Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 245

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2019

Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 245

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The stacked UFC 245 pay-per-view event Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, featuring three UFC title fights, certainly didn't disappoint.

    UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman outslugged gritty braggart Colby Covington to stop the challenger with just a little less than a minute left in the final round. 

    Alexander Volkanovski ended Max Holloway's featherweight title reign via unanimous decision, and Amanda Nunes defended her bantamweight belt against Germaine de Randamie in a rematch that went the full 25 minutes. 

    Beyond those world championship fights and the other important matchups on the main card, there were plenty of prelim fights worth keeping an eye on.

    Rising middleweight Punahele Soriano made the most of his UFC debut by scoring a thunderous knockout of Oskar Piechota. 

    Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France reminded UFC fight fans just how much fun the strawweight division can be when two fighters go for broke. 

    Bantamweight Irene Aldana stopped previously undefeated top contender Ketlen Vieira with a picture-perfect left-hook in the first round to make her case to be the next crack at Nunes. 

    Oh, what a violent night in Las Vegas.

    But now that all the action is over, there's only one thing left to do. It's time now to put on our UFC matchmaker hats to decide the next steps for the winners and losers from the last UFC pay-per-view of the decade.

    Read through our list of suggestions, and be sure to leave your ideas in the comments section.

Preliminary Fights Quick Hits

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    Irene Aldana scored a huge win over Ketlen Vieira during the prelims.
    Irene Aldana scored a huge win over Ketlen Vieira during the prelims.Mike Roach/Getty Images

    Punahele Soriano def. Oskar Piechota by KO at 3:17 of Round 1. 

    • Piechota vs. Philip Rowe
    • Soriano vs. Ian Heinisch


    Jessica Eye def. Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

    • Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood
    • Araujo vs. Jennifer Maia 


    Brandon Moreno def. Kai Kara-France via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

    • Kara-France vs. Winner of Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov (UFC 246)
    • Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo


    Chase Hooper def. Daniel Teymur by TKO at 4:34 of Round 1. 

    • Teymur vs. Eric Wisely 
    • Hooper vs. Julio Arce 


    Matt Brown def. Ben Saunders by KO at 4:55 of Round 1. 

    • Saunders vs. Dusko Todorovic 
    • Brown vs. Carlos Condit          

    Omari Akhmedov def. Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

    • Heinisch vs. Punahele Soriano
    • Akhmedov vs. Derek Brunson


    Irene Aldana def. Ketlen Vieira by KO at 4:51 of Round 1. 

    • Vieira vs. Aspen Ladd
    • Aldana vs. Germaine de Randamie


    Geoff Neal def. Mike Perry by KO at of Round 1. 

    • Perry vs. Vicente Luque (rematch)
    • Neal vs. Anthony Pettis

Petr Yan vs. Urijah Faber

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    Faber (right) just couldn't get his hands on Yan.
    Faber (right) just couldn't get his hands on Yan.John Locher/Associated Press

    Peter Yan def. Urijah Faber by KO at 0:43 of Round 3.


    Bantamweight contender Peter Yan's youthful vigor and substantial power advantage were just too much for aging UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber in the main card opener. 

    The 40-year-old was a fan favorite during his previous run with the company but was never able to capture the title. Faber was probably hoping to secure a UFC title shot before his body is no longer capable of competing in unarmed combat, but the American was felled by Yan's more powerful punches and sharper, stunningly precise kicks.

    The 26-year-old Yan notched his ninth straight win, making the Russian one of the most logical next opponents for UFC bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo. In fact, Yan called for the fight after the win, and it's hard to argue against the UFC making it happen.

    As for Faber, he was chopped down with authority by Yan, but his toughness and competitiveness proved he deserves another fight in the UFC if he so desires. Facing a rising gifted terror in Yan was a big ask at this point in his career, but seeing him matched up against a lower-rated bantamweight such as Cody Stamann would be the perfect next test. 

Marlon Moraes vs. Jose Aldo

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    Moraes outworked Aldo according to the judges.
    Moraes outworked Aldo according to the judges.John Locher/Associated Press

    Marlon Moraes def. Jose Aldo by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).


