No title fights? No problem.
Fight Night Tampa’s card sustained multiple shakeups over the past two weeks. But the outcome still left us with fights that have significant impacts on divisions and future title shots.
Glover Teixeira, Rose Namajunas and Khabib Nurmagomedov all took care of business to remain in line for a future shot, while Michael Chiesa and John Dodson earned finishes that assure them big fights in the near future.
Here are the Fight Night Tampa Talking Points.
More from Fight Night Tampa: Full results | Postfight bonus recap | Watch: Dana White has final say on Fight Night Tampa | Teixeira KO’s Evans in main event | Namajunas, Swanson go distance for wins; Nurmagomedov takes shorter route | Dodson makes it look easy in bantamweight return | Chiesa, Graves get submission wins, Pennington gets close victory | Backstage Interviews: Glover Teixeira, Rose Namajunas, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cub Swanson, Michael Chiesa, Raquel Pennington, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Michael Graves | Octagon interviews: Glover Teixeira, John Dodson | Best images from Fight Night Tampa
1. Moving up the line
The glitz and glamour of the light heavyweight division normally focuses on Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. Glover Teixeira reminded the world that he is not to be forgotten.
Teixeira knocked out former champ Rashad Evans in the opening minutes of the main event on Saturday, adding another finish to what is quietly one of the best resumes in the UFC.
He has just two losses in the UFC, one to former champ Jon Jones, but remains stuck in line atop the 205-pound ranks. Jones will fight Ovince Saint Preux for the interim belt next Saturday at UFC 197, with the winner moving on to challenge Cormier. With no title shot available in the near future, Teixeira has an idea of his own.
“Rumble Johnson, he doesn’t want to wait around, so let’s dance,” Teixeira said. “Rumble deserves the title shot, he’s in line. You see the soap opera going on with Cormier and Jones. Who knows when that fight will happen?”
A potential victory over Johnson would all but assure Teixeira another chance at the belt.
2. Leaving her mark
Nothing has stood in the way of Rose Namajunas since she lost to Carla Esparza in The Ultimate Fighter: Season 20 Finale. That list now includes Tecia Torres, as Namajunas avenged a loss and defeated by Torres by unanimous decision. It took her one strike to find a rhythm, as she stunned Torres with a big jab and waved for the fans to get on their feet.
“This was the toughest training camp of my life,” Namajunas said. “It let me know to have faith and believe in myself.
Namajunas’ win seals her a shot at the strawweight title in the eyes of many. She’ll have to wait for the result of Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha, of course. But with wins over two top seven fighters and a rare standing rear naked choke finish of Angela Hill, Namajunas’ name has to be at the top of the list.
Her growth is evident since the loss to Esparza. Always known for flashy finish abilities, Namajunas’ patience and her strategic game plan against Torres may have been her most complete performance to date.
3. Dodson back with a vengeance
The anticipation for John Dodson’s return to the 135-pound division at Fight Night Tampa was high. One of only three fighters to defeat former champ TJ Dillashaw, Dodson lived up to his return and knocked out UFC vet Manny Gamburyan just 36 seconds into the first round.
The potential for Dodson in his new home is sky-high and anything is possible for his next opponent: It may be a rematch with Dillashaw – while Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber fight for the belt at UFC 199 – or a battle against another fighter near the top of the division.
“Why you keep saying wide open?” Dodson asked after Joe Rogan discussed the many possibilities. “You're looking at the new champion. Dillashaw has been saying it’s a fluke. I’m willing to say it’s not a fluke and I’ll put him to sleep permanently.”
It will be interesting to see where Dodson is slotted in Monday’s official UFC rankings release.
4. Chiesa never shy
Michael Chiesa demanded a Top 10 opponent after defeating Jim Miller last December. Chiesa got his wish on Saturday and delivered in stunning fashion, submitting seventh-ranked lightweight Beneil Dariush – the first to ever do so.
It was Chiesa’s fifth win by rear naked choke, moving him into second all time. He’s a on a three-fight win streak and, once again, had a demand for the UFC matchmakers.
“Tony Ferguson, you and me buddy, main event. Let’s do it,” Chiesa said in the Octagon.
Ferguson is the only fighter in the division’s top six without an opponent. Chiesa’s win should him even higher. Will he get what he wants again?
5. Taking care of business
Khabib Nurmagomedov could only fight who’s in front of him. Though he wasn’t able to scrap with fourth-ranked Tony Ferguson, Nurmagomedov put on a clinic and TKO’ed late-add Darrell Horcher in the second round.
It was Nurmagomedov’s second finish in the UFC as he improves to 23-0. But his future remains uncertain with champ Rafael dos Anjos already scheduled to fight Eddie Alvarez on July 7. This was his first fight since April of 2014 when he defeated dos Anjos.
Does he try and add more to his UFC resume, or wait for a title shot and hold his position as the division’s No. 2 contender?
“I know and I feel my body needs rest,” Nurmagomedov said. “In June, Ramadan begins and I want to come back in September and October. A couple million people in New York speak Russian. I can fight in New York.”
Jon Gagnon is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JGagnonUFC.