What’s Next: UFC Atlantic City Winners

Manon Fiorot, UFC Atlantic City
Manon Fiorot, UFC Atlantic City ceremonial weigh-ins Credit: Jake Noecker/Cageside Press

UFC Atlantic City is in the books, with the promotion returning to Boardwalk Hall for the first time since 2018 on Saturday. The main card saw names like Manon Fiorot and Joaquin Buckley move forward in their respective divisions; what comes next gets rather interesting in both instances.

Manon Fiorot

Manon Fiorot solidified herself as a title challenger with her victory in Erin Blanchfield’s home territory of of Atlantic City on Saturday. The Frenchwoman is now 7-0 in the UFC and the next fight is clear, she needs to fight for the belt. Champion Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko are finishing their trilogy this year, and no matter who wins the fight, Fiorot has to be next lest the division get held up badly.

Fiorot’s Next Opponent: Winner of Grasso vs Shevchenko 3

Joaquin Buckley

Buckley also secured his biggest win ever in the UFC Atlantic City co-main event when he TKOed Vicente Luque with ground and pound. By beating the number eleven welterweight contender, Joaquin will now vault himself into top fifteen contention. Many people have wanted Buckley to rematch Kevin Holland and now is the perfect time for that.

Holland is coming off a loss but has been a ranked welterweight for almost two years now, while Buckley is new to the division. Joaquin could avenge his loss to Kevin which came at middleweight and show he is truly a new fighter, one who has a chance to make waves at 170lbs.

Buckley’s Next Fight: Kevin Holland 2

Chris Weidman

Controversy ensued after Weidman’s win over Bruno Silva due to numerous eye pokes which resulted in the stoppage, but on paper the forty-year-old former UFC middleweight champ notched his first win since 2020, a major achievement given the fact that his shin snapped in half in 2021. It is unlikely that ‘The All-American’ will ever regain his former form at this age, but perhaps he can flirt with being a ranked middleweight.

Beating an unranked fighter on a losing streak after losing two straight does not qualify him to fight a ranked opponent right now, but Weidman should fight someone just outside the rankings. Andre Muniz is a grappling specialist who could give a dominant wrestler like Chris trouble on the mat, and also does not have knockout power that would make fans worry for an aging Weidman’s brain health if they fought. Muniz has submitted legends like Jacare Souza, so maybe he can snatch another arm to add to his resume and get back into the rankings himself.

Weidman’s Next Opponent: Andre Muniz

Nursulton Ruziboev

Another controversial finish marred the UFC Atlantic City main card as lanky Uzbek finisher got an incredible 32nd professional MMA finish on Saturday. He poked Sedriques Dumas in the eye incidentally right before the finish, but at least it was not four eye pokes in a row like Bruno Silva absorbed. Still, if the referee had seen it then he would surely have called timeout and the fight would have either resumed after Dumas recovered, or been declared a no-contest, so it makes sense for them to rematch. This is a similar situation to that which led Magomed Ankalaev to rematching Ion Cutelaba back in 2020. If Ruziboev can finish Dumas quickly again, then he may be the real deal.

Ruziboev’s Next Opponent: Sedriques Dumas 2

Kyle Nelson

Canadian Kyle Nelson once again shocked oddsmakers by winning as a big underdog for the second fight in a row, defeating the streaking Bill Algeo by TKO after halting the rise of Fernando Padilla one fight ago. Nelson has become a surprising potential contender at 145lbs with this three-fight winning streak after losing four of his first five UFC fights, and a matchup against a similarly ranked opponent will come next.

On this very card, Nate Landwehr put Jamall Emmers to sleep, bouncing back from his failed attempt to become ranked when he lost a decision to Dan Ige. Landwehr is quite popular and could get another shot at the rankings with a win, as could Nelson by stopping Nate and taking away his hype. Nelson also called for the match-up post-fight.

Nelson’s Next Opponent: Nate Landwehr

Chidi Njokuani

‘Chidi Bang Bang’ got back in the win column with a decision victory over Rhys McKee to open the UFC Atlantic City main card on Saturday. His issues in the prior three fights had mostly resolved around his cardio, so going three full rounds at a weight class lower than usual showed improvement and he is now 3-3 in the UFC. Rhys McKee was 0-3 in the promotion, so Njokuani will not be getting any high ranked matchups anytime soon, but he keeps his job.

Chidi’s exciting style will always have the matchmaker putting him in fun matchups though, so a fight with someone like Danny Barlow makes sense. Barlow is an undefeated fighter coming off his first UFC win, a TKO over Josh Quinlan. Him and Chidi’s high-octane striking styles would create a surefire banger for fans on any card and move one man’s career forward.

Njokuani’s Next Opponent: Danny Barlow