The roller coaster UFC 279 week culminated this past Saturday, as original headliners, Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev, were subject to a last minute change in opponents due to latter missing weight for their welterweight bout.
Despite the card taking a last minute re-shuffle, the fans were given the main event they’ve been desiring for years, as Tony Ferguson was upgraded to the main event spot to take on Diaz in his farewell fight. The other half of the original main event, Chimaev, was matched against Kevin Holland, which was coincidentally fitting after their backstage brawl at the press-conference on the Thursday.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the losers on the night.
“El Cucuy” now finds himself in an extremely tough spot despite saving the card. Without a win in his last five fights, Ferguson may begin to seriously consider his future in the sport.
Ferguson’s original opponent was of course the new fans favourite, Li Jingliang, but the consensus is that was a bad match-up for the 38-year-old anyway.
Throughout his extremely impressive career, Ferguson has always been an eccentric figure and gamesmanship is always something we expect to pop up in any “El Cucuy” fight, never mind when it’s against Diaz. Ferguson may choose to stick around and continue to put on entertaining showings and if so, the match-up is going to have to take some serious thought.
Another fighter who is edging towards the end of their successful professional career is Matt “The Immortal” Brown. I am of the opinion that these are the types of bouts Ferguson will have to entertain from here on out.
Tony Ferguson’s Next Fight: Matt Brown
On the short lead up to his fight with Chimaev, Holland exuded complete and utter honesty. Even to the point where he admitted that his family were nervous for his fight with Chimaev but found peace in the fact he was going to be paid a big cheque.
Despite Holland claiming that he ‘lost a grappling match’ a loss is a loss. There aren’t many active fighters out there at the moment that will beat the streaking Chimaev though.
Holland’s original opponent, Daniel Rodriguez, picked up a win in his changed match-up, with Holland saying that he would like to get that fight rescheduled. With it being a well put together match-up, I don’t see any reason why the UFC shouldn’t rebook that fight.
Kevin Holland’s Next Fight: Daniel Rodriguez
From not being able to wear his brand new suit at the cancelled press conference, to getting a late change in opponent to someone 10lbs heavier than him, “The Leech” was put through the ringer at the latter end of fight week.
Unfortunately for him, too much had built up come fight night and he found himself on the wrong end of a split decision. The big boss himself admitted that he thought “The Leech” had won the fight, saying at the UFC 279 post fight press conference: “I thought Li won the fight. The judges were wrong in my opinion. It wasn’t even as if I was like ‘wow that could’ve gone either way,’ I was shocked when the said split decision.”
A fight with the eccentric Michel Pereira would be sure to get fans out of their seats next time out for Li Jingliang.
Li Jingliang’s Next Fight: Michel Pereira
TUF 28 winner, Chiasson came into her bout with Aldana high on confidence after being victorious in her last outing against Norma Dumont. With the women’s 145lb division being completely bare, a standout win for either fighter in this one would’ve moved them closer along the path of a title shot with the “Lioness” Amanda Nunes.
After losing the first round unanimously, Chiasson picked things up in the second round, levelling the fight up on all three scorecards going into the third round. The 31-year-old did well to control Aldana on the ground, but not long after, Aldana kicked Chiasson out of her guard, and subsequently caught her with some up-kicks to the body, sinking Chiasson.
With the options at featherweight being extremely limited for Chiasson, next up for her could be Stephanie Egger.
Macy Chiasson’s Next Fight: Stephanie Egger
Coming into fight week, Walker vs Cutelaba was one that a lot of people were keeping their eye on due to the nature of both fighters. Cutelaba found himself in a position where a win would’ve seen him crack the rankings.
Despite that, Cutelaba won’t be finding a number by his name come this Tuesday after being submitted by the aforementioned Johnny Walker. The Moldovan need not worry though as he is still on the right side of 30, and during his UFC career has only come up short to extremely talented opposition.
A fight down the rankings may be what’s next for the 28-year-old, and Tyson Pedro may be a man that would welcome that with open arms.
Ion Cutelaba’s Next Fight: Tyson Pedro