Matches to Make for Winners and Losers from UFC 247
UFC 247 won't soon be forgotten.
The card, which went down in Houston on Saturday night, had a bit of everything: wild finishes, back-and-forth wars and a hefty dose of shady judging to ensure fans will be arguing on social media for weeks to come.
In the main event, we saw UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones defend his title with a controversial decision over the previously undefeated Dominick Reyes. In the evening's co-headliner, women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko authored yet another decisive performance at the expense of Katlyn Chookagian.
Elsewhere on the card, we saw big wins from prospects, contenders and veterans alike and career-altering losses for a few fighters who needed the opposite.
What does the future hold for the athletes who laid it on the line for our entertainment in the Lone Star State? Read on to discover the fights we need to see next.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
Youssef Zalal def. Austin Lingo via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
- Zalal vs. Hunter Azure
- Lingo vs. Matt Sayles
Andre Ewell def. Jonathan Martinez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
- Andre Ewell vs. Chris Gutierrez
- Martinez vs. Brad Katona
Journey Newson def. Domingo Pilarte via TKO (Round 1, 0:38).
- Newson vs. Khalid Taha
- Pilarte vs. Jin Soo Son
Mario Bautista def. Miles Johns via TKO (Round 2, 1:41).
- Bautista vs. Kyung Ho Kang
- Johns vs. Pingyuan Liu
Khaos Williams def. Alex Morono via KO (Round 1, 0:27).
- Williams vs. Dwight Grant
- Morono vs. Alan Jouban
Lauren Murphy def. Andrea Lee via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
- Murphy vs. Roxanne Modafferi
- Lee vs. Viviane Araujo
Trevin Giles def. James Krause via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
- Giles vs. Bevon Lewis
- Krause vs. Lyman Good
Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi
Derrick Lewis def. Ilir Latifi via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Derrick Lewis got the win he sought in his hometown.
His opponent, former light heavyweight contender Ilir Latifi, put up a good fight, but Lewis fired enough of his patented heavy artillery to earn the judges' favor.
With this win, Lewis built on the momentum of a similarly grueling victory over Blagoi Ivanov and further separated himself from a pair of stoppage losses to former champions Junior dos Santos and Daniel Cormier.
Now 23-7 overall and firmly embedded in the heavyweight top 10, he should be booked for a matchup with Curtis Blaydes.
Under ordinary circumstances, Blaydes probably would have earned a title shot with his consecutive wins over Justin Willis, Shamil Abdurakhimov and Dos Santos, but with Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou ahead of him in the race for a crack at the champion Stipe Miocic, he likely has a bit more work to do. A fight with Lewis makes all the sense in the world to that end.
Latifi, on the other hand, has a decision to make: stick to the heavyweight division or move back down to light heavyweight, where he spent all of his UFC career until this fight with Lewis? Provided he wants to stay at heavyweight, which seems to be the case, he should be booked for a fight with another recent Lewis victim in the aforementioned Ivanov.
Latifi and Ivanov fought once before, in Latifi's pro debut, but the bout ended with a no-contest when the ring broke under the force of their collision—yes, really.
Provided the UFC is able to adequately fortify the Octagon for this heavyweight tilt, the time has come for a rematch.
Dan Ige vs. Mirsad Bektic
Dan Ige def. Mirsad Bektic via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
From the early vantage point, the main card scrap between Dan Ige and Mirsad Bektic was viewed as an incredibly competitive matchup on paper. It lived up to that expectation, as Ige seemingly won the first round, Bektic seemingly won the second and the third was as difficult to score as it comes.
In the end, the cage-side judges preferred Ige's striking output to Bektic's takedowns. The Hawaiian will leave Houston with a new split-decision win on his record—arguably the biggest triumph of his career.
Now on an impressive five-fight win streak, Ige has undeniably earned another big step up in competition. A bout with Sodiq Yusuff, who recently debuted in the featherweight rankings with a competitive win over Andre Fili, would be just that. An Ige-Yusuff pairing also seems like a surefire recipe for entertainment.
