6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 262

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IMay 16, 2021

6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 262

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    UFC 262 went down in front of a packed house in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday night—and it's a card fight fans will be talking about for days to come.

    In the UFC 262 main event, Brazilian finisher Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira assumed the lightweight throne recently vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov with a come-from-behind, second-round knockout of former Bellator star Michael Chandler.

    In the co-main event, meanwhile, surging lightweight contender Beneil Dariush improved his current streak to seven with a decisive decision win over the highly regarded Tony Ferguson.

    Elsewhere on the main card, we witnessed impressive victories from Katlyn Chookagian, Rogerio Bontorin, and Edson Barboza, while the undercard was highlighted by triumphs from fighters like Andre Muniz, Jordan Wright and Andrea Lee.

    As is so often the case after a stacked card like UFC 262, there are dozens of fantastic matchups to be made. That being said, a few of those potential matchups stand a head and shoulders above the rest. 

    Without further ado, here are the six fights we'd like to see now that the card has concluded.

Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier–Conor McGregor Winner

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    Oliveira is the new UFC lightweight champion.

    The Brazilian submission specialist assumed the division's throne vacated by Nurmagomedov in the UFC 262 main event, where he scored a second-round knockout win over former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler. 

    From here, Oliveira will learn the burdens of being the king of the UFC's most competitive division. He can look forward to a long list of tough challenges, starting with a scrap with the winner of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor's trilogy fight, scheduled for UFC 264 on July 10. 

    Had Poirier not accepted the trilogy fight with McGregor, he more than likely would have been the man standing across the Octagon from Oliveira at UFC 262. If he beats McGregor again at UFC 264, his claim to a title shot will be irrefutable.

    If McGregor gets his revenge on Poirier, meanwhile, he'll have a strong case for a title fight himself. Throw in his status as the sport's biggest star, and his receiving a crack at Oliveira seems like a near certainty.

    One way or the other, Oliveira has some massive challenges on the horizon. 

Beneil Dariush vs. Michael Chandler

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    Dariush scored the biggest victory of his career in the UFC 262 co-main event, using his world-class grappling and ever-improving striking to earn a lopsided decision win over former interim lightweight champ Ferguson.

    With this win, Dariush is now on an impressive seven-fight streak in the perilous UFC lightweight division. With that, he's due another big step up in competition.

    While he noted in his post-fight interview with commentator Joe Rogan that he intends to take a break to spend some time with his newborn daughter, a fight with Chandler makes sense when he's ready to return to the Octagon.  

    Chandler, the former Bellator lightweight champion, was knocked out by Oliveira in the UFC 262 main event, and he will no doubt be eager for the opportunity to get back on track just as soon as he's healthy. 

    Put the pair in a Fight Night main event or on a pay-per-view main card and rest assured the winner would be firmly in the lightweight title conversation. 

Tony Ferguson vs. Dan Hooker

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    It's difficult to fathom, considering he was once on a 12-fight unbeaten streak, but Ferguson is now on a three-fight skid.

    The former interim lightweight champ, widely regarded as one of the best fighters of his era, suffered his third straight loss in the UFC 262 co-main event, losing a lopsided decision to Dariush. 

    At this point, it's quite clear that Ferguson is on the decline. That being said, he's still good enough to hang with many of his lightweight rivals—provided he's still interested in competing and the UFC is willing to keep him around. 

    If Ferguson does return to the Octagon, a fight with New Zealand's Dan Hooker makes sense. Like Ferguson, the Kiwi is on a tough skid, with a knockout loss to Chandler and a decision setback against Poirier in the rearview.

    Pit them against each other on a pay-per-view main card and see who can justify their spot in the lightweight top 10.

Edson Barboza vs. Yair Rodriguez

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Former UFC lightweight contender Barboza has found new life in the featherweight division. After a controversial decision loss to Dan Ige in his featherweight debut, he's bounced back with a decision defeat of Makwan Amirkhani and a highlight-reel knockout Shane Burgos—the latter of which kicked off the UFC 262 main card.

    With his win over Burgos, who is ranked 10th at featherweight, Barboza is likely to launch into the top 10 himself. He has no shortage of opponents inside that upper echelon, but perhaps the most interesting option of all is a fight with long-absent Mexican contender Yair Rodriguez.

    The No. 3-ranked Rodriguez is once again eligible to compete after a brief USADA suspension because of a whereabouts violation, and he is undoubtedly eager for the opportunity to get back into the Octagon.

    A fight with Barboza makes sense from a rankings standpoint, and it would be a home run in terms of action.

Andre Muniz vs. Brad Tavares – Omari Akhmedov Winner

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Muniz picked up the biggest victory of his career in the final bout the UFC 262 undercard, submitting former Strikeforce middleweight champ and long-time UFC contender Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza with a bone-bending, first-round armbar.

    It was an almost unimaginable outcome, given Jacare’s immense skill in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu arena—and one that could propel Muniz into the middleweight top-15.

    Muniz, who is now on a seven-fight streak, should be given the opportunity to earn a spot in the rankings by taking on the winner of an upcoming fight between No. 15 and 14-ranked contenders Brad Tavares and Omari Akhmedov. That one goes down at UFC 264 on July 10.

Andrea Lee vs. Alexa Grasso

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    No. 11-ranked UFC flyweight contender Lee entered the Octagon with Antonina Shevchenko—the sister of the division's reigning champion Valentina—with three consecutive losses. A fourth loss easily could have cost her her UFC contract. 

    Thankfully for Lee and her fans, she got the win she needed, cashing as a slight underdog by tapping Shevchenko with a second-round triangle armbar—just the third submission of this kind in women's UFC history. 

    With this win, Lee not only protected her job with the UFC, but she reasserted herself as one of the flyweight division's top fighters. She should be rewarded for that accomplishment with a slight step up in competition: a fight with No. 10-ranked contender Alexa Grasso, who recently made a splash with a decision win over Maycee Barber.


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