The Vanquished: What’s Next for the UFC Fight Night 161 Losers?

By Abhinav Kini Oct 13, 2019

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk on Saturday in Tampa, Florida, returned to the win column with a dominant unanimous decision over Michelle Waterson in the UFC Fight Night 161 headliner. Another shot at 115-pound gold could soon beckon for Jedrzejczyk.

Meanwhile, Cub Swanson snapped a four-fight losing streak by outpointing Kron Gracie in the co-main event; Niko Price delivered another knockout, this time against James Vick; Amanda Ribas outclassed Mackenzie Dern; and Matt Frevola and Eryk Anders were awarded contentious split decisions over Luis Pena and Gerald Meerschaert.

What becomes of the UFC Fight Night “Jedrzejczyk vs. Waterson” losers? Some ideas:

Michelle Waterson vs. Carla Esparza: Waterson’s three-fight winning streak came to an end against Jedrzejczyk. However, her stock rose in defeat, as she had her moments and displayed a lot of heart. “The Karate Hottie” is unlikely to drop in the rankings, so it would make sense for her next bout to come against the No. 8-ranked Esparza, who sits one spot below her after a win over Alexa Grasso.

Kron Gracie vs. Mike Grundy: Gracie showed plenty of durability in his unanimous decision defeat to Swanson but ultimately failed to impose his game on the veteran. Still, he is only two fights into his UFC career, and Grundy would be an ideal next opponent for him. Grundy is 1-0 in the UFC, and given his wrestling background, a fight with Gracie would make for an interesting stylistic matchup.

James Vick vs. Bryan Barberena: Vick suffered his fourth loss in a row against Price in his welterweight debut, but perhaps more alarmingly, it was his third knockout defeat during that run. It seems clear that “The Texecutioner” needs to take an extended break away from the Octagon before returning to action. Once he finds his way back, a contest with Barberena -- a welterweight scrapper on a two-fight losing streak -- makes sense.

Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers: After getting outclassed by Amanda Ribas, Dern was exposed as someone who is far from ready from challenging a ranked opponent. However, the future remains bright for the jiu-jitsu black belt, and with some tweaks to her striking, she could get there at some point. For now, she needs to go back to the drawing board, and a matchup with a fellow three-fight UFC veteran in Cifers seems appropriate.

Luis Pena vs. Lando Vannata: Pena lost an entertaining and hotly contested split decision to Frevola. Although he claimed after the fight that hometown advantage played a role, he acknowledged that he could have done more to get the finish. The UFC may want to pair him with another entertaining fighter in Vannatta, who is coming off a decision defeat to Marc Diakiese.

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Zak Cummings: Like Pena, Meerschaert lost a controversial split decision to Anders in their middleweight showcase. However, a majority of media members scored the fight in his favor. One should never leave it to the judges, but Meerschaert can take positives away from his performance. He could bounce back against Cummings, who is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to Omari Akhmedov.

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