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Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Anthony Smith and UFC Fight Night 138’s other winning fighters?

The final UFC event this month took place Saturday with UFC Fight Night 138, which went down at Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, with a six-fight main card on FS1.

Anthony Smith (31-13 MMA, 7-3 UFC) continued to thrive in the light heavyweight division in the main event when he locked up a third-round submission of Volkan Oezdemir (15-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in a performance that could very well earn him the next title shot in the weight class.

Prior to Smith’s victory, Michael Johnson (19-13 MMA, 11-9 UFC), Misha Cirkunov (14-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Andre Soukhamthath (13-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Gian Villante (17-10 MMA, 7-7 UFC) and Court McGee (19-7 MMA, 8-6 UFC) all netted wins on the main card.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 138’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Court McGee

Alan Jouban

Should fight: Alan Jouban
Why they should fight: “The Ultimate Fighter 13” winner McGee returned to the win column for the first time in more than two years when he outworked Alex Garcia to a unanimous decision victory.

There’s been a lot of inconsistency and injuries in McGee’s career in recent years, but he looked in solid form against Garcia. If he can stay healthy and build on that momentum, then McGee is capable of being a player in the welterweight division, and many forget that he holds a win over current UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker.

The UFC’s 170-pound weight class is as deep as it gets, and there’s no shortage of names who McGee could share the octagon with next. Jouban (16-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) is someone who likes to bring the action, and when he finishes recovering from his recent injury, he would be a suitable foe for McGee.

Gian Villante

Nikita Krylov

Should fight: Nikita Krylov
Why they should fight: Villante made an odd bit of UFC history when he fought to his fourth consecutive split decision inside the octagon, but this time he got the nod in a competitive bout with Ed Herman.

Regardless of who should’ve won, Villante was the person who got his hand raised, and as a result moves forward in the light heavyweight division.

Villante is an action fighter who has produced many entertaining bouts in his UFC career and is likely to have several more in the future. Krylov (24-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) has the same reputation, and “The Miner” would give Villante a handful and give a good chance at a “Fight of the Night” bonus.

Andre Soukhamthath

Jose Quinonez

Should fight: Jose Quinonez
Why they should fight: After losing to Sean O’Malley in March in a fight that brought him hefty criticism, Soukhamthath returned to the win column when he took a decision over tough UFC debutant Jonathan Martinez.

Soukhamthath had flashes of brilliance in his contest and had Martinez on the verge of a stoppage more than once. He’s at his best when he pushes the pace against his opponent and has someone who will push back. Quinonez (7-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is on a four-fight winning streak and has a style that could mesh well with Soukhamthath.

Misha Cirkunov

Jimi Manuwa

Should fight: Winner of Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos at UFC 231
Why they should fight: Following back-to-back defeats and going through somewhat of a “depression,” Cirkunov rebounded with a brilliant first-round submission of a very tough and respected opponent in Patrick Cummins.

Cirkunov was on the rise in the light heavyweight division not long ago but flopped when he ran into top-tier competition. He accepts the blame for that, because he was not training in an environment that would bring out his best. He relocated to Las Vegas ahead of the matchup with Cummins, and his performance was telling.

If Cirkunov can continue to build, he’ll be a true threat at 205 pounds, and a matchup with the winner of the scheduled UFC 231 fight between Manuwa (17-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) and Santos (19-6 MMA, 11-5 UFC) would help reveal more about his progress. Both men are dangerous strikers and have the ability to give problems there, but they would also have to be on the lookout for Cirkunov’s ground game.

Michael Johnson

Alex Volkanovski

Should fight: Alex Volkanovski
Why they should fight: Johnson improved to 2-1 since dropping to the UFC featherweight division in January when he picked up a convincing unanimous decision victory over Artem Lobov.

“The Menace” said post-fight that his goal is to go on a run toward the top of the 145-pound division before making a move back to lightweight. He’s willing to fight anyone the UFC offers in order to get there, and there’s no shortage of difficult matchups in the weight class.

Volkanovski (18-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) has been on a tear since joining the UFC and is riding an impressive 15-fight winning streak overall. There aren’t many who want a part of Volkanovski at this point, but Johnson could be up for the challenge, especially because he said he wants to fight on the UFC’s December card in his potential opponent’s native Australia.

Anthony Smith

Should fight: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Smith should fight the winner of the UFC 232 light heavyweight title fight between Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) vs. Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 138, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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