With two champions retaining their belts at UFC 220, it is time for the UFC to look to the future. Here are the next fights to make, for every competitor at UFC 220.
Stipe Miocic def. Francis Ngannou
Stipe Miocic did what most people thought he would not be able to do. Stipe, a two-time defending champion, was the underdog going into a fight against a relatively unproven challenger, and he got the job done.
Stipe has never gotten the credit that he deserves as champion, and it always seems like he is the underdog, at least in the eyes of the viewers. While people have been overlooking him, he has slowly but surely been building his resume and now has a legitimate claim to being the best heavyweight ever. As always though, with the clarity that comes from this fight, comes the fog of the future.
The heavyweight division is always void of quality challengers, and that is again the case here. Miocic already has wins over most of the divisions elite, and while Cain Velasquez is a dream opponent, he just can’t seem to get healthy. If Velasquez can heal up, he is the obvious next challenger despite his recent absence, but if he can’t the picture isn’t so clear.
Perhaps a rematch with Werdum, or Overeem? Perhaps Curtis Blaydes if he can get past Mark Hunt? Derrick Lewis maybe? All the potential challengers have flaws, but in my opinion the best bet is probably Cain Velasquez.
Fight to make next: Stipe Miocic vs. Cain Velasquez
Francis Ngannou was a hell of challenger and looked great on the posters in the lead up to the fight, but really struggled come fight night. He had nothing more than a punchers chance once the fight started and was clearly outclassed once the later rounds came along. He is still a stud and will still draw just based off his KO power, and his unique appearance and background.
However, he is some ways away from being the champion, at least as long as Stipe is on top. His future could take him in a lot of directions, depending on how the UFC sees him. I think that his next opponent should be somewhere near the top of the pack, and I think Fabricio Werdum is the guy. Werdum is not far from a title shot but considering how viciously Stipe disposed of him I would say that he isn’t quite there yet. A win over Ngannou could get him there, and for Ngannou a win over Werdum would only further legitimize him as a fighter.
Fight to make next: Francis Ngannou vs. Fabricio Werdum
Daniel Cormier def. Volkan Oezdemir
Daniel Cormier came into this fight defending a title that many felt wasn’t his to defend. He was coming into the fight as the defending champion, while also coming off a brutal KO loss in his last fight, in which he lost the very title that he was defending this past Saturday.
For anybody that questioned his status as the second best light heavyweight in the world though, he silenced them with his performance against Oezdemir. Cormier struggled only in the opening seconds with closing the distance and finding his range against the much larger Oezdemir, but once he managed to do so, and established the clinch it was only a matter of time. Cormier got Oezdemir to the ground, sliced through his defense, and finished the challenger with punches from the crucifix position. It was a dominant performance against a hot challenger.
No doubt was left about who the better man was. Questions do remain though, about who Cormier will fight next. The idea of a potential super fight with Stipe Miocic has been tossed around, at least by the fans, but I think it’s doubtful that we see that fight happen. The 205-pound division though, is void of challengers, and the only fights that really make any sense are rematches with Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafson. Jones is in a sticky situation right now, so for the sake of booking an opponent that can actually compete, I suggest that Gus gets his rematch.
Fight to make next: Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafson
Volkan Oezdemir had looked fantastic in his UFC fights leading up to this weekend. He had some big KO wins over some quality opponents and seemed like a real threat to Cormier. Volkan had made a habit of knocking guys out in the clinch, and Cormier very often finds himself in that position. But alas it wasn’t meant to be, the champion prevailed, and now it’s back to the drawing board for Oezdemir. Glover Teixeira is a guy who is nearing the end of his career, at least as a top fighter, but I think he still has some left in the tank and is a tall order for anybody. Let’s see if Oezdemir can get back on track against his fellow former title challenger.
Fight to make next: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Glover Teixeira
Calvin Katter def. Shane Burgos
I have to say that I wasn’t very familiar with Katter before his recent performance against Shane Burgos. But I certainly am now…Burgos came into this fight undefeated, with a 10-0 record over all, and a 3-0 record in the UFC.
