Dustin Poirier def. Conor McGregor via TKO (Punches)
Dustin Poirier – Michael Chandler
Whether or not Dustin Poirier ever becomes the undisputed champion, Poirier deserves to be a UFC Hall of Famer. He has beaten five UFC Champions if you include Justin Gaethje on that list. His win over Conor McGregor will go down as his biggest when all is said and done. In the eyes of many he is the uncrowned champion and he should be treated as such. All signs lead to a Nurmagomedov retirement, so Poirier will be in the next title shot. The two front runners are Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler. Poirier said he would be open to Oliveira, but Chandler needs to fight again. Ultimately, it likely isn’t his choice and the UFC will book who they feel is most deserving. Oliveira was offered the Chandler fight, but it was too quick of a turnaround. I would expect that will play a role in determining who is next. Chandler will likely jump past Oliveira, and he is likely next for the uncrowned champion.
Conor McGregor – Rafael dos Anjos
The second the fight ended; the world was going crazy with their matchmaking for Conor. Some suggesting Jake Paul, while others liked the idea of the Nate Diaz trilogy. There are only a few fights in mixed martial arts available for McGregor that could headline a PPV. At the top of that list is Nate Diaz, but another is Rafael dos Anjos. The two were expected to face one another in 2016 before he was replaced by Nate Diaz. Diaz became a global superstar, and RDA proceeded to lose his belt in his next outing. The two did not like each other in 2016 and would be easily marketable for the UFC.
Michael Chandler def. Dan Hooker via TKO (Punches)
Michael Chandler – Dustin Poirier
Michael Chandler entered the arena with arguably more pressure on his back than any other fighter. For years, fans have been clamoring for his singing. Additionally, for years he has been stating he was the best fighter in the world regardless of the fact he was competing in Bellator. This one had a Bellator vs UFC feel to it and Bellator prevailed. The reality is who deserves the title shot against Dustin and who will get it is different. Oliveira has been on a tear as of late but obviously couldn’t make the fight with Chandler. As mentioned before, this could ultimately favor the American.
Dan Hooker – Thiago Moises / Alexander Hernandez Winner
Unlike every other fighter on this list, Hooker will be quarantining by the time this article gets released. His sacrifice for his career and the UFC in 2020 will not go unnoticed. After back-to-back wars with Dustin Poirier and Paul Felder, Hooker entered this fight with a lot of damage accumulated in the prior 12-months. The UFC will reward Hooker with a long layoff to spend time with his family. I would be surprised to see him return before the late summer. That being said he will likely be looking to fight someone near the bottom five of the rankings. Alexander Hernandez and Thiago Moises will be fighting in a months time and the winner would line-up nicely with a fight with Hooker.
Joanne Calderwood def. Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision
Joanne Calderwood – Lauren Murphy
Joanne Calderwood squashed her beef with Jessica Eye with some good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs. She is in a tough position after her most recent victory. She was next in line before risking the title shot against Jennifer Maia. Since that loss, Jessica Andrade, Lauren Murphy and Katlyn Chookagian have leapfrogged her in title conversations. Andrade is likely next in line for the belt, so a matchup between her and Murphy would make a lot of sense. Neither woman has competed against Valentina or Andrade so it would be a new opponent for either woman. Shevchenko’s next fight has yet to be announced, but having Calderwood versus Murphy on that card would be the ideal date for the matchup.
Jessica Eye – Taila Santos
Jessica Eye’s undefeated run on foreign soil has come to a halt this past weekend. After going 4-0 in foreign countries, Eye fell short in U.A.E against Calderwood. There is a good chance we see her drop out of the top 10 when the rankings get released. After losing 3 of her last 4, it would be nice to see Eye face someone in the 10-15 range to try and regain some momentum. Taila Santos has earned back-to-back wins over ranked opposition to climb into the rankings. A matchup between the two would determine who belongs in the top 10 of the division.
Makhmud Muradov def. Andrew Sanchez via TKO (Flying Knee and Punches)
Makhmud Muradov – Krzysztof Jotko
Makhmud Muradov is turning himself into quite the prospect at 185lbs. The only MMA fighter managed by Floyd Mayweather’s Money Team is now on a 14-fight wining streak dating back to 2018. Putting him on the main card of a Conor McGregor card indicates the UFC has high aspirations for the Uzbek-Czech fighter. Muradov was unable to get a fight booked last year, so expect him to look to stay busy in 2021. Before giving him a top 15 matchup, I’d like to see him against an experienced UFC veteran. Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko has won his last three fights and is knocking on the door of the Top 15. A matchup between the two would be a good addition to a Fight Island card.
Andrew Sanchez – Jordan Wright
Andrew Sanchez looked very good against Muradov despite the result. He had his moments later in the fight, and connected with some solid shots late that lacked the power of Muradov’s strikes. Sanchez will be looking at taking a step back here and fighting a relative newcomer to the organization in his next outing. Jordan Wright is 1-1 in the organization with his last performance being a knockout loss to Joaquin Buckley. Both men will be looking to rebound with a big win. This fight could make sense for May or June and could take place at the UFC Apex.
Marina Rodriguez def. Amanda Ribas via TKO (Elbow and Punches)
Marina Rodriguez – Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Marina Rodriguez showed why she is one of the most underrated fighters at 115lbs. Despite narrowly losing to Carla Esparza in her last performance, she was an underdog heading into this one. After ending up on her back in the first, she utilized her elite jiujitsu to nullify Ribas’ ground game. Once the fight ended up back on the feet, she managed to hurt Ribas. After some controversy on behalf of Herb Dean, she ultimately overwhelmed Ribas forcing Dean to stop the contest. She will be ranked in the Top 5 and a matchup with Joanna Jędrzejczyk would be huge for both fighters. Joanna has stated she’ll only come back for title shots so not sure if this fight could take place. Regardless, a win over the Brazilian would earn her another shot at the Champ.
Amanda Ribas – Ashley Yoder
Amanda Ribas looked unbelievable in the first round. She showed why she is the most feared female on the ground in the lighter weight classes. At 27-years-old, she still has time to rebound and become a title threat. The #10 ranked Ribas will likely get matched up with a fighter outside the rankings in order to defend her place in the rankings. Ashley Yoder is a very experienced strawweight who has been hovering around the #15 spot for the majority of her career. She earned a decision victory over Miranda Granger back in November. She has also never been finished in her career which would make for quite the challenge for Ribas.