7 Fights We Need to See After UFC 273

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IIApril 11, 2022

7 Fights We Need to See After UFC 273

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    UFC 273 went down Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, and the event opened the door to a host of interesting matchup possibilities.

    Headlining honors went to featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and fan-favorite challenger "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. Volkanovski was the picture of dominance in the fight, walloping his challenger to a fourth-round standing TKO. It was his third defense of the UFC featherweight title, and a win that reaffirmed him as one of the sport's top pound-for-pound talents.

    In the co-main event, Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan looked to settle their longstanding rivalry, with the UFC bantamweight title hanging in the balance. It was a very competitive fight, but Sterling's success in the first three rounds ultimately earned him a split-decision victory and kept the bantamweight belt around his waist.

    Arguably the biggest bout on the UFC 273 bill occurred before there was ever a title up for grabs, when surging welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev took on the toughest test of his career in former title challenger Gilbert Burns. It wasn't easy, but Chimaev ultimately defeated Burns by unanimous decision, reaching the scorecards for the first time in one of the best fights of the year.

    UFC 273 also featured impressive wins from the likes of Mackenzie Dern and Mark O. Madsen, who defeated Tecia Torres and Vinc Pichel by decision, respectively, as well as Irish prospect Ian Garry, who roughed up Darian Weeks on the undercard.

    When the dust has settled, there will be plenty of compelling matchups to be made. Keep reading to learn the ones we're hoping to see.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway III

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    There's seemingly only one logical option for featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski after his effortless-looking stoppage victory over The Korean Zombie at UFC 273: a third fight with Max Holloway.

    Volkanovski and Holloway stand out as the two greatest featherweights of this era, taking up the mantle from the likes of Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor before them. They have fought twice before. Volkanovski won both of their previous fights by decision, but both were very competitive, and the second was downright controversial.

    The pair were actually booked to fight for a third time earlier this year, but Holloway was forced out of the fight with an injury, clearing the way for The Korean Zombie to have a chance at the belt. Now that Volkanovski has thwarted that challenge, the UFC should rebook the fight with Holloway. It would make a great addition to any upcoming pay-per-view.

    In fact, it could be a good fit for the UFC's planned return to Toronto, which company president Dana White targeted for the fall at the UFC 273 post-fight press conference.

    It's no secret, after all, how Holloway and the people of Canada feel about each other.

Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw

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    Aljamain Sterling silenced his legions of doubters in the UFC 273 co-main event, defeating Petr Yan by decision to move past the ugly result of their first fight: a disqualification win because of an illegal knee.

    Bantamweight is among the best divisions in the UFC. As champion, Sterling has plenty of options going forward. Yet he made the UFC matchmakers' jobs easy at the UFC 273 post-fight press conference, setting his sights on former champion TJ Dillashaw, who recently returned from a two-year USADA suspension to defeat Cory Sandhagen by decision.

    "He's been a big critic [of mine]," Sterling said of Dillashaw. "The guy's been non-stop talking about me, talking about my heart and this and that, the spirit of a fighter. I mean, the spirit of a fighter is someone who's never going to give up, if you ask me. I think I showed that."

    "If anyone's mentally weak, it's that guy," he continued. "The guy needed steroids and EPO to catapult his career, to win even as many fights as he did in the UFC. His whole UFC tenure is tainted, so I can't wait to punch him in the face. That would be somebody I would enjoy punching. He's got good skill, but he's dirty, and I'd like the opportunity to slap him up."

    The fight makes sense from a rankings standpoint, and clearly, it's an opportunity both guys are after. Book it.

Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili

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    Petr Yan failed to reclaim the UFC bantamweight title from Aljamain Sterling at UFC 273, but given the razor-close nature of his split-decision loss to the champion, he's unlikely to lose much ground in defeat.

    From here, we're hoping to see the Russian boxing specialist take on Georgia's Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili is on a seven-fight win streak, highlighted by wins over the likes of John Dodson, Cody Stamann and Marlon Moraes. He also happens to be one of Sterling's chief training partners and has exchanged words with Yan many times over the last few years—including a run-in the lead-up to UFC 273.

    The fight would give Yan the chance to position himself for another shot at Sterling, and Dvalishvili the opportunity to burst right into bantamweight title contention himself.

    The fact that it would probably be a very fun fight is just the cherry on top.

Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington

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    Nobody made quite as much noise at UFC 273 as Khamzat Chimaev. While he failed to finish Gilbert Burns—a major departure from what we've come to expect from him—he answered many questions about his chin, his cardio and his heart en route to his unanimous-decision victory over the Brazilian.

    From here, we're hoping to see Chimaev look to earn a title shot against controversial welterweight star Colby Covington, who recently got back on track after a loss to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman with a breezy decision win over his archnemesis, Jorge Masvidal.

    The fight makes perfect sense from a rankings perspective, and it stands out among the biggest the UFC can make at present, whether it lands on an upcoming pay-per-view or in the main event of the promotion's return to ABC.

    Book it and watch all hell break loose both in and outside the Octagon.

Gilbert Burns vs. Michael Chiesa

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    Gilbert Burns didn't get the win he sought against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273, but he reasserted himself as one of the welterweight division's best fighters in defeat, pushing his much larger opponent in a way that nobody had been able to before.

    Burns, who fought so well that Dana White will pay him his win money despite his loss, should not lose much ground in defeat. But we think it's time to give him a bit of a break.

    From here, we're hoping to see him matched up with No. 10 welterweight contender and fellow grappling specialist Michael Chiesa, who is looking to rebound from back-to-back losses to Sean Brady and Vicente Luque.

    It's a fight Chiesa has been chasing for years, and a great opportunity for both men to get back on track after tough losses.

Mackenzie Dern vs. Yan Xiaonan

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    No. 5 strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern got back to winning ways on the UFC 273 main card, rebounding from a tough decision loss to surging striker Marina Rodriguez with a hard-fought decision win over longtime contender Tecia Torres.

    After the win, throughout which she displayed plenty of her world-class BJJ, Dern set her sights on a number of top strawweight contenders. Unfortunately, most of the women ranked ahead of her are booked up—with the exception of China's Yan Xiaonan.

    Xiaonan is riding back-to-back losses to Carla Esparza and Rodriguez but is still ranked one spot ahead of Dern, at No. 4. At this point, it makes sense for both women—at least, more sense than any other available options. It's the fight to make.

Ian Garry vs. Mike Malott

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    Khamzat Chimaev was not the only hyped welterweight on the UFC 273 bill. Before the Chechen-born Swede stepped into the Octagon with Gilbert Burns, Ireland's Ian Garry did the same, looking to back up frequent comparisons to his countryman Conor McGregor against American Darian Weeks.

    Garry looked good but not great against Weeks, using his movement and striking to lock up a unanimous-decision win. It definitely fell short of the performance his supporters were hoping for—a finish would have been nice—but it kept his unbeaten record intact and moved him to 2-0 in the UFC.

    From here, we're hoping to see the Irishman matched up with Canada's Mike Malott, who debuted with a first-round knockout over the significantly more experienced Mickey Gall on the UFC 273 undercard.

    The win established Malott as a fighter to watch in the crowded UFC welterweight division, and his post-fight announcement that he would donate half his purse to a friend whose daughter has cancer instantly endeared him to fans.

    He is just the kind of opponent Garry needs to get by before he starts testing his mettle against the best of the division.