What’s Next: UFC 279 Winners

Nate Diaz, UFC 279
Nate Diaz, UFC 279 post-fight Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

UFC 279 is in the books, and we’ve got our picks in for who the night’s big winners should face next. Of course, with Nate Diaz, that fight is likely to come outside the confines of the UFC. But in any case, read on!

Nate Diaz

The next chapter of Nate Diaz’s career will be outside the UFC and, as he seemed to allude to in his post-fight interview at UFC 279, he may look towards boxing next as the sport will be part of his new combat sports promotion. Many people are looking forward to the Jake Paul against Anderson Silva boxing match coming up in October and if Nate is looking towards that world then the winner of that fight is the perfect opponent to welcome him into the sport of pro boxing. In his post-fight interview after beating Tony Ferguson, Nate said, “I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show all these UFC fighters how to take over and own up another sport.”

This seemingly refers to all of the UFC fighters who have gone to boxing, specifically fighters who have fought Jake Paul such as Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and now Anderson Silva. The first two were unsuccessful in their attempts to defeat the former social media and current boxing star. I’m sure Nate would relish a chance to put someone like Jake, who is diametrically opposite of almost everything that the Diaz brothers stand for, in his place. There is even some history there, as the famous video of Nate Diaz making someone flinch and throw their beer up in the air came at Jake Paul’s second fight vs Woodley and the person he made flinch was allegedly a teammate of Paul.

Of course, there is also history between Nate’s brother Nick and Anderson Silva, if Anderson is to beat Jake in the upcoming fight. In 2015 the pair fought in a super-fight non-title main event at UFC 183 in Silva’s comeback fight after his second loss to Chris Weidman, the fight where he infamously snapped his shin in half. In the fight against Nick, Anderson was initially declared the winner after a fight where they both taunted each other with wild antics. However, due to failed drug tests from both men, the bout was overturned to a no-contest. Thus, the Nick Diaz Army and Anderson Silva are still 0-0 against each other, and Nate would surely relish a chance to change that.

Diaz’s Next Fight: Winner of Anderson Silva vs Jake Paul (In boxing)

Khamzat Chimaev

Chimaev had already proved his level with his decision win against top fighter Giblert Burns earlier in 2022 but his submission of Kevin Holland in under half of a round got him back to the dominant ways of his first four UFC fights, as he once again absorbed zero significant strikes on his way to a finish. With the new champion Leon Edwards likely to run it back with Kamaru Usman for their trilogy bout, Khamzat still has some time before any potential title fight with him could occur, he should have one more fight against a top opponent to truly earn it, and he needs to prove to the UFC that he can make weight at 170 when the time comes for him to challenge for the welterweight title of the world.

Colby Covington sits at the number two ranking currently, and talks of a fight between him and the Swedish Khamzat have abounded since before his last fight. Dana White even alluded to Colby vs Khamzat being the promotion’s next UFC on ABC main event, but it did not happen as Colby took time off, presumably to deal with his legal case against Jorge Masvidal. Now, however, Dana has said that Colby is ready to fight and they are making plans for him in the near future. Khamzat Chimaev should be the answer to those plans, as the wrestling and cardio heavy style of Covington matches up well with the similarly pace-based wrestling and brutal striking style of Chimaev.

Chimaev’s Next Fight: Colby Covington

Daniel Rodriguez

After an extremely close fight against Li Jingliang, D-Rod’s first ranked opponent, the Los Angeles native emerged the victor by split decision and will now likely move into the welterweight top-15 on Tuesday morning with the weekly rankings update. However, the decision was not without its controversy among the fanbase and even with Dana White, who said that he thought the Leech won the fight, not D-Rod. Therefore, Daniel might have to prove to both the fanbase and to his boss that he is worthy of more ranked opponents.

To that end, re-booking the Kevin Holland fight, which was supposed to be the fight that went down at UFC 279, makes the most sense. Kevin Holland just lost to Khamzat Chimaev but losing to the number 3 ranked fighter in the world, a terrible stylistic matchup for Holland no less, is no shame. For stepping up on short notice to face a killer like Chimaev, Holland deserves to be rewarded with a big fight again. Holland’s burgeoning stardom also demands it. This fight was a great one when it was first booked and it will still be a great one if it is booked once again, this time to determine who gets a spot in the rankings once and for all.

Rodriguez’s Next Fight: Kevin Holland

Irene Aldana

After beating Macy Chiasson at UFC 279 with a never-before-seen liverkick/upkick KO, Irene Aldana puts herself into immediate title contention. However, one issue has haunted her: weight cutting. This fight was changed to a catchweight of 140 at the very last minute, though it can be assumed that was mostly due to Chiasson who weighed in at 139.5 while Aldana weighed in at 137.5. Still, Aldana has not made weight at bantamweight in either of her last two wins. Although both were impressive knockouts, it creates an issue when it comes to booking her for a title fight against Amanda Nunes. Additionally, Ketlen Vieira’s recent main event wins against former champions Miesha Tate and Holly Holm seem to demand consideration for the title shot as well.

Thus, the Mexican star Aldana should be booked against a former champion of her own, Julianna Peña, while the title is contested between Nunes and Vieira. Peña’s offensive wrestling and grappling should present Aldana’s boxing-heavy style with some issues, however the opposite is equally true. If Irene Aldana can both win the fight and make weight, a battle often known as the fight before the fight, then she would be the logical next title challenger.

Aldana’s Next Fight: Julianna Peña

Johnny Walker

At UFC 279 Johnny Walker righted the ship after a two fight losing streak against Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill, taking out Ion Cutelaba via rear-naked choke in round one. Still, he is 2-4 in his last six and needs to win a fight slightly down in the rankings before resuming his climb towards the top of the division. Someone in a similar position to himself is Australian prospect Jimmy Crute, who racked up an impressive 12-1 record that included a submission win over Paul Craig before losing his last two fights. Matching the pair up makes sense, as both men have a lot of potential still, Crute is young at age 26 and Johnny Walker is only 30 despite the mileage he has in the UFC. Both men have serious knockout power and Walker showed against Cutelaba that if someone like Crute tries to take him down, he is more than capable of holding his own and winning in that phase of mixed martial arts.

Walker’s Next Fight: Jimmy Crute