    Moraes and Aldo delivered a standup firefight between two crafty and sharp strikers. Marlon Moraes entered the fight coming off a heartbreaking loss to bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, while Jose Aldo went into the contest as one of the most accomplished UFC featherweights in history moving down to 135 pounds for the first time.

    Judges awarded the victory to Moraes, but it could have gone either way. Now, Moraes has set himself up nicely for another big fight. It's probably too soon for another crack at Cejudo, but the winner of Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling would deserve the chance at competing for the title.

    For Aldo, while the 33-year-old competed well at bantamweight, it's probably easier for him to move back up to featherweight, where he was UFC champion three times. Yair Rodriguez could offer a stern test as he continues to fight his way up the rankings because beating Aldo in the Octagon is still an incredible feat.

Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie

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    Nunes showed why some consider her the best female UFC fighter ever.
    Nunes showed why some consider her the best female UFC fighter ever.John Locher/Associated Press

    Amanda Nunes def. Germaine de Randamie by unanimous decision (49-44, 49-46, 49-45).


    Amanda Nunes delivered a masterclass performance against top contender Germaine de Randamie. No, it wasn't the same kind of fast-track demolition Nunes had delivered against her most recent opponents, but the 31-year-old still managed to dominate just about all five rounds from start to finish against her game but overmatched opponent.

    Nunes needs another opponent, preferably one she hasn't already beaten before. The good news is she's champion in two divisions, so there's a bigger pool of options. The bad news is she's such a dominant force that no one is likely to be competitive.

    Since it appears she's set on defending her featherweight championship next, we'll assume it will be against someone like Megan Anderson, who is one of the best the division has to offer. If anything, Anderson is the type of pure athlete who could pose a new challenge for Nunes to solve.

    De Randamie's gritty performance against Nunes, in which she gave the champion some issues, proved she's still probably the best fighter in the division besides Nunes. Pitting the 35-year-old against Irene Aldana next, who knocked out the previously undefeated striking stalwart Ketlen Vieira earlier on the card, would seem to fit the bill for both fighters.

Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski

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    Volkanovski used leg kicks to take the UFC featherweight title from Holloway.
    Volkanovski used leg kicks to take the UFC featherweight title from Holloway.John Locher/Associated Press

    Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45).


    Max Holloway entered his title defense against Alexander Volkanovski riding a 13-fight winning streak in the featherweight division, but Volkanovki's smart game plan, augmented by his impressive physical strength and a steady stream of crippling leg kicks, powered the 31-year-old Australian to a stunning victory.

    Volkanovski is now the UFC featherweight champion, and he appears set to go on a long run with the belt wrapped around his waist. Beating arguably the two best featherweights in UFC history in succession in Holloway and Jose Aldo has turned some heads. To keep them turned his way, Volkanovski could take on Russian phenom Zabit Magomedsharipov for his first defense. Magomedsharipov, after all, was probably on his way to getting a title shot in his next fight anyway.

    Holloway has to get back in line at featherweight, but it shouldn't take him long to return to the title picture. Renato Moicano has lost two straight, but Holloway could use a fight against the dangerous Brazilian to work on the parts of his game Volkanovski exploited before seeking a bigger fight.

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington

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    Usman hit too clean for Covington to get through the fight.
    Usman hit too clean for Covington to get through the fight.John Locher/Associated Press

    Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington by TKO at 4:10 of Round 5.


    Kamaru Usman had to eat a ton of strikes early in the fight against the volume-punching Covington, but the champion's much more powerful punches and smart use of thudding front kicks to Covington's body put him in position to score the devastating knockout late in the fight.

    Despite featuring two elite wrestlers, the bout was fought as a striking contest, one that saw Usman's harder punches do the most damage. Covington's bravery will likely be overshadowed by Usman's definitive win in one of the most hotly contested grudge matches the sport has seen, but both fighters deserve credit for their performances.

    By picking up the win, Usman solidified himself as the premier welterweight in the world. It's now up to the UFC to feed him a steady diet of promotable opponents so that the Nigerian-American can become the star he deserves to be. With both Usman and Jorge Masvidal coming off the biggest wins of their careers, there's probably never be a better time to make that fight than right now.

    Covington, on the other hand, needs to regroup. Facing rising British star Leon Edwards would seem to make a lot of sense and perhaps even give Covington an opportunity to try out his WWE-style heel act with an international audience.