6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 269

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IIDecember 12, 2021

6 Fights We Need to See After UFC 269

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    UFC 269, the promotion's final pay-per-view of 2021, might have been the best of the year.

    In Saturday's main event, lightweight champion Charles Oliveira extended his late-career title reign—and his record for the most submissions in UFC history—by tapping the fan favorite Dustin Poirier with a third-round rear-naked choke.

    In the co-main event, we witnessed one of the greatest upsets in MMA history, as the massive underdog Julianna Pena rocked and ultimately submitted Amanda Nunes, considered the best female fighter of all time, to capture the UFC bantamweight title. 

    Before any of that happened, we were treated to some sizzling knockout wins from the likes of Kai Kara-France, Sean O'Malley, and Tai Tuivasa, who defeated Cody Garbrandt, Raulian Paiva and Augusto Sakai respectively. We also saw former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz turn back the clock once again, defeating longtime contender Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision. 

    When all was said and done, it was an unforgettable night of action—and one that opened the door to some blockbuster fights.

    Keep scrolling to see the matches we're hoping are made once the dust has settled.

Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje

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    After defending the UFC lightweight title with a submission win over Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 269, Charles Oliveira deserves some time off. Unfortunately for him, the entire MMA community is already wondering who the ridiculously dangerous champion will fight next.

    Our vote is for Justin Gaethje. 

    Gaethje, who was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in his only previous crack at UFC gold, recently burst back into title contention with a decision win over Michael Chandler. Initially, there was some debate as to whether the next title shot would go to him, Beneil Dariush or Islam Makhachev, but now that Dariush and Makhachev are scheduled to fight each other, Gaethje seems like the only option. 

    As one of the few lightweights with the finishing prowess to match Oliveira's, it would surely be an incredible fight for as long as it lasts. We're here for it.

Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler

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    Dustin Poirier's title dreams were dashed again in the UFC 269 main event, as he was submitted by Brazilian champion Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira in the third round.

    With that outcome, Poirier's future is shrouded in mystery. Retirement seems like an option for the American, who has been fighting since 2011 and has done just about everything there is to do in MMA besides win an undisputed UFC title, but we're hoping he sticks around.

    And if he does, we'd like to see him fight Michael Chandler. 

    Like Poirier, Chandler is riding a tough loss, having recently come up short in a firefight with top lightweight contender Justin Gaethje. The fight also makes sense from a rankings standpoint, as both men are ranked inside the lightweight Top Five.

    The real appeal of the fight, however, is the way the pair match up on paper. The fight seems like a surefire recipe for spectacle, whether it's serving as a Fight Night main event or a fun addition to a pay-per-view main card. 

Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes II

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    We were all set to start calling for a third fight between UFC bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes and flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko, but then Julianna Pena did the unthinkable.

    Midway through the second round of her UFC 269 co-headlining bantamweight title fight with Nunes, the unheralded American challenger began rocking the seemingly unbeatable Brazilian with punches. Not long thereafter, she locked up a choke, scoring a tap and, as a result, the bantamweight belt. 

    It was easily one of the greatest upsets in UFC history—one we'll be talking about for months and months to come.

    As for what's next for the two women, a rematch is the only thing that makes sense.

    Nunes was on a 12-fight win streak heading into the fight, which included victories over former champs like Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. That dominance alone should earn her an immediate crack at redemption. Throw in the fact that she looked significantly less polished than she usually does at UFC 269, and a rematch seems even more necessary.

    Despite her win over Nunes, Pena will probably enter the rematch as an underdog, but as she proved Saturday, no outcome is certain in this wild and unpredictable sport.

Kai Kara-France vs. Askar Askarov

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    New Zealand's Kai Kara-France picked up the biggest win of his 33-fight MMA career on the UFC 269 main card, battering former UFC bantamweight Cody Garbrandt to a first-round knockout.

    The win, which spoiled Garbrandt's plans for a fresh start in the flyweight division, asserted Kara-France as one of the weight class's top fighters. In fact, if you ask him, he's now deserving of a crack at flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.

    "I know I'm the best in the world, and taking out a former world champ puts me right in line for a title shot, he said in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. 

    Kara-France is in reach of a title shot. Unfortunately, he's not alone in that position. Russia's Askar Askarov is also right on the cusp of a title shot and probably has even more claim to that opportunity than the Kiwi, with a cozy spot at No. 2 in the flyweight rankings. 

    Luckily, there's an easy solution to the traffic jam atop the flyweight division: Just pit Kara-France and Askarov against each other. The fight would probably be a lot of fun, and the winner's claim to a crack at the champ would be undeniable.

Sean O'Malley vs. Dominick Cruz

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    Rising bantamweight star Sean O'Malley picked up yet another sizzling knockout win in the opening bout of the UFC 269 main card, snuffing Brazil's Raulian Paiva with a volley of first-round punches.

    While the win was impressive, however, there's a slight caveat: It came against an unranked former flyweight—hardly an appropriate test for a fighter of O'Malley's reputation. 

    This kind of gentle matchmaking has unfortunately been par for the course for O'Malley, and after UFC 269, it's hoped those days are over. From here, we'd like to see him matched up with former UFC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz, who defeated Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision on the UFC 269 undercard.

    Cruz, the No. 9-ranked bantamweight fighter, looks like a pretty stark step up for O'Malley, who is not currently ranked in the division. Yet O'Malley is one of the most hyped prospects in MMA today and referred to himself as the "unranked champ" through much of UFC 269's pre-fight build-up.

    It's time to call it quits with the favorable matchmaking and see what O'Malley can do when he's faced with a real challenge. Challenges don't get any realer than Cruz.

Tai Tuivasa vs. Chris Barnett

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    At the end of 2019, Tai Tuivasa was riding consecutive losses to Junior Dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov and Sergey Spivak and looked like he was at risk of being cut by the UFC.

    To say he's turned things around would be an understatement. 

    On the undercard of UFC 269, the boisterous Australian picked up a devastating knockout win over Brazil's Augusto Sakai. It was his fourth win in a row after first-round stoppages over Greg Hardy, Harry Hunsucker and Stefan Struve. 

    Now on the cusp of the heavyweight Top 15, Tuivasa can look forward to some interesting fights in 2022. We're hoping he'll be matched up with Chris Barnett.

    Granted, Barnett, who is only 1-1 in the UFC, is a bit of a step down from Sakai, but just think about it. The stocky American heavyweight throws more spinning attacks than your average bantamweight and is one of the few heavyweights out there with the personality to match Tuivasa's. 

    Forget the rankings. The build-up to this fight would be fantastic, and the fight itself would likely be even better.

    And who knows, Barnett might even join Tuivasa for a customary post-fight shoey.