What’s Next: UFC 302 Winners

Islam Makhachev, UFC 302
Islam Makhachev, UFC 302 official weigh-in Credit: Dylan Napoleone/Cageside Press

It took longer than he had predicted, but Islam Makhachev did put Dustin Poirier away at UFC 302 on Saturday. A D’arce choke in the fifth round shortly after Poirier had mounted a brief comeback sealed the deal in a bout Makhachev may have won on the scorecards anyway. Now, it’s on to the next one, which for Makhachev, could either be his last at lightweight for a while, or even come at welterweight.

Islam Makhachev

The next title defense for the lightweight champ, one which could set the record for title defenses in the division, is already decided, just not the date. Islam Makhachev will face Arman Tsarukyan, arguably his toughest matchup in the division. The Armenian wrestler debuted on short notice against Makhachev five years ago in a ‘Fight of the Night’ which proved Arman’s potential at 155-lbs.

Now he is on a four-fight winning streak, and should arguably be on a ten-fight one, his only loss since the first Islam fight coming by way of controversial decision. After defeating former champ Charles Oliveira there is no other option. Makhachev may test himself at 170-lbs, but that will not come until after he tests himself against Tsarukyan.

Makhachev’s Next Fight: Arman Tsarukyan

Sean Strickland

It may not have been the most fan-friendly fight — the pro-Strickland crowd even booed him at times — but in the end the brash Las Vegas man got it done with relative ease against the eclectic Paulo Costa. Jabbing and teeping his way to a safe decision could put Strickland back in a title fight next. The problem is that there are other deserving contenders, too.

The winner of Khamzat Chimaev vs Rob Whittaker will have an argument for a title shot next, as will whoever comes out on top between Jared Cannonier and Nassourdine Imavov. Even former champ Israel Adesanya waits in the wings, with hm being the rumored next challenger for Dricus du Plessis’ belt. The best opponent for Sean next is the winner of Chimaev vs Whittaker. The winner of will deserve their place in the title shot after Adesanya.

Strickland’s Next Fight: Winner of Whittaker/Chimaev

Kevin Holland

‘Big Mouth’ snapped his losing streak and won on his return to middleweight by snapping Michal Oleksiejczuk’s arm with an armbar in under two minutes. The question for Kev now is whether he will try his hand against welterweight, or continue in his original division at 185-lbs. By his own admission, he is stuck in the role of a gatekeeper (“the best gatekeeper of all time”) but that leaves him with a plethora of interesting fights in two divisions.

He could fight someone like Roman Kopylov, who also won at UFC 302, and it would be a fun fight. He could also move back down and face a fringe WW contender like Randy Brown, who also also won this past weekend. Holland seemingly sees the best future for himself at 170-lbs, so for now we will say his next fight will come against Brown, but Kopylov or any number of other middleweights also work as upcoming opponents.

Holland’s Next Fight: Randy Brown

Niko Price

Price rebounded from a two-fight losing streak to outclass Alex Morono over three rounds, beating the twenty-fight UFC veteran soundly. Now, Price is in a position where he can fight just about every other unranked welterweight on the roster. Since one can pick anyone, we will just pick Carlston Harris. He is coming off a loss but is 4-2 in the UFC and would make for a fun fight with Price.

Price’s Next Fight: Carlston Harris

Randy Brown

‘Rudeboy’ Randy Brown is now on a three-fight winning streak and a 7-1 streak in his last eight overall. As he nears a potential ranking in the UFC welterweight division, we have already decided his fate earlier in the article.

It makes perfect sense to have Randy Brown fight Kevin Holland next. Both are long, dynamic strikers who would bring an undoubtedly entertaining fight to the octagon. Holland’s fifteenth-ranked welterweight spot would be on the line after a two-fight losing stretch in the division.

Brown’s Next Fight: Kevin Holland