What’s Next: UFC 298 Winners

Ilia Topuria, UFC 298
Ilia Topuria, UFC 298 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

The longest current title reign in the UFC was broken on Saturday night at UFC 298, as Alexander Volkanovski’s unbeaten run at featherweight ended, at the hands of Ilia Topuria.

Topuria became the first UFC champion, representing Spain and Georgia, and has catapulted himself into superstardom. Let’s see what could be next for him, along with the other winners on the main card.

Ilia Topuria

“El Matador” talked a lot of talk on the lead up to this fight, as well as on fight week, but fortunately for him, he then proceeded to walk the walk.

With the 27-year-old now with gold around his waist, there is no doubt that he can now be considered as one of the UFC’s big stars. To end the long reign that Volkanovski has had over the 145lb division is nothing short of spectacular.

The Spanish MMA market is one that is completely untouched, not only by the UFC, but any other major MMA promotions. That will now likely change. In the UFC 298 post fight press conference UFC president, Dana White, mentioned how he’s definitely interested in taking an event to Spain, and even possibly at the Santiago Bernabeu, the soccer stadium of Real Madrid.

So, who could Ilia Topuria’s first title defence come against? The featherweight division is in a precarious position, with there not being a real clear contender. Having said that, I believe the clearest contender at this moment is Movsar Evloev. The Russian is coming off the back of a win over Arnold Allen, maintaining his undefeated record. A battle of the undefeated could be the fight that makes the most sense next.

Ilia Topuria’s Next Fight: Movsar Evloev

Robert Whittaker

“The Reaper” Robert Whittaker showcased his championship mentality in the UFC 298 co-main event, putting on a terrific performance against Paulo Costa.

After losing his last fight against Dricus Du Plessis, there was a slight concern amongst fans that the 33-year-old might be on the decline. But he put a stop to those talks with a signature performance.

For the majority of the first round, Whittaker did great work and was beating Costa to the punch in most exchanges. He then had to show championship heart, as at the end of the round he was hit with a ferocious spinning wheel kick that wobbled him. The former middleweight champion recovered quickly and continued to impress over the next two rounds.

Robert Whittaker, UFC 298 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Despite the impressive performance it is likely that Whittaker needs another win before he is granted a title shot. A fight between former champions, Sean Strickland and Robert Whittaker makes the most sense for both fighters next.

This could be a great title eliminator fight that could headline a Fight Night event, or even co-main event a PPV card.

Robert Whittaker’s Next Fight: Sean Strickland

Ian Garry

After months of online criticism, Ian Garry was able to channel his energy properly on Saturday night where he remained undefeated with a big win over Geoff Neal.

Although he didn’t impress the fans with a big finish, he showed a different side to his game which will be important as he rises up the division. After the win, Garry called for a fight with Colby Covington.

At the post fight press conference the Irishman stated that Covington hasn’t really got a choice when it comes to accepting the fight, as he is coming off a loss. However, I’m not sure Garry will be granted his wish of that fight. Sean Brady is just one rank below Covington and is more likely to accept that fight. If Colby Covington says no, I say Sean Brady vs Ian Garry next.

Ian Garry’s Next Fight: Either Colby Covington or Sean Brady

Merab Dvalishvili

Merab “The Machine” has become one of the UFC fans favourite fighters. After some incredible social media marketing, Dvalishvili has seen an increase in support which he will take into what will likely be a title fight next.

He then went on and put on an incredibly impressive performance over former two weight world champion, Henry Cejudo.

The 33-year-old had arguably already done enough to deserve a title fight against O’Malley, but because of the history between O’Malley and Chito Vera, Merab was left on the sidelines. There is now no denying the machine, and he will be watching the UFC 299 main event, knowing he has to be next.

Merab Dvalishvili’s Next Fight: The Winner Of O’Malley vs Vera

Anthony Hernandez

“Fluffy” Hernandez extended his win streak to five with a finish over the dangerous knockout artist, Roman Kopylov.

The 30-year-old was originally scheduled to take on Ikram Aliskerov, but Aliskerov pulled out of the bout. The UFC may want to revisit that matchup, however, they may feel Hernandez has done enough to fight up the rankings.

If the latter is the case, then Hernandez vs Chris Curtis makes the most sense. The two were previously scheduled to face off before Curtis withdrew from the bout.

Anthony Hernandez’s Next Fight: Chris Curtis