Following every UFC and Invicta FC event, The MMA Corner will break down the event and suggest fights the promotion should make in the future. This week, our focus is on The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale, which took place on Nov. 30 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Nate Diaz vs. ?

In the main event of the evening, former lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz proved he still has another run in him after avoiding a third consecutive loss. Diaz put on an impressive display by stopping Gray Maynard in the opening stanza to earn his first knockout victory since March 2010.

Even though Diaz is back in the mix, he is in a tough situation in terms of a next opponent. So, for the first time since I’ve been writing this feature, I’m giving a fighter a question mark, rather than an opponent.

Think about it: most of the key guys in the lightweight division, except for Anthony Pettis and T.J. Grant, have already met Diaz. But winning one fight after back-to-back losses shouldn’t allow him to soar up the rankings to fight those guys. Two names people are throwing out are Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rafael dos Anjos. While both would be great match-ups for Diaz, they’re more likely to fight each other next, a prediction I made after Nurmagomedov defeated Pat Healy at UFC 165.

Diaz said he wants to wait everything out, and I don’t blame him at this point. There will be opportunities that will open up for him in 2014.

Julianna Pena vs. Rosi Sexton

The first women’s Ultimate Fighter has been crowned, and her name is Julianna Pena.
Pena had a lot to live up to as the overall top pick on the show by Miesha Tate, but she backed up her case by stopping Jessica Rakoczy with a second remaining in the opening round.

It’s difficult to say exactly where Pena goes from here, but a possible opponent to consider is Rosi Sexton.

Even though Sexton is coming off back-to-back losses to Alexis Davis and Jessica Andrade, the 36-year-old will give Pena a bit of a test in her second fight inside the Octagon.

Chris Holdsworth vs. Dustin Kimura/Jon Delos Reyes winner

On the men’s side, Chris Holdsworth emerged as the winner of a six-figure UFC contract when he submitted Davey Grant in the second round.

Yes, another Team Alpha Male product is now in the UFC. By my count, there are now at least six fighters from the team who are fighting on the big stage. Holdsworth appears to be another who has vast potential, and he’s just 26 years old.

As is the case for Pena, it’s hard to point to one fighter who makes perfect sense for Holdsworth. But if I had to pick someone, I say give him the winner of the fight between Dustin Kimura and Jon Delos Reyes, who are expected to meet on Jan. 4 in Singapore.

Kimura is 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off a loss, and the fight will mark the Octagon debut for Reyes. Like Holdsworth, both are young, so it makes sense in terms of their experience levels.

Jessamyn Duke vs. Sarah Moras

“The Gun” Jessamyn Duke successfully won her official Octagon debut by earning a clear-cut unanimous decision over Peggy Morgan.

Duke will now have another chance to prove herself, and it could come against a fellow housemate.

Once Team Tate’s Sarah Moras recovers from injury, it’s logical she could face Duke next.
Moras submitted Morgan in the quarterfinals, but fell to eventual season-winner Pena by submission.

Raquel Pennington vs. Shayna Baszler

To kick off the main card, Raquel Pennington topped Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision to guarantee herself another fight with the UFC.

Up next for “Rocky” could be a test against Team Rousey’s Shayna Baszler.

The veteran Baszler was upset by Pena in the quarterfinals, but is promised a fight in the UFC once her injuries are healed. As far as the match-up goes, Pennington vs. Baszler could turn into a fun scrap.

Photo: Nate Diaz (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.

  • unbeknownst

    ? = Lame

    Still plenty of exciting fights for Nate a LW. He’s just playing it aloof, like when he said he was missing this fight due to his HS reunion.

    J-Lau might not be in the top ten LW anymore, but if he can finish Mac Danzig and show that his career hasn’t hit a wall, that’s the match-up right there. That’s 23 (combined) UFC Post-fight Bonus Awards.

    – Nate Diaz vs. Joe Lauzon

    Others to consider:
    – Julianna Peña vs. Sara McMann (winner is basically the #1 contender)

    – Chris Holdsworth vs. Sergio Pettis

    (Two of the biggest BW prospects that the UFC have. Not sure they’ll make this fight this soon. If not then Holdsworth faces a UFC new comer)

    – Jessamyn Duke vs. (1-0) Aleksandra Albu

    (Two young fighters, in the same place in their careers)

    – Raquel Pennington vs. Bethe Correia/Julie Kedzie (Correia is the play here)

    – Joshua Sampo vs. Dustin Ortiz
    – Gray Maynard vs. Jamie Varner
    – Jessica Rakoczy vs. Germaine de Randamie
    – David Grant vs. Roland Delorme