Fights to Make Next After UFC 231

By Cole Henry, mmatorch Contributor

Max Holloway def. Brian Ortega

Max Holloway dealt with some odd adversity in the months leading up to this fight, people questioned his health and some even wondered if he would fight again. The rumors were that he suffered a concussion in training or a stroke, and the situation was dire. The rumors were so strong in fact that Max Holloway was a slight underdog coming into the fight, but he quickly silenced the critics. Since defeating Brian Ortega, the headlines have changed and instead of question Holloways health, they are now declaring him the greatest featherweight to ever do it. It’s a hard claim to argue, Holloway has won thirteen straight fights and during that time he has defeated the likes of Ortega, Jose Aldo (Twice), Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, and more. He earned stoppage victories in ten of those thirteen straight wins, and you would have to go all the way back to 2013 to find the last time he lost a fight. He has essentially cleaned out the division, save for one certain rather notable exception.

Frankie Edgar has done it all, he is a former World Champion, and one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, but he has never faced Max Holloway. The fight has been planned but its never come to fruition but perhaps now is the time. Edgar is coming off a victory in his last fight and despite having recently lost to Brian Ortega, he is an absolute legend and that should not prevent him from getting the shot here. This fight also gives Holloway a shot to truly clean out the division and earn a victory over a sure-fire future hall of famer.

Fight to make next: Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar for UFC Featherweight Championship

Brian Ortega created a path of destruction on his way to the UFC Featherweight title shot that eludes so many other fighters. He picked up quality wins over Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar, and with his undefeated record and finishing skills, he looked to be a very solid challenger for Max Holloway. Ortega was just that, and nothing more. He came to fight and damaged Max Holloway several times with punches. We saw him force Holloway backward and react to punches in a way that we aren’t used to seeing, but he was never able to implement his daunting submission game and ultimately saw the fight end on the stool. After clearly losing the first two rounds he made it a fight in the third and showed an incredible amount of heart and he will remain a top contender in the division. It was stated several times before the fight that in the event of the champion or challenger falling out of the fight, a replacement was in order.

That replacement was Renato Moicano who just so happens to have a bit of a history with Brian Ortega. The two fought back in 2017 and Moicano seemed to be on his way to earning a unanimous decision victory when Ortega snatched up a guillotine choke and won midway through the third round. It was a great fight then and the two have only improved since then. With both guys highly ranked now seems like a good time for a rematch.

Fight to make next: Brian Ortega vs. Renato Moicano

Valentina Shevchenko def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk for UFC Flyweight Championship

Valentina Shevchenko had to wait a while, and she experienced a few bumps along the way, but she can finally call herself a world champion. The former bantamweight title challenger has excelled since moving down to flyweight and that continued with her impressive performance and victory over former strawweight world champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Shevchenko showed herself to be the superior grappler and more well-rounded fighter overall. She won with a combination of strikes, trip takedowns, and strikes on the ground and left little doubt about who the better fighter was that night. Going forward the challengers are few and none of them look like they will pose much of a threat to Shevchenko at this point.

But a fight that makes sense from an animosity standpoint would be a fight with former division champion and Ultimate Fighter winner, Nicco Montano. Montano never lost her belt in a fight, instead, it was stripped after she was unable to show up for her first title defense. Provided she is able to fight now perhaps now would be a good time to settle the score.

Fight to make next: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Nicco Montano for UFC Flyweight Championship

Joanna Jedrzejczyk was on top of the world once, and while she is still flying pretty high, she certainly isn’t at the top anymore. After starting her career with fourteen wins and zero losses it is interesting to note that she has since lost three of her last four fights and appears to be in a bit of a free fall. She is 0-2 against the current strawweight champion, and now 0-1 against the current flyweight champion. With zero wins at flyweight its hard to imagine that she gets a rematch anytime soon without stringing together a few wins, regardless of her prior accomplishments. When it was originally announced that Joanna would be moving up to fight for the championship most fans were excited by the news.

One person that wasn’t was Jessica Eye. Eye has won three straight fights, and her latest win over Katlyn Chookagian could mean she is only a fight away from a title shot. Joanna has said she is staying at 125, and Eye didn’t like her coming up to begin with. Seems like a good old-fashioned fistfight could be a good way for them to figure things out.

Fight to make next: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Eye

Gunnar Nelson def. Alex Oliveira

Gunnar Nelson has had an up and down career in the UFC so far, but his latest win will certainly be remembered as one of his finest. Nelson came into the fight with Oliveira and took quite a bit of damage early. Oliveira seemed to disrespect Nelson on the feet and was even willing to engage on the ground. But in the second round, we saw Nelson take control and bust Oliveira wide open with a hellacious elbow from the top mount position. From there it was like a shark latching onto its prey and dragging it into the deep. Nelson took Oliveira’s back and sank in a fight-ending rear naked choke that left Oliveira lying in a pool of his own blood. Nelson will now look to move towards the top on a welterweight division that is stacked with talent.

One of the newest threats in the division is Anthony Rocco Martin, who I swear used to be called Tony Martin, but perhaps hired a marketing agent. He was a mediocre fighter at lightweight but since moving up to welterweight he has become a real danger to the division. Both of these guys are skilled on the feet and on the ground, and both are interesting contenders in a division that is largely filled with wrestlers.

