The UFC’s return to Dallas, Texas was a success. The event was given the marketing slogan ‘the biggest card of the year,’ and that may not be too far off. Fight after fight, the fans were treated to action-packed fights. It was almost the antithesis to UFC 208 which seemed nothing could go right.
As with every event, the speculation of what’s next for the winners and losers becomes the topic of discussion. Sit back, relax, because your answers are below to the questions posed above.
Stipe Miocic vs. Derrick Lewis
The heavyweight champion tied the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the division’s history with… Well, that can’t be right? Only 2?
Yes, it is true. Miocic earned his second consecutive title defense by way of KO in the first round against the last man to beat him, Junior dos Santos. Since their December 2014 fight, Miocic has earned five straight KO/TKO victories while dos Santos appeared In just two fights, splitting the win and loss.
The heavyweight division is wide open and free to any top 10 fighter with a good showing. A June main event between Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt and a July bout between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem should bring the next title challenger. Miocic has KO wins over three of those fighters and it would seem logical that a Lewis win over Hunt would guarantee him a title shot.
Other fighters lurking with chances are prospect Francis Ngannou, a winner of his first five UFC fights. Another possibility is former champion Cain Velasquez, a bout that many have wanted to see since Miocic became champion.
Junior dos Santos vs. Alexander Volkov
The former champion, who once seemed unbeatable, has become the opposite. After only losing to former champion Cain Velasquez in his first 12 UFC fights, JDS has been finished in two of his last three fights.
With such a storied career with a lot of big wins, it’s hard to get a fresh matchup,. He has fought the top three of the division with a 3-4 record.
The UFC has different paths to take, as with most heavyweights. They can go the rematch route or the mismatch route. With rematches, the winner of the Werdum-Overeem fight at International Fight Week or Mark Hunt if he gains the win over Lewis.
The fresh matchup would be a tougher sell. Guys like Alexander Volkov or Travis Browne/Aleksei Oleinik would do nothing for JDS’s title implication and gain everything from a good showing against him.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
In two short years, Joanna ‘Champion’ has made her division’s contenders scarce. With the title win and five defenses, it’s getting tougher to find the dominant champ a viable opponent.
With her fourth straight five-round destruction, Jedrzejczyk over the top three contenders in the division. The young division has a lot of moving parts with many contenders falling off by beating each other.
The one who has emerged atop is Rose Namajunas. She fought for the inaugural strawweight title where she lost by third round submission. ‘Thug’ Rose has won four of her last five fights after that with rear-naked choke finishes in three. Look for the fight to come in the third quarter of this year.
Demian Maia vs. Tyron Woodley
The human backpack did what a human backpack does.
Maia won the “hardest fight of my winning streak” on Saturday with a split-decision win over Jorge Masvidal. The win is his seventh in a row, the longest streak in the welterweight division.
The Brazilian took the fight despite already having a future title shot in hand. He went to Dana White in the cage to tell them why he is the next contender, but nothing’s confirmed yet. Champion Tyron Woodley has said he would fight Maia, but other opponents interest him more. Any fight not for the title with Maia would only be delaying the title shot he’s earned.
A Woodley fight in the late summer or early fall seems ideal. If Woodley escapes another fight with Maia, a fight with former title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson would be the most high-profile fight left for the man who has already beaten the other contenders.
Frankie Edgar vs. Chan Sung Jung
They doubted his ability to get it done against the younger, faster guy. Frankie Edgar showed why he’s one of the top featherweights with his two round beatdown of Yair Rodriguez en route to a second-round TKO victory.
Edgar went into the contest heavy hearted over fellow fighter, New Jersey native and friend Nick Catone who lost his infant child on Friday. Edgar went out and put on a stellar performance.
It’s a tough spot for Edgar. He’s already fought the current title holder twice and lost twice. His best hope would be that Max Holloway picks up the win and becomes the undisputed champion.
