What’s next? With the UFC back in action, there are several high-profile fighters who are coming off big wins and looking to get back into action as soon as possible. In this article, we will tackle what is likely next for these UFC fighters.
What’s Next for Michael Chiesa?
Can you think of a better candidate for “fighter who has looked brand new since changing weight classes?”. If he is not your top choice, Michael Chiesa is certainly up there. After suffering back to back losses against Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, Chiesa came to terms with the fact that he simply could not compete at the highest level while cutting enormous amounts of weight to fight at lightweight. He moved up to welterweight and made his UFC welterweight debut against seasoned welterweight veteran Carlos Condit. Chiesa dominated Condit from start to finish before securing a submission victory via kimura at 0:56 of round two. He followed his impressive welterweight debut with a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC 239. Chiesa was then tasked with facing former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos was the most difficult opponent that Chiesa has thus far faced in his UFC career but continued his streak with a unanimous decision victory over the former champ. As of May 2020, the #8 ranked Chiesa is fighting in one of the more complicated division in the UFC that includes Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards, and Tyron Woodley. What’s next for Michael Chiesa?
With Woodley and Burns about to face off and the lack of clarity for what Covington, Edwards and Masvidal are planning to do, there are only two opponents that make sense for “Maverick”. Ideally, Chiesa should aim to face #5 ranked Stephen Thompson who has cemented himself as one of the top welterweights over the last few years. A win over Thompson puts Chiesa in the top five and possibly one fight away from a title shot. If he cannot secure a bout with Thompson, the only other logical choice would Demian Maia. Maia is coming off a first round knockout loss to Gilbert Burns but still holds a #7 ranking in the division and is one of the most recognizable names in mixed martial arts. Either opponent will be a good way for Chiesa to continue his climb up the welterweight rankings and solidify his contender status.
What’s Next for Calvin Kattar?
If we learned anything about Calvin Kattar after his entertaining war against Jeremy Stephens, it is that he is a tough SOB and can hit as hard if not harder than anyone in the UFC featherweight division. Kattar has compiled a 5-2 record in his UFC campaign and has notable knockouts victories over Shane Burgos, Ricardo Lamas and of course Jeremy Stephens. The Boston native went three rounds with the high flying Zabit Magomedsharipov which resulted in a fight of the night and an increase in Kattar’s stock as a future featherweight star. This leads to the question at hand which is what’s next for Calvin Kattar?
Although it is probably unlikely, a rematch with Zabit should be the top option. Their first bout was wildly entertaining, and both have gotten even better since their showdown in Moscow. With Volkanovski and Holloway likely to rematch and Brian Ortega slated to face Chan Sung Jung, the most sensible move for Kattar is a rematch with the #ranked Zabit since their first fight was close and extremely competitive.
If that does not come to fruition, then it must be #5 ranked Yair Rodriguez. A part of me still wants to see Yair and Zabit thrown down due to the potential excitement that a bout of that nature would bring but I just do not see it happening for the time being. Either way, Kattar will get a top five ranked opponent and the chance to improve on his impressive #6 ranking.
What’ Next for Rob Font?
I have been a Rob Font fan since his UFC Debut back at UFC 175 where he knocked out George Roop in the first round. Font has compiled a 7-3 record his UFC career and has notable wins over Thomas Almeida, Matt Schnell, and Sergio Pettis. The #10 ranked UFC bantamweight is currently riding two fight win streak at the expense of Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. Font has never suffered back to back losses and is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division. So, what’s next for Rob Font?
With Henry Cejudo retiring, Petr Yan scheduled to face Jose Aldo and Aljamain Sterling taking on Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250, there are few options in the bantamweight division at this second. On top of that, Cody Garbrandt is facing Raphael Assuncao at the same event and Pedro Munhoz is facing Frankie Edgar the following month. That locks up the number two, three, four, five, six, seven and nine ranked fighters in the division for the time being. That leaves few options for Font to pursue. The most likely option is a showdown with the hard-hitting Jimmie Rivera who has suffered back to back losses to Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Rivera currently sits at #8 in the official rankings and desperately needs a win to stay in the top 10. A showdown between Font and Rivera makes all the sense in the world is a perfect opportunity for Font to break into the inside of the top 10 rankings.
What’s Next for Tatiana Suarez?
I miss watching Tatiana Suarez fight even though it has only been a year since her last UFC appearance. The undefeated women’s strawweight contender is my pick for UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion in 2021 due to her relentless pace and unmatched grappling ability in the division. The UFC women’s strawweight division is easily the most competitive division in women’s mma today. Jessica Andrade, Weili Zhang, Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha all call the division home which makes the opportunity for putting on incredible fights endless. Suarez has defeated Viviane Pereira, Alexa Grasso, Carla Esparza, and Nina Ansaroff thus far in her UFC career and is currently ranked at #3 in the official UFC rankings. So, for the final time, what’s next for Tatiana Suarez?
The one advantage Suarez has over all the other top five ranked women is the fact that she has not yet challenged for a belt. Joanna, Namajunas, and Andrade have all partaken in multiple title fights in the recent years and wrestling advantage Suarez holds over the top ranked women in the division make her an extremely dangerous opponent for any of them. I expect Zhang and Joanna to rematch after putting on the greatest women’s bout in mixed martial arts history. Namajunas and Andrade were scheduled to face off in April to determine the next challenger, but the bout was called off to the COVID-19 pandemic. If that fight is not rescheduled, expect Suarez to be matched with Rose in what would be a very intriguing matchup. If that does not come to fruition and those two are rebooked, Suarez should pursue a matchup with Claudia Gadelha who is on a two-fight win streak and currently holding a #6 ranking in the division. A win over Gadelha will make Suarez 6-0 in the UFC and deserving of a title shot soon.
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Andrew is a lifelong follower of combat sports. His passion began as a child and has only grown as an adult. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University and a master’s from Texas A & M University. Outside of combat sports, Andrew currently works as a program manager for an aerospace manufacturing company. He has trained Muay Thai for seven years and continues to spar and train on the weekends when time permits.