This past Saturday, the UFC returned to Boston for UFC 292 as Aljamain Sterling looked to successfully defend his bantamweight title for the fourth time, taking on Sean O’Malley.
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley did what many didn’t think he could, knocking out Sterling in just the second round, catapulting himself into superstardom.
Let’s take a look what could be next for Aljamain Sterling and the rest of the losers from the main card.
Despite “The Funkmaster” losing on Saturday night, there is no doubt he is still one of the best bantamweights ever and currently. Coming into his fight with O’Malley, the 34-year-old openly talked about how he was ‘99% sure’ he would move up to featherweight after this fight, no matter what.
However, in his Octagon interview he admitted that if Sean O’Malley could do that to him, what would the featherweight King, Alexander Volkanovski do to him? Those words could’ve surfaced due to the heightened emotions after just losing the gold belt. But maybe ‘Aljo’ has a point.
The Serra-Longo product has always been big for the 135lb weight class although he has never missed weight before. In my opinion, if he was already thinking about moving up to featherweight, why change your mind now? Either way after Saturday night he would be without the belt. It was always very unlikely that the UFC would allow him to move up whilst keeping his bantamweight strap, and that never actually came up as something he’d do. The notion was always that he would relinquish his title so that his friend/training partner, Merab Dvalishvili could try and win it.
I think Sterling will take a few months to process the loss and to figure out what he truly wants to do next, and I believe he will come to the decision to move up regardless. Unfortunately for him he will have to fight a top ranked opponent before he steps in there with the champion, whoever that may be at the time.
Max Holloway fights this coming weekend and he is someone who is running out of options at 145lbs himself. Why not pair the two up?
Sterling’s Next Fight: Max Holloway
The Brazilian, Lemos, came up short in the biggest fight in her career. Prior to this fight, fans questioned whether she had done enough to have justified getting a title shot, as her last win came against ninth ranked, Marina Rodriguez.
Despite losing a very comprehensive decision, Lemos showed moments of promise in this fight as she looked for sneaky submissions. The most concerning part was that she was utterly dominated in almost every area, for 25 minutes.
Not only that but “Amandinha” is 36-years-old now and another title shot is extremely unlikely for her. A fight that could make sense for the Para native is Virna Jandiroba.
Jandiroba was victorious in her last fight against Marina Rodriguez and is trying to put a title run together of her own. A victory over Lemos could put her very close to competing for gold, and unfortunately for Lemos, seems a very likely option.
Lemos’ Next Fight: Virna Jandiroba
After becoming a gatekeeper for the divisions rankings, losing to another prospect isn’t something new to the veteran, Neil Magny.
Ian Garry had previously called out Magny after his win over Daniel Rodriguez, but at that time, Magny was already booked to face Phillip Rowe. “The Haitian Sensation” went on to win that fight and then took the short notice opportunity to fight Garry after Neal pulled out.
During that time, it seemed as though there was a mutual respect from each other, up until Magny said something extremely controversial at the UFC Media Day on Wednesday of fight week. From then Garry’s energy towards Magny changed and it was clear that he wanted Magny to pay for the things he said.
Unfortunately for Magny, Garry exhibited the hunger and drive as the younger fighter and utterly battered him over three rounds. Judge, David Ginsberg, saw that much of a battering that he scored Ian Garry three 10-8 rounds.
Neil Magny is undoubtedly going to remain as a gatekeeper, so the question is, which young hungry contender is next? Michael Morales would be my choice, although that is a very big step-up for the 24-year-old.
Magny’s Next Fight: Michael Morales
Despite losing to Mario Bautista this past weekend, Blackshear loses absolutely no stock. The game bantamweight stepped in on just five days notice after picking up a win last weekend, after Cody Garbrandt pulled out of his fight with Bautista.
The official decision is one that has since been questioned online as a lot of fans believe Blackshear did enough to pick up the win.
After cutting to 135lbs twice in a week, it is likely that Blackshear will take some time off now and recuperate. The UFC may decide to try and re-book him and Hiestand after their scheduled fight was cancelled. I would like to see Blackshear vs Zahabi though.
Blackshear’s Next Fight: Aiemann Zahabi
Pedro Munhoz came up short against “Chito” Vera in a fight that was relatively closely contested.
Munhoz, like Magny, has turned into a fighter who is seen as a gatekeeper for his divisions rankings and in Munhoz’s case, the bantamweight top 10. It is unlikely that the Brazilian will compete for a title at this stage, but he definitely still has some fun matchups to be made in the 135lb division.
The fight I’d like to see next for “The Young Punisher” is him against Ricky Simon.
Munhoz’s Next Fight: Ricky Simon