Justin Gaethje managed to record his second first-round knockout win in a row in the UFC Philadelphia main-event headliner.
Gaethje really seems to be finding some strong momentum in the UFC after hitting a wall in the form of the elite lightweight contenders last year.
Losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, though thrilling, made it seems as though the high-octane approach offered by the former WSOF champion just couldn’t cut it at the highest level.
And who knows, maybe Justin will hit that wall once again but after a pair of first-round finishes over James Vick and Edson Barboza – Gaethje had surpassed his own career-best result over Michael Johnson in tremendously violent fashion.
There were some minor tweaks to be seen in his offensive approach for sure but all in all, that was more or less the same style that got him to the dance.
So with Barboza now firmly immortalised in his ever-growing highlight reel, who exactly should Justin Gaethje take on next?
Well, we’ve put together a few options.
Though scheduled to face Al Iaquinta at UFC Ottawa, win or lose, Cowboy would be a viable opponent for Gaethje for his next outing.
We all know exactly how much this lightweight icon loves to stay active and with both him and Justin currently in something of a resurgence, matching them up is a fight that I could see both guys getting behind.
As for the fans, well, is there even a small possibility that this will be a boring fight?
Again, whether he wins, loses, or draws against Donald Cerrone next time around, I doubt anyone would complain if the UFC decided to book these notoriously game fighters for a scrap later this year.
Iaquinta saw his stock go up quite a bit following a spirited performance against Khabib Nurmagomedov and a thrilling win over Kevin Lee in his last outing.
For those in the know, Iaquinta has been one of the division’s most underrated guys for years now and finally, after a long period on the sidelines, it does look as though he’s starting to reach some of his potential.
Felder made a face-to-face call-out of Gaethje post-fight during his own duties on the UFC’s broadcast team – a move that left his fellow lightweight unhappy (Justin believed that Paul was trying to ‘steal his thunder’).
Even still, ethics aside, Felder has placed himself in prime position to take on The Highlight next time around.
As an action-fighter cut from a cloth not too dissimilar to that of Gaethje, his work on the mic alongside Jon Anik has been earning him some well-deserved praise in recent years, but let’s not forget that it has been those elbows that have served him best up until this point.
Gaethje vs. Felder is a very real possibility, folks!
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena