UFC 261 delivered in a big way. There was non-stop action, weird finishes and more than a little violence. While three fighters walked away with their belts, three are left wondering where they go from here. Today, we take a look at those three, as well as the rest of those who lost on the main card.
**Note: I have intentionally left Chris Weidman off this list. With impending surgery and a very rough injury, I felt it was disrespectful to even speculate on what might be next for him.
With one brutal right hand, Kamaru Usman erased any questions that people had about Masvidal’s short training camp for their first bout. In doing so, he handed Masvidal back-to-back losses making Gamebred just 3-4 over the last 4 years. That record and the losing streak doesn’t align well with just how big of a star he is and will continue to be. You could book him against anyone and it sells immediately. So why not get the most bang out of the buck and book fights that are fun, even if they aren’t meaningful. Nick Diaz was in attendance and looking for a fight. Does he have anything to offer Masvidal at this point? Who knows, but it would certainly get fans hyped regardless.
Jorge Masvidal’s Next Fight: Nick Diaz
Champions losing for the first time are sometimes in line for a rematch. With Zhang’s first loss in nearly 2 years coming via head kick KO, it doesn’t appear that’ll be the case for her. She likely has to go back and get another quality win in order to earn the rematch. If we’re going to have her fight a non-title fight, is there anyone who you’d like to see her fight more than Joanna Jedrzejczyk? Their first fight was an instant classic and people already were excited for a rematch. Now with a #1 contender spot clearly at stake, it is the perfect time to book them together again.
Weili Zhang’s Next Fight: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jessica Andrade entered the flyweight title fight expecting to have a strength and wrestling advantage over Valentina Shevchenko. Instead, she found herself on the opposite side of every advantage she thought she might have. Still, it’s only the second flyweight fight for Andrade, who TKO’d Katlyn Chookagian in her divisional debut. It isn’t unreasonable to think she could work her way back to a title shot. To start that process, she should pair up with Cynthia Calvillo. She’s in a similar spot having impressed in her debut at 125lbs and faltered in her second. This fight would put one of them right back into the mix.
Jessica Andrade’s Next Fight: Cynthia Calvillo
While Jimmy Crute loss this fight, a lot of people will feel like his stock went up. He was putting in a great performance against Anthony Smith right up until he got dead-legged. He even managed to score some takedowns after his foot appeared to stop working. Add in that he tried to power through it and keep fighting and I think the UFC is going to stay high on the 25-year old. A good fight for him next is the one he was supposed to have this past weekend – Johnny Walker. Walker tore a pectoral muscle and will likely need some recovery time. If their returns line up, it would make sense to try to book them again from both a style and a rankings perspective.
Jimmy Crute’s Next Fight: Johnny Walker