Here’s what I think will be next for the significant winners and losers from last Saturday night’s UFC 194 event.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR UFC 194’S KEY WINNERS
I’m not usually lost for words but I was one of millions left speechless after that 13 second victory. I’ve watched the fight back several times since and the counter left hook that floored Aldo gets better with every view. Aldo looked a beaten man as soon as he stepped inside the Octagon, but even McGregor himself wouldn’t have expected to win it so convincingly. That win was too conclusive to consider granting Aldo a rematch, even if it was his first defeat in 10 years. If he wants to fight again, and by all accounts he does; he needs to fight someone else first. It won’t take a lot to get people excited for McGregor vs. Aldo II, and a period of separation won’t do it any harm. It’s conceivable that McGregor will fight either Rafael dos Anjos or Donald Cerrone next but the smart money is on Frankie Edgar to get his well deserved title fight.
Next Fight vs. Frankie Edgar
In the middle of a fight that could’ve gone either way, Chris Weidman made one fatal mistake, and he was severely punished for it. Luke Rockhold has been fantastic in his last three fights now, and he thoroughly deserved to win the title on Saturday night. He’s a huge middleweight, but one who is extremely agile and capable of winning from any position. Yoel Romero is a world class wrestler with power, but even at this early stage it’s hard to imagine Rockhold won’t beat him comfortably. It’s the right fight to make next and if they also make Weidman vs. Jacare, it gives them a future challenger to go straight after Romero.
Next Fight vs. Yoel Romero
Next Fight vs. Luke Rockhold
I know Joe Rogan is often the king of hyperbole, but his never-ending vocabulary of superlatives for Maia as a BJJ practitioner on Saturday night was completely justified. Gunnar Nelson is a world class grappler, yet for 15 minutes Maia made him look very average. When the Brazilian is on his game and injury free, there are very few in the division who can match him. Hendricks vs. Thompson fight each other early next year and McDonald vs. Lombard is also likely to happen. So, that leaves Benson Henderson, Tyron Woodley, and Matt Brown. Woodley is probably next after Condit, and I want Brown to fight the loser of Lawler vs. Condit. That paves the way for Henderson once he’s inked his new contract.
Next Fight vs. Benson Henderson
Holloway is improving with each passing fight and it’s only a matter of time before he’s fighting for the featherweight title. He hasn’t lost any momentum because he failed to get a finish; he comfortably beat an opponent who hasn’t been stopped for over three-years (Stephens lost to Yves Edwards via KO in Dec 12). There’s a good chance his next opponent will be someone fighting after a loss, both Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes will be looking for a new opponent early next year. If that doesn’t happen, the most logical fight would be against Ricardo Lamas, and that’s the one I think the UFC matchmakers will go with next.
Next Fight vs. Ricardo Lamas
It doesn’t really matter who he fights next, but it’s going to be one of them.
Next Fight vs. Winner of T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz
WHAT’S NEXT FOR UFC 194’S KEY LOSERS
In a perfect world Jose Aldo will get an immediate rematch because his record deserves it, despite the devastating loss on Saturday night. I don’t need to list his many accomplishments because you all know how dominant he’s been. However, Aldo doesn’t sell pay-per-views and nor does he put bums on seats. There’s a new champion who can do both at record breaking levels. From a business perspective, Aldo doesn’t even come close. Ronda Rousey has her rematch, because love her or hate her, she creates interest. Aldo, for all his talent, doesn’t create any interest beyond the purists. The UFC will be privately delighted he lost. He will get another title fight, but he’s going to have to beat someone else first to get it.
Next Fight vs. Cub Swanson
That impromptu wheel kick was probably the first mistake Weidman has made in almost ten UFC fights. It was the beginning of the end and Luke Rockhold never gave him the chance to recover from it. Rockhold had a point pre-fight when he stated that Weidman was lucky to fight three former Brazilian UFC champions who were already past their prime. Weidman needs to regroup now and show a positive reaction after his first loss. Jacare makes the most sense as a next opponent but either the winner or loser from Bisping vs. Mousasi would be fine too.
Next Fight vs. Ronaldo Souza
Next Fight vs. Chris Weidman
Nelson has had three big tests in the UFC and he’s now failed two of them. I also believe the test he did overcome (Thatch at UFC 189 via submission) started with a knock down that his striking record suggests was a one-off. This fight with Maia confirmed to me that Nelson will never be anything more than an also-ran. He isn’t well-rounded enough to beat equally gifted opponents and his grappling talent isn’t good enough to mask the other flaws in his game. Kelvin Gastelum would’ve been my first choice of opponent. He’s now off the table so that leaves the loser of Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine as the most likely.
Next Fight vs. Loser of Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Follow me on Twitter, @MMATorchDan
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