Katter ignored the hype train though, and really beat Burgos up over the course of the fight. Nick Hein is a guy that has receiver very little attention but has silently amassed a 4-1 record in the UFC and is currently riding a three-fight win streak. He has been out with an injury, but assuming that he is ready and able I think this fight makes a lot of sense. 145 can be dense at times, and fights like these are great for separating some from the pack.
Fight to make next: Calvin Katter vs. Nick Hein
Shane Burgos seemed a bit stuck on his boxing and paid for it against Calvin Katter. His head movement was impressive, but it wasn’t enough to help him get past Katter. Still though, Burgos is only 26 years old, and will be back. At 5’11 and with a 75.5-inch reach, he is large for the division, and could be a real problem down the road. As for his next fight, Jason Knight is the guy. Knight was hot but has faded as of late and a fight with Burgos makes a lot of sense. Two young guys, both with bright futures, coming off losses to fellow prospects…both need a win here. Let’s see what happens.
Fight to make next: Shane Burgos vs. Jason Knight
Gian Villante def. Francimar Barroso
Both participants in this fight came in needing a win, and it’s a good thing for Villante that he got one because this could easily be a loser leaves town sort of fight. Villante was riding a two-fight losing streak into this bout, and though he does have a habit of taking part in exciting fights, winning is what keeps you around. He probably won’t be a contender anytime soon, but he is a solid test and the next guy that should be tasked with trying to pass it is Dominick Reyes. Reyes is my pick for the star of the future in the 205-pound division. He has shown well rounded skills against lesser competition. I think it’s time that he gets a step up.
Fight to make next: Gian Villante vs. Dominick Reyes
Francimar Barroso has managed to hang around the UFC for the last few years but has been inconsistent at best. I think that his loss to Villante will probably be the final straw, and I think that he will likely be cut from the UFC. Typing that feels like an easy out so I will book him just in case they keep him around. Dominick Reyes made quick work of Jeremy Kimball, but Kimball looked good in his last fight before that one. Let’s give him a chance to rebound.
Fight to make next: Francimar Barroso vs. Jeremy Kimball
Rob Font def. Thomas Almeida
Rob Font and Thomas Almeida was my pick for fight of the night going into the card, and it didn’t disappoint me. Thomas Almeida possess a potent Muay Thai attack, and has some length for the division, but Font didn’t have much trouble negating any advantages that Almeida may have had. He was the more powerful striker and took Almeida out with a head kick and punches in the second round. It was his biggest win to date, at least in my opinion, and one that he will hope to build on. He is 5-2 in the UFC, with all 5 wins coming by stoppage, and 4 of those coming by KO. He isn’t quite a contender, but with a couple more wins he could be. In the meantime, he is a tough test for anybody. Brett Johns has been on the come up, with 3 wins in the UFC in the last 13 months. He looked great in December against Joe Soto, and I think he would be a great opponent for Font.
Fight to make next: Rob Font vs. Brett Johns
Thomas Almeida started his career 20-0 but has since lost three of his last four. The previous two losses were to Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera, so they could at least be written off as losses to top five competition. But the most recent loss to Rob Font is different, and it shows that Almeida is perhaps not where we thought he was. Aljamain Sterling is in a similar boat right now. Just when you think he is prime to take off, another hurdle comes along.
Fight to make next: Thomas Almeida vs. Aljamain Sterling
Kyle Bochniak def. Brandon Davis
Fights to make next: Kyle Bochniak vs. Rick Glenn, Brandon Davis vs. Dan Ige
Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi
Fight to make next: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Randy Brown, Sabah Homasi (CUT after 3 straight KO losses)
Dustin Ortiz def. Alexandre Pantoja
Fights to make next: Dustin Ortiz vs. Matheus Nicolau, Alexandre Pantoja vs. Ryan Benoit
Julio Arce def. Dan Ige
Fights to make next: Julio Arce vs. Ryan Hall, Dan Ige vs. Brandon Davis
Enrique Barzola def. Matt Bessette
Fights to make next: Enrique Barzola vs. Gabriel Benitez, Matt Bessette vs. Shane Young
Islam Makhachev def. Gleison Tibau
Fights to make next: Islam Makhachev vs. David Teymur, Gleison Tibau vs. Scott Holtzman
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