The primary occasion of UFC 264 did not finish as anticipated, however after a frenetic first spherical, Dustin Poirier earned a TKO victory over Conor McGregor, because the ringside doctor mentioned McGregor couldn’t proceed resulting from an injured ankle. Poirier dominated a lot of the 5 minutes and landed plenty of massive strikes, and now he has his eyes set on UFC gold.
Earlier than the principle occasion festivities, Gilbert Burns entered UFC 264 hoping to carry onto his place at welterweight. After a dominating efficiency versus Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Burns remains to be one of many males to beat at 170 kilos, however was his win sufficient to get him again to a different title battle in opposition to Kamaru Usman?
Sean O’Malley entered the Octagon as a large favourite in opposition to late alternative Kris Moutinho and, as anticipated, bought the job completed with ease. O’Malley landed 230 vital strikes earlier than referee Herb Dean had seen sufficient within the third spherical. In his postfight callout, O’Malley rattled off a bunch of names as he searches for the battle that can propel him nearer to a title alternative.
So what’s subsequent for the brand new No. 1 light-weight contender and different standouts from UFC 264? Let’s have a look.
Dustin Poirier, light-weight (defeated Conor McGregor by TKO)
Who ought to be subsequent: Charles Oliveira
Poirier gambled on himself, and it paid off. Now that the cash battle is in his rearview mirror — and his checking account is fatter — the true objective is subsequent.
Poirier desires to be a UFC champion. It is the one factor he hasn’t achieved. Sure, he received an interim title in 2019 by defeating Max Holloway, however that is not the identical as the true factor, and Poirier has mentioned as a lot. This title battle between Poirier and Oliveira will pit two of probably the most constant lightweights of the previous 5 years in opposition to each other. It is a authentic 155-pound title battle, and it ought to be fairly aggressive.
Wild card: Conor McGregor
Going into Saturday, it felt like no matter what occurred, this might be the ultimate chapter of McGregor vs. Poirier. And in some methods, it does nonetheless really feel that means. As soon as the mud settles, I am not satisfied there shall be an enormous demand for these two to battle once more — not instantly, at the very least. UFC president Dana White mentioned Poirier will battle for the title subsequent, and when McGregor heals, he may get a fourth shot at Poirier.
Conor McGregor, light-weight (misplaced to Dustin Poirier by TKO)
Who ought to be subsequent: Nate Diaz
I really feel like I’ve written this quite a few occasions over the previous 4 years — that the time had come to do McGregor vs. Diaz 3. And the UFC might have simply completed it, any a kind of occasions. However now, it is actually time for the trilogy.
I would not say there’s nothing else for both one, however there’s nothing else that even comes shut when it comes to making sense. McGregor, in the meanwhile, is not seen as a authentic title risk. Possibly he’ll return there sometime, however he isn’t there now. Neither is Diaz. However they’re the 2 largest stars within the sport.
A 3rd battle has at all times needed to occur. I might like to see this booked for the UFC’s closing 2021 pay-per-view in December.
Wild card: Jorge Masvidal
Masvidal matches tor the identical cause a Diaz battle would make sense: It makes some huge cash. Time will inform what McGregor’s long-term targets grow to be in MMA. Does he need to attempt to re-climb the ladder and be elite once more? Does he need cash fights, combined in with the occasional boxing look? Relying on what these long-term targets are, a battle in opposition to Masvidal may make sense or it won’t.
If McGregor is simply wanting round for one thing individuals will care about — one thing that can seize the game’s world consideration, as he’s used to doing — a battle in opposition to Masvidal would undoubtedly suffice.
Gilbert Burns, welterweight (defeated Stephen Thompson by unanimous choice)
Who ought to be subsequent: Leon Edwards
Generally, there are a ton choices. Different occasions, there are mainly no choices. This falls into the latter class.
Burns simply beat a man in Thompson who was on a roll and will have fought for the title subsequent, had he received. Burns ought to be rewarded for that. Sadly, there’s nowhere for him to go proper now. Kamaru Usman is probably going preventing Colby Covington subsequent, and Burns simply misplaced to Usman. Even when Covington had been to take the title from Usman, an instantaneous rematch between these two could be very probably.
Edwards, frankly, additionally deserves a title shot. The welterweight division is in a little bit of a logjam, and a part of that’s as a result of reality Usman has already beat all the highest contenders. However on the finish of the day, there is no such thing as a title shot coming to Burns within the very close to future, so what’s he going to do? Sit? I believe he takes a battle, and Edwards would make sense.
Wild card: Jorge Masvidal
This makes a whole lot of sense. The issue is that different fights make extra sense for Masvidal. A battle in opposition to Covington, for the title or not, is sensible. A battle between Masvidal and Edwards makes all of the sense on the planet.
Masvidal has expressed curiosity in a battle in opposition to Nick Diaz. Actually, he might battle Thompson, as nicely. These two fought earlier than, and each have expressed curiosity in doing it once more. Masvidal might take this battle in opposition to Burns to bolster his case for an additional shot on the title, however in the end, I believe Masvidal has different, higher choices. So, Burns will probably have to seek out one other dance associate.
Sean O’Malley, bantamweight (defeated Kris Mountinho by TKO)
Who ought to be subsequent: Rob Font
You recognize what? Why not? I’ll say, once I first heard O’Malley’s callout of Font, I assumed to myself that it was callout, however I did not see it taking place as a result of Font deserves higher. Font is the UFC’s No. 4-ranked bantamweight. O’Malley wasn’t within the high 15 going into this weekend. However once I take a look at it nearer, who’s Font going to battle?
We nonetheless do not have a agency date for the Aljamain Sterling–Petr Yan title rematch. Even when it is within the close to future, the subsequent No. 1 contender shall be decided in a battle later this month between TJ Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen.
Font might be going to wish to battle once more earlier than he will get a title shot. Why not O’Malley? It raises Font’s profile. It is a enjoyable, stylistic battle. If Font is open to it, I would not thoughts seeing O’Malley soar the road. O’Malley does not deserve it based mostly on file, however typically this sport is about greater than file, and it would be foolish for any of us to faux that is not the case.
Wild card: Dominick Cruz
O’Malley advised that Cruz is “ducking” him in his postfight callout. Who is aware of if that is the case, however if you happen to’re Cruz, is not this sort of an interesting battle? O’Malley has appeared spectacular, however he hasn’t been examined in sure areas. I consider Cruz might supply these assessments. And for a former champion who simply fought and got here up brief for the title final 12 months, an enormous win over a man who has gained a whole lot of recognition might assist him out fairly a bit.