UFC 252 was loaded with upsets and several of them included some less than ideal circumstances. An eye poke and a faulty ankle threw a bit of a cloud over some phenomenal performances. Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves what will be next for some of these fighters who didn’t get the result they wanted in Vegas over the weekend.
The correct answer here is retirement. Cormier said this was the end after his loss and I am inclined to believe him this time. However, that isn’t all that fun of a discussion to have. If Cormier did decide to return there is a ton of fun fights to be had at heavyweight. The one that is the most intriguing stylistically would be a showdown with Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is in no-man’s land right now with Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou jockeying for the title shot, and Cormier would give him the name value he needs to get him over the hump. The wrestling exchange would also be must-watch MMA. With all that being said, there’s no way this fight gets Cormier out of retirement – we can dream though.
Daniel Cormier’s Next Fight: Retirement (Otherwise, Curtis Blaydes)
O’Malley’s first loss is not what we typically see of a prospect. He didn’t step up too fast or get more than he could handle. Instead, he seemed evenly matched and suffered an injury early. Whether or not Marlon Vera would have taken O’Malley out anyways will be debated, but regardless of your take, there doesn’t seem like a lot of reason to drop O’Malley’s level of competition significantly. Let’s pair him with a prospect who also took his first loss. Nathaniel Wood took a step back against John Dodson. His grappling would give O’Malley something to test him while also allowing him a chance to pick his momentum back up on the feet.
Sean O’Malley’s Next Fight: Nathaniel Wood
Junior dos Santos
This loss marks the third straight for dos Santos. However, losses to Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes and Jair Rozenstruik are hardly cause for serious concern. Still, it’s time for dos Santos to take a step out of that top tier and see if he still has what it takes to compete with even top 10 fighters. Alexei Oleinik is similarly coming off of a KO loss and is on the fringe of the top 10. Junior shouldn’t have to worry about being KOed for a 4th straight time against the submission specialist, which will allow us to see if he is still a serious threat for the heavyweight division.
Junior dos Santos’ Next Fight: Alexei Oleinik
Burns learned a tough lesson on Saturday night in a fight that saw him just a bit too comfortable going to his back against a slick grappler with heavy top game. While the UFC could give him a better stylistic match-up next time that would allow him to style on someone on the ground, the Burns brothers rarely seek out the easy match-up. Let’s test him again against wrestler Mike Grundy. He too is coming off of a loss and the fight would be fun no matter where it took place.
Herbert Burns’ Next Fight: Mike Grundy
Although Dodson doesn’t have the best recent record (just 1-3 in his last 4), the level of competition has been stiff for him. Fights with Petr Yan, Marlon Moraes, Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera, and now Merab Dvalishvili have all gone the distance. Brett Johns has similarly gone the distance with the top of the division and handled everybody outside of the top 15. A match-up between the two would be ideal to see who should keep getting shots against top 10 talent and who is going to fight the young prospects on the way up.
John Dodson’s Next Fight: Brett Johns