UFC 245: What’s Next
By Ross Markey
For two out of three defending champion’s at UFC 245 this weekend, it’s full steam ahead approaching 2020.
Brazilian phenom, Amanda Nunes remains a dominant queen of the bantamweights and two-weight world champion.
Kamaru Usman holds the bragging-rights against Colby Covington in a rivalry which reached boiling point at times.
For Max Holloway, it’s almost uncharted territory. The Hawaiian entered the Octagon against Alexander Volkanovski, riding a fourteen fight win streak at featherweight. A cleverly worked unanimous decision later, in favour of the Australian Volkanovski, brings the curtain down on ‘The Blessed Era’. There’s certainly a lot to mull over heading into next year.
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal:
A quite logical fight for Kamaru Usman, is an attempted second defense of his welterweight throne, this time against Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal. The American Top Team striker’s stock has never been higher, after three straight career highlight victories over Darren Till, Ben Askren, and most recently, Nate Diaz.
The BMF championship holder has welcomed the challenge of Stockton’s Nick Diaz over the course of the previous month, and has also entertained the possibility of meeting with Conor McGregor, who must overcome Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246 in January. If Masvidal is geared toward his first championship tilt with the promotion instead of supposed, ‘Superfights’, it’s the perfect time to make Usman vs. Masvidal.
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards II:
A certain rematch may also be next for Kamaru Usman. The promotion are said to have run into some hurdles in their attempts to match Birmingham’s Edwards with former division best, Tyron Woodley for UFC Fight Night London in March – a rematch with Usman, this time with gold up for grabs does make a great deal of sense.
Edwards has notched eight wins in a row, most recently taking a unanimous decision win over Rafael dos Anjos. Edwards has certainly done more than enough to warrant his rematch with now champion, Kamaru Usman.
Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington:
It’s quite shocking that we haven’t seen Woodley vs. Covington play out at least once yet. Both men seemed destined to meet when Woodley was champion and Covington had just claimed interim gold against the previously mentioned dos Anjos. Covington was later stripped and Woodley lost his crown to Usman. Despite his dominance, can’t jump back into the title hot-seat now, and if an agreement can’t be finalized to pair him with Leon Edwards, let’s see Woodley matched with Covington. This one is a similarly bad-blooded affair.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway II:
This rematch has already been given the seal of approval by UFC President Dana White. After the event on Saturday night, White revealed how he was open to the idea of making an immediate rematch for the featherweight championship, in Australia later in the coming year. Volkanovski’s performance was composed and his game plan was executed brilliantly. Holloway never really got poised or even comfortable throughout the twenty-five minute showcase. With an eye on that fourteen fight win streak as previously noