Fights To Make After UFC 264

After a captivating night full of finishes in an electric T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas capped off by the end of arguable the biggest trilogy in UFC history as Dustin Poirier beat Conor McGregor via TKO by doctors stoppage due to a broken tibia in the first rounds. As comes with wins and loses is moving up and down the rankings of their said divisions as Dana White said himself that the winner of Poirier and McGregor is booked for the next chance at the lucrative UFC championship against the current champion Charles Oliviera. This magical night in Vegas guarantees to shift the UFC ladder, as winners get one step closer to championship aspirations while the losers regroup and move onto the next possible matchup. Many big names propelled themselves into big-name fights, such as "Suga" Sean O'Malley's record-breaking and fight of the night performance and Gilbert Burns' gritty performance and getting one step closer to a rematch with UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Now let's get to what fights should be next for the winners and losers on UFC 264.

Dustin Poirier V.S Charles Oliviera

This fight was already confirmed at the UFC 264 post-event press conference as the main event was a massive title eliminator. Dustin's resume alone already deserves another shot at the lightweight belt after losing to Khabib at UFC 242 by third-round rear-naked choke. He is 11-2-1 in his last fourteen fights and now has not one but TWO wins over both Conor McGregor and Max Holloway. He is 1000% the next man in line and has been for quite some time against Charles Oliviera, which would be his first title defense since winning it against Michael Chandler back in April. Many people still doubt if Charles can fight among the top lightweights of the world after Khabib's retirement and his TKO victory over Chandler, but Poirier will definitely give him the biggest payday of his career and the toughest hurdle to pass if he wants to hold onto the lightweight strap.

Conor McGregor V.S Nate Diaz 3

With the way, Conor lost the main event and the magnitude of the defeat in the public eye, many will speculate what the next step is for the "Notorious One" will be. Wrapping up the Diaz trilogy after everything that transpired will make the most out of both Diaz's and McGregor's star-power; it will also lead to a high revenue due to the value this fight holds. The first fight was in March of 2016, with Diaz coming in to fight on short notice to replace an injured RDA who was scheduled to defend his lightweight title against Conor, who held the featherweight title at the time and was trying to become double champ. Diaz's boxing style of punches in bunches hurt Conor in the 2nd round and forced him to shoot and got caught in a rear-naked choke that gave Diaz the upset win. Fast forward to August, and the rematch took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas, where Conor would dominate and achieve a Unanimous Decision victory. With now both fighters now coming off of recent losses and Diaz in lightweight purgatory of match-making, there is no better time to book this fight and catapult either Diaz or McGregor back into stardom.

Gilbert Burns V.S Leon Edwards

With Leon's last victory against Nate Diaz not giving him the momentum he needed to secure a title shot against Kamaru Usman, he will most likely need a second opportunity to avenge the loss to Usman all the way back in 2015. On Burns' behalf, the victory against Wonderboy was not the most fan-friendly or exciting per se. But it shows that Gilbert can execute a game plan and get the win in the smartest way possible. He showed the ability to execute a game plan when he dropped Usman in his title challenge back in February. Sure he did not stick through with it after hurting the champion, but he rebounded well against Wonderboy by keeping him on the outside, not being able to counter, and taking him down almost at will. This fight would almost certainly be a title eliminator if Colby Covington gets the next shot but will Leon's precision striking and elbows be able to put away Gilbert, or will "Durinho" be able to showcase his BJJ black belt skills and submit Leon "Rocky" Edwards?

Stephen Thompson V.S Belal Muhammad

Stephen Thompson didn't give the fans the Wonderboy type of performance we were expecting, such as his fights against Jorge Masvidal and Johnny Hendricks. He almost seemed gunshot to fire against Gilbert due to the healthy threat of the takedown shown by Durinho. Many believe that Wonderboy's time as an elite contender is done after the recent loss and that he has lost his step while age is catching up, but a matchup against rising contender Belal Muhammad would work great for both sides. Belal is campaigning for another big name after the unfair ending to his main event bout against Leon Edwards, with Belal receiving a nasty eye poke which ended the fight and a recent unanimous decision win over Demian Maia on UFC 263. He needs a big name to really label himself as a true contender in a stacked welterweight division, and Wonderboy needs the right dance partner to throw his name back into title contention.

Tai Tuivasa V.S Loser of Shamil Abdurakhimov/Chris Daukaus

Tuivasa's performance against Greg Hardy started with him walking out to Wannabe by the Spice Girls and singing his way down to the octagon, finishing Hardy within a minute and a half and caps off the electric performance with his signature shoey and tosses the can and shoe across the arena. The Australian has now won his last 3 fights within the distance with knockouts over Stefan Struve, Harry Hunsucker, and now Hardy after Saturday night. In his post-fight interview, he expressed the want to have a fight in the top 15 and with how the heavyweight division is currently, having Tuivasa against the loser of Shamil Abdurakhimov and Chris Daukaus, which is slated for July 24th. Shamil is a name that has gone under the radar even though he is ranked #7 in the world and has wins over Marcin Tybura and Andrei Arlovski, but with the lack of activity with his last fight being against Curtis Blaydes in a losing effort back in September of 2019. However, the Philadelphia native Chris Daukaus is a prospect rising through the ranks with his first 3 UFC fights; all KO/TKO wins, and all of these fights took place in the last 7 months. To have Tuivasa's stand and bang style really shine and to give him his next big challenge, it should be whoever loses in a pivotal matchup for the heavyweight division moving forward.

