The Heavyweight trilogy wrapped up in fantastic fashion, with an incredible and technical war between Stipe and DC.
Afterwards, we’re stuck asking ourselves… what’s next for the victors? Well I’m here to try to play matchmaker for our main card winners and see what fights could (and should) be on the horizon!
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou (HW)
Stipe solidified his legacy as the greatest UFC Heavyweight (the overall GOAT title still belongs to Fedor, in my opinion) with a unanimous decision over Daniel Cormier. He proved his adaptability and variety once again, not allowing DC to get his wrestling going or get his shots off without counters. Ngannou has been the long-time boogeyman of the division and despite being ground out by Stipe and the sloppy Lewis fight, Ngannou has been nothing short of terrifying. Now riding four straight first round knockouts over top ranked competition, he can no longer be denied his title shot.
Marlon Vera vs. Merab Dvalishvili (BW)
This one is special, because both fighters won tonight.
Marlon Vera derailed the hype train of Sean O’Malley after a leg injury put Sean on his back. That’s not to take anything away from Vera, though, who displayed excellent risk management against the brutal power of O’Malley, likely securing himself a number next to his name.
Merab Dvalishvili once again dominated in a decision win over veteran and former two-time title challenger John Dodson. Dvalishvili displayed that even if he is unable establish top control, the mere threat of his wrestling and relentless pace in striking are more than enough to secure him the win, and by a large margin, no less. These two victors matched up present a great stylistic matchup of specialties and a top-notch example of the stacked BW division.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Alistair Overeem 2 (HW)
After a fairly timid first round, Bigi Boy delivered a stunning KO over former champion Junior Dos Santos, showcasing that his knockouts aren’t simply a result pure power. I was skeptical of the quick turnaround after the devastating loss to Ngannou, but Rozenstruik showed himself well, even taking a few power shots from JDS and showing his chin is by no means cracked. I think a rematch of their controversial December fight is in order, as Ngannou seems next in line for the title, while Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes have expressed verbal interest in a number one contender bout opposite one another. Their first meeting saw Overeem outstrike and dominate Rozenstruik on the mat, before falling to leaping power right, so a rematch presents a great challenge, especially for the relatively green Bigi Boy.
Daniel Pineda vs. Andre Fili (FTW)
Pineda’s return to the Octagon could not have gone better, as he concisely handled top prospect Herbert Burns in striking and grappling before pounding Burns out from the crucifix position. With Burns’ spot not far removed from the top 15, Pineda deserves a crack to get right up there and a fight against proven veteran Andre Fili allows him the chance to show some consistency inside the Octagon. Fili most recently emerged victorious in a decision over Charles Jourdain, putting his name just barely outside of the rankings.
We have Frankie Edgar’s Bantamweight debut against Pedro Munhoz next weekend in what is sure to either be a quick finish or absolute firefight.
If you need some more fights in the meantime, check out the Contender Series, with predictions and reviews expertly written by Coby McKinley.