In the UFC’s fourth show at the APEX in Vegas, four exciting women’s bouts highlighted the card.
On the prelims, Lauren Murphy (13-4) scored a big win in the flyweight division when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi (24-17) via unanimous decision.
Also in the flyweight division, Gillian Robertson (8-4) scored her fifth UFC finish with a third-round submission of Cortney Casey (9-8).
In the strawweight division, “The Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres (11-5) snapped a four-fight skid when she defeated former Invicta champ Brianna Van Buren (9-3) by unanimous decision.
Finally, on the main card, former bantamweight title challenger Raquel Pennington (11-8) scored an important victory over the birthday girl, Marion Reneau (9-6-1).
Now that the fights have finished, what’s next for the women of UFC Vegas 4?
Since coming off TUF 26 in 2017, “The Happy Warrior” has alternated wins and losses in her past seven fights. The decision loss to Murphy definitely stumps her momentum following a big January win over Maycee Barber, however, it shouldn’t send her too far back in the rankings. There are two fights that could make sense for Roxy next: Montana De La Rosa or Gillian Robertson. Both fights would feature a seasoned veteran versus a promising up-and-comer and both bouts would almost definitely involve some fun, high-level grappling exchanges.
The UD win over Roxy extends Murphy’s win streak to three and should set her up for a high-profile opportunity in the flyweight division. After the fight, “Lucky” called for Cynthia Calvillo. Why not? Murphy now holds one of the longest active win streaks in the division behind the champion and Calvillo jumped to thirteen spots to No. 2 in the official rankings with her victory last week. If Calvillo is not available due to medical suspensions, the UFC should look to capitalize on the real-life beef between Murphy and Jessica Eye by scheduling a fight between the two. Plus, Murphy vs. Eye makes sense from a rankings perspective.
“Cast Iron” lost to Robertson in what was her second UFC flyweight appearance. While she hasn’t closed the door on a return to 115 pounds, Casey is likely to stick around in the flyweight division for a little bit. Should she do so, Casey should face Mayra Bueno Silva in her next outing. Silva is coming off to the first pro loss of her career to Maryna Moroz and like Casey, Silva possess a fairly well-rounded attack. For added story, Silva holds a submission win over Robertson.
Robertson has proven to be one of the division’s best finishers— specifically with her submission skills. Having successfully rebounded from a TKO loss to Maycee Barber, Robertson should set her sights on Roxanne Modafferi. The UFC likes to matchup fighters who share common opponents and Modafferi and Robertson have that in the aforementioned Barber. It’d be a fantastic grappling matchup and gives “The Savage” the opportunity to climb the rankings.
BRIANNA VAN BUREN
Despite losing to Tecia Torres in her sophomore UFC appearance, BVB still possesses a lot of potential. Matchmakers should set up Van Buren vs. the fighter who comes out on the losing end of the scheduled Felice Herrig/Virna Jandiroba matchup. If it’s Jandiroba, it would be a matchup of former Invicta strawweight champions who never crossed paths. If it’s Herrig, it would be an interesting test versus a veteran competitor with a different style than Tecia.
The “Tiny Tornado” secured a crucial win at Vegas 4, snapping a four-fight skid and looking impressive in doing so. In a stacked strawweight division, TT will have her work cut out for her as she looks to climb back up the rankings. A matchup with Yan Xiaonan would make for an exciting stylistic firefight— it would give Torres an opportunity to break back into the top ten and take out a rising up-and-comer, and it would give Yan the chance to add another big name to her resume.
Reneau was on the wrong side of a decision after a grueling three-round affair with Pennington. It’s a tough loss for Reneau who is now on a three-fight skid. “The Belizean Bruiser” is well-rounded and athletic enough to give any bantamweight problems but will need to make some adjustments in her next out. She should face Lina Lansberg, who is coming off a loss to Sara McMann, a common opponent for the two. Another option for Reneau is top fifteen ranked Macy Chiasson.
“Rocky” bounced back from a January loss to Holm with one of her most impressive performances in recent memory. Pennington is now 2-2 since challenging Nunes for the title in 2018. She should take on the winner of Yana Kunitskaya/Ketlen Vieira scheduled for August 1. They are all in the same bracket of the rankings and both fighters possess a unique challenge for Rocky— Kunitskaya with her striking and size and Vieira for her size and grappling. Another option for Pennington— Julianna Pena. They have a history from both being on TUF 18 and are close to one another in the rankings.
What do you think of these matchups? What would you like to see next for the women of UFC Vegas 4?