The UFC wrapped up a whirlwind of three live events in a span of eight days on Saturday, and the last man standing was the seemingly ageless heavyweight Alistair Overeem.
Overeem capped off the week of UFC action with a second-round TKO over Walt Harris at UFC Fight Night in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the 64th professional bout of Overeem's career (64th!), and the man showed he's still got it by overcoming a terrible opening round in which he was nearly knocked out.
So, who's next for Overeem, Harris and the other top names from Saturday?
Alistair Overeem (defeated Walt Harris by second-round TKO)
Who should be next: Junior dos Santos
This is the obvious one. Yes, they have fought before. Of course they have -- they're veterans, and it's the heavyweight division. It's not that deep, and anybody who is good ends up fighting everybody else who is good.
Overeem won via TKO when they fought in 2015. Now he's is coming off a big win and looking up the rankings. Dos Santos is coming off two losses and is looking down the rankings. Two heavyweight legends -- really, it's the easy call.
Dark horse: Derrick Lewis
No way! These two actually haven't fought before despite floating in and around the top 10 of the UFC's heavyweight division for years. I still like the dos Santos rematch a little better, but this one fits the criteria, too. Overeem is looking up, and Lewis needs at least one more big victory to start asking for a title shot. Either one of these matchups makes sense.
Walt Harris (lost to Alistair Overeem by second-round TKO)
Who should be next: Maurice Greene
It is impossible not to feel for Harris. Not only was he making his first appearance since the senseless tragedy that struck his family last year, he was also this close to winning the fight. Had referee Dan Miragliotta stopped it in the first round and awarded Harris the TKO, I don't think many would have argued it. Overeem was hurt badly in that opening round, and somehow he survived and turned it around.
That's a tough way to lose. And on top of that, this was Harris' chance to win the big one, something he (frankly) has not done yet in his career. He'll get another chance to win the big one, but probably not in his next fight. Greene is a heavyweight with some personality looking to snap a two-fight skid. It's a drop down for Harris, but there are not many other great options that would offer him a fight bigger than this one.
Dark horse: Shamil Abdurakhimov
These two fought in 2016, and Abdurakhimov won a split decision. The only reason to do it again is that it does make sense in the rankings. They are ranked very close to one another and are both coming off a loss. However, I'd rather see Harris in a new matchup, and I think Greene is a good one.
Claudia Gadelha (defeated Angela Hill by split decision)
Who should be next: Jessica Andrade
It's tough to matchmake the top of this division until we know what's happening at the very top. Zhang Weili is the champ, we know that. But what else do we know? Not much. Where does Joanna Jedrzejczyk fit in after a fight of the year contender against the champ in March? Is Rose Namajunas ready to go after she withdrew from a card in April due to personal reasons? When will Tatiana Suarez be healthy enough to accept a fight? That's a lot of unknowns.
Gadelha has now won three of her past four, and she deserves a fight that will move her up in the rankings, not keep her in place. She has a previous loss to Andrade in 2017. That's a fight that would make sense to run back.
Dark horse: Marina Rodriguez
This fight was once booked to take place on May 2. Lots of people are high on Rodriguez, who fought Cynthia Calvillo to a majority draw her last time out. Gadelha is one of the biggest names in the division, so this would be a risky fight for her, as Rodriguez is still somewhat of an unknown. This matchup would tell us a lot about where Rodriguez is in the division.
Angela Hill (lost to Claudia Gadelha by split decision)
Who should be next: Tecia Torres
Gotta feel for Hill. This would have been a massive win for her career. It would have been her fourth win in just eight months. That's a heck of a streak, especially when it culminates with a former title challenger and one of the division's perennial best in Gadelha. But she came one scorecard short, on a split decision.
The silver lining: I think the UFC will still be looking to promote her up the rankings. She's right there. She looks like a top-10 talent. Torres has a lot of name recognition, and she's still ranked above Hill even though she has lost four in a row.
Dark horse: Felice Herrig
Herrig has been dealing with a knee injury and hasn't fought since 2018. She's one of the more popular women in the division though, and even though she has lost two in a row, she's still relatively highly ranked. She was part of The Ultimate Fighter cast that introduced the 115-pound division to the UFC back in 2014. This fight could easily be on a UFC main card, which is where Hill deserves to be right now.
Dan Ige (defeated Edson Barboza by split decision)
Who should be next: Jeremy Stephens
The UFC doesn't like to match contenders coming off a win with contenders coming off a loss, but honestly, I've never understood that. Obviously, you're going to pair winners vs. winners the majority of the time, but if a fight makes sense, it makes sense -- and this one does.
Ige is a power boxer, the same as Stephens. I'd love to see them go strength for strength. Ige is the one coming off a win (six of them, actually), but he's the one who called Stephens out. That's obviously because Stephens is the bigger name. Stephens, believe it or not, has now lost four in a row after his recent knockout loss to Calvin Kattar, but he's still highly ranked and dangerous.
Honestly, there a million different fights for Ige. This division is so stacked. But I like this one a lot. It's a big name for Ige, which he deserves, and a very fun, stylistic matchup. Someone is going to sleep. Depending on Stephens' time frame for a return, I'd vote for this.
Dark horse: Arnold Allen
This wouldn't be as big of a fight for Ige, even though Allen has won seven in a row. It'd be a fun selling point for the UFC. Match up Allen, who currently holds the longest win streak in the division, against the man with the second-longest streak in Ige.
Part of me feels like this fight could be bigger down the road, though, if both of these guys keep doing their thing. Let them each win one more and then do this fight when they are both ranked inside the top 10.