A lot was on the line this past weekend at UFC 257, particularly in the lightweight division. With the king seemingly having abdicated his throne, jockeying for the next title shot was in full force. In the end, it was the underdogs who got the job done and staked their claims for what they believe to be theirs. Let’s look at where those chips should fall for their next bouts, along with some of the other winners from the main card.
Not only did Dustin Poirier go in there and stop Conor McGregor with strikes – which is something nobody has ever done – but he did it in a unpredictable way. Many who were picking Poirier expected him to lean on the grappling or to drag Conor into deep waters, but instead he blasted him early in the very way that many predicted Conor to win. At this point, with his record and the spectacular nature of his finish, there should be no question that he gets a crack at the belt. The most deserving one to face off with him would be Charles Oliveira, who is on a massive win streak. Not only are they both deserving of their shots, but the grappling stylings of Oliveira would be an interesting question for the Diamond to try to answer.
Dustin Poirier’s Next Fight: Charles Oliveira for the Lightweight Title
Michael Chandler made it clear that he wanted a title shot following his UFC debut. While the KO of Dan Hooker in that bout was certainly impressive, and recency bias always gets us, he still doesn’t quite have the claims that Oliveira and Poirier have. Although Dana hinted that he may be on that shortlist, I think one more fight would make more sense. With that being said, not only would Chandler vs. Justin Gaethje be a can’t miss slugfest, but the winner would definitely be deserving of a shot at the winner of Poirier and Oliveira.
Michael Chandler’s Next Fight: Justin Gaethje
Saturday night was a big night for Calderwood. After taking a short notice fight and losing the title shot she had already earned, she got back in the win column against a former title challenger in Jessica Eye. This got her a step closer to where she was before that decision and likely only a fight or two away from the belt. Lauren Murphy has likely already done enough to earn herself a title shot as well, but it would appear that she is not next for champ Valentina Shevchenko. If all signs are correct and point to Jessica Andrade as the next challenger, than Eye would be a good fight for JoJo to add to that resume and remove any doubt.
Joanne Calderwood’s Next Fight: Lauren Murphy
With the win over Andrew Sanchez, Muradov picked up his second straight finish and third straight win inside the octagon. He’s likely nipping at the heels of the top 15 and nobody would bat an eyelash if he were to get a ranked opponent next. Sitting in that same position though is Sean Strickland, who has also rattled off three straight with two finishes. His vastly improved striking would give Muradov a much needed litmus test for how much striking he can handle in that division.
Makhmud Muradov’s Next Fight: Sean Strickland
Not only did Marina Rodriguez halt a hype train, she did so in devastating fashion by knocking out Amanda Ribas (twice, but who’s counting). The striking for Rodriguez made her look like an elite strawweight and certainly one who could hang with anyone in the division. While she still could use a win over a wrestler-type to prove that isn’t her Achilles heel (as it was with Carla Esparza), let’s have some fun with that striking first. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has some of the most dynamic striking in the division. Put the two up against one another and let the sparks fly.
Marina Rodriguez’s Next Fight: Joanna Jedrzejczyk