UFC 249 has come and gone and gave sports fans some memorable fights. Underdogs won and favorites lost. A 12-fight win streak was snapped, and a UFC champion retired.
Here are some matchups to make for the winners and losers of the night.
Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson via fifth-round TKO to win the interim lightweight title. He said all he wanted was a chance to fight for a title and the UFC gave him it. He added two more bonuses to his resume, which leaves him with seven fights in the UFC with nine fight night bonuses. Incredible. Gaethje will try and unify the lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.
Ferguson had his 12-fight win streak unfortunately snapped. He really deserves a lot of respect and credit as he could have waited for Nurmagovmedov but he decided to fight one of the worst matchups for himself. Ferguson didn’t look like himself during the fight and he took the most damage he ever has. In all honesty, his stock does not drop much. He should definitely take some time off. When he decides to come back, I see a match up with No. 2 Dustin Poirier in his future.
In his last four fights, Cejudo has beat Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, and Dominick Cruz. Those names will allow him to go down in history as one of the best fighters ever. After his win against Cruz last night, he decided to retire. At first, I thought this might just be a ploy for more money, but he might just actually want to retire on top. If that is the case, what a way to go out.
Cruz returned after four years away from the sport and he looked fine. He did not like the stoppage and I somewhat agree with him. No one knows how much Cruz has left in the tank. He will have a great career after fighting as a broadcaster so what’s left. If he wants to get back to the title one last time, he will have to go through a top contender as the division has been turned upside down due to Cejudo’s retirement. He had a matchup against No. 4 Cory Sandhagen on the radar before he got a title shot, but that match up is perfect for both of them.
Ngannou returned after being on the sidelines for a year. He sure made his presence felt as he knocked out Jair Rozenstruik in 18 seconds. Brutal knockout. Ngannou is in a weird and frustrating place. The heavyweight division is being held up because the champion Stipe Miocic is injured. The UFC wants to give Daniel Cormier his final fight in a rematch against Miocic which leaves Ngannou as the odd man out. Ngannou should sit out for another title shot or rematch Derrick Lewis.
Rozenstruik’s unbeaten streak came to end as he was viciously knocked unconscious. It might have been too much to challenge Ngannou but at least he had the courage to do so. Rozenstruik is definitely a contender and will be around for a long time. A match up against No. 4 Junior Dos Santos makes a whole lot of sense as both men are coming off losses and both are looking to bounce back.
Kattar delivered as he beat a very dangerous and always game Jeremy Stephens. Kattar looked really good and is going to be a tough matchup for whoever. Kattar vs. No. 5 Yair Rodriguez is a fight that needs to be booked next.
Stephens looked good until he got caught with an elbow. He now has lost four straight. I don’t think he needs to be worried about being cut as he is a company man and has been in the UFC since 2007. The thing is his four losses have come to four of the best in the division. A match up against No. 10 Shane Burgos makes sense.
Hardy was getting lit up with kicks and was on his way to losing until he overheard one of the commentators tell him to check Yorgan De Castro’s kicks. Hardy fought five times last year and has looked better. If he wants to keep fighting up the division, a fight against No. 15 Ciryl Gane should be next.
Yorgan De Castro
De Casto broke his foot in the second round when Hardy checked his kick. Once that happened, his offense was gone, he maybe threw three more strikes. De Castro is a very talented kickboxer and just needs a little bit more experience in the UFC. He only has seven pro fights. He will need to take some for his broken foot but a match up against Maurice Greene would be a good test.
Pettis needed this win. The decision could have gone against him and no one would have batted an eye. Pettis looked thicker than usual at welterweight. The welterweight division is stacked with competition and full of hungry contenders. A rematch against No. 9 Rafael Dos Anjos is a fight I’m sure Pettis wants to get back.
Cerrone is on a four fight losing streak as well. To his credit though, he has lost to Pettis, Gaethje, Ferguson, and Conor McGregor. No one knows how much Cowboy has left. He doesn’t have anything left to prove. If I were to guess, he probably has two or three more fights left. Two names that make sense for Cerrone are No. 8 Charles Oliveira or No. 7 Paul Felder.
Oleinik got his 59th win at UFC 249. Crazy. Oleinik is fun to watch. Every time he has gotten a fight against the top of the division or rising contender he has lost though. No. 10 Shamil Abdurakhimov is a name that makes sense for Oleinik.
Werdum looked very bad last night. Granted, he was returning from a two-year suspension. It was weird seeing one of the best heavyweights of all time get out struck by Oleinik. Werdum is another fighter who doesn’t have much to prove. I’m sure next time we see him, he will be back to the Werdum we all know. A fight against the crazy durable Blagoy Ivanov is a good next fight.
Esparza won a weird split decision. The judges were all over the place. Esparza is on a three-fight winning streak and is slowly climbing the rankings. A rematch against No. 4 Joanna Jedrzejczyk or a fight against No. 5 Nina Ansaroff are two matchups that could be in Esparza’s future.
Waterson is on two fight losing streak. She could have easily been the winner at UFC 249, but the judges saw it differently. Waterson might be out of the top 10 when the rankings release. Alexa Grasso is a name that would be a great fight for Waterson.
Luque put on a great performance against Niko Price beating him via doctor stoppage. He was on a six-fight winning streak before he lost to Stephen Thompson. Luque keeps getting better and is always in exciting fights. A match up against UFC veteran Robbie Lawler makes sense, both fighters love to throw bombs and would be a definite fight of the night.
Price looked fantastic until he got too punch crazy and got caught. Price is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC at the moment. He either finishes his opponents or gets finished. A fighter that can match his excitement would be Mike Perry. Perry and Price are on a crash course and I cannot wait to see it.
Mitchell put on a grappling clinic at UFC 249. He completely dominated. Mitchell is one of the most exciting new fighters in the UFC. The best thing about his win, is that he is going to finally get his Reebok camo shorts. It is going to be interesting to see what the UFC does next with Mitchell. If they want to push him fast a fight against Cub Swanson would really test him. If they give him more time a match up against Kron Gracie would be a grappling fans delight.
Rosa got completely dominated on the ground which was kind of shocking. Rosa is a good fighter and will bounce back. A fight against Canada’s Kyle Nelson makes sense.
Spann won a gritty close decision. It was the first fight in Spann’s UFC career that he looked human. Spann is one fight away from getting a big name. Jimmy Crute is a name that Spann should look to fight.
Alvey is on a four-fight losing streak and was very close to winning his fight at UFC 249. His next fight will be his 20thin the organization. If he doesn’t get a win, he might be on his way out. A fight against UFC veteran Ed Herman makes the most sense although I can also see a fight with Shogun Rua as they were scheduled to fight before.