What better time to look at what lies ahead for those fighters who had their hand raised on Saturday night.
While the dust continues to settle on what was an incredible night of fighting, we take a look at who the five main card winners will likely face next time out.
Tecia ‘The Tiny Tornado’ Torres
Torres earned a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Michelle Waterson. Going into this fight she was the number five-ranked contender in the women’s strawweight division. However, as mentioned in last week’s preview, the defeat of long-standing champion Joanna Jedrzejczjk to Rose Namajunas will not have helped her chances of landing a title shot.
It is likely Jedrzejczjk will be granted a rematch and so the Tiny Tornado may have to look at alternative possibilities. While the number two and four-ranked Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are booked for a February bout, that leaves the number three-ranked Claudia Gadelha as the most likely opponent for now.
Eddie ‘The Underground King’ Alvarez
The Underground King put a stop to the hype train and ended the undefeated run of Justin Gaethje in an incredible contest. This fight had been dubbed by Alvarez as the decider for the ‘UFC’s Most Violent Man’ and it did not disappoint. As the lightweight division is still tied up with interim champion Tony Ferguson waiting for Conor McGregor to either defend or vacate and Khabib Nurmagomedov facing a December clash against Edson Barboza, the next opponent for Alvarez would appear to be inevitable. This would be a rematch against Dustin Poirier.
The last time these men fought, it was declared a non-contest due to illegal knees by Alvarez. Poirier followed this up with an impressive victory over former champ, Anthony Pettis, and declared in his post-fight interview that he wanted the winner of Alvarez/Gaethje next. Their first fight was hugely entertaining before the stoppage. Alvarez was taking huge damage up against the cage, and just as it appeared the referee may stop it, he started swinging from the heavens and hurt Poirier bad. So this pairing would make sense from a rankings and fans perspective with genuine bad blood between the two.
Henry ‘The Messenger’ Cejudo
Cejudo showed exactly why he is an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling in his unanimous decision win over Sergio Pettis. As the number two-ranked flyweight, Cejudo will be expecting a title shot against Demetrious Johnson following this victory. However, UFC chief Dana White recently came out stating that Demetrious ‘DJ’ Johnson would in fact take on the recently crowned Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw next.
From the perspective of the UFC, a DJ-Dillashaw match-up would be a much more lucrative event, especially considering Cejudo has previously been defeated by DJ. The wrestling-heavy style of The Messenger is not overly pleasant on the eye either, particularly in contrast to the all-action, striking style of TJ Dillashaw.
Johnson was not receptive to initial reports on a Dillashaw super-fight and Cejudo will be hoping this hasn’t changed in the last six months. Cejudo lost to the only contender ranked ahead of him, Joseph Benavidez, a year ago. As Cejudo would have very little to gain by taking any fight other than DJ, expect the next time Cejudo walks into the octagon to be against Demetrious Johnson.
Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou
As opposed to some of the hypothesising above, the next opponent for Francis Ngannou would appear to be a lot more certain. His next fight will be against the current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Ngannou has just defeated the number one contender and is undefeated in the UFC with a record of six and zero, with all six victories coming inside the distance. Given the knockout power of both men, this will be one of the most anticipated bouts of 2018.
Max ‘The Blessed One’ Holloway
The Blessed One continued his undefeated streak and made it twelve consecutive wins when he took out Jose Aldo on Saturday night. The streak has included victories over top competition including Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, Anthony Pettis and, of course, the double over Jose Aldo.
There are some who feel that the dominance Holloway has shown in recent years may lead him to step up to lightweight and take on the competition at 155lbs. Standing at 5ft 11in, Holloway would not be undersized in this division.
Although the step up in weight class remains a distinct possibility, it is most likely that the Hawaii native will wait for Frankie Edgar to return to full fitness and defend the featherweight title. The exceptional wrestling and ground game of Edgar would provide a stern test for Holloway and this is a challenge the islander will likely relish.
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