Fight to make next: Gunnar Nelson vs. Anthony Rocco Martin

Alex Oliveira had to get a bunch of stitches last night and I wonder if he took the opportunity to poke his brain beforehand. Oliveira fought a good fight until the second round when Gunnar Nelson took him down and opened him up with a bone-crushing (or flesh ripping I should say) elbow that essentially ended the fight. He was in good spirits in the photos posted online of his post-fight procedure but regardless of his attitude that was one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history and that wound was the reason for it. Oliveira seems to be particularly savage in a sport filled with savages, so I have no doubt that he will return just as hungry. When he does a fellow countryman could be waiting for him.

Rafael Dos Anjos was sitting near the top of the division not long ago but he has since stumbled and will need to earn a few wins if he wants to get anywhere near another title shot. Both of these guys are intense, with good striking and grappling but different tools and body types. It should make for a compelling matchup.

Fight to make next: Alex Oliveira vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

Hakeem Dawodu def. Kyle Bochniak

Dawodu did what was expected of him against a tough guy in Kyle Bochniak but nothing more. He clearly out-pointed Bochniak despite the scorecards but never appeared to take any real chances against a guy that appeared to be considerably less skilled than him. He suffered a quick loss in his UFC debut though so perhaps patience is something that he has been working on. Regardless he remains an interesting prospect in the featherweight division, but we really haven’t seen enough to truly make a good decision on his potential upside. While Kyle Bochniak certainly brought the fight, he just didn’t seem to have the skills to really contend with Dawodu and that was that. But Sheymon Moraes could be a different story. He is an experienced guy, who moves forward, and he could be the first real test that we see for Dawodu.

Fight to make next: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Sheymon Moraes

Kyle Bochniak is tough and in some ways that might be unfortunate. His toughness in some way seems to outperform his skill set in most of his fights and it leads to him hanging on against opponents that are a lot more skilled than he is. He has managed a few wins in the UFC, but he is perhaps most notable for his fight of the night winning performance against Zabit Magomedsharipov, a fight that he lost. His willingness to take fights on short notice and his fighting style makes him a likely candidate to stick around despite his sub .500 record but perhaps its time he faces someone closes to him in the rankings.

Humberto Bandenay had a fantastic pre-UFC career, but he has suffered several setbacks since stepping into the octagon. This could be a loser leaves town sort of match up which is always a shame, but something has to give.

Fight to make next: Kyle Bochniak vs. Humberto Bandenay

Thiago Santos def. Jimi Manuwa

Moving up to 205 pounds has been a good move for Thiago Santos. He is now 2-0 since the move and he has earned performance bonuses in both of those bouts as well. Santos is an interesting addition to the division because he comes in as a newcomer to the division, but he actually has a fairly recent win over top contender Anthony Smith, though it was contested down at middleweight. He could have his eyes set on a rematch with Smith, but he is likely a bit behind him in the rankings, so it seems unlikely we see that rematch booked.

But it would be difficult to deny him a ranked opponent and Misha Cirkunov fits that mold. Cirkunov is a strong grappler with solid striking and finishing skills. He recently corrected a two-fight losing streak and is on his way back to become a contender in this division. As far as I see it these two are in very similar spots.

Fight to make next: Thiago Santos vs. Misha Cirkunov

Jimi Manuwa has a habit of living and dying by the sword and he kept that habit up on Saturday night. The fight started off with a bang and we saw Manuwa and Santos both clip each other with good punches. But Santos kept the onslaught going and eventually earned a stoppage and sent Manuwa further down the rankings. Manuwa is an interesting fighter in the division because he possesses explosive, fight-ending power, but he doesn’t seem to have the skills in other areas necessary to compete with the best in the division. Aside from his victory over Corey Anderson he really doesn’t have any key wins and at 38 years old it is possible that we have already seen the best that he has to offer. Either way though its time for a rebuild. He could lose his top ten ranking after his most recent loss and that could be a good thing. He has faced a lot of high-level competition but for a guy in his position, it might be best for him to take a step back.

Jake Collier is an under the radar kind of fighter, but he would probably love a shot at the much higher profile Manuwa and as for the Manuwa himself it gives him a chance to correct things against a slightly less dangerous opponent than he has been used to.

Fight to make next: Jimi Manuwa vs. Jake Collier



Nina Ansaroff def. Claudia Gadelha

Fight to make next:

Nina Ansaroff vs. Michelle Waterson

Claudia Gadelha vs. Livia Renata Souza

Gilbert Burns def. Olivier Aubin Mercier

Fight to make next:

Gilbert Burns vs. Mairbek Taisumov

Olivier Aubin Mercier vs. Christo Giagos

Jessica Eye def. Katlyn Chookagian

Fight to make next:

Jessica Eye vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maia

Elias Theodorou def. Eryk Anders

Fight to make next:

Elias Theodorou vs. Ronaldo Souza

Eryk Anders vs. Tim Boetsch

Brad Katona def. Matthew Lopez

Fight to make next:

Brad Katona vs. Ricky Simon

Matthew Lopez vs. Guido Cannetti

Dhiego Lima def. Chad Laprise

Fight to make next:

Dhiego Lima vs. Alan Jouban

Chad Laprise vs. Frank Camacho

Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Kyle Nelson

Fight to make next:

Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Davi Ramos

Kyle Nelson vs. Thiago Moises

Aleksandar Rakic def. Devin Clark

Fight to make next:

Aleksandar Rakic vs. Dominick Reyes

Devin Clark vs. Ryan Spann

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