By Rick LaFitte @RickLaFitte on July 17, 2014
It was a tremendous night of action in Atlantic City as UFC Fight Night 45 produced one of the best cards of the year. There were a whopping nine finishes in the 11-bout event. Donald Cerrone continued to tear through the lightweight ranks as he stopped Jim Miller in the main event. John Lineker, Edson Barboza and Rick Story also delivered strong performances. Here are the top five fights to make after UFC Fight Night 45.
Story turned in a solid effort against Leonardo Mafra as he submitted his Brazilian opponent in the second round. “The Horror” got back to his wrestling roots in getting his career back on track, and the proven veteran is a tough opponent for anyone. A potential matchup against the No. 14 ranked LaFlare would be intriguing. The unbeaten prospect was forced to withdraw from a matchup at Fight Night 46 against Gunnar Nelson due to injury.
Miller had some success in the opening round against Cerrone before being levelled by a devastating head kick in the second round. It was the first time he’d been stopped via strikes. Miller has been a mainstay in the 155-pound division for years and deserves a solid rebound matchup. Khabilov would definitely fit that bill. The Russian is also in bounce-back mode after a loss to Benson Henderson at Fight Night 42.
The dynamic Brazilian got back to his electrifying ways by stopping Evan Dunham with a body kick in the first round. He’s as explosive as they come in the lightweight division, but his chin has been a question mark. The No. 9 ranked Johnson’s boxing skills would be a solid challenge. “The Menace” was recently forced out of a high-profile matchup against Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 12 due to injury. He's currently on a three-fight win streak.
Lineker raised his stock in a huge way with an exciting TKO victory over Alptekin Ozkilic in a three-round slugfest. He’s one of the few flyweight contenders who possesses legitimate knockout power. Now that he’s shown he can make the weight, a matchup against the winner of this weekend’s Ian McCall-Brad Pickett clash in Ireland would be a perfect next test. Lineker against either of those men could produce a 125-pound title challenger.
Cerrone made it four straight wins and four straight finishes with his TKO triumph over the rugged Miller. ”Cowboy” will tangle with anyone and seems more than willing to hook up with the unbeaten Russian next. Nurmagomedov has a perfect 6-0 Octagon record and has elite grappling skills. This is a matchup that would have major title implications in the 155-pound division.
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