UFC 241 is in the books and it was one of those rare fight cards that lived up to the hype. The prelims saw a new bantamweight contender emerge as Cory Sandhagen (12-1) took a hard-fought decision over a perennial top-fiver in Raphael Assuncao (27-7). Casey Kenny (13-1) took out a rising prospect in Manny Bermudez (14-1) in an exciting grappling affair. Khama Worthy (15-6) scored a huge upset over Devonté Smith (10-2) on less than a week’s notice.
While the prelims were great, once we got to the main card, the MMA gods lifted the floodgates and truly let the violence spew forth. UFC 241 shook up some rankings and answered a lot of questions that fight fans had going in.
So, what’s next for those who took part in this blockbuster event?
Derek Brunson vs. the loser of Jared Cannonier and Jack Hermansson:
Derek Brunson (20-7) went from being on the cusp of a title shot to fighting to stay relevant as he fell to 4-4 over the last few years. Since switching gyms and moving over to Hard Knocks 365, Brunson is 2-0 in 2019. In his win over Ian Heinisch (13-2) Saturday night, Brunson looked much crisper and less willing to engage in the wild brawling style that led to him getting clipped in the past. So, let’s give Brunson another top-tier opponent to see if he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
The loser of Jared Cannonier (12-4) and Jack Hermansson (20-4) fits the bill. They fight in less than a month and the winner likely is a fight or two away from a title shot. The loser will be looking to stay in the mix and both would be interesting style matchups against Brunson.
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Dan Ige:
Sodiq Yusuff (10-1) is now 3-0 in the Octagon and has earned two first-round finishes. With the featherweight division being the shark tank it is, there are plenty of fights available for both up and comers and established veterans. Pitting Yusuff against another surging featherweight in Dan Ige (12-2) would be a solid test for both men and tell us who deserves a chance to break into the top 15. Ige is on a four-fight win streak and most recently won a unanimous decision over Kevin Aguilar (17-2) last month.
Paulo Costa vs. the winner of Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker:
Paulo Costa (13-0) and Yoel Romero (13-4) was something special. The battle of muscle-bound behemoths was everything the fans hoped it would be and more. While some scored the bout for Romero, it’s impossible to call the decision a robbery. Standing in the pocket and trading with one of the most dangerous men on the planet, coupled with his undefeated record and a penchant for savagery should be more than enough to earn Costa the shot at the belt.
Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal:
Most fight fans were on board with Jorge Masvidal (34-13) fighting for the title after stiffening up Ben Askren in just five seconds last month. But the fight game is dynamic and ever-changing. UFC president Dana White has since gone on record as saying that Colby Covington (15-1) will face off against welterweight champ Kamaru Usman (15-1) next. Given Covington’s streak and the fact that he has held the interim title for the division, that makes sense. After Nate Diaz’s (20-11) beatdown of Anthony Pettis (22-9) over the weekend, the “Westcoast gangster” called for a bout with Masvidal to decide who should hold the title of “baddest mother f-cker“.
This fight checks every box and there is no reason for UFC brass not to set it up next. This is the type of big “money” fight that will surely line both fighter’s pockets. The lead up to the event would surely be respectful yet amusing. Both combatants have an exciting fan-friendly style that will undoubtedly deliver inside the Octagon. This is one of the few fights that could headline a pay-per-view even without a material belt on the line.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 or Daniel Cormier 3:
Daniel Cormier (22-2) has stated multiple times that he hopes to retire at 40-years of age. D.C hit that milestone earlier this year and seems unsure as to what is next following his loss to Stipe Miocic (19-3). Should Cormier stick around, a trilogy fight with Miocic is the fight that makes the most sense. If Cormier hangs up the gloves or opts for another crack at Jon Jones (25-1) instead, the only worthy contender for the title is Francis Ngannou (14-3).
Matches to make for the losers of the main card:
Ian Heinisch vs. Brad Tavares
Gabriel Benítez vs. Sheymon Moraes
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo Souza 2
Anthony Pettis vs. Geoff Neal
Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic or Jon Jones
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Brandon is a long-time combat sports fan who has covered fights since 2017. His work can be found at The Scrap News, The Body Lock, and Fansided MMA. Follow Brandon on Twitter (@B_S_Sibcy).