UFC 265 is in the books and what an event it was. A new champion was crowned, a previous champion reminded us that he never left, and even more fighters took huge jumps in their respective divisions. Today, we look to what is next for the main card fighters who walked away with ‘W’s.
It’s kind of obvious what to do with the interim champion, no? He fights the champion to unify the belts next. Everything is there for this high-profile fight. The narrative is there. Gane put in a violent performance against Derrick Lewis, which helps the lead up. Nothing left to do now, but book it. Should be easy to, right?
Cyril Gane’s Next Fight: Francis Ngannou
I’ve seen a lot of people on various social media since Jose Aldo’s win calling for Aldo to have some “legacy fights.” Despite beating Pedro Munhoz soundly at UFC 265, people are seemingly much more interested in seeing the former featherweight champ fight down in the rankings against the likes of Dominick Cruz or someone to that tune. However, I think it’s pretty unlikely that we see that. Aldo dropped to bantamweight for one reason — gold. There were legacy fights at 145lbs or 155lbs. If he’s killing himself to make this weight, he wants the strap. So let’s pair him with someone else who needs another signature win before getting the shot. With Yan and Dillashaw seemingly sitting on title shots, Rob Font seems to be the odd man out. He and Aldo should tangle for next in line.
Jose Aldo’s Next Fight: Rob Font
After getting the d’arce choke finish on Michael Chiesa inside the first round at UFC 265, Vicente Luque made it clear that he thought he had done enough for a shot at the belt. While the finish itself was impressive, there is a laundry list of contenders at 170lbs and all of them seem to think they’re done enough (with the exception of Gilbert Burns who humbly has requested that everyone in the top 10 fight him). Given this fact and the fact that Colby Covington is now booked for his rematch with Usman, Luque likely needs one more win. Despite his clearly deserving run of victories, I think Leon Edwards is in the same spot. Sadly, what people will remember from his one-sided win over Nate Diaz is the punch that Diaz landed in the fifth round. A fight with Luque could leave a better image for him and keep both from just waiting to get a shot that might not ever come.
Vicente Luque’s Next Fight: Leon Edwards
Since losing four in a row, Tecia Torres has stormed back to remind us all why people had her pegged as a contender. She’s insanely fast and had no problems outpointing Angela Hill all over the cage. Since Hill is the best win in Torres’ current three-fight win streak, she definitely needs a bigger name so we can test just how ready she is for that top tier of contenders again. Nina Nunes seems to fit the bill of what Torres needs to prove herself against during this run. Her ranking is higher, but she also brings a different type of striking puzzle for Torres to solve.
Tecia Torres’ Next Fight: Nina Nunes
Another nice win for Song Yadong puts him right back in the conversation at the edge of the bantamweight top 15. At UFC 265 he took a split decision, this time over Casey Kenney. While that is a nice win under his belt, coming up short last time against Kyler Phillips likely leaves him outside of the top 15 and still needing another win to get that upper tier fight he wants. Ricky Simon would be a name that would help him turn that corner. I’m sure Ricky would also like a chance to get revenge on Team Alpha Male too.
Song Yadong’s Next Fight: Ricky Simon