6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 250
On Saturday night, the UFC promoted its first-ever pay-per-view event out of its new Apex facility in Las Vegas.
In terms of action, the card was an absolute success.
In the UFC 250 main event, we saw reigning UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes defend that former title with a lopsided, unanimous-decision win over the absurdly tough Felicia Spencer.
In the co-main event, we watched former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt get back on track after three straight knockout losses with a blistering knockout win over Raphael Assuncao.
Other highlights of the main card included dazzling stoppage victories from the likes of Aljamain Sterling and Sean O'Malley, while the undercard featured key wins from talents like Cody Stamann and Alex Perez, to name a few.
So where do the stars of this action-packed card go from here? As ever, there are plenty of interesting matches to be made, but these are the six fights we're hoping to see next.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko III
At this point, what do you even do with Amanda Nunes?
The reigning UFC featherweight and bantamweight champion has beat the best of the best in both the divisions she rules over: Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Germaine de Randamie and, in the UFC 250 main event, former Invicta featherweight champ Felicia Spencer.
From here, you could always match Nunes up with Megan Anderson at featherweight or Irene Aldana at bantamweight, but good luck convincing anybody that either of those matchups would be competitive.
Of the few remaining options available for the sport's greatest female fighter, the best is probably a third fight with Valentina Shevchenko, who currently rules over the UFC flyweight division with an iron fist. Nunes has beaten Shevchenko twice before at bantamweight, but both fights were incredibly close. For all Shevchenko's talent, she'd enter a third fight with Nunes as a significant underdog, but it's as credible a challenge we'll find for The Lioness at this stage.
At worst, it's a PPV-worthy showdown between two of the promotion's most dominant champs.
Cody Garbrandt vs. Marlon Moraes
Former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt entered his UFC 250 co-main event battle with Raphael Assuncao on a tough, three-fight skid—all knockouts. He could not have rebounded from that skid in more emphatic fashion.
In the final second of the bout's second round, Garbrandt planted a meteor of a right hand on his foe's chin. In an instant, Assuncao was face down on the canvas, completely unconscious, and Garbrandt was right back in the bantamweight title conversation.
After this highlight-reel knockout win, Garbrandt should be matched up with former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes, who currently holds the No. 1 spot in the UFC bantamweight rankings. While Moraes might seem like a big step up for Garbrandt, who is currently ranked ninth in the division, most of the bantamweights in the top 10 are currently booked, so the former WSOF champ doesn't really have any better options.
The two bantamweight finishers share a manager in Ali Abdelaziz, and have both worked under the tutelage of renowned coach Mark Henry, but could almost certainly be convinced to fight each other. Let them duke it out in the co-main event of a pay-per-view, and rest assured that excitement is a downright certainty.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
Petr Yan and Jose Aldo are expected to battle for the vacant UFC bantamweight title this summer. Scrap that plan. Now.
Aldo is one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, but he does not deserve a bantamweight title shot right now—he's 0-1 in the division! Aljamain Sterling, who choked Cory Sandhagen unconscious on the UFC 250 main card, does deserve the opportunity.
With his win over Sandhagen, Sterling extended his win streak to five straight. He's already the bantamweight division's No. 2 contender—Yan and Aldo are ranked third and sixth, respectively—and the fact that he's not going to be involved in the next bantamweight title fight is a travesty.
The UFC needs to rethink its current plan and give Sterling the opportunity to fight Yan for the vacant belt. It's really that simple.
Sean O'Malley vs. John Dodson
A victory over Eddie Wineland is not worth what it once was, but Sean O'Malley did more than just beat the former WEC bantamweight champ. The 25-year-old super prospect treated his veteran foe like a frozen computer, giving him a hard shutdown in the first round.
He simply couldn't have done more to justify the hype.
With this huge win over a decorated, experienced foe behind him, O'Malley is irrefutably ready for the bantamweight top 15. While the UFC could fast-track him with a foe inside the top 10, it probably makes more sense to bring him along slowly with a foe on the outer edge of the bantamweight rankings.
No. 13-ranked contender John Dodson, who twice fought for the UFC flyweight title, seems like a perfect next step for O'Malley. Dodson is riding a nice win over another solid prospect in Nathaniel Wood, and with a strong wrestling base and sizzling punches, he should be able to give O'Malley some new looks. Book it for the main event of a Fight Night or a pay-per-view main card.
Cody Stamann vs. Raphael Assuncao
Cody Stamann's 18-year-old brother, Jacob, died last week. Despite this terrible loss, the No. 12-ranked bantamweight contender showed up for his UFC 250 featherweight fight with Brian Kelleher and won a clear-cut unanimous decision.
While he will no doubt be taking the time mourn, he's earned a huge step up in competition in the bantamweight division, where he normally competes.
Raphael Assuncao would be such a step up.
Assuncao, 37, is a staple of the UFC bantamweight top 10, but after a blistering knockout loss to Cody Garbrandt in the UFC 250 co-main event—his third loss in a row—he's probably ready for a step down in competition.
Let him battle Stamann for a spot in the bantamweight top 10. It makes all the sense in the world.
Alex Perez vs. Brandon Moreno
Alex Perez did something amazing on the UFC 250 undercard. He became just the 11th fighter in UFC history to finish a fight via leg kick, and he did so by chopping down Jussier Formiga, who has stood out as one of the world's best flyweights since way back in 2011.
With this win over Formiga, who held the No. 4 spot in the UFC flyweight rankings heading into the matchup, Perez extended his win streak to three. He now deserves the biggest fight available. At this stage, that's a fight with Mexico's Brandon Moreno.
Like Perez, Moreno is riding a win over Formiga and is probably already deserving of a flyweight title shot. That being said, neither man will be able to fight for gold until Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez rematch for the vacant belt on July 18.
Let Perez and Moreno fight in the meantime so there's a clear No. 1 contender awaiting the division's new champion.
Full UFC 250 Results
- Amanda Nunes def. Felicia Spencer via unanimous decision (50-44 x2, 50-45)
- Cody Garbrandt def. Raphael Assuncao via KO at 4:59 of Round 2
- Aljamain Sterling def. Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:28 of Round 1
- Neil Magny def. Anthony Rocco Martin via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Sean O'Malley def. Eddie Wineland via KO at 1:54 of Round 1
- Alex Caceres def. Chase Hooper via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Ian Heinisch def. Gerald Meerschaert via TKO at 1:14 of Round 1
- Cody Stamann def. Brian Kelleher via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Maki Pitolo def. Charles Byrd via TKO at 1:10 of Round 2
- Alex Perez def. Jussier Formiga via TKO at 4:06 of Round 1
- Devin Clark def. Alonzo Menifield via decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
- Herbert Burns def. Evan Dunham via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:20 of Round 1