What’s Next: UFC 299 Winners

Sean O'Malley, UFC 299
Sean O'Malley, UFC 299 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Sean O’Malley pieced up Chito Vera, Dustin Poirier slept Benoit Saint-Denis. There were some strong performances on the UFC 299 main card – here’s what might just be next for the big winners in Miami on Saturday night.

Sean O’Malley

The Suga Show rode through Miami on Saturday night and put on a career-best display by turning Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera into a punching bag for five rounds. Only Chito’s incredible chin thwarted an O’Malley finish, but doing what Sean did is, in many ways, more impressive than a simple knockout. His distance management showed new heights, which will be crucial for his next title defense against, presumably, Merab Dvalishvili.

The Georgian is a pressure wrestler who uses pace to break opponents down, but if O’Malley can control the distance between them then it will be hard for ‘the Machine’ to get into range for takedowns, just like it was for his teammate Aljamajn Sterling. Merab beat two former champions in impressive fashion in his last two fights, and his eclectic, unique personality has made him somewhat of a fan favorite now. Dana White has already said that Dvalishvili will get the next title shot, so it is logical to expect that fight to go down later in 2024.

O’Malley’s Next Fight: Merab Dvalishvili

Dustin Poirier

‘The Diamond’ shone bright in UFC 299’s co-main event as Dustin dispatched Benoit Saint Denis by violent knockout in the second round. The match won ‘Fight of the Night’ as so many Dustin fights have before, and at this stage in his career Poirier is only looking for fights that excite him, whether that be action-fighter opponents or a title shot.

Although he is seemingly behind Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, and Arman Tsarukyan in the queue for a title shot, those fighters are all booked for UFC 300 next month. Champion Islam Makhachev reportedly would like to defend his belt early in the summer, so if those three fighters take too much damage in their fights then there is a chance Dustin will step in for his third undisputed title shot. That is not an ideal course of action as it would leave the division even more backed up than it is already.

Alternatively, Dustin could fight another haver of exciting fights in the lightweight division like himself. The only problem is he has fought most of them already. There is a case to be made for a trilogy with Justin Gaethje, especially if he loses to Max Holloway, but the one top-ten 155er who puts on exciting striking matches that Dustin has not already fought is Rafael Fiziev. The Kyrgyzstani Muay Thai fighter lost due to injury in his last fight, against Dustin’s teammate Mateusz Gamrot. Jalen Turner is also an interesting option if he beats Dustin’s teammate Renato Moicano at UFC 300. However, at the moment Poirier vs Makhachev seems the most likely option.

Poirier’s Next Fight: Islam Makhachev

Michael ‘Venom’ Page

MVP is the easiest fighter to matchmake from the UFC 299 card. For years while he fought in Bellator there was one name that people wanted to match him up with, a fellow karateka who puts on exciting fights and gets viral highlights. That is none other than Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Although Wonderboy is aging, so is Page, and they should be well matched at this stage in their careers. MVP will be ranked in the top fifteen at welterweight after his victory over number thirteen Kevin Holland, putting him in pole position to fight the eighth-ranked contender, Thompson.

MVP’s Next Fight: Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson

Jack Della Maddalena

Budding Australian star Jack Della Maddalena was down two rounds to none and struggling with Gilbert Burns’ wrestling throughout their fight. But after getting back up from a takedown in the third round he was able to time a knee perfectly that caught the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the chin while ducking in for a takedown. With this knockout win he ascends into the top tier of the welterweight division, presumably into the top five after beating the fourth-ranked fighter.

This leaves a few options. Belal Muhammad is presumed next for a title shot, with Shavkat Rakhmonov waiting in the wings and maybe needing one more win. Kamaru Usman is ranked number one still; he may not want to fight, but would know that he matches up well against JDM. Ian Garry is also a young, rising contender who could face the Australian in a title eliminator bout. However, given that Maddalena called out Rakhmonov and the Kazakh responded on Twitter, that fight seems most likely.

Maddalena’s Next Fight: Shavkat Rakhmonov

Petr Yan

Former bantamweight king Pete ‘No Mercy’ Yan stopped his three-fight skid by out-dueling Song Yadong in UFC 299’s PPV opener. Given than Petr has already faced most of the top bantamweights, only two remain: Henry Cejudo and Chito Vera. Cejudo may not even be fighting anytime soon or at all, he is in the twilight of his career after two straight losses at age thirty-seven. Vera took a crazy amount of damage at UFC 299, so his layoff may take a while, but he is the perfect opponent for Yan.

Though the rankings will be updated on Tuesday, Chito is currently ranked fifth at bantamweight, one spot behind Yan. They both bring entertaining striking styles to the cage and should create a thrilling war, with the winner putting himself back into title contention in the near future.

Yan’s Next Fight: Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera