Here are the three takeaways following UFC Vegas 21.
After a lengthy layoff and a return fight this evening at UFC Vegas 21, Leon Edwards is still without a win, or even a loss for that matter. 20 months is a long time to wait for a victory, but Edwards will now have to wait a little longer for that. The Birmingham native looked exceptional in the first round against fellow welterweight Belal Muhammad, even landing a headkick that hurt Muhammad late in the first round. However, just 18 seconds into round two, Edwards accidentally eye poked his opponent for the second time, with this one leading to excruciating pain for Muhammad. Muhammad was unable to continue, therefore the fight was called off and subsequently ruled a no-decision. Although a gut-wrenching result for both parties no doubt, the health and safety of the fighters comes first.
Regardless of the unfortunate turn of events, there are still a few things to take away from UFC Vegas 21.
Here are three things we’ve learned after UFC Vegas 21
There is still no clear title challenger at welterweight
Yes, Edwards is ranked No. 3 in the division, but with no win since mid-2019, will the UFC actually grant him a shot at Kamaru Usman’s undisputed title? UFC President Dana White spoke earlier this week about giving Edwards the next shot should he get past Muhammad, but with the contest ending in a no-decision, what’s the next move? Will Usman rematch Jorge Masvidal or Colby Covington? Could Edwards still be in line for a shot at the title? Perhaps the UFC will look to rebook Edwards vs. Muhammad, or even have Edwards fight a higher ranked welterweight. The whole situation is still unclear and, as unfortunate as the main event was, the division needs to keep moving forward. Covington has expressed his disinterest in fighting Edwards in the past, but if you look at the 170-pound rankings, they are No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. That’s not to say Edwards hadn’t already earned a title shot following his 8-fight winning streak, but as we know in mixed martial arts, sometimes the more entertaining fights get put together rather than the fights that make sense rankings-wise.
Nevertheless, Muhammad deserves another top-15 opponent after he heals up from that gruesome injury.
Ryan Spann is a problem at light heavyweight
Ryan Spann took advantage of the co-main event slot on Saturday, pummeling opponent Misha Cirkunov into the mat in just over a minute. Spann dropped Cirkunov twice and never let him recover, eventually getting him out of there and securing the first-round TKO victory. With wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Devin Clark and now Cirkunov, Spann is a name that should be on everyone’s radar. “Superman” is now 5-1 in the UFC, with his lone loss coming against Johnny Walker in a fight that he just as easily could have won. Spann’s fight-ending power is on display in every one of his contests, and if he can continue to put guys away like he did this weekend, he’s due for another big test in his next outing.
Spann appeared on season one of Dana White’s Contender Series, but lost to Karl Roberson via KO (elbows) just 15 seconds into the bout. Spann would regroup, winning three fights in a row en route to capturing the LFA light heavyweight title. Spann was given a second opportunity to appear on DWCS, something he would not let slip past him again. Spann would submit Emiliano Sordi via guillotine choke just 26 seconds into the fight, erasing any memory of his first appearance on the show. Now 5-1 since that fight, Spann has looked better every time he’s stepped into the Octagon, and after the beating he put on Cirkunov, he deserves a top-10 opponent next.
It’s time to put some respect on Dan Ige’s name
Yes, Dan Ige lost to Calvin Kattar. Yes, Ige eked out a split decision win over Edson Barboza. And yes, he lost his UFC debut. But, he is also 7-2 in a fairly stacked UFC featherweight division, with wins over guys like Barboza, Mirsad Bektic and now Gavin Tucker. Ige is currently ranked No. 9 at 145 pounds, and after the performance he put on at UFC Vegas 21, don’t be surprised if his next opponent is near the top-5. Ige put Tucker’s lights out in under 30 seconds on the main card, a fight in which he was only a slight betting favorite come fight time. With a knockout like that and a nickname like “50k”, it’s no surprise he won a performance of the night bonus worth, you guessed it, $50k. After the fight Ige called out Chan Sung Jung, better known as The Korean Zombie, who is ranked No. 5 in the world at present. Ige was scheduled to fight Ryan Hall on Saturday, but a hip injury forced Hall out of the bout. Ige had no qualms about taking on the replacement in Tucker, a fighter who was coming off a three-fight winning streak and had his own momentum going. With Ige’s willingness to take on the Jiu-Jitsu wizard Hall when seemingly no one else would, don’t be shocked if the matchmakers do end up rewarding him with Jung later this year.