UFC 212 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
There is a new (undisputed) featherweight king: Max Holloway.
The Hawaiian had a bit of a slow start, but once he started rolling, he put it on the division's all-time best. Holloway finished Jose Aldo with violent ground-and-pound in the third round to claim the undisputed title and mark a new start for the division.
Also in action, Claudia Gadelha made it very clear that she is the second-best strawweight in the world by blowing past Karolina Kowalkiewicz with a first-round submission.
But those are just results. In the words of The West Wing's President Josiah Bartlet, "What's next?"
Who do the winners and losers fight in their next outing? Let's theorize on who those next opponents will be as we make the matches for each of the victors and runners-up following UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
Deiveson Figueiredo def. Marco Beltran by TKO at 5:00 of the second round
- Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Ricardo Ramos
- Marco Beltran vs. Michinori Tanaka
Luan Chagas def. Jim Wallhead via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:48 of the second round
- Laun Chagas vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
- Jim Wallhead vs. Sabah Homasi
Viviane Pereira def. Jamie Moyle by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Viviane Pereira vs. Paige VanZant
- Jamie Moyle vs. Pearl Gonzalez
Brian Kelleher def. Iuri Alcantara via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:48 of the first round
- Brian Kelleher vs. Marlon Vera
- Iuri Alcantara vs. Damian Stasiak
Matthew Lopez def. Johnny Eduardo by TKO at 2:57 of the first round
- Matthew Lopez vs. Eddie Wineland
- Johnny Eduardo vs. Luke Sanders
Antonio Carlos Junior def. Eric Spicely via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:49 of the second round
- Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Krzystof Jotko
- Eric Spicely vs. Alex Nicholson
Raphael Assuncao def. Marlon Moraes by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Raphael Assuncao vs. Dominick Cruz
- Marlon Moraes vs. John Lineker
Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva
Yancy Medeiros continues to look outstanding in the welterweight division. After the TKO performance against Erick Silva at UFC 212, Medeiros is 2-0 at 170 pounds with two finishes.
Silva remains endlessly exciting, but he's also endlessly inconsistent. He'll continue to be a staple on undercards in Brazil. Another recent loser, Nico Musoke, would make for a great opponent. This fight fits well on the prelims to get the crowd going, with two fighters who will swing for the fences.
Medeiros' second-straight victory could net him a big fight, but who?
How about Matt Brown? Sure, Brown is on a three-fight skid, but those fights come at the hands of the upper echelon of the division. Hence why Brown is still ranked in the UFC's top 15. The matchup between Medeiros and Brown is sure to produce fireworks, but it also has divisional importance.
Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
The fight between Paulo Borrachinha and Oluwale Bamgbose was everything we expected. Bamgbose's movement and style only gives him a few minutes of being extremely dangerous, and during those minutes he gave everything he had.
Borrachinha is also a powerhouse, but he is a bit more measured in unleashing his potent power. It would be what won the day.
Magnus Cedenblad would make for a good opponent for Bamgbose. At least for the UFC. Cedenblad has some skills, and the matchup with Bamgbose would be a good gauge for where he is at. The UFC has seen everything it needs to see out of Bamgbose, and a loss would most likely allow them to cut him.
Borrachinha is undefeated and exciting. There's no reason the UFC should give him an unranked opponent next.
How about fellow Brazilian Thales Leites? It's not the top-end fight Leites may desire, but with the logjam at the top, it may be the best he can do. It's also a good chance for him to get someone a little green and show his superiority while remaining in the consciousness of the matchmakers.
Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt
Belfort isn't going away just yet.
The Brazilian legend picked up a unanimous-decision victory over Nate Marquardt.
For Marquardt, Uriah Hall springs to mind. Both men are coming off losses but have enough name value to be in a marketable fight against one another. Given their recent performances, it could end up being a "loser leaves town" type of fight.
Belfort is a little more tricky to book. He has great name value, picked up a win and is fun to watch. He's just well past his prime and not an elite middleweight anymore.
David Branch makes the most sense under those circumstances. The talented grappler isn't as well known or dynamic as the rest of the top 10, but he is ranked, giving Belfort and the UFC a reason to make the fight. It's also a good opportunity for Branch to fight a well-known commodity as he attempts to make a leap in the division.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Wow. What a performance from Claudia Gadelha.
The well-matched fight between Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz turned out to be a one-sided affair. Gadelha simply took her down and imposed her will. A first-round submission ended Kowalkiewicz's night early.
The biggest winner was Rose Namajunas. The win put Namajunas in the catbird's seat for the next title shot. There's no one else with an immediate claim.
Kowalkiewicz will need to hit the back of the pack now. A lot of strawweights are booked, and she could fight the loser of an upcoming fight, such as Maryna Moroz vs. Carla Esparza (June 25). However, I propose she fights Nina Ansaroff. It's a solid matchup to rebound with, and it would provide Ansaroff with a top-quality opponent.
Booking Gadelha in the absence of a title shot may seem difficult, but it's actually quite easy. There are two options. The first is Carla Esparza if she wins on June 25. It's a fight that was supposed to happen in Invicta years ago but never did.
The other fight is against Tecia Torres. Why? Simply put, she's the only top-five opponent coming off a win other than Rose Namajunas. Either Esparza for the grudge match or a title eliminator against Torres. Either one works.
Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
A new era has begun.
Max Holloway's victory means the featherweight division is wide open once again. No one is more thrilled than Frankie Edgar, but we'll get to that in a moment. The fight signaled a true changing of the guard, and there's a new champion who will defend his crown.
Aldo looked good early, but he let Holloway back into the fight. It felt like watching a football team dominate early with a lead but then shift into a soft zone, allowing its opponents' offense to get into a rhythm then being unable to stop it.
Jeremy Stephens should be the fight for Aldo. Stylistically, it's great for fans. It's also an important fight for the division. Does Aldo still have it? Can Stephens finally get a marquee win? It means a lot.
As for Holloway, the choice is obvious: Frankie Edgar.
Had Aldo won, Edgar would be on the outside looking in. Instead, Edgar is all but assured of his next title tilt. And it's a a mouth-watering affair for fight fans. Edgar vs. Holloway is one of the best fights the UFC can make throughout their entire roster.