FIGHTS TO MAKE NEXT – POST-UFC 219: Cyborg, Holm, Nurmagomedov, Barboza, more

Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (photo credit Jason da Silva © USA Today Sports)

UFC 219 closed out 2017 with some definitive victories and devastating defeats. Here is a look at who should be next for all of the UFC 219 competitors.

Cris Cyborg def. Holly Holm

Cris Cyborg did what was expected of her Saturday night, and looked good in defeating Holly Holm. However, she did not look quite like the Cyborg that we have come to know. She was cracked a few times, and while I am certainly pulling at hairs here, I think she showed that she was at least human for the first time in many years.

Now with that being said, one could easily argue that Holly Holm presented the toughest possible test for Cyborg, and she obviously passed it. Now coming up with another challenger for her is not easy. The women’s featherweight division is notoriously shallow, and most of the possible challengers would have to make a move up from bantamweight. Fighting Cyborg alone is a tall order, but giving up a size advantage in doing so just seems like a death sentence for most fighters.

With that being said, I think we really only have one real option right now, and that is Megan Anderson. Anderson is six feet tall, possesses a potent Muay Thai attack, and presents what I think will be Cyborg’s toughest test to date.

Fight to make next: Cris Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson

Holly Holm had her moments against Cyborg, and even won two rounds on two judges’ score cards. But still she did not do enough to deserve any sort of a rematch, so I don’t think she’s going to get one.

With that being said, I think it is safe to say that Holm’s next fight will probably take place in the bantamweight division.

At bantamweight the possibilities for her are endless. She is a former champion, and will always have the distinction of having defeated Ronda Rousey.

It is worth noting that Holm suffered from some pretty serious swelling in the soft tissue around the eye, which always leaves open the possibility of a more serious injury, such as a broken orbital bone. Now if she is out for any length of time she could fight anybody; but if she fights soon I think that Aspen Ladd represents any interesting challenge. Ladd is young, and is no doubt looking for a win that will push her up in the rankings. Holm will be looking to show that she isn’t going to slow down despite being on the wrong side of 35. It’s a classic vet versus up and comer type bout, and it gives us a chance to see where both fighters are,

Fight to make next: Holly Holm vs. Aspen Ladd

Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Edson Barboza

Khabib did what he has done for most of his UFC career. He took a good fighter, made him look like he had never seen a gym before, and then proceeded to cut a hilarious post-fight promo. It is just expected at this point. Nobody can figure him out, and if they can they just cannot execute.

Edson Barboza brings a violent arsenal of kicks to any fight he is in, but he just was not able to find to range to create the damage that he is known for. Khabib rushed him, was more aggressive, and survived anything that Barboza offered him. He has gained a reputation as a fighter who is often injured, and struggles with weight, and that is a fair reputation, but he seemed to have his weight under control like never before.

He deserves a shot at one of the two light weight belts, I don’t care which one and I’m not sure that he does either. Still though, Tony Ferguson seems more likely and I think that is the fight that should be made next.

Fight to make next: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

Edson Barboza took a beating at UFC 219, and clearly had no idea what to do with Khabib. Still though, he remains a top ten fighter, and I expected that he stays somewhere near the conversation despite such a one-sided loss. He has had his ups and downs in the UFC, but is always exciting…which reminds me of another certain lightweight fighter.

Justin Gaethje loves excitement, he loves violence, and he will be looking to come off of a violent loss with an even more violent victory. These two could easily headline a Fight Night card, and if you are not interested in this fight…well I am not sure that I can trust you.

Fight to make next: Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje

Daniel Hooker def. Marc Diakiese

Daniel Hooker looked a little thrown off at the beginning of the fight, most likely due to Diakiese’s unorthodox style. Nevertheless, he held a clear advantage in the grappling department and that is where he was finally able to find the finish. He has looked good in his last two fights, and has managed to get the finish in both of them. He is a rangy striker, with good submissions and a solid chin, but he is still a few wins away from the rankings, and contender status.

Marcin Held came into the UFC with a good bit of hype, and quite frankly he has not lived up to it; but he did notch his first UFC win this past October after an 0-3 start. I ca not imagine he gets to many “give-me” type fights, despite his record, so I expect a step up in competition. Hooker is that guy.

Fight to make next: Daniel Hooker vs. Marcin Held

Marc Diakiese is another guy who managed to build up quite a bit of hype for himself, but has faltered in his last two performances after a perfect 2-0 start. He is a fun striker, who is young, and clearly motivated despite his recent losses.

