This past Saturday proved to be a good one for fighters with a lot of hype and popularity. Dana White’s golden child Khamzat Chimaev picked up an impressive win while showing off a different side of his game, and the always entertaining Johnny Walker and Mackenzie Dern both snagged victories in their classic fashion. As the dust settles on the last Vegas event for a month, we look forward to what might be next for those winners.
Covington called for a title shot or Jorge Masvidal after his victory over Tyron Woodley. However, Gilbert Burns is already in line for that title shot and, while the performance was one-sided, I’m not sure he did enough to hype people up for a second shot at Usman. As far as “Street Jesus” goes, there just seems to be bigger money match-ups for him out there with either Diaz and Conor poking around. This leaves Covington in a weird limbo that either leaves him on the shelf for an extended time or pushes him towards a match-up with Leon Edwards. The fight would certainly answer a lot of questions about Edwards and would likely be for the #1 contender spot. Would Covington take it? I doubt it, but that’s what should be next.
Colby Covington’s Next Fight: Leon Edwards
Okay, so we already know that the UFC has promised him a bout with Demian Maia, or at least teased that notion. However, with the wrestling and now striking prowess he’s shown, he’s a nightmare match-up for Maia. Not only would Chimaev likely win that fight, but it wouldn’t really prove anything to his detractors. If the UFC doesn’t care about that, then let the hype train run right through the Brazilian, but if they do let’s see him in a tougher stylistic match-up. “Wonderboy” would be a huge step up in the striking department and would let us see if Chimaev’s wrestling can work against someone with great footwork. I, for one, would like to see the hot prospect keep proving things, but I’ll admit that this match-up is unlikely.
Khamzat Chimaev’s Next Fight: Stephen Thompson
Walker continues to perplex fans and analysts alike. At times he looks reckless and like he’ll be KOed for sure, only to then snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Coming off of two straight losses and nearly a third, there shouldn’t be too big of a push forward. I’d also like to see him fight someone willing to swing a bit with him. Volkan Oezdemir satisfies both of those scenarios. Although Oezdemir is coming off of a loss, he still represents a nice step up and a great style match-up.
Johnny Walker’s Next Fight: Volkan Oezdemir
Twice in a row now, opponents have agreed to engage Dern on the ground following a slip or knockdown. Twice in a row now, that was a bad choice. The UFC could certainly keep matching her up with people who would out-strike her but ultimately get sauced on the mat, or they could make things a bit more interesting for jiu jitsu fans. Let’s pair her with Virna Jandiroba for a grappler’s delight. It’ll answer the question as to whether Dern can sub anyone in the division and likely get to see a little more from Jandiroba’s hands.
Mackenzie Dern’s Next Fight: Virna Jandiroba
With all the abnormal striking, together with in cage trash talk, the gut feeling here is that you continue booking Kevin Holland in fun fights. However, with 6 wins in his last 7 fights, it may be time to get this man a ranked opponent. Ian Heinisch fits the bill, not only of someone who is ranked, but also someone who would engage in the type of exchanges Holland loves (maybe not the verbal ones though). This booking would help us determine if he’s just a ‘fun’ fighter or he’s a fun fighter who can crack at a high level. Heinisch is allegedly facing Brendan Allen next, but that fight seems cursed.
Kevin Holland’s Next Fight: Ian Heinisch