Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged the UFC 251 ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) event last night (Sat., July 11, 2020) on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. In the main event, Kamaru Usman defended his 170-pound strap against Jorge Masvidal after dominating him for five rounds to earn a unanimous decision win (see it again here). In the co-headlining act, Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, defeated Max Holloway a second time to retain his 145-pound belt (highlights). Petr Yan, meanwhile, defeated Jose Aldo via fifth round knockout to become the new Bantamweight champion (video replay here).
Winner: Kamaru Usman
Who He Should Fight Next: Gilbert Burns
Sorry, Leon Edwards, but UFC President Dana White has already confirmed that “Durinho” would get the next shot at trying to dethrone “The Nigerian Nightmare.” Still, that hasn’t stopped “Rocky” from shooting his shot on social media. But at the end of the day, Burns is the rightful owner of the next title shot since COVID-19 was the reason he had to bow out of UFC 251 in the first place. There is no need to make this anymore complicated, UFC should simply book Usman vs. Burns, and have Edwards face the winner. Of course, Edwards is probably tired of waiting to fight, so he may very well break down and take another bout in the interim.
Winner: Alexander Volkanovski
Who He Should Fight Next: Zabit (if he defeats Yair)
Zabit Magomedsharipov is currently riding a 14-fight win streak and has yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon, winning all six of his UFC fights. Currently ranked No. 2 in the division, Zabit is lined up to take on Yair Rodriguez on Aug. 29, 2020. If he can win that fight, there is no question he deserves the next title shot. Should he lose, things get a bit interesting. Rodriguez could very well slide in with an emphatic win, though Chan Sung Jung would also have a case if he defeats Brian Ortega should that fight eventually be made official. There several scenarios that could play out in the coming months at 145 pounds, so all we can do is wait to see how it all unfolds. One thing if certain, we are NOT waiting until March 2021 for Volkanovski’s next title defense.
Winner: Petr Yan
Who He Should Face Next: Aljamain Sterling
This one is a no-brainer, as Sterling is currently ranked No. 2 at 135 pounds. Winner of five straight, “Funkmaster” has been on a tear since losing to Marlon Moraes 2.5 years ago. Moraes — ranked No. 1 — also has a case after defeating Jose Aldo in his last fight, but he came up short in his bid to win the strap just one year ago. Had he reeled off at least three wins during that time, then he’d likely be in line. For my money, you book Yan vs. Sterling, Moraes vs. Garbrandt and see what’s what.
Winner: Rose Namajunas
Who She Should Fight Next: Weili Zhang title fight
If Tatiana Suarez wasn’t battling neck issues, she would be the one challenging Weili Zhang for the title next, as she is undefeated (8-0, 5-0 inside the Octagon). But her last fight was in June 2019. Now that Rose is back in the win column, she will be the one to try and dethrone Zhang next. It’s a fresh match up that pits two great striking champions against each other. “Thug Rose’s” lone loss since 2016 is a knockout defeat to Jessica Andrade, so she is still one of the absolute best in the women’s Strawweight division.
Winner: Amanda Ribas:
Who She Should Fight Next: Antonina Shevchenko
Ribas made the move to Flyweight to send Paige VanZant packing. And while there are no definite plans for her to stay there, for the sake of argument let’s just say she will be staying put in her new division. She is currently unranked at 125 pounds, but that should all change come Monday morning. While she likely won’t hit the Top 10 straight away, she will be ranked and that’s all that matter s for the rising prospect. A fight against Antonina Shevchenko (No. 13) seem appropriate. Shevchenko is coming off a tough loss to No. 1-ranked contender, Katlyn Chookagian, so it goes to show you just how ridiculous the rankings system is when the promotion is booking No. 1 against No. 13. Still, a Ribas vs. Shevchenko match up I dig very much because there are a lot of positives to come out it for whoever comes out victorious.
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