I think they will take it slow with him, and give him a chance to rebuild. Devin Powell is a guy from the Northeast area of the United States, a far cry from Diakiese’s birth place of the Congo, or his adopted home in England. But they are both 0-2 in their last two fights, and could be fighting for a job in the next one.

At this point I think this fight makes the most sense for both. Diakiese probably offers more upside, and this is a fight that he should probably win. Still though it gives Powell one final chance to earn a UFC win…because if he does not…well…you know.

Fight to make next: Mark Diakiese vs. Devin Powell

Carla Esparza def. Cynthia Calvillo

Carla Esparza was completely off of my radar after she was dominated by Joanna Champion (Jędrzejczyk). I discounted her as a paper champion, and one that won the belt only because of her spot on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and basically just being in the right place at the right time. She has had a few ups and downs since then, but has been on a winning streak as of late and arguably picked up her biggest win since winning the belt when she defeated Calvillo on Saturday.

She actually holds a victory over current champion Rose Namajunas, and that should count for something, but it was a long time ago and it is not going to be enough to get her a shot at the belt without some more wins.

Felice Herrig has been on a tear as of late, and with four straight wins she has put herself into the title talks. Both are ranked in the top ten, and both are a solid win or two away from a #1 contender fight. The winner gets a top five opponent next.

Fight to make next: Carla Esparza vs. Felice Herrig

Cynthia Calvillo came into this fight with a lot of hype, and unfortunately was not able to deliver. Still she should not feel too bad; she lost to a former champion, and didn’t look terrible in doing so. She showed that she has a way to go before she can compete with the best of the best. Calvillo is with the right team, seems more than dedicated, and will probably be back better than we have seen her.

In her next outing I would like to see her against someone that is closer to her in experience level. Alexa Grasso is ranked 10th, so it is not much of a step back in competition.

Fight to make next: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Alexa Grasso

Neil Magny def. Carlos Condit

Neil Magny was dominant in his victory over Carlos Condit; but really it seemed inevitable once the fight started, I will get to that a bitter later. Neil Magny was on quite a tear leading up to his TKO loss to Lorenz Larkin, and since then has alternated wins and losses. He has victories over Hector Lombard and Carlos Condit sandwiching a loss to Rafael dos Anjos. He is in the same solar system as the top fighters, but he just canot seem to break through to the other side. Magny reminds me of a young Michael Bisping in that regard.

This was however a nice win over a former champion, and one that adds to his already impressive UFC win total. At this point though until Magny is able to push through, I think he is going to continue fighting fighters near the middle of the top of the pack.

Mike Perry is a violent finisher, with an interesting personality, but he suffered a loss recently and will be looking to get back on track with a solid win. Let’s make it happen!

Fight to make next: Neil Magny vs. Mike Perry

Carlos Condit did not look good Saturday night. He looked flat, his timing was poor, and he seemed like a guy who did not think he was capable of winning at any point. Condit is far removed from the fighter that he once was, and while I do not know the reasons for that, I am depressed by them. He has been hinting at retirement for quite some time, and after this latest performance I think he will go through with it.

If he does decide to fight again, he has some exciting potential matchups at least based off of what he was capable of in the past.

I like a match up with Gunnar Nelson, that is of course of he does decide to fight again. It is a fight between two high level strikers, who both possess good submission skills, though I suspect Nelson has the better overall Jiu-Jitsu game.

Fight to make next: Carlos Condit vs. Gunnar Nelson

Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Khalil Rountree Jr.

Fight to make next: Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Gokhan Saki

Fight to make next: Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Jeremy Kimball

Myles Jury def. Rick Glenn

Fight to make next: Myles Jury vs. Josh Emmitt

Fight to make next: Rick Glenn vs. Makwan Amirkhani

Marvin Vettori vs. Omari Akhmedov fought to a Draw

Fight to make next: Marvin Vettori vs. Gerald Meerschaert

Fight to make next: Omari Akhmedov vs. Cezar Ferreira

Matheus Nicolau def. Louis Smolka

Fight to make next: Matheus Nicolau vs. Tim Elliott

Fight to make next: Louis Smolka vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian

Tim Elliott def. Mark De La Rosa

Fight to make next: Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau

Fight to make next: Mark De La Rosa vs. Matt Schnell 

NOW CHECK OUT THE LATEST DAILY NEWS DIGEST: Conor McGregor addresses Khabib Nurmagomedov and the UFC via Twitter rant (w/ Heydorn’s analysis)

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