What’s Next: UFC 280 Losers

Charles Oliveira at the UFC 280 Media Day.

This past Saturday, the promotion returned to the Middle East, as the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi played host to the most stacked card this year, UFC 280.

Atop of the card was a highly anticipated vacant lightweight title bout between former champion, Charles Oliveira, and Dagestani challenger, Islam Makhachev. ‘Fathers plan’ was accomplished and Makhachev was crowned ‘and new’. Let’s take a look at what could be next for the losers on the night.

Charles Oliveira

Oliveira’s loss this past weekend puts him in a strange spot, with Makhachev’s first title defense being all but confirmed as Alexander Volkanovski. Of course immediate rematch’s aren’t always a thing in MMA, and rightly so. There isn’t much interest to see that fight again, at least not straightaway.

Having said that, there are few fun matchups for the former champion. It becomes hard to matchup the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist when he’s already beat 3 of the fighters currently occupying spots in the top 5. One man who is coming off a hugely impressive win this past weekend is Beneil Dariush. Having said that, a matchup I would selfishly love to see, is Oliveira vs Fiziev. Of course, the Muay Thai fighter has been rumoured with Justin Gaethje, but that is yet to come to fruition, and with growing murmurs of McGregor’s comeback fight being against Gaethje, that leaves Fiziev without a dance partner.

It is hard to deny Beneil Dariush the next title shot after Volkanovski. And so in that case, I don’t mind a world in which Dariush waits around, and Oliveira fights Fiziev in Brazil.

Charles Oliveira’s Next Fight: Rafael Fiziev

TJ Dillashaw

As one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year, the events that proceeded felt like a big kick in the teeth for MMA fans across the globe. But it’s the fight game, things like this happen. After the events proceeded, Dillashaw admitted that he has been suffering shoulder dislocations since back in April, which begs the questions, who let him fight?

Having said that, the legitimate win cannot be taken away from Aljamain Sterling, who made easy work of the former champion. One would think, that Dillashaw would’ve been better off disclosing his injury issues early in his camp, and hoped for the fact that the matchup could be rebooked for later in the year. But none of that matters now, and that poses the question of, what is next for the 36-year-old?

There is no denying that Dillashaw is at the tail end of his career. But another man who is in a similar situation, possibly looking for one last farewell fight, is Dominick Cruz. A rematch of their extremely close contest back in 2016 makes a whole lot of sense given the stages of their careers they’re both at.

TJ Dillashaw’s Next Fight: Dominick Cruz

Petr Yan

It is almost impossible to get through one event and avoid any controversial judging decisions. Unfortunately for the former bantamweight champion, Petr Yan, he was on the wrong end of what the majority of fans are calling a ‘robbery’, a term that gets thrown around far too often in the fight business. Despite that being the general consensus, it is without question, that it was an extremely competitive and close fight.

The result rides on how you scored the opening round between the two bantamweights looking to earn themselves a title shot. And in the case of judges Ben Cartlidge and David Lethaby, they believed that ‘Suga’ Sean had done enough to separate himself.

Petr Yan and Sean O'Malley, UFC 280
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 22: (R-L) Sean O’Malley punches Petr Yan of Russia in a bantamweight fight during the UFC 280 event at Etihad Arena on October 22, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Yan now finds himself with only 1 win in his last 4 fights, some of which his own doing and some not. The top of the 135lb division is in a weird spot. Merab Dvalishvili is a fighter who has been on a tear since his loss to Ricky Simon back in 2018, and since then, he has gone onto win 8 fights in a row. There is already half a narrative there in a potential fight between the two top 135ers, as on UFC 280 fight week, videos surfaced of each of them sizing one another up.

The main issue I find in a potential matchup between the two, is if Merab “The Machine” was victorious, something would have to give in the friendship between him and current champ, Sterling. However, that is a bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.

Petr Yan’s Next Fight: Merab Dvalishvili 

Mateusz Gamrot

Coming into the fight with Beneil Dariush, there was a lot of expectation that with a win, Gamrot could have been on the edge of a title shot. But Dariush is aging like a fine wine, and is just now reaching his prime.

Some of the scrambles during this fight were as wild as expected, and the counter striking of Dariush just proved too much for the former KSW lightweight champion. With “Gamer” Gamrot being just 31-years-old, there is still the potential to rebuild from this loss, and rebound back into title contention in a couple of fights time.

Someone who he’s formerly shared the cage with, Arman Tsarukyan, is scheduled to share the cage with the almost flawless, Damir Ismagulov. If “Gazaq” can find a way to beat the young prospect at the end of the year, then i’d love to see him matched up with the Polish fighter. Outside of that, the only other fight that would make sense for Gamrot, is a fight with 13th ranked, Jalin Turner.

Mateusz Gamrot’s Next Fight: Damir Ismagulov (If victorious vs Tsarukyan) or Jalin Turner

Katlyn Chookagian

Chookagian’s 4 fight win streak came to an end, and with that, the division found a new top contender in Manon Fiorot. It is the first time in Katlyn’s 23 fight pro career that she has been on the wrong side of a unanimous decision. Having said that, there is no doubt that the 33-year-old former title contender, is still one of the best in the women’s flyweight division.

Again, there are a number of different options for Chookagian, and one in particular that would be a rematch. “Lucky’ Lauren Murphy rebounded from her title loss with a comprehensive win of Miesha Tate, and there is no doubt that since the two met back in 2016, they have both come a long way. That is just one of many options I like. Depending on what the promotion decide to do with the impressive Alexa Grasso after her win over Araujo, that could be another option.

Katyln Chookagian’s Next Fight: Alexa Grasso 


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