UFC 238 is in the books and it lived up to the hype. The event solidified some number one contenders, gave us a knockout of the year contender, crowned a new champion, and showcased the highest levels of MMA.
So what’s next for the main card participants? Well, that remains to be seen. But I can tell you who I’d like to see them face off against.
Henry Cejudo vs the winner of Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga or Aljamain Sterling.
Henry Cejudo has done it again. “The Messenger” continues to defy the odds on a constant crusade towards greatness that is rarely seen. The man’s self-belief and ability to will his vision into the material is almost otherworldly at this point.
He mentioned wanting to defend both the bantamweight and flyweight titles, and I trust that if anyone can stay a defending champ-champ, it’s Cejudo (I’m done counting the guy out at this point). If this is the case, and we’re to believe Dana White when he says the division is sticking around, he should take on the winner of Joseph Benavidez vs Jussier Formiga, who collide at UFC Minneapolis later this month.
Cejudo has fought both in the past—defeating Formiga and losing a close bout to Benavidez—so the chance to avenge that Benavidez loss has to be enticing. Should Formiga win, that would put him on a five-fight winning streak that’s impossible to deny.
If Cejudo stays at bantamweight, or Dana White changes his mind and deletes the flyweight division, Aljamain Sterling staked his claim for the next shot at 135 pounds over the weekend.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Liz Carmouche (should she win at UFC San Antonio) or the winner of Amanda Nunes vs Holly Holm.
Women’s flyweight is still trying to sort itself out. Most in the division are on a one-, maybe two-fight win streak. That makes this one a little tricky. It becomes even trickier when you’re looking at the top ten of the weight class and trying to decide who could actually challenge “The Bullet”.
At UFC 238, Valentina Shevchenko provided us with one of the most alarming knockouts we’ve seen in some time. The best potential matchup is Liz Carmouche should she beat Roxanne Modafferi at UFC San Antonio next month. Carmouche is durable, has a grinding pace and solid grappling that may prove the most interesting test for Shevchenko. Carmouche is also one of only two women to beat Shevchenko in mixed martial arts.
Katlyn Chookagian is 4-1 in her last five, but is only on a one-fight win streak. There is a chance we could see her next up should Carmouche lose her upcoming bout, but I think it’d be best if Shevchenko waited for the division to sort itself out at that point. Maybe she could jump back up to bantamweight and take on the winner of Amanda Nunes vs Holly Holm after their bout next month? Both Shevchenko’s fights with Nunes were razor close and “The Bullet” already holds a win over Holm.
And If Shevchenko loses at bantamweight again, her stock doesn’t drop at 125 pounds.
Tony Ferguson vs the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.
Give this man his damn title shot. Tony Ferguson has now won his last 12 fights in a row. Nothing else makes sense for “El Cucuy.” It has to be the winner of the UFC 242 main event.
Petr Yan vs the winner Raphael Assuncao and Cory Sandhagen.
Petr Yan’s power and technical boxing prowess were once again on display over the weekend as he busted up Jimmie Rivera over three rounds. While clearly being on the short list for contention, Yan needs to wait his turn in the queue.
Cory Sandhagen is another young prospect who is getting his toughest test against Raphael Assuncao later this summer. Why not set the winner up against Yan down the road to produce another potential contender?
I’m usually not a fan of booking up and comers against each other while en route to a title shot, but in this case, both Yan and Sandhagen are young enough to bounce back from the loss. It’d also provide us with an absolute banger. If Assuncao beats Sandhagen, The Brazilian is a great test for Yan to see if he’s ready that number one spot.
Blagoy Ivanov vs the winner of Walt Harris vs Alexy Oleinek.
Blagoy Ivanov won a hard-fought decision over a game Tai Tuivasa at UFC 238. The Bulgarian is now 2-1 with the promotion and will probably be considered top ten or at least on the cusp of it. He showed he wasn’t ready for the top of the weight class when he was boxed up badly by Junior dos Santos over five rounds in his debut.
Alexy Oleinik and Walt Harris are a couple of top fifteen heavyweights and a fight against Ivanov would decide who deserves a slight step up in competition going forward.
Losers of the main card:
Marlon Moraes: The winner of Rob Font vs John Lineker sounds fun. Let’s do that.
Jessica Eye: I doubt we see Eye back in the cage for some time. If she does decide to return this year, book her against the loser of Andrea Lee and Montana De La Rosa.
Donald Cerrone: Cowboy will likely be taking a well-deserved break to heal up. It’s hard to say when he’ll be back in action, but I’d like to see him rematch Charles Oliveira or Edson Barboza down the road.
Jimmie Rivera: Rivera had quite the public beef with Cody Garbrandt last year. Both are on losing streaks and it would be a good fight for relevancy at the top of the bantamweight division.
Tai Tuivasa: Tuivasa vs Sergey Pavlovich would be a banger. Throw that on UFC 243 in Australia, please.
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The Scrap’s Brandon Sibcy has been following MMA since the year that Randleman dumped Fedor on his head and has been writing about it since the last year that Cody Garbrandt was undefeated. Follow Brandon on Twitter (@B_S_Sibcy).