UFC 261 was a special night. Not only because there was three title fights, but fans were back.
Hearing the roar of a crowd was magical. After the past 400 days or so of quarantine, this was a special moment in sports. Kudos to the UFC and the state of Florida for pulling it off.
Aside from making history, the event was special due to the three title fights on the card. Now let’s try and find out what’s next for the men and women involved in those fights on this Matchmaker Monday.
Result: defeated Jorge Masvidal by second-round TKO at UFC 261
Next: Colby Covington
This fight was not the one to make. I get that Masvidal is a star because of the Askren KO and the three piece and a soda comment. However, we saw Usman easily get past Masvidal once already and now this time he made it look even easier.
Covington is the fight. It always has been the fight. The first one was epic. The second fight will have an epic build up. Usman seems like he’s on another level right now, but if anyone can match it then it’s Covington. Plus, UFC president Dana White said that’s next. So there you have it.
Result: lost to Kamaru Usman by second-round TKO at UFC 261
Next: Leon Edwards or Nate Diaz
Masvidal is still a star win or lose. How do you keep his star shining? Give him a fight that sells.
One fight that sells is Covington, but that’s not happening as Covington and Usman have business.
Another fight that sells is Edwards, who has been waiting to get his hands on Masvidal since their drama back stage a few years ago.
Finally, there’s a BMF rematch with Diaz. Remember the numbers that fight did the first time? Big numbers. Not to mention they sold out Madison Square Garden.
I’m sure the winner of Edwards and Diaz at UFC 262 will fight try and hold out for a title fight, but no matter who wins or loses, a fight with Masvidal is still on the table.
Rose Namajunas & Weili Zhang
Result: Namajunas defeated Zhang by first-round TKO at UFC 261
Namajunas is once again champion. The good news is that she is fan favorite which is good for the company. The bas news is that she hates the spotlight and hasn’t been very active over the years.
Nonetheless, White said in his press conference that the division needs to start moving because of the great talent in it, which is great news because in my opinion the UFC dragged its feet moving this division along. Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk should have rematch later last year instead of having the division held up until now to give Namajunas time to heal from a broken nose.
The past is now the past and the future will start with a rematch. White said he’ll go back to the drawing board, but right now he wants to see a rematch. I see where he’s coming from as the stoppage was definitely premature, but yet Zhang was likely done for as she was in a bad spot after the head kick.
A wildcard here is Jedrzejczyk. Many people don’t like her and will do anything possible to talk down about her, but her resume speaks for itself and the division is the best female division in women’s MMA because what she did during her reign as champion.
There is a giant hole in Jedrzejczyk’s resume and that is of course the fact that she’s down 0-2 to Namajunas. Their second was a close and Jedrzejczyk out struck Namajunas in every single round. Still at the end of the day she is down 0-2. Jedrzejczyk will be vocal and make a good case, can she convince the boss is the question.
Result: defeated Jessica Andrade by second-round TKO at UFC 261
Next: winner of Lauren Murphy and Joanne Calderwood
Shevchenko is a monster. Just keep lining people up and see if they can shock the whole, which right now seems like an impossible task.
Next is the winner of the No.1 contender fight in her division between Lauren Murphy and Joanne Calderwood.
Amanda Nunes is a wildcard here. The champ-champ is finally returning to bantamweight in August. A trilogy here is warranted, but again, just like Jedrzejczyk with Namajunas, Shevchenko is down 0-2 to Nunes.
If Nunes and Shevchenko both want the fight, White said he’ll make it. However, neither seems to being vocal about it. So until then keep lining up the contenders at flyweight for the Shevchenko.
Result: lost to Valentina Shevchenko by second-round TKO at UFC 261
Next: rematch with Jennifer Maia
No stock lost for Andrade. She lost to the flyweight queen and one of the greatest women’s fighters of all time.
Andrade is still a bad woman. She’s the only women’s fighter in UFC history to claim victories in three different weight classes.
Her road back to the title shouldn’t take long as long she picks up another win or two. That journey should start with Maia, who holds a win over Andrade back in 2012. Maia just fought Shevchenko to the distance and she won a round which is rare.
They are both coming off title losses, they are both ranked close to one another and they have previous against one another. All ingredients to set up the fight.