Bektic, meanwhile, is now on a two-fight skid and has some real work to do if he intends to return to the featherweight top 15. A fight with struggling veteran Nik Lentz, who recently fell to a two-fight skid with a loss to Arnold Allen, would provide an excellent opportunity for both men to get back on track.
Justin Tafa vs. Juan Adams
Justin Tafa def. Juan Adams via TKO (Round 1, 1:59).
By the time Justin Tafa and Juan Adams lumbered into the cage, UFC 247 viewers had seen four successive fights end by decision and were understandably getting pretty desperate for another finish.
Leave it to the heavyweights to deliver.
Tafa removed Adams' batteries in under two minutes, instantly announcing himself as a fighter to watch in the perilous UFC heavyweight division.
That being said, the prospect was knocked out in his UFC debut and has only fought five times professionally, so there's no rush to push him into big fights. From here, the UFC should match him up with the winner of the upcoming fight between Jeff Hughes and Carlos Felipe, scheduled for March 28 in Columbus, Ohio.
Adams, on the other hand, is now on a three-fight losing streak and could well receive his walking papers from the UFC. If he's given another chance—and it would be great to see that happen given his clear potential—he should be matched up with Daniel Spitz, who has gone a tough 1-3 since joining the promotion's roster.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Valentina Shevchenko def. Katlyn Chookagian via TKO (Round 3, 1:03).
Valentina Shevchenko is on another level. She's a Super Saiyan, a Jedi, an Avenger. The other women in her division are mere mortals.
The UFC flyweight champion proved that fact again in the UFC 247 co-main event, dominating Katlyn Chookagian before a bloody, third-round TKO.
With this victory, Shevchenko is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC flyweight division and a stunning 19-3 overall. At this stage, it's frankly impossible to imagine any of the flyweight top 15 beating her.
So why not book her for a trilogy fight with Amanda Nunes, who holds the UFC bantamweight and featherweight titles?
Nunes holds two razor-close wins over Shevchenko, both of which occurred at bantamweight before the UFC introduced the women's flyweight division. Given that Nunes, like Shevchenko, is starving for legitimate challengers after wiping out her division, the timing is perfect for a trilogy fight. Book the pair for a champion vs. champion fight while the UFC's flyweight and bantamweight contenders attempt to convince us they can beat their respective champions.
As for Chookagian—well, it's back to the drawing board. After her lopsided loss to the champ, she will need to move mountains to earn another title shot. Let her start her start on that task with a fight against the winner of the planned April 27 fight between Antonina Shevchenko—the champ's sister—and Cynthia Calvillo.
Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes
Jon Jones def. Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
Jon Jones is still the UFC light heavyweight champion, but he nearly left Houston without his belt.
In the UFC 247 main event, the champ defeated his challenger Dominick Reyes with a unanimous-decision victory that sparked countless debates on social media. While Jones kept up the pressure throughout the fight and performed extremely well in the final two rounds, Reyes delivered an excellent performance in the first half, leading many fans to score the bout in his favor.
Nonetheless, the fight is over and the time has come to speculate on what's next for both men.
How about an immediate rematch?
Unless Corey Anderson, who is on a nice win-streak at light heavyweight, does something spectacular in his imminent rematch with Jan Blachowicz at Fight Night 167 later in February, there's no light heavyweight more deserving of a title shot than Reyes. He gave Jones one of the toughest challenges of his career—perhaps the toughest—and won the fight in the eyes of enough viewers that there's no doubt that a rematch would be a blockbuster. Provided both men are healthy, it would be great to see the UFC schedule them for a sizzling do-over this summer.
The UFC failed to book an immediate rematch after Jones narrowly defeated Alexander Gustafsson in 2013, and many fans still consider that a blunder. Hopefully the promotion learns from that mistake.