Until then, Edgar should be looking for more opponents who aid in another title fight. Former title challenger Chan Sung Jung poses similar problems as Rodriguez but with better grappling and experience. The top 5 matchup could easily headline an event or be on a PPV main card
David Branch vs. Derek Brunson
When David Branch left the UFC. it was uncertain he would be what he wanted in MMA. Six years later, as a two weight class champion in WSOF and on a 10 fight win streak, Branch returned to the primetime.
His return was met with a tough fought battle against Krzysztof Jotko. Branch squeaked by with a split decision win, his first inside the UFC octagon since December 2010.
The Renzo Gracie student was thrown right into the mix with a top 10 fight. The win solidifies a spot for Branch in the rankings and a future top 10 matchup. In a wide open division, the UFC could go all in right away with matchups like Jacare Souza or Luke Rockhold, or they could ease Branch in with Derek Brunson.
Other fights to make
Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres
A matchup that should keep both fighters in the right direction for title contention.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Gunnar Nelson/Santiago Ponzinibbio winner
It’s too soon for another top 5 matchup for Masvidal, but a top 10 opponent would keep things flowing.
Yair Rodriguez vs.Jeremy Stephens
It was a tough loss that halted the momentum of Rodriguez. Stephens is a big name for a return fight after your first UFC fight and adds name value to any card.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Sam Alvey
Jotko looked good on the feet and had his moments on the ground. A quick turnaround against a fringe top 15 Sam Alvey would be a good next fight.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Tony Ferguson
Neither Alvarez or Poirier lost anything with the outcome of their fight. Rankings wise and the way the UFC has matched Alvarez, a Tony Ferguson matchup to keep ‘El Cucuy ‘ busy and Alvarez happy could happen.
Dustin Poirier vs.Al Iaquinta
As mentioned above, nothing lost or gained for Poirier or Alvarez in their fight. That said, the rankings will remain intact and a future fight with Al Iaquinta could be looming.
Jason Knight vs. Renato Moicano
Knight impressed with his ability to pull through in a tough fight. Moicano just got done beating a top 10 guy in Jeremy Stephens and is an exciting grappler. The time is now,
Chas Skelly vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Two slick grapplers with good transitions on the ground.
Chase Sherman vs. Anthony Hamilton
The rookie vs. the veteran seems to be the heavyweight way, A win in a Fight of the Night battle keeps Chase Sherman alive for another fight, but you move fast in this division. A win over Hamilton would keep things going forward.
Rashad Coulter vs, Rashad Poberzhets
The person who his UFC 211 opponent was supposed to face seems like a good second UFC fight the exciting Coulter.
James Vick vs.Evan Dunham
Vick impressed with his patience to wait for his shot. With wins in seven of his first eight UFC fights, he needs a ranked opponent. Who better than a veteran striker, and #13 ranked lightweight, Evan Dunham.
Marco Polo Reyes vs.Chris Wade
It’s always an exciting fight when Marco Polo Reyes is there. Coming off his first UFC loss, he should face another game prospect in Chris Wade.
Cortney Casey vs. Felice Herrig/Justin Kish
Casey impressed with her offense from the bottom against a strong grappler in Jessica Aguilar. To continue her rise, a fight against the winner between Felice Herrig and Justin Kish next month would be ideal.
Jessica Aguilar vs. Jessica Penne
Aguilar has yet to gain a UFC win after coming in as highly touted champion with a 10 fight win streak. Her and Jessica Penne, if Penne is cleared by USADA, would be a good fight for two struggling veterans
Enrique Barzola vs. Charles Rosa
Barzola impressed with his wrestling in his win over Benitez. Despite coming off a loss, Charles Rosa would be a good test for Barzola to test his grappling skills.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Mike De La Torre
Two struggling featherweights who would be looking for a win to stay in the UFC.
Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Tyson Pedro
A submission win for Antigulov to start off the night was impressive for his 14th consecutive win. With two first round wins in the UFC, Tyson Pedro would be a fight where both fighters could move up in competition after.
Joachim Christensen vs. Saparbek Safarov
Christensen needs a win with his second loss in three fights to Antigulov. Newcomer Saparbek Safarov looked good in his inaugural fight against Gian Villante, but ultimately came up short.