks, I doubt there is anyone who wouldn't want to see that fight.
Photo: Joseph Malorana for USA TODAY Sports