UFC on ESPN 3 was a night to remember for fight fans everywhere. There were great back and forth contests as well as plenty of finishes that had the MMA fan base buzzing all night. Now it is time to evaluate the future for the night’s biggest winners and losers.
Junior dos Santos – Following all of the fights this past Saturday, I think this is the toughest future to predict and that is simply because of the state of the Heavyweight division. It seems victory for anyone in the top 10 could potentially launch themselves into consideration for title contention. JDS was very honest with himself following the loss, admitting a long road ahead to another title opportunity. Curtis Blaydes makes for a fun fight pending a victory against Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC 242 and would keep JDS relevant in the title mix. If not Curtis Blaydes, Alexander Volkov is very capable and needs a fight following his frustrating loss at UFC 229.
Francis Ngannou – I would really like to see Francis get one more under his belt but that is unlikely because of the state of the division. He has more than earned his shot but I really do not want to hear the “too much, too soon” as we did with his first contest with Stipe. If he does not receive a shot at the winner of Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, Volkov is the only option as Francis has made quick work of the top 5 in the division.
Joseph Benavidez – Henry Cejudo. This one is easy. He just beat the #1 contender in Formiga and already holds a win over the current champion. It is title shot or bust for “Joey Two Times”.
Jussier Formiga – Unpopular opinion here and maybe a stretch but I wouldn’t be surprised if the UFC releases him. Formiga is a decision machine, relatively unknown by the casual fan base, and the UFC has been no stranger to releasing ranked Flyweights as of late, regardless of their résumé.
Demian Maia – It is no surprise that Maia needed a win here to remain in the top fifteen in the Welterweight division. A fight with #15 Vicente Luque would make for an outstanding stylistic contest. Luque is 9-2 under the UFC and has claimed victory in his last five UFC bouts, all by KO or submission. This could be a “changing of the guard” if Luque wins and would help cement his name as a legitimate future contender in the division.