UFC 260 has come and gone. Another card ravaged by injury and illness led to a fight night with fewer high profile fights than expected, but still plenty of meaningful movement in a number of divisions. Today we look at those who picked up the ‘W’ and are now ready to make even more noise in their weight class.
Nobody made more noise this last weekend than the new heavyweight champion. Not only did Ngannou knock out the former champion, Stipe Miocic, but he did so much more than that. People expected him to have the big KO blow in his giant arms, what they didn’t expect was for him to look like a complete fighter featuring leg kicks, takedown defense, a little wrestling of his own, and most importantly, patience. With all those things in tow, Ngannou is ready for one of the biggest tests in the sport – trying to give Jon Jones his first real loss. While Dana White and Jones seem to be sparring over cost, with White teasing he may just go with Derrick Lewis, this is still the fight they need to make. Here’s to hoping they get it done.
Francis Ngannou’s Next Fight: Jon Jones
On Saturday, Vicente Luque fought a very different looking Tyron Woodley. Rather than being the passive fighter he had been in his last three bouts, Woodley came out firing like a madman. Luque handled it nicely, tagging the former champion multiple times before snatching a brabo choke. While this is the biggest win for Luque, a win over Woodley just doesn’t mean what it used to. Combine that with a recent loss to Wonderboy, and the fact that the top of the welterweight division just doesn’t seem interested in taking fights with guys like him – it doesn’t spell a big step up. Geoff Neal is in a similar spot, having lost in his opportunity to face Wonderboy as well. A match-up between the two would probably vault one of them high enough to get another big name.
Vicente Luque’s Next Fight: Geoff Neal
Returning for the first time since his first loss (regardless of what he tells you), Sean O’Malley looked like everything people have expected him to be. He threw with a power rarely seen by bantamweights and picked apart Thomas Almeida. Love him or hate him, the UFC sees O’Malley as a draw. The loss to Marlon Vera might be enough for some people to say that he shouldn’t be moving up too far, but I think the UFC will beg to differ. Ricky Simon is likely just outside of the UFC’s top 15. He’s won three straight and is due for a high profile fight in his own right. Not only would it be a fun fight, but it would test O’Malley against someone with stellar takedowns, which we haven’t really seen yet.
Sean O’Malley’s Next Fight: Ricky Simon
In just her second UFC fight, Miranda Maverick again impressed all those watching. Not only did she go in and beat a tough and more experienced Gillian Robertson, but she did so while engaging the grappler on the ground. In doing so, the flyweight prospect showed off that she’s not afraid to fight anywhere. At just 23-years old, the UFC should be cautious about rushing her too far up the division. However, a lot of the bottom of the top 15 is already booked for bouts against one another. She may have to wait for one of those to shake out before finding an opponent. One of those match-ups that I think she should keep an eye on is Andrea Lee and Antonina Shevchenko. Both would bring a higher level of physicality to the fight than Robertson met her with, and would be good tests for the up and comer.
Miranda Maverick’s Next Fight: Winner of Lee/Shevchenko
Jamie Mullarkey was likely on the way out of the UFC with a loss in the PPV opener Saturday night. Sitting at 0-2, the Aussie had been fun to watch, but not enough so to overcome a 3rd straight loss. Luckily for him, he just put in his best performance of his career with a blistering 46-second KO of Khama Worthy. While he was denied a deserved performance bonus for his hands, he did earn himself at least one more fight in the UFC. I imagine they’ll test him with a fresh face who may also be coming off of a win. Uros Medic was not tested at all in his debut against Aalon Cruz. Mullarkey’s power combined with his grappling, which is actually his best trait, would test what Medic needs tested.
Jamie Mullarkey’s Next Fight: Uros Medic