The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday touched down in Wichita, Kansas, for the first time in its 25-year history, and though UFC Fight Night 146 featured some questionable scorecards and a particularly grotesque ankle injury suffered by Tim Means, it offered up a solid night of fights capped off by an exhilarating heavyweight slugfest and a heart-warming birthday celebration led by Junior dos Santos.
Like every event, there were winners and losers. The Vanquished focuses exclusively on the latter from the main card, weighing in on the fighters’ performances and assessing who they should square off against next inside the Octagon.
Derrick Lewis vs. Alexey Oleynik-Walt Harris winner: Lewis went down to punches in his main event opposite dos Santos but still proved to be one of the heavyweight division’s best value-for-money fighters, catching “Cigano” with monstrous counters and doing plenty of damage before he capitulated in the second round. Fresh off a championship loss in November to incumbent titleholder Daniel Cormier, this second defeat to dos Santos figures to put some distance between “The Black Beast” and a second crack at gold. However, given Lewis’ indifference to matchmaking politics and consistent schedule, it is hardly fatal to his understated ambitions. As for what comes next, a matchup with someone on the periphery of the Top 10 makes sense for Lewis’ 18th octagon experience, especially given the logjam of former Lewis opponents at the apex of the division. The ninth-ranked Oleynik will throw down with Walt Harris on May 4. Lewis should face the winner after some much-deserved time off.
Curtis Millender vs. Mike Perry: Millender entered the cage as a slight favorite over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, only to be quickly dispatched via rear-naked choke by the Brazilian in their co-main event. The loss snapped Millender’s nine-fight winning streak and marked the first setback the 31-year-old had suffered in the Octagon. With just four UFC fights to his name, Millender will likely need to rebuild himself before getting another shot at a Top 15 ranking, and a fight opposite the heavy-handed Perry would be an appropriate test next. One of the most eccentric and controversial fighters on the UFC roster, Perry’s last outing came against former teammate Donald Cerrone in November -- a fight he lost via armbar submission.
Tim Means vs. Alan Jouban: New Mexico’s Means looked to be seconds away from stopping Niko Price in their welterweight showcase, only for “The Hybrid” to quickly turn the tables with a right hook that ended the fight. “The Dirty Bird” is now 1-3 in his last four Octagon appearances, and at 35 years old, it seems unlikely he will be able to make noise in one of the sport’s deepest divisions before retirement. What’s more, Means suffered a serious ankle injury in defeat and will likely be on the shelf for the foreseeable future. If and when he returns, Jouban would be a fun fight. A winner of four of his last six fights, Jouban last competed more than a year ago, earning a second-round knockout over Ben Saunders.
Ben Rothwell vs. Tai Tuivasa: Rothwell went to a decision opposite Bulgaria’s Blagoy Ivanov, and many thought he had done enough to get a nod from the judges. Instead, the 47-fight veteran walked away with his second straight loss, spoiling his return to the Octagon after a lengthy drug suspension rendered him inactive since April 2016. Luckily for “Big Ben,” the UFC’s heavyweight division remains one of the company’s shallowest, and with four stoppage victories in his last six fights -- and a propensity for strangely compelling post-fight victory speeches -- Rothwell will likely draw a Top 15 opponent in his next outing. As for who that should be, Australia’s Tuivasa would make for captivating viewing, with “Bam Bam” earning three straight victories to start his UFC career before dos Santos handed him his first loss in December.
Drew Dober vs. Yancy Medeiros: Dober made a good impression in his fight opposite Beneil Dariush, exhibiting excellent takedown defense and slick striking in the opening round. Unfortunately for the Nebraskan, his success ran out in the second, where he was taken down, beaten up and submitted. At 30 years old and with five wins in his last seven appearances, Dober has plenty of time to rebound from the setback, and a bout opposite Hawaii’s Medeiros would be a good place to start. Medeiros has lost back-to-back fights to Gregor Gillespie and Donald Cerrone, but before then, he had sniffed a Top 15 ranking with three straight stoppage victories.
Tim Boetsch vs. C.B. Dollaway: Boetsch talked openly about retirement in the buildup to his main card opener with Omari Akhmedov, as the 38-year-old embarked upon a successful career running a shave ice business during his time away from the sport. With Akhmedov handing him his third loss in four fights, we may well have seen Boetsch’s swan song. If “The Barbarian” does decide to have one last roll of the dice, he should be matched with another veteran on the decline, and Dollaway fits that bill. “The Doberman” last fought Khalid Murtazaliev in September, losing via technical knockout.