Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 246

Tom TaylorContributor IJanuary 19, 2020

Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 246

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    Conor McGregor is back, fight fans.

    In the main event of UFC 246 on Saturday, the Irish superstar decimated Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone with a series of unconventional shoulder strikers, a head kick and volley of follow-up punches. And it took him just 40 seconds.

    With the victory, McGregor silenced his throngs of doubters and, perhaps even more importantly, opened the door to a long list of blockbuster matchups.

    So whom does he fight next? And where does the outgunned Cowboy go from here?

    We’ll unpack that and more in this article. Keep scrolling for the matchups we need to see after UFC 246.  

Preliminary Fights Quick Hits

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    Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber via unanimous decision (30-27x2, 30-26).

    • Modafferi vs. Jessica Eye
    • Barber vs. Paige VanZant

    Sodiq Yusuff def. Andre Fili via unanimous decision (29-28x3).

    • Yusuff vs. Arnold Allen
    • Fili vs. Doo Ho Choi

    Askar Askarov def. Tim Elliott via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27x2).

    • Askarov vs. Winner of Brandon Moreno vs. Jussier Formiga (UFC on ESPN+ 28)
    • Elliott vs. Kai Kara-France

    Drew Dober def. Nasrat Haqparast via TKO (R1, 1:10) 

    • Dober vs. Winner of Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi (UFC on ESPN+ 28).
    • Haqparast vs. Davi Ramos

    Aleksa Camur def. Justin Ledet via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27x2).

    • Camur vs. Alonzo Menifield
    • Ledet vs. Vinicius Moreira

    Sabina Mazo def. JJ Aldrich via split decision (29-28x2, 28-29).

    • Mazo vs. Ji Yeon Kim
    • Aldrich vs. Nadia Kassem

Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Anthony Pettis

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    Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Anthony Pettis via submission (rear-naked choke, R2, 1:46).

    Having submitted former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the UFC 246 pay-per-view opener, Carlos Diego Ferreira is now on a six-fight win-streak—that's tied for the third-longest active streak in the division.

    His run should not go unrewarded.

    Unfortunately for Ferreira, many of the UFC's top lightweights are scheduled for fights or recovering from recent bouts. There is one healthy, top-10 lightweight without a dance partner, though: Fighter turned real estate agent Al Iaquinta.

    Iaquinta is on a two-fight losing streak, having recently come up short against Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker. Normally, the UFC's matchmakers refrain from booking fighters on streaks against fighters on skids, but given the scarcity of available lightweight contenders, a booking between the surging Ferreira and the struggling Iaquinta makes some sense. It's a fantastic matchup on paper too.  

    Once Iaquinta gets his grappling match with "Platinum" Mike Perry out of the way, the UFC should send him a contract for a fist fight with Ferreira.

    As for Pettis, well, he's in a tough spot. He's on a two-fight skid spanning two divisions and has already fought many of the UFC's top-ranked lightweights. That being said, a fight with Gregor Gillespie, who was recently knocked senseless by Kevin Lee, makes sense for both guys.

Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne

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    Brian Kelleher def. Ode Osbourne via submission (guillotine, R1, 2:49).

    Brian Kelleher and Ode Osbourne weren't originally supposed to fight on the UFC 246 main card, but after the last-minute cancelation of a fight between Alexa Grasso and Claudia Gadelha, their undercard scrap got promoted. 

    Kelleher, the more experienced man of the two, made the most of this opportunity, choking out his debuting foe with a guillotine in Round 1.

    After losing consecutive fights to John Lineker and Montel Jackson, this win has got to feel pretty good for Kelleher. That said, he's unlikely to gain a ton of ground in victory given that Ode was competing in his first UFC bout.

    From here, Kelleher should look to build a win streak against the victor of the newly announced UFC 247 fight between Andre Ewell and Jonathan Martinez. Osbourne, on the other hand, should go hunting for his first UFC win against somebody like China's Pingyuan Liu, who has lost his past two fights.

Aleksei Oleynik vs. Maurice Greene

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    Aleksei Oleynik def. Maurice Greene via submission (armbar, R2, 4:38).

    Aleksei Oleynik is one of the best submission specialists in heavyweight history. He reaffirmed his status as such on the UFC 246 main card, when he tapped a game Maurice Greene with a second-round armbar.

    It's hard to imagine the 42-year-old, 72-fight veteran working his way to a heavyweight title shot, but he's still capable of producing fun fights with suitable opposition.

    Of all the possible contests available for Oleynik going forward, none are quite as compelling as a matchup with fellow grappling savant Fabricio Werdum.

    Oleynik and Werdum were scheduled to fight in 2018, but the bout was nixed when Werdum failed a drug test. The Brazilian was then suspended for two years, but after providing "substantial assistance" to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, he received a reduced suspension and will be eligible to compete again come April 1.

    In other words, the stars have aligned for a second attempt at an Oleynik vs. Werdum matchup. Throw it on the UFC 250 card, which goes down on May 9 in Werdum's native Brazil. We already know Werdum is up for it.

    Greene, meanwhile, can probably look forward to a fight with an unranked heavyweight. While there are a number of interesting options out there for him, a bout with Canada's Tanner Boser makes sense. Boser, who recently came up short to top-15 heavyweight Ciryl Gane, will also be keen for a chance to get back on track.

Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington 2

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    Holly Holm def. Raquel Pennington via unanimous decision (30-27x2, 29-28).

    In the co-main event of UFC 246, former UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm improved to 2-0 over former title challenger Raquel Pennington. It wasn't exactly pretty, but Holm's decision victory was sorely needed, as it got her back on track after a stoppage loss to bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.

    In victory, Holm should be matched up with Mexico's Irene Aldana, who recently burst into bantamweight title contention with a sizzling knockout of the formerly undefeated Ketlen Vieira. This bout would give Holm the chance to inch back in the direction of a title shot, while it would also give Aldana the opportunity to make a final push toward her first UFC title shot. The bout could serve as a co-main event of an upcoming Fight Night card, and assuming both women are healthy, it could happen soon.

    Pennington, meanwhile, should be matched up with Vieira, who will no doubt be keen to get back on track after her recent nap.

Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

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    Conor McGregor def. Donald Cerrone via TKO (R1, 0:40).

    Just do it.

    Book a welterweight fight between Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal.

    Ahead of UFC 246, UFC President Dana White said that, in victory, McGregor would earn a rematch with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Masvidal, meanwhile, has irrefutably earned a shot at UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. 

    But these title fights can wait. 

    McGregor and Masvidal are the biggest stars in MMA. As luck would have it, they are both riding massive wins in the same weight class. Let them fight for Masvidal's BMF belt and a Brink's truck full of Benjamins.

    As for Cerrone, well, he says he wants to keep fighting. He's on a three-fight skid, so he's got some work to do if he wants to be viewed as a legitimate contender again, but it's doable. First things first, he should look to get back on track in a lightweight fight with the streaking Islam Makhachev, who is without an opponent after Kevin Lee snubbed him for Charles Oliveira.