5 Fights We Need to See After UFC 270

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IIJanuary 23, 2022

5 Fights We Need to See After UFC 270

0 of 5

    Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

    UFC 270 went down on Saturday night in Anaheim, California. It was the promotion's first pay-per-view of the year, and while it was a little thin on big names, it ended up being a solid start to the 2022 pay-per-view calendar. 

    The card was topped by a heavyweight title fight between undisputed champ Francis Ngannou and interim champ Ciryl Gane—who happen to be former training partners.

    Gane had Ngannou in some trouble early, making the Cameroonian's head spin with his footwork and evasiveness. Yet Ngannou ultimately turned the tables with his wrestling in the final three rounds, winning a unanimous decision to retain his title. 

    In the co-main event, former UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo reclaimed the division's throne with a hard-fought decision win over Mexico's Brandon Moreno. It was the pair's third fight in the Octagon, and from the looks of it, it won't be their last.

    Other highlights of the UFC 270 lineup included a big win from Dagestani prospect Said Nurmagomedov as well as dazzling debuts from several hot prospects.

    As is so often the case, the event opened the door to some spectacular matchup options. Keep scrolling for the fights we're hoping to see when the dust has settled.

Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones

1 of 5

    FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

    Francis Ngannou looked like he was in trouble in the early going of his UFC 270 heavyweight title fight with Ciryl Gane. The undisputed champ had difficulty finding his opponent in the Octagon, which rendered it impossible for him to land any of his nuclear punches.

    Just when all hope looked lost, however, Ngannou began flaunting a new layer of his MMA game: his wrestling. The hulking Cameroon native from France secured multiple takedowns through Rounds 3, 4 and 5, collecting quite a bit of control time in the process and ultimately won a unanimous decision as a result.

    While Ngannou is still the UFC heavyweight champion, his future with the promotion could not be murkier. The two parties are currently embroiled in a heated contract dispute, with Ngannou looking for more money and the freedom to compete in boxing. The championship clause in his contract means he's unable to leave the promotion for the time being, but it could be awhile before he's back in competition. 

    When Ngannou is ready to return to the Octagon—assuming he does—we're hoping it will be for a fight with former light heavyweight king Jon Jones.

    Jones, widely considered the best fighter of all time, ruled over the light heavyweight division for many years, but the 205-pounder vacated his throne in 2020 with plans to move up to heavyweight. He's yet to make that move, but he's still the highest-profile and most dangerous challenge out there for Ngannou.

    In fact, it might just be the biggest fight in MMA at present. Here's hoping the UFC can somehow make it happen.  

Ciryl Gane vs. Stipe Miocic

2 of 5

    FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

    Ciryl Gane started strong in his UFC 270 heavyweight title with Francis Ngannou, confounding the champion with his elusiveness and range management through Rounds 1 and 2.

    Unfortunately for Gane, Ngannou realized he could wrestle at the beginning of Round 3 and used that skill to win the remainder of the fight—and ultimately, a unanimous decision.

    It was the first loss of Gane's 11-match MMA career, but one that will undoubtedly serve as a learning experience—something he seems to recognize. "It was a good opportunity," he said in his post-fight interview with commentator Joe Rogan. "I'm just arriving in this game."

    We’re hoping the 31-year-old will have the chance to get back on track against the division's former champion, Stipe Miocic.

    Holder of the record for the most title defenses in UFC heavyweight history (nine), Miocic has not fought since he was knocked out by Ngannou in March 2021. The 39-year-old's fighting future is beginning to be the subject of quite a bit of uncertainty, but if he decides to fight again, a showdown with the former interim champ Gane makes all the sense in the world.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno IV

3 of 5

    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno's rivalry is far from over.

    The two 125-pound stars collided in the UFC 270 co-main event, with the flyweight division's ultimate prize hanging in the balance. It was the third time they met in the Octagon.

    The first time they met, they battled to a draw, which meant Figueiredo, then the champion, retained the flyweight title. The second time, Moreno took the belt with a second-round submission victory.

    On Saturday, Figueiredo swiped the title back with a unanimous decision in an early contender for 2022 Fight of the Year honors.

    With that result, the pair are now 1-1-1 across three fights. That, of course, is no way to end a rivalry. A fourth fight between the pair makes all the sense in the world and, post-fight, Figueiredo even offered to do in Moreno's native Mexico.

    "I'm ready for a fourth fight with Brandon—in Mexico," the Brazilian said. "We're going to be doing a fourth fight."

    It's the closure we need for the greatest rivalry in the history of the UFC flyweight division, and after the pair's first three fights, it's pretty much guaranteed that it would be a barnburner.

    Throw them right back into the co-headlining slot on a summer pay-per-view.

Said Nurmagomedov vs. Ricky Simon

4 of 5

    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Said Nurmagomedov—affiliated with but not related to the former MMA legend with the same surname—picked up the biggest win of his UFC career in the second bout of the UFC 270 main card, submitting Cody Stamann with a guillotine choke in just 47 seconds.

    Stamann isn't just some guy. He used to be ranked at bantamweight, and he's beaten the likes of Tom Duquesnoy, Bryan Caraway and Brian Kelleher. Yet Nurmagomedov made him look completely average.

    With his UFC 270 win, the Russian is now 4-1 in the UFC, having sandwiched a decision loss to Raoni Barcelos between wins over Stamann, Mark Striegl, Ricardo Ramos and Justin Scoggins. All but one of those victories came by way of finish.

    He's now ready for a fight with a ranked opponent. We'd like to see him matched up with Ricky Simon, who recently burst into the bantamweight Top 15 with a second-round TKO win over longtime contender Raphael Assuncao.

    It'd make a great addition to any upcoming main card, and it would probably be a thriller for as long as it lasted.

Michael Morales vs. Jack Della Maddalena

5 of 5

    Michael Morales
    Michael MoralesChris Unger/Getty Images

    UFC 270 featured the promotional debuts of two red-hot welterweight prospects from abroad—and both made a serious splash.

    First up, on the event's undercard, 25-year-old Jack Della Maddalena (11-2) made his debut against Pete Rodriguez, who replaced Warlley Alves on short notice. The last-minute opponent change didn't seem to bother the Australian, who used distance control, footwork and boxing to score a sizzling first-round knockout.

    Next, in the first bout of the main card, Mexico-based Ecuadorian Michael Morales (13-0) made his debut in the Octagon against the more experienced Trevin Giles. The 22-year-old also scored a slick first-round knockout, which was made even more impressive by the fact that he weathered some early adversity to do it.

    It’s often argued that prospects shouldn't be matched up against each other early on. The logic is that you're effectively derailing one for the benefit of the other, when they could both be built up against other fighters instead. That's a fair argument, but after watching Morales and Della Maddalena on Saturday, it's impossible not to wonder what would happen if they were locked in the cage together.

    They're both on the same schedule, so why not?