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 UFC Fight Night 45, which took place on July 16 from the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.

Donald Cerrone vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

When two good ol’ country boys step inside a cage, great things usually happen. On Wednesday, lightweights Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller delivered with a slugfest until one man went down. Cerrone landed a flush head kick in the second round to drop Miller, winning the fight by knockout in Miller’s hometown.

The “Cowboy” has now won four fights in a row, all by either knockout or submission. After picking up bonuses following each victory, there’s no denying the greatness of Cerrone in 2014. But the thing you have to admire about Cerrone is that he doesn’t celebrate victories like normal fighters (although we all know he’s waking up from a Budweiser hangover right now). Cerrone is ready to get another fight as soon as possible, and there is one man waiting to meet him there.

That man is undefeated powerhouse Khabib Nurmagomedov, a familiar name in this Fight Destiny series. After each of Cerrone’s previous two fights, I discussed the need for a fight between Cerrone and Nurmagomedov, and here we are again, making the suggestion for a third time. Need I repeat myself again? Probably not. There should be no further explanation as to why this fight should happen. The point has been made already.

Edson Barboza vs. Daron Cruickshank-Jorge Masvidal winner

A left haymaker from Dan Henderson. A flying knee from Jose Aldo. A kick to the body from Edson Barboza. Three things in mixed martial arts that no man would want to endure.

Barboza bounced back from a loss to Cerrone in his last bout and defeated Evan Dunham by first-round TKO in the co-main event of the evening. The Brazilian striker landed a kick to the midsection of his opponent as his toe grazed Dunham, causing him to drop down in pain. After a couple of punches were added, the fight was stopped. It took just over three minutes.

Barboza has been considered the next big thing in the lightweight division for years, but he has yet to take another step towards reaching the upper echelon of the division. He will have another chance to string together wins, and his next opponent could possibly be either Daron Cruickshank or Jorge Masvidal. The two are expected to square off on July 26 at UFC on Fox 12.

In terms of match-ups, you can’t help but like the thought of Barboza facing either fighter. Cruickshank’s stock has grown tremendously after back-to-back highlight-reel finishing kicks, and Masvidal is one of the best pure boxers in the lightweight division. High expectations should be set anytime Barboza fights, so buckle up.

Rick Story vs. Jordan Mein-Brandon Thatch winner

After a controversial split decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum in his last appearance, Rick Story found himself in a tough spot and in need of a victory. The composed welterweight got that win when he submitted Leonardo Mafra in the second round. It was Story’s first finish in just over a year.

Despite alternating wins and losses since 2011, Story has held his position as one of the toughest fighters in the 170-pound division. For someone to reach the top 15, they’ll have to go through guys like Story. Two men who are on the verge of reaching that point are Jordan Mein and Brandon Thatch, a pair of hungry welterweights who will meet on Aug. 23.

Mein earned his reputation after finding success in Strikeforce, which has carried over into a 2-1 record in the UFC. Meanwhile, Thatch is arguably the most exciting up-and-coming welterweight in the UFC. With 11 career wins, all coming by knockout or submission, there’s reason to think Thatch could be the next big thing.

One of those men could be dealing with a “Horror” Story if they want to prove that they really are a legitimate top fighter in the division.

Joe Proctor vs. Kevin Lee

Boston native Joe Proctor entered Jersey with high hopes, and he returned home with a win in his back pocket. Proctor defeated Justin Salas by TKO in the second round, adding a second straight win inside the Octagon to his record.

Up next should be a bout against Kevin Lee, another relatively inexperienced fighter with raw skill. Lee fell to Al Iaquinta in his UFC debut, but rebounded on July 6 to defeat Jesse Ronson by split decision. I’ve said before that Lee has a lot of potential at just 21 years old, but he is still developing. Therefore, pitting Lee against a guy like Proctor, who is also trying to put the full package together, makes sense.

John Lineker vs. Ian McCall-Brad Pickett winner

With the flyweight division gaining some scrutiny as of late, the performances John Lineker and Alptekin Ozkilic gave could not have come at a better time.

This is due in large part to Chris Cariaso getting the next shot at champion Demetrious Johnson. While that choice by the UFC is debatable, it’s not what we’re here to talk about. Let’s talk Lineker, who first of all actually made weight prior to the fight. He went on to look great in the “Fight of the Night”-earning TKO win, which came with 10 seconds remaining in the bout.

With the power he has in his hands, Lineker is very dangerous at 125 pounds. Now that he’s proven to the UFC he can commit himself to making weight, the promotion should reward him with a big fight. How about the winner of Ian McCall and Brad Pickett? The two will meet in days, so the timing is perfect to make it happen. Since Cariaso will fight for the belt next, this means McCall or Pickett will have to fight one more time before getting their chance.

Lucas Martins vs. Mirsad Bektic-Max Holloway winner

What better way to kick off a main card than with a “Performance of the Night”-worthy fight?

Lucas Martins clocked Alex White in the third round to pick up a bonus check and record his third finish in a row inside the Octagon. Up next for Martins should be a bout against the winner of the upcoming fight between Mirsad Bektic and Max Holloway, who are expected to meet on Aug. 23.

Bektic, who possesses an unblemished record, is one of the UFC’s top prospects, and Holloway is currently on a two-fight winning streak as he continues his search for a spot in the top 15. Pair either fighter up with Martins and you’re looking at a fun scrap between some young guns. At this rate, any of the three could be the future of the 145-pound division.

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.