After an entertaining night of fights in Singapore, Leon Edwards has made it perfectly clear that the UFC has another young, British star on the rise in the welterweight division with his unanimous decision win over Donald Cerrone. Ovince Saint Preux proved he still has plenty of offer at 205lbs with his quick fire submission win over Australia’s Tyson Pedro. Jessica Eye looks to have found her home at flyweight with a unanimous decision win over Jessica-Rose Clark and Li Jingliang put on a striking clinic against Daichi Abe on his way to earning a unanimous decision win of his own.
I’ve taken a look at what could be next for Li Jingliang, Jessica Eye, Ovince Saint Preux and Leon Edwards following a successful nights work in Singapore.
Li Jingliang (15-5-0)
Kicking off the main card, Li Jingliang earned a relatively one sided unanimous decision victory over the extremely durable Daichi Abe. After an evenly match first round, Jingliang began to find his feet in the second, landing some extremely heavy shots late in the round. Abe weathered the storm and emerged for the third round only to find more of the same waiting for him, courtesy of Jingliang.
34-year-old Siyar Bahadurzada (24-6-1) would make for an interesting next fight for Jingliang. Bahadurzada is riding a three fight win streak with his last two wins coming via KO/TKO. I would expect an entertaining contest between two experienced, heavy handed fighters who would both be swinging for the fences which would surely be a hit with the fans.
A win over Bahadurzada would give Jingliang the opportunity to build some momentum and start working his way up toward the UFC welterweight rankings.
Jessica Eye (13-6-0)
In a battle between two former bantamweights, Jessica Eye emerged with a reasonably comfortable unanimous decision win over Jessica-Rose Clark. While the first round could have been given either way, there could be no disputing Eye’s dominance in rounds two and three with the Cleveland, Ohio native seeming to get stronger as the fight progressed.
The win is Eye’s second consecutive victory at flyweight after enduring a torrid time which saw her drop four consecutive fights at bantamweight prior to making the move to 125lbs.
While the UFC flyweight division is still it it’s infancy, the rankings are going to take some time to shake out as fighters find their natural place.
Barb Honchak (10-3-0) and Roxanne Modafferi (21-14-0) are set to meet at the TUF 27 finale next month and with them occupying the number seven and eight spots in the UFC flyweight rankings, the winner would make an ideal next opponent for Eye.
Ovince Saint Preux (23-11-0)
Ovince Saint Preux survived an early scare before going on to add yet another submission victory to his record, this time over highly touted prospect Tyson Pedro.
Pedro very nearly ended the fight one minute into the opening round, rocking OSP with a solid head kick followed by a right hand which sent the 35-year-old to the canvas. Saint Preux was quick to grab hold of Pedro’s legs, using him as leverage to get back to his feet. Minutes later, the fight was over with OSP securing a nasty looking armbar for the victory. The comeback was enough to earn Saint Preux a $50,000 performance of the night bonus and leaves Pedro with two losses in his last three fights.
Saint Preux’s victory, while impressive, leaves the UFC light heavyweight division in something of a state of flux. With three of the current top ten being training partners and most of the group having already fought one another, it is tricky to see where the division goes from here with no fresh talent appearing ready to make the leap to the upper end of the division.
One option which could be interesting would be to match Saint Preux with Dominick Reyes (9-0-0). Undefeated in his nine professional appearances, Reyes is coming off an explosive KO victory over Jared Cannonier last month in Chile. Much like Pedro, Reyes has shown all the signs of being ready to make the jump into the light heavyweight top ten but is yet to face anyone of Saint Preux’s caliber. With everyone ranked above OSP either already booked to fight or having fought him relatively recently, a fight with Reyes makes more sense than it perhaps should.
Leon Edwards (16-3-0)
Birmingham’s Leon “Rocky” Edwards picked up the biggest win of his career to date in his UFC main event debut, earning a well deserved unanimous decision win over veteran, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
It was a mature performance from the 26-year-old, after opening up a sizable cut at the side of Cerrone’s right eye early in the first round, he kept his composure and steadilly applied pressure for the first two rounds. Cowboy seemed to find his rhythm in the third round but Edwards continued to control large portions of the final two rounds which ultimately led to him getting the unanimous nod from the judges.
In his post fight interview with Dan Hardy, Edwards wasted little time in calling for the UFC to book an event in his hometown of Birmingham, and named Jorge Masvidal (32-13-0) as the man he’d like to face.
While it feels unlikely that the UFC will visit the UK again so soon after their trip to Liverpool, a match up between Edwards and Masvidal would certainly be entertaining. Masvidal is carrying a two fight losing streak with decision losses to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson in his last two appearances. There were rumours of a match up with Neil Magny in Liverpool but that failed to come to fruition with Masvidal needing more time to recover from injury.