HENRY: Fights to Make Next after UFC 232

By Cole Henry, mmatorch Contributor

Dec 29, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) hugs Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) after their fight during UFC 232 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson for UFC Light-heavyweight Championship

Many people will tell you that Jon Jones is the greatest fighter of all time and after UFC 232 that point is hard to argue against. Jones returned to action for the first time since July 2017 and systematically destroyed Alexander Gustafsson in what was without a doubt one of the best performances of his career.

Jones took a measured approach to the fight, broke Gustaffson down throughout the first round, and then moved in for the kill once it was obvious that Gustafsson no longer posed a serious threat. It was a dramatically different performance for Jones from the first fight that he had with Gustafsson, and this time he left no doubt about who the better fighter is. Going forward Jones has several options, yet one of them will likely appeal to people far more than the rest. One option is Anthony Smith, who as a newcomer to the division has won three straight and positioned himself as the number three ranked fighter in the division, another option is the winner of the upcoming Jan Blachowicz vs. Thiago Santos fight. But the more popular option and the fight that Jones likely wants the most is a third fight with Daniel Cormier.

Jones spoke post fight and made it clear that he would like a third fight with his greatest rival and though Daniel Cormier has said that he would like to face Stipe Miocic, or Brock Lesnar next, it seems like a third fight between these two is inevitable. It might as well be next for Jones. Whether that fight takes place at light-heavyweight or heavyweight is a different question for a different time but either way these two need to settle things once and for all.

Fight to make next: Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 3

Alexander Gustafsson has been so close on so many occasions to being the best light-heavyweight in the world but he has always fallen just short. Gustafsson waited years for a second crack at Jon Jones and now that the opportunity has passed it seems unlikely that a third fight ever come to be. Jones appeared to have Gustafsson’s number and left little room for anybody to say that things would go differently in a third fight. But still Gustafsson says that he will continue on fighting as long as it remains fun, so the Swede could be around for years more to come. In the paragraph above Anthony Smith was listed as a potential opponent for Jon Jones but it is perhaps more likely that he becomes the next opponent for Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones has unfinished business with Daniel Cormier which could leave Smith as the odd man out. Alexander Gustafsson has been a top three fighter in his division for years and if Anthony Smith could earn a win over him it would only be further proof that he is a legitimate threat in the light-heavyweight division.

Fight to make next: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith

Amanda Nunes def. Cris Cyborg for UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship

Amanda Nunes has taken down the featherweight queen and Joe Rogan has anointed a new Women’s MMA GOAT. Amanda Nunes is the first two division champion in Women’s MMA history and now has victories over Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko, and Miesha Tate. She currently sits unchallenged as she really has no credible challengers standing in front of her right now.

No contenders exist at featherweight outside of a young Megan Anderson, and the number one contender at bantamweight is Germaine de Randamie. De Randamie is a former champion but her title run was not exactly celebrated and Nunes actually already holds a victory over her from 2013. So, does that mean we see an immediate rematch between Cyborg and Nunes? It seems possible if not only to keep the featherweight division alive. So, while other options may exist it seems like the only option right now is Cyborg vs. Nunes 2. Cyborg’s performance wasn’t enough to warrant her getting another shot but the lack of depth in the division probably will be.

Fight to make next: Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg for UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship

Cris Cyborg is a fighter known for throwing caution to the wind and up until UFC 232, that method had worked perfectly. She hadn’t lost since her debut fight and was on a 23-fight unbeaten streak when she was felled by the hands of Amanda Nunes. But in this case, what has always worked for her would instead lead to her demise. Cyborg was cracked early and when she attempted to turn up the heat and return the favor to her opponent she was instead knocked down and then out.

For the first time in a long time, Cris Cyborg is not the most feared woman in fighting, and the question now will be if she can regain her former status. History shows that usually when a dominant champion is usurped, they never return to the great heights they’ve fallen from, but could Cyborg be an outlier? She has been an outlier her whole career after all. As stated above she did not do much to make people think an immediate rematch should be in order, but she may just be in the right place at the right time and for that reason I think we will see a Cyborg/Nunes rematch even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense on some levels.

Fight to make next: Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg for UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship

Michael Chiesa def. Carlos Condit

The move up to welterweight can so far be considered a success for “Maverick” Michael Chiesa. Since the move up he is 1-0 and his victory over Carlos Condit was certainly special for him even if The Natural Born Killer isn’t what he once was. Now post fight Chiesa called out Mike Perry and while that would be a fine fight you would think that Chiesa would want someone who is more of a contender. Perry is 1-3 in his last four fights and with his obvious weakness being grappling this comes off as an obvious attempt by Chiesa to get into a matchup with a big-name fighter who just so happens to have a weakness that he can exploit.

