UFC 226 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
UFC 226 gave us a little history and a little WWE.
Daniel Cormier became just the second fighter to hold championships in two divisions simultaneously joining Conor McGregor with that distinction. Then after his first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic, Cormier and Brock Lesnar had a bit of a WWE segment to perform for everyone.
What a night in Las Vegas.
And now with all the theatrics and fights completed, it is now about what comes next for each of the combatants that competed at UFC 226. It looks like Cormier's next fight is all but signed, sealed and delivered but what about Miocic? Ngannou? Lewis? The other fighters? Well, let's answer those questions.
Following the wild night of fights, here are the matches to make after UFC 226.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
- Jamie Moyle vs. Chan-Mi Jeon
- Emily Whitmire vs. Maryna Moroz
- Gilbert Burns vs. Darrell Horcher
- Dan Hooker vs. Edson Barboza
- Max Griffin vs. Hector Aldana
- Curtis Millender vs. Vicente Luque
- Lando Vannata vs. Alex White
- Drakkar Klose vs. Chris Gruetzemacher
- Rob Font vs. Loser of Luke Sanders vs. Rani Yahya (August 25)
- Raphael Assuncao should be an alternate for UFC 227's bantamweight title bout (August 4)
- Uriah Hall vs. Tom Breese
- Paulo Costa vs. Chris Weidman
Emily Whitmire def. Jamie Moyle by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dan Hooker def. Gilbert Burns by KO at 2:28 of the first round
Curtis Millender def. Max Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Drakkar Klose def. Lando Vannata by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Raphael Assuncao def. Rob Font by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Paulo Costa def. Uriah Hall by TKO at 2:38 of the second round
Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.
Khalil Rountree Jr. def. Gokhan Saki by KO at 1:36 of the first round
There may not be a person out there, aside from Khalil Rountree Jr. himself, who predicted a first-round KO against Gokhan Saki. But that is exactly what happened.
This performance will shoot Rountree up the light heavyweight rankings. He could possibly break into the top 10 given how shallow the division is currently. Regardless, Rountree earned a big fight for his next outing. When you start looking for names who are without fights, Jimi Manuwa tops the list.
Manuwa is coming off back-to-back losses, but Manuwa is still ranked No. 6 in the world. It makes a lot of sense and could put the winner into a title eliminator situation for 2019.
As for Saki, this should put an end to the thought he could become something special inside the UFC. Perhaps he stayed too long in the world of kickboxing to give himself a true chance. And he doesn't have the time to develop a competent ground game either. That doesn't mean he should leave.
Mike Rodriguez is 0-1 in the UFC and another low-level opponent for Saki to face. It's a more appropriate bout and one that could have electric results.
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
Anthony Pettis def. Michael Chiesa via submission (triangle-armbar) at 0:52 of the second round
The Anthony Pettis of old showed up at UFC 226 to put away Michael Chiesa. Now comes the hard part—finding consistency.
Chiesa came in overweight and should be heading to the welterweight division. He has the frame for the division, but will be undersized for a little while until he can add a bit more to contend with the larger welterweights. That is why the UFC needs to handle his foray into the new division with care.
Dana White seemed adamant we'd never see Mike Jackson in the Octagon again following his UFC 225 win over CM Punk, but isn't that the right choice for Chiesa's welterweight debut? It's a fight he should win against a less imposing fighter.
Some may have thought the window for Pettis to be a contender was closed, but he opened it back up on Saturday. Not only that, but it was the type of performance that made a fight appear with neon lights. Pettis vs. Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson's injury likely killed his title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov with Conor McGregor's return coming up. And a fight with Pettis should ignite fan interest while serving a purpose in determining which contender can make a title bid of their own. That's the fight to make.
Mike Perry vs. Paul Felder
Mike Perry def. Paul Felder by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
It was a close fight even though Paul Felder suffered a broken arm in the very first round. He narrowly missed upending one of the division's hardest strikers.
Felder should go back to lightweight. At least for now. He was scheduled to fight James Vick in Boise this coming Saturday, but Vick was pulled to face Justin Gathje in Lincoln on August 25 (h/t MMAJunkie.com's Mike Bohn). Felder should fight the loser of that fight.
Perry was successful in picking up the win, but he wasn't that successful in showing out against a lighter fighter who came in on late notice.
The next fight for Perry that would draw interest but not be a colossal step forward should be Tarec Saffiedine. Saffiedine is a great stylistic opponent for Perry, and he has had a rough go inside the Octagon as well. This fight would serve to excite fans and show who is ready for another step into the deep end of the swimming pool.
Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis def. Francis Ngannou by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
What a strange and very uneventful fight. Um, that's about all anyone can say with how little happened.
Francis Ngannou needs a hard reset. No top 10 opponents would make sense. Adam Wieczorek is 2-0 in the UFC and outside of the rankings. It makes sense and maybe Ngannou would actually strike.
Lewis talked about his back injury to his corner during the fight. There is no indication how serious it is, but it is a problem he has had for awhile. Thus, he needs some time off. You know who else needs some rest but would make for an interesting opponent? Stipe Miocic.
Allow both men to take their time, heal and return for a title eliminator in 2019.
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier def. Stipe Miocic by KO at 4:38 of the first round
Daniel Cormier knocked out Stipe Miocic inside of the first round, and no matter how many may want to play the Jon Jones card it is apparent that Cormier put himself in the pantheon of greats with the performance. He is one of the best to ever do it.
I've already touched on Miocic. He should fight Derrick Lewis.
As for Cormier ... it's obvious, right? Brock Lesnar is next.
Cormier got on the stick and called him out. Lesnar entered the cage and had words of his own. It was all theatrics, but it was fun. And it is a fight that will sell a lot of tickets. And don't cry how it hurts the sport. How many people can really name the next contender? Don't worry, I'll wait. Next to no one outside of true hardcore fans know Alexander Volkov or Curtis Blaydes and would not pay for that fight.
Lesnar is the clear, obvious choice. And we are all ready.