Greg Hardy V.S Ovince St. Preux

It is very hard to find your footing in the UFC when on a losing streak. Names like Anderson Silva and Grey Maynard are a few examples of fighters that went on notable losing streaks and fell down the rankings. But eventually, there are matchups that come around the corner that are almost guaranteed fireworks, whether losing streaks are involved or not. Former NFL Pro Bowler turned UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy holds a 4-4 record with 1 no-contest due to Hardy using an inhaler in between rounds against Ben Sosoli but currently on a 2 fight skid with him being finished in both fights. OSP is a UFC veteran of 24 fights and is known for the Von Flue choke, which many have campaigned for it to be changed to the "Von Preux" choke, with him having 4 UFC finishes with that exact choke. The only issue with this potential matchup is that OSP has been a light heavyweight for most of his career besides two bouts as of recent against Ben Rothwell and Tanner Boser, which he lost both. But if he stays at heavyweight and has a smooth cut, and manages his weight well, the matchup against "The Prince of War" would be great for either himself or Hardy to get on the right track.

Irene Aldana V.S Germaine De Randamie

Irene's boxing in the bantamweight division is only rivaled by Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, and that was shown as she finished Yana Kunitskaya with a check left hook (Shoutout Paul Daley) and massive elbows and hammerfists in the first frame. De Randamie got back into the win column after taking the GWOAT Amanda Nunes to 5 rounds back in December of 2019 with a submission win over Julianna Pena via 3rd round guillotine on fight island, which marks his first submission win as a pro. Both Irene and "The Iron Lady" are not the type of fighters to shoot for takedowns and work the ground game to their advantage, but that is where the fight lean towards Aldana. She is more formidable on the ground compared to the Muay Thai style that De Randamie has, holding 3 submission victories on her record, including an armbar finish over Bethe Correia back in 2019. On the feet, however, this is matchup gold; Aldana is mainly a boxer that utilizes her check hooks when someone comes in the pocket and has used great body hooks and head movement, while De Randamie has amazing knees and power punches, so this is a FOTN contender written all over it and may lead to title implications depending on how the fight turns out.

Yana Kunitskaya V.S Macy Chiasson

Kunitskaya's path through the UFC bantamweight rankings has not been easy, with her debut coming against Cris Cyborg out of all people and has built up a UFC record of 4-3 with wins over Marion Reneau and Ketlen Viera. With her being the current girlfriend to none other than UFC light heavyweight Thiago Santos, maybe she can learn a thing or two from him while progressing through her career. She had her moments against Aldana until she got caught and put away, and pinning her against a prospect like Chiasson really should set in stone if she can be a legit contender for Amanda Nunes' title. Chiasson won the 28th season of the Ultimate Fighter by finishing Pannie Kianzad by 2nd round rear-naked choke and amassed a 4-1 record, with her most recent win being her biggest against Marion Reneau. However, Chiasson is booked against another prospect in the name of Aspen Ladd on July 24th, and win or lose; the next step should be against a seasoned veteran in Kunitskaya to push her closer to title contention with a stoppage win.

Sean O'Malley V.S Dominick Cruz

The next installment of the highly anticipated Suga Show should be a quick turnaround against dismantling and setting a record for most significant strikes landed with 230, and significant head strikes landed with 177 against Kris Moutinho. O'Malley called out Rob Font in his post-fight interview, but many believe that he should not fight a top 5 contender yet due to the lack of strength of the schedule of opponents. The knockouts and the popularity is through the roof now, but the best way to put his striking skills to the fullest is by booking him against former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz. After a 4-year absence dealing with injuries after losing his belt to a then-undefeated Cody Garbrandt (look at how things change, huh?). He came back and came up short with a title challenge against Henry Cejudo. However, he bounced back with a UD win over Casey Kenney, who just happens to be a teammate of O'Malley at the MMA Lab back in March of this year. He is currently ranked #9 in the world, and if he pulls off a win against O'Malley, that would throw him right back into title contention while Cruz is the big name; Sean needs to be able to push his popularity and fighting ability to the next level.

Kris Moutinho V.S Journey Newson

By far, the biggest fight of Kris Moutinho's life was obviously against Sean O'Malley on the main card of a McGregor PPV. Did he lose badly? Yes, did O'Malley hit him with the most shots in any bantamweight fight ever? Also Yes. The one huge positive you can take away from the fight was Moutinho has a chin made of whatever Thor's hammer is made out of, and he has the heart of a lion. He ate 177 head strikes and did not go down and stood toe to toe with Sean until Herb Dean stepped in and called it with only 27 seconds to go. Of course, he will need some time off due to medical suspensions since he took a beating, but the next fight he gets booked in will show his talents to the fullest and have him possibly clock in his first UFC win against Journey Newson. Journey has fought a murderer's row of fighters in his UFC stint, with his debut coming against Ricardo Ramos and amounting to a 0-2 with one no-contest due to a failed drug test. Newson is coming off a head kick KO loss to Randy Costa, but the Cage Sports veteran is always exciting and always goes out on his sword. Check out his finish over Domingo Pilarte to see what Newson can really offer against the right matchup, and a fighter like Moutinho, who is well rounded, should turn out another $75K FOTN bonus check for the green-haired zombie known as Kris Moutinho.

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