By Rick LaFitte @RickLaFitte on June 8, 2014
The UFC’s first trip to New Mexico produced some solid finishes and its share of controversy. The main event featured a submission win for former lightweight champ Benson Henderson against Rustam Khabilov. Albuquerque natives John Dodson and Diego Sanchez also picked up victories before their hometown faithful. The Sanchez decision win over Ross Pearson was widely panned. Here are the top five fights to make in the wake of UFC Fight Night 42.
Caraway showed off his dangerous ground game by submitting Erik Perez in the second round. The veteran is on a good run with back-to-back wins and has won four of his last five. A matchup against Rivera would be quite the clash of styles. Caraway has 17 submission wins while “Cisco” is noted for his tremendous knockout power. Rivera is looking to rebound after dropping a unanimous decision to Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 173.
Dos Anjos was able to rebound in impressive fashion by stopping Jason High in the second round via strikes. He solidified his status as a top-five contender and a matchup against either Thomson or Johnson would be an attractive bout. Thomson and Johnson meet next month in San Jose at UFC on FOX 12. The talented Brazilian would be a formidable test for whoever comes out on top in that July 26 clash.
As expected, Sanchez went to war with the tough Ross Pearson, but was highly fortunate to emerge with a split-decision victory. The controversial verdict allowed the veteran lightweight to end a two-fight skid. Sanchez wants to face Diaz at UFC 180 in Mexico City and it’s a fight that would bring plenty of animosity and action. Diaz hasn’t fought since a first-round knockout victory over Gray Maynard at the TUF 18 Season finale.
Dodson delivered an explosive performance against John Moraga, breaking his nose late in the second round. The brutal knee left Moraga unable to answer the bell for the final round. “The Magician” is clearly ready for another title shot in the 125-pound division. He should get the winner of the UFC 174 flyweight title fight between Johnson and Bagautinov. Dodson will be a handful for either man.
The former champion Henderson continues to take down whoever the UFC puts in front of him and produced a much-needed finish against Khabilov. "Smooth" should now go from one Russian fighter to another by tangling with the unbeaten Nurmagomedov next. A fight against “The Eagle” could make for a strong lightweight title eliminator.
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