UFC Fight Night 159 on Saturday in Mexico City was an entertaining event that concluded in underwhelming fashion, as the featherweight headliner between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens was ruled a no-contest after an accidental eye poke just 15 seconds into the first round. Beyond the main event debacle, Carla Esparza secured a majority decision over Alexa Grasso in a back-and-forth war; Brandon Moreno and Askar Askarov battled to a split draw; Irena Aldana put on a striking clinic while claiming a unanimous verdict over Vanessa Melo; and Steven Peterson knocked out Martin Bravo with a spinning backfist.
What comes of the UFC Fight Night “Rodriguez vs. Stephens” main card losers? A few suggestions:
Alexa Grasso vs. Marina Rodriguez: Grasso was impressive with her striking and troubled Esparza multiple times in their women’s strawweight co-main event. However, her takedown defense and lack of overall control on the ground cost her the majority decision. Grasso should remain in the Top 10 rankings, and a bout with the undefeated Rodriguez makes sense. Rodriguez took a unanimous decision from Tecia Torres at UFC Fight Night 156 in August.
Vanessa Melo vs. Brianna Van Buren: Melo entered her Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on a five-fight winning streak. However, she had no answer for the range of striking from Aldana, who dominated the majority of the three rounds. The Brazilian should face someone with the same amount of UFC experience in her next appearance, and Brianna Van Buren -- she claimed a unanimous decision over Livinha Souza at UFC Fight Night 155 on July 13 -- fits the bill.
Martin Bravo vs. Julian Erosa: After landing in the UFC as an undefeated prospect, Bravo has since gone 1-3 and finds himself on a three-fight losing streak. It feels as though he deserved a better fate in his latest outing, as he enjoyed significant success in the standup exchanges with Peterson before being cut down by the spinning backfist. Now, Bravo is in danger of being cut from the promotion. Erosa, another fighter on a three-fight skid, would likely prove to be a willing dance partner in a loser-leaves-town match