The aftermath of UFC 200 as well as Thursday and Friday’s night of fights left us all with a clearer indication of who is the best and who is next for a crack at the title in their respective divisions. Some examples can be found in the woman’s bantamweight division after Juliana Pena pulled off an upset decision victory over Cat Zingano. Zingano holds wins over both women included UFC 200’s main event and was favored to beat the up and coming Pena, but now she is left in a confusing spot while Pena is smelling like roses.
Speaking of which, Amanda Nunes quickly dispatched of Miesha Tate in the first round of their affair and now finds herself potentially sharing the octagon against Ronda Rousey or Holly Holm if she manages to get past Valentina Shevchenko later this month. The title changing hands from Rousey to Holm to Tate and now to Nunes, can be viewed as the evolution of the division as the competition has never been stiffer. Fireworks can always be guaranteed when Nunes steps in the cage and it only makes the division that more exciting.
The lightweight division took a surprising turn when Eddie Alvarez dethroned Rafael dos Anjos via TKO within minutes of their bout. Alvarez’s win only hurt Khabib Nurmagomedov’s chances of earning the next title shot since the man he soundly defeated over two years ago is no longer the champion. Alvarez did not take long to express his desire to defend his title against either Conor McGregor or Nate Diaz following their scrap and it’s likely the UFC would comply with his request considering how much interest the build up would draw. Then there is the fact that Donald Cerrone defeated Alvarez in his UFC debut and could come knocking for a rematch in search of his first UFC title.
If we take a look at the welterweight division we’d see that there is a new contender on the rise in the name of Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum’s impressive win over Johny Hendricks could place his name in the running for a title shot if he can pull off another win against a top five contender. Meanwhile, Johny Hendricks’ stock continues to diminish and a lot of could be due to his struggle in making the welterweight limit. We could possibly see Hendricks move up to the 185 pound division, which could make for some David vs Goliath like match ups considering his size.
The heavyweight division opened up UFC 200’s main card as Cain Velasquez battered Travis Browne inside one round to throw his name into the title picture once again. Velasquez wasn’t the only heavyweight making noise that night, in fact the man who Velasquez defeated years ago garnered far more attention with his performance. Brock Lesnar returned and immediately looked like a fish out of water during exchanges with Mark Hunt, however once he managed to get the Australian native onto the mat, it was Lesnar’s world.
Brock Lesnar’s return after a five year MMA hiatus sparked even more interest in seeing him in the octagon after his display of control over a top ten heavyweight like Mark Hunt. Lesnar did not state whether or not he would return, but if he does, a rematch against Cain Velasquez seems like the way to go. Or perhaps a fight against another lethal striker like Junior Dos Santos. After all, they were scheduled to fight following their stint on TUF 13.
Then there was the incredible tale of two fights in the women’s straw weight title bout between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha. Two bitter rivals entered the octagon and immediately off the bat Gadelha controlled the champion against the cage and scored takedowns with relative ease over the course of the first two rounds. Then came the third round and that’s when Jedrzejczyk was able to find her range and fend off the takedown attempts while Gadelha began running out of gas. The champion was successful in turning the tide and never looking back while Gadelha tried her best but failed to regain control of the fight. With the Polish champion eyeing the 125 division and no other contenders at 115 pounds appearing ready for a title shot, we could be seeing the rise of a dominant long term champion.
The top of the featherweight division once again bares a familiar face in interim champion, Jose Aldo. Following Aldo’s victory of Edgar, we may have to wait for Edgar to move down to bantamweight in order to become a champion in two weight classes. The rematch nobody seemed too thrilled about in Aldo vs McGregor is all of a sudden enticing following UFC 200.
With Jon Jones potentially facing a two year suspension, Daniel Cormier is left without a dancing partner at least until Glover Teixeira and Anthony Johnson face off at UFC 202. And then there was the news broken by Dana White on who Michael Bisping’s first title defense will be against.
Enter Dan Henderson, the 45 year old MMA legend who knocked Bisping out back in UFC 100. With the surprising title fight in the works, that means Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero are left to battle for the next shot. Rockhold has never face Romero before and with Romero’s explosiveness, we could be in store for a barn burner. Weidman and Souza have also never faced off, but the two possess impressive grappling backgrounds that could make for some interesting exchanges on the ground.
Then of course was TJ Dillashaw’s decisive victory over the man who hold a win over him, Raphael Assuncao. The win puts Dillashaw back in talks for a title shot and would only lead to another nail biting bout between two of the smoothest fighters in the game today.
From here on out, it only gets more fun and exciting to see how things play out in the aforementioned weight divisions and barring injuries, we are in for some great match ups.