If the Perry fight doesn’t come to be, perhaps a more relevant fight in terms of rankings could be Chiesa vs. Gunnar Nelson. Nelson returned from the first KO loss of his career to brutalize Alex Oliveira with elbows just last month at UFC 231.

Fight to make next: Michael Chiesa vs. Gunnar Nelson

Carlos Condit’s rough streak continued as he suffered his second straight submission loss this past weekend at UFC 232. The former Interim Welterweight Champion has won just 3 of his last 10 fights and with the loss to Chiesa he has now lost 5 straight. Condit has seemingly hinted at retirement several times over the past several years and with each loss that seems more likely to become more of a reality. But until he announces it, he remains an exciting fighter in the division even if the results have not been going his way.

As stated above it was the winner of this fight, Michael Chiesa, that called out Mike Perry. But perhaps Condit would serve as a better opponent for the young, outspoken Floridian. Condit has reached the point of his career where he shouldn’t be fighting top contenders, but he could still serve as a tough test for an up and comer like Perry. Perry is known for enjoying a good fist fight and Carlos Condit usually isn’t one to back down from such a thing.

Fight to make next: Carlos Condit vs. Mike Perry

Corey Anderson def. Ilir Latifi

Corey Anderson is in a good place. After suffering back to back KO losses to Ovince St. Preux and Jimi Manuwa he has now managed to string together three straight wins over quality competition and is now on a short list of potential title contenders. He still needs a couple of wins though to really stake his claim. Unfortunately for him though most of the top contenders in the division are already booked up. Anthony Smith could be an option, but he is probably closer to a title shot than Anderson and may prefer to fight somebody higher ranked. Anderson won’t be hurting himself by stringing together more wins until a top contender is available so perhaps a rematch with Shogun Rua could make some sense here.

The two first fought back in 2016 and though Rua did walk away with a split decision victory man felt like the judges made the wrong call. Anderson would probably like a chance to right that wrong if he doesn’t get the title shot that he is clamoring for.

Fight to make next: Corey Anderson vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua

Alexander Gustafsson predicted that along with Ilir Latifi they would lead a “Swedish wave” on Saturday night but things did not go quite according to plan. While Gustafsson was defeated in the main event, it was Latifi losing earlier in the night that ruined any chances of a Swedish sweep. Ilir Latifi has shown himself to be a capable fighter in the division but he couldn’t seem to find a way to deal with the size advantage enjoyed by Corey Anderson. Jimi Manuwa is another guy who has faced Anderson in the past though he experienced much better results. He has fallen into a rough streak as of late though and really needs a quality win to rebound in the division.

Fight to make next: Ilir Latifi vs. Jimi Manuwa

Alexander Volkanovski def. Chad Mendes

Alexander Volkanovski has arrived on the scene and he did so in violent fashion with his Fight of the Night winning performance over Chad Mendes. Volkanovski has an impressive 19-1 record and is undefeated in the UFC. With the fall of Brian Ortega, it seems like Volkanovski could slide into a potential title fight assuming that nothing out of left field happens. I wrote not long ago that I thought Frankie Edgar had to be next in line for Holloway but as time has passed its starting to feel like maybe the UFC should strike while the iron is hot with Volkanovski.

Fight to make next: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway for UFC Featherweight Championship

Chad Mendes has announced his retirement from MMA. Mendes is a former World Title challenger and has been a mainstay of the featherweight division for years. He spoke during fight week that he had no plans of becoming a “gatekeeper” and perhaps this loss left him feeling like his best day were behind him.

Undercard: Fox Sports 1

Walt Harris def. Andrei Arlovski

Fights to make next:

Walt Harris vs. Marcin Tybura

Andrei Arlovski vs. Daniel Spitz

Megan Anderson def. Cat Zingano

Fights to make next:

Megan Anderson vs. Germaine de Randamie

Cat Zingano vs. Bethe Correia

Petr Yan def. Douglas Silva de Andrade

Fights to make next:

Petr Yan vs. Rani Yahya

Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Cody Stamann

Ryan Hall def. BJ Penn

Fights to make next:

Ryan Hall vs. Cub Swanson

BJ Penn vs. Gray Maynard

Undercard: UFC Fight Pass

Nathaniel Wood def. Andre Ewell

Fights to make next:

Nathaniel Wood vs. Eddie Wineland

Andre Ewell Matthew Lopez

Uriah Hall def. Bevon Lewis

Fights to make next:

Uriah Hall vs. Jared Cannonier

Bevon Lewis vs. Trevor Smith

Curtis Millender def. Siyar Bahadurzada

Fights to make next:

Curtis Millender vs. Tim Means

Siyar Bahadurzada vs Warlley Alves

Montel Jackson def. Brian Kelleher

Fights to make next:

Montel Jackson vs. Andre Soukhamthath

Brian Kelleher def. Brett Johns

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