Francis Ngannou def. Stipe Miocic via KO (Punch)
Francis Ngannou – Jon Jones
It’s not everyday you see someone who lost to the champion enter the rematch as the favorite. The narrative entering fight week was the questions surrounding the holes in the Cameroonian’s game. In the first fight, his takedown defense was obviously a factor in the defeat. Ngannou was more composed in this fight which showed early on. Miocic shot for a takedown early which Ngannou stuffed with ease. That was the moment where many felt he could win the fight. Ngannou eventually clipped Miocic and was able to put him away in the second round. There are three options available for Ngannou, and he said he is open to all three. The trilogy with Stipe Miocic is obviously on the table but would likely be months away given the nature of the knockout. Derrick Lewis has been on a tear since their first encounter and would be a loss the champion would like to avenge. The most obvious option here is Jon Jones. The scariest man in the history of the sport versus the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. It appears that this may take a while to sort out given Jon Jones’ desire for more money. This is the fight to make.
Stipe Miocic – Curtis Blaydes
As a Stipe Miocic fan, this one was hard to watch. He will go down as the greatest heavyweight of all-time regardless of what he chooses to do from here. Many felt that he was on his way out after the Cormier trilogy. He has a baby on the way so will be spending some time off to be a father. It is hard to imagine Miocic in anything other than a title fight, but that’s likely what we will see next. With Lewis and Jones next in line for the belt, Miocic might need to take one more fight before another crack at the belt. Curtis Blaydes was a win away from a title shot before suffering a loss to Derrick Lewis. Both men will be taking extensive breaks due to the nature of their losses so a matchup between the two could make a lot of sense in the late fall.
Vicente Luque def. Tyron Woodley via Submission (Brabo Choke)
Vicente Luque – Michael Chiesa
Vicente Luque is becoming a problem at 170lbs. He has won nine of his last ten fights and has finished all but one of those. The win over Woodley is the biggest of his career and it positions him just outside of the top 5. He is one of the most exciting fighters in the entire division and not one many would get excited to fight. Two of the men ahead of him in rankings are current or former teammates which makes him harder to find fights for. When the rankings were announced, Luque had leapfrogged four fighters including Michael Chiesa. Chiesa is one of the best grapplers in the division and would pose a unique threat to Luque. For both men, a victory would solidify their position in the Top 5 of the division.
Tyron Woodley – Tim Means
At 38-years-old, this could be the end of the line for Tyron Woodley. Just two years ago, he was in consideration for the greatest welterweight of all-time. Now he finds himself on a four-fight losing skid to end his UFC contract. Given the recent cuts by the organization, I would be surprised if the UFC offers Woodley another contract. It is very probable that the former champion will be competing in another promotion next time out. All that in mind, Woodley has only lost to the elite of the division. Despite his age, he still has a lot to give to this sport and could compete in the UFC. Tim Means is another veteran of the sport nearing the end of his career. It would offer Woodley an opportunity to get back to his winning ways. For Means, it would be the biggest win of his career if he were to get his hand raised.
Sean O’Malley def. Thomas Almeida via KO (Punch)
Sean O’Malley – Chris Gutierrez
It’s amazing how one fight can change the public’s perception of you. Heading into Saturday, the odds were much closer than most would expect. O’Malley’s loss to Marlon Vera had many thinking the O’Malley was overrated. He dominated the fight with Almeida and ended it with a ferocious finish reminiscent of Dan Henderson’s on Michael Bisping. Immediately people were calling for fights with Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt. As impressive as it was, O’Malley is still just 26 so shouldn’t rush for big fights. The one question that many have is about his ankle and foot. It has been an issue in the past and there are still questions about the damage on that foot. Chris Gutierrez was one of the fighters that brought leg kicks to life when he defeated Vince Morales with them. If Sean O’Malley can defeat Chris Gutierrez, he will be ready for the men in the rankings.
Thomas Almeida – Luke Sanders
It is remarkable that Thomas Almeida started his career at 21-0 with only one decision. Unfortunately, since then he has gone 1-5 bringing his record to 22-5. Since his defeat to Cody Garbrandt, Thomas Almeida has not looked himself. On Saturday night, Almeida showed tremendous toughness and recovered from an early knock down. Almeida is still just 29-years-old which means he has plenty of time to get back to his vintage self. Almeida should get a step back in competition in his next fight. Luke Sanders finds himself in a very similar position as Almeida after losing 4 of 6 in the promotion. A matchup between the two would determine which of the two fighters would stay in the promotion.
Miranda Maverick def. Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision
Miranda Maverick – JJ Aldrich
Miranda Maverick could be the brightest young prospect in the sport at the moment. At just 23-years-old, she has slotted herself into the Top 15 of the UFC Flyweight division. She showed that her jiujitsu is among the best in the world by defending the best Gillian Robertson had to offer. Maverick is now 5-0 in the UFC which includes two UFC victories. She is continuing her pursuit of her PhD at old Dominion University so her next UFC fight might be pushed back a little. Maverick is still super young and doesn’t need to be rushed into the Top 10 of the division. A fight with JJ Aldrich would be another big fight for Maverick. If she can get past the experience of Aldrich, she is ready for the top of the division.
Gillian Robertson – Liliya Shakirova
It is amazing to think that with all the records Gillian Robertson has, she is still just 25-years-old. She has been facing the best in the world since her MMA debut against Hannah Goldy. At 9-6 her record is very deceiving as she can defeat most of the division on any given day. As mentioned, she is still very young in the sport and should be treated that way. When we look at Sean O’Malley, he was built up by fighting unranked guys to get to where he is. The UFC should look to do the same with Robertson. Liliya Shakirova was signed last year as a last-minute replacement to fight Lauren Murphy. Shakirova would offer Robertson an unranked opponent to get her back to her winning ways. For Shakirova, it’s an opportunity to get her first UFC win.
Jamie Mullarkey def. Khama Worthy via KO (Punch)
Jamie Mullarkey – Uroš Medić
Jamie Mullarkey’s UFC career has been a whirlwind to say the least. In his debut, he was paired with Brad Riddell in a fight of the night performance. In his sophomore appearance, he was edged out by Fares Ziam in a controversial decision. His back was against the wall against Khama Worthy and he delivered. He knocked out the American in under a minute and got his first UFC victory. Given the COVID-19 protocols in Australia, Mullarkey will likely be taking some time off. For the sake of us fans hopefully we see him back in action this summer. Uroš Medić recently earned an emphatic knockout against Aalon Cruz. Both Mullarkey and Medić are exciting strikers so this one would be crowd-pleasing.
Khama Worthy – Chris Gruetzmacher
Khama Worthy is one of the more charismatic personalities in the division. After opening up his UFC career 2-0, he has now dropped his last two fights. Given the depth of the lightweight division, Worthy finds himself in a must win situation in his next fight. Worthy’s third professional fight was against Paul Felder which is incredible in retrospect. There are plenty of fights available for Worthy in a stacked 155lb division which makes matchmaking super difficult. Chris Gruetzmacher’s name may also be on the chopping block if he doesn’t manage to win his next fight. Gruetzmacher has lost three of his last four but does own a win over Joe Lauzon. This fight would be a nice addition to a fight night card this summer.