What’s Next: UFC 302 Losers

Dustin Poirier, UFC 302
Dustin Poirier, UFC 302 official weigh-in Credit: Dylan Napoleone/Cageside Press

UFC 302 featured a blockbuster lightweight title fight that had fans on the edges of their seats. A couple of ranked fighters and several fighters that are close to being ranked, lost on the main card Saturday night. Here’s what could be next for the losing side of the card.

Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier was submitted via d’arce choke by Islam Makhachev Saturday night in the UFC 302 main event. It was his third unsuccessful attempt at the UFC LW title, and he’s won two of his last five.

It’s difficult to pick an opponent for Dustin, as he has fought all of the top-level guys. Most of them multiple times already. He’s expressed he doesn’t have much interest in a gatekeeper type role, either. If a third bout with Max Holloway is something that interests Dustin, then that is the fight to make. Especially with the crazy result of Max’s UFC 300 co-main event fight for the BMF title, KO’ing Justin Gaethje in the literal last second of the fight.

Dustin’s next fight: Max Holloway

Paulo Costa

Paulo Costa lost his second fight in a row at UFC 302 when he was thrashed in a controversial split decision by Sean Strickland. ‘The Eraser’ has now lost four of his last five fights since being finished at the hands of Israel Adesanya in his middleweight title attempt in 2020.

Paulo is the #7 ranked UFC middleweight with a 6-4 record with the promotion. At this point, none of Costa’s six wins are still signed to the promotion.

As a fan favorite, Costa should fight a guy that is knocking on the door of being ranked and that fighter could very well be, Roman Kopylov. Roman picked up a win in the feature prelim on Saturday night and has victories in five of his last six, including four finishes.

Paulo’s next fight: Roman Kopylov

Michal Oleksiejczuk

Michal Oleksiejczuk was quickly submitted via a nasty armbar in 94 seconds, at the hands of Kevin Holland, on Saturday night. Since moving from 205lbs. to 185lbs. and starting off with pair of first round finishes against Sam Alvey and Cody Brundage in 2022, Michal has won just one of four fights.

Albert Durev would be a good fighter for Michal as he is 2-2 in the UFC. Durev last competed in July of last year when he was submitted by Jun Yong Park. Durev was supposed to compete against Robert Bryczek at the APEX in Vegas back in February but had visa issues. The pair were even supposed to fight in 2022 before for Michal withdrew, so it’s a fight that would make sense.

Michal’s next fight: Albert Durev

Alex Morono

Alex Morono lost a gruelingly paced, unanimous decision at UFC 302 to Niko Price. It’s tough to pick a fighter for Morono as he has 20 fights in the UFC and has fought most vets of the promotion. (Including Niko.)

UFC young bloods, Mike Malott and Gilbert Urbina were announced to fight at UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. Barber in Colorado on July 13th. Malott is a 2021 contender series product. Mike fumbled a ranking as a UFC welterweight in his last time out, at UFC 297, when he was TKO’d in the third round by #12 ranked, Neil Magny. Urbina is 1-2 in the UFC and came off of The Ultimate Fighter Season 29. He’s 28, with losses to solid competition in Byan Battle and Charles Radtke while in with the UFC.

The winner of this bout would be perfect for a guy like Morono who likes to stay active and a good name for either of these fighters.

Alex’s next fight: Winner of Mike Malott vs. Gilbert Urbina

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos

Elizeu Zaleski lost a unanimous decision in the opening PPV bout of UFC 302, to Randy Brown. With Brown’s callout of #12 ranked Neil Magny, it’s safe to assume Elizeu is essentially a rankings gatekeeper at 170lbs.

Elizeu’s next opponent should be Khaos Williams as the pair both lost decisions to Randy Brown recently. Khaos lost a split decision to Brown in May of 2022. He’s 6-2 in the UFC and took just 90 seconds to finish Carlston Harris in the co main event a couple of weeks ago. The KO won Khaos his fourth performance bonus, so needless to say, it’d be a dangerous fight for the 14 -fight UFC veteran.

Elizeu’s next fight: Khaos Williams