Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 238

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 238

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    UFC 238 crowned a new bantamweight champion, and his name is Henry Cejudo. Cejudo is now a two-division champion.

    There was another title on the line in the co-main event. Valentina Shevchenko silenced the crowd with a brutal head kick knockout over Jessica Eye. Shevchenko looks to have no equal at flyweight, but she'll continue to defend her title against what will be just another victim sometime in 2019. But who?

    And who will Cejudo defend against? Will it be at flyweight or bantamweight?

    Oh, and did Tony Ferguson earn his title shot after a TKO victory against Donald Cerrone?

    There are a lot of matchmaking questions exiting Chicago, and we are here to help the UFC matchmakers with their decision-making process. Contenders and title fights abound. Grab a sheet of paper, print out a list of the current UFC roster and let's think this through.

    Here are the matches to make for every winner and loser following UFC 238.

Preliminary Fights Quick Hits

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    Katlyn Chookagian def. Joanne Calderwood by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

    • Joanne Calderwood vs. Sabina Mazo
    • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Valentina Shevchenko

    Eddie Wineland def. Grigory Popov by TKO at 4:47 of the second round

    • Grigory Popov vs. Carlos Huachin
    • Eddie Wineland vs. Kyung Ho Kang

    Darren Stewart def. Bevon Lewis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

    • Bevon Lewis vs. Anthony Hernandez
    • Darren Stewart vs. Andrew Sanchez

    Xiaonan Yan def. Angela Hill by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    • Angela Hill vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
    • Xiaonan Yan vs. Cortney Casey

    Calvin Kattar def. Ricardo Lamas by KO at 4:06 of the first round

    • Ricardo Lamas vs. Kyle Bochniak
    • Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens

    Alexa Grasso def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    • Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Angela Hill
    • Alexa Grasso vs. Tecia Torres

    Aljamain Sterling def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    • Pedro Munhoz vs. Marlon Moraes
    • Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo

    Tatiana Suarez def. Nina Ansaroff by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    • Nina Ansaroff vs. Weili Zhang
    • Tatiana Suarez vs. Jessica Andrade

Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov

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    Blagoy Ivanov def. Tai Tuivasa by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

    Two heavyweight brawlers got the main card started off right. Blagoy Ivanov bested Tai Tuivasa in an entertaining scrap, and he will move forward in the division.

    Tuivasa will keep earning UFC bouts because of his fun nature, but it is difficult to see him becoming a contender anytime soon. His style lends itself to bouts like this and little more. The more technical strikers will piece him up, while the fighters who adhere to a game plan will out-think him.

    The UFC should now book Tuivasa against Greg Hardy.

    Hardy is scheduled for a fight against Juan Adams at UFC on ESPN 4, but win or lose, a fight with Tuivasa makes sense. Tuivasa's style would give Hardy a chance to get a legitimate, big-time victory. On the flip side, it's a chance to elevate Tuivasa as well against Hardy. It's a win-win for the UFC.

    Ivanov's success will give him another top-10 opponent. Looking through the roster, Derrick Lewis is a fighter who leaps off the page.

    Lewis has dropped two straight but remains a top-five-ranked contender. The fight provides a big chance for Ivanov and a favorable opponent for the return of one of the most liked heavyweights in the division.

Jimmie Rivera vs. Petr Yan

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    Petr Yan def. Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

    Jimmie Rivera was a game opponent for Petr Yan in what was supposed to be his coming-out party. Instead, Yan picks up the win but doesn't make the noise many expected.

    Rivera will get another credible opponent in his next outing. The loser of June 22's meeting between John Lineker and Rob Font is a great choice. It would still be a top-15 matchup and an exciting slugfest.

    Yan is in title contention now, and a title eliminator is likely.

    Given how the division has shifted since T.J. Dillashaw vacated the title, Cody Garbrandt should be right back in the thick of the hunt. A matchup between Yan and Garbrandt is an excellent title eliminator while the remainder of the division works itself out.

    Garbrandt has value as the former champion, and Yan is the rising star. It's a good mix—and a great fight.

Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone

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    Tony Ferguson def. Donald Cerrone by TKO (doctor stoppage) at the end of the second round

    For 10 minutes, this was the fight everyone was expecting. But once Donald Cerrone blew his nose, his eye blew up and swelled shut. That was the end of the fight.

    On the surface, this was a title eliminator. Tony Ferguson got the win and should get the title shot. However, given that the title won't be defended until September, is there a good reason not to run this one back?

    Not only was it fun, but Ferguson was dejected in the post-fight interview in the cage. He told Joe Rogan that he didn't care what was next and he hated to win in the manner he did. So why not rebook the fight as a main event so that it becomes a five-round bout?

    It would keep its title eliminator status and could be fought before the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier even takes place. Ferguson and Cerrone don't need an eight-week camp.

    Run this one back. The UFC has time to do so, and it will get a definitive end.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye

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    Valentina Shevchenko def. Jessica Eye by KO at 0:26 of the second round

    How bad was the knockout by Valentina Shevchenko? The UFC commentators were almost silent in bated breath waiting for Jessica Eye to move. Thankfully, she did.

    Let's start with Eye.

    She's a gritty warrior and the former world No. 1 at 125. She's just nowhere near the equal of Shevchenko. She needs extended time away from the cage after the KO. Picking an opponent right now would be unnerving given the viciousness of the knockout she suffered.

    Eye needs to step away for at least a year.

    Shevchenko could easily claim a third fight with Amanda Nunes. There isn't a credible opponent at flyweight, and Nunes, should she defeat Holly Holm, has no other fight awaiting her either. But if you've been following along, you know Katlyn Chookagian is tapped for the next title fight.

    Shevchenko, in the post-fight interview with Rogan, made no bones about it—she is a flyweight. She has no intention of moving back up. That's horrific news for Chookagian and the remainder of the division.

    I'm sorry to do this, Katlyn. But you're next.

Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes

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    Henry Cejudo def. Marlon Moraes by TKO at 4:51 of the third round

    Marlon Moraes gave a good five minutes and then went absent. Henry Cejudo weathered the early onslaught and took advantage of a tired Moraes to capture gold.

    In the preliminary fights quick hits, you'll see that Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz are picked for these two.

    Let's begin with Pedro Munhoz vs. Marlon Moraes.

    Moraes faded quickly but still looked exceptional for those first five minutes. He shouldn't fall completely to the back of the pack. Munhoz also looked solid. Booking this fight would put the winner right back in title contention at 135 pounds and should provide fireworks along the way.

    As for Cejudo, Sterling is simply the best option.

    Sterling's fight was a defacto title eliminator, but with Cejudo winning there could have been doubt. What if the UFC booked Cejudo to defend the flyweight title? Thankfully, the division is not at all interesting with no more Demetrious Johnson.

    Cejudo will likely defend the bantamweight title until there is an intriguing opponent at 125. Sterling is next up, and the tilt between the two offers up a lot of intriguing stylistic matchups that will showcase the technical acumen of the division.