6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 260

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IMarch 28, 2021

6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 260

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    UFC 260, the promotion's second pay-per-view of March, went down on Saturday night in Las Vegas—and it was one for the books.

    The undercard featured impressive performances from a number of rising fighters, including light heavyweight prospect Alonzo Menifield. The main card, meanwhile, featured big wins from fighters like Miranda Maverick, Sean O'Malley and Vicente Luque.

    The fight everyone will be talking about for weeks, however, is the main event.

    UFC 260 was headlined by a heavyweight title fight between record-smashing champion Stipe Miocic and brick-fisted challenger Francis Ngannou. The bout was a rematch of a 2018 fight that Miocic won by decision.

    On Saturday, Ngannou evened the score in an emphatic fashion. 

    After a strong first round, the challenger turned out the champion's lights with a jab, a hook and a devastating ground strike in the second. Just like that, he became the new UFC heavyweight champion.

    As is so often the case after a big UFC card, it's going to take a while for the dust to settle. Even in the immediate aftermath of UFC 260, however, there are a few fights that stand out as obvious choices.

Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Alonzo Menifield

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    Two hot-and-cold light heavyweights picked up wins on the UFC 260 undercard.

    First up, Poland's Michal Oleksiejczuk rebounded from back-to-back losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Jimmy Crute with a hard-fought—and somewhat controversial—split-decision win over Lithuania's Modestas Bukauskas.

    Two fights later, Dana White's Contender Series alumnus Alonzo Menifield wrapped up the undercard with a first-round submission win over short-notice replacement opponent Fabio Cherant. That win separated him from a pair of losses to Devin Clark and Saint Preux.

    Now back in the win column after their respective skids, Oleksiejczuk and Menifield should be matched up with each other. It makes sense based on their recent results, and the fight looks like a great one on paper.

Miranda Maverick vs. Maycee Barber

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    Miranda Maverick picked up the biggest win of her career on the UFC 260 main card, defeating the division's No. 15-ranked contender, Gillian Robertson.

    With the victory, Maverick is an impressive 9-2 overall and 2-0 in the UFC's Octagon. She's also the former Invicta FC: Phoenix Series 2 tournament champion. Based on all of that, it's easy to understand why she's considered one of the division's brightest young talents—potentially even a future title challenger.

    After her win over Robertson at UFC 260, Maverick should be matched up with No. 14-ranked flyweight contender Maycee Barber. Like Maverick, Barber is viewed as one of the division's most promising young fighters. Unlike Maverick, however, she's on a two-fight skid and is in desperate need of a victory if she hopes to keep her spot in the rankings.

Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2

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    Sean O'Malley snagged another highlight-reel knockout win at UFC 260, shutting off the lights on Thomas Almeida in the third round of a main card bantamweight fight.

    With this victory, O'Malley rebounded from the first setback of his professional career: a TKO loss to Marlon "Chito" Vera at UFC 252 in August.

    O'Malley's fight with Vera has been the subject of debate since the two men left the Octagon, as some fans feel Vera deserved the win, while others felt his TKO victory was the result of a flukey O'Malley leg injury. 

    With O'Malley back in the win column, and Vera desperate for a win after a decision loss to Jose Aldo, the time has come for the two of them to run it back. The buildup between the two trash-talkers would be a ton of fun, the fight itself seems like guaranteed entertainment and the result would answer all questions about which bantamweight is superior.

    It's a no-brainer.

Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa

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    Welterweight contender Vicente Luque picked up a career-changing win in the UFC 260 co-main event, coaxing a tap from the division's former champion, Tyron Woodley.

    While Luque seemed to be hurt early, he kept his cool, forcing a fairly abrupt momentum swing en route to a first-round submission victory. His rewards should be plentiful.

    In victory, Luque is on a three-fight streak and ready for another tough test. Michael Chiesa would be just that. The American grappler recently picked up a lopsided decision victory over Neil Magny and should be ready to return to action soon. While he's repeatedly called for a fight with Colby Covington, it doesn't look like he will get his wish, and a fight with Luque would be a solid consolation prize for him.

    Book the pair for a Fight Night main event of a pay-per-view main card, and give the winner a crack at a top-five welterweight.

Stipe Miocic vs. Curtis Blaydes

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    Stipe Miocic is no longer the UFC heavyweight champion.

    The longtime king was knocked from the division's throne by Francis Ngannou in the UFC 260 main event. His reign ended at 0:52 of the second round.

    While this was more or less the worst outcome imaginable for Miocic, he's unlikely to lose much ground in defeat. In fact, were former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones not in line for a heavyweight title shot, Miocic would most likely be granted an immediate rematch with Ngannou.

    With Jones most likely getting the next crack at the new champ, however, Miocic will have to look elsewhere for his next foe. Hopefully that search leads him to No. 3-ranked heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes.

    Like Miocic, Blaydes is riding a knockout loss to a heavyweight juggernaut—his coming at the hands of Derrick Lewis. He and Miocic have also trained together previously, so there's an interesting backstory to this potential matchup. It makes all the sense in the world.

Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones

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    As we covered in the previous slide, Francis Ngannou is the new UFC heavyweight champion—and we already know who will most likely provide the first challenge of his reign.

    While remuneration seemingly remains a significant hurdle, all signs point to former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones getting the first crack at Ngannou. Jones vacated the light heavyweight title last year with the intention of moving up to heavyweight. He's been bulking up since and was all but guaranteed a shot at the winner of the UFC 260 main event.

    At this stage, the only question is whether the UFC can pay Ngannou and Jones what they feel they are worth. If the promotion can pull off the matchup, it will go down as one of the biggest and most significant in UFC history.