The statement could not have been more emphatic in nature.
Jimi Manuwa strengthened his case as a possible contender for the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title with a stirring first-round knockout against Corey Anderson in the UFC Fight Night 107 “Manuwa vs. Anderson” main event on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. “Poster Boy” drew the curtain on Anderson 3:05 into Round 1, chopping down “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner with a wicked left hook to the temple.
The third-most efficient takedown artist in the history of the 205-pound weight class, per FightMetric, Anderson had registered 20 takedowns across his five previous appearances but whiffed on all three of his attempts against Manuwa. Trapped on the feet with a superior and far more lethal striker, he was living on borrowed time. Manuwa pushed him backward toward the fence and connected, and out went the lights.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Manuwa vs. Anderson,” here are five matches that ought to be made (online betting):
Jimi Manuwa vs. Mauricio Rua: While Manuwa tried to position himself for a shot at the victor of the forthcoming showdown between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, the pending return of Jon Jones likely precludes him from such an opportunity. Nevertheless, the hard-hitting Brit has become impossible to ignore: He has compiled a 6-2 mark in the UFC, losing only to the aforementioned Johnson and current Allstars Training Center stablemate Alexander Gustafsson. Should Jones falter outside the cage yet again, Manuwa would be on a short list of potential suitors for the Cormier-Johnson winner. Rua last fought at UFC Fight Night 106 on March 11, when he took out Gian Villante with third-round punches.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Neil Magny: Stoic and precise, Nelson continued to make waves in the welterweight division, as he submitted Alan Jouban with a guillotine choke in the second round of their co-headliner. The Icelandic grappling ace staggered Jouban with a straight right, followed it with a head kick and then locked down the choke to force the tapout. Nelson, 28, has notched back-to-back wins, both of them choke-induced submissions, since his blowout loss to 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Demian Maia at UFC 194 a little more than a year ago. Magny has not competed since he earned a unanimous decision over Johny Hendricks on Dec. 30.
Joseph Duffy vs. Al Iaquinta-Diego Sanchez winner: Duffy created further distance between himself and a January 2016 defeat to Dustin Poirier, cruising to a three-round unanimous decision over Reza Madadi on the undercard. The Irishman opened a cut on Madadi’s forehead with an elbow strike in the first round and generally made life miserable for “Mad Dog” in their 15-minute encounter. Set to become a free agent after five appearances inside the Octagon, Duffy has put together a 4-1 record since arriving in the UFC two years ago. Iaquinta will square off with Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 108 on April 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Arnold Allen vs. Jeremy Kennedy: Perhaps now Allen has everyone’s full attention. The Tristar Gym prospect improved to 12-1 and recorded his fifth straight victory with a split decision over Makwan Amirkhani in their chaotic and entertaining featherweight showcase. One of the UFC’s most promising talents at 145 pounds, the 23-year-old Allen has raced out to a 3-0 start with the promotion, scoring wins over Amirkhani, Yaotzin Meza and Alan Omer. He only figures to improve and develop further under the direction of Firas Zahabi. Kennedy kept his perfect professional record intact at UFC Fight Night 106, where he picked up a unanimous verdict against Rony Mariano Bezerra on March 11 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Marc Diakiese vs. Josh Emmett-Desmond Green winner: The unbeaten Diakiese put himself in the early running for “Knockout of the Year” in his preliminary clash with Teemu Packalen, as he wiped out the Finnish grappler with an overhand right in the first round. The end came 30 seconds into Round 1, an unconscious Packalen resting peacefully on the mat. The sky appears to be the limit for Diakiese, who has thrown out his anchor at American Top Team and looks to sharpen his considerable skills at the star-studded camp in Coconut Creek, Florida. Emmett and Green are scheduled to do battle at UFC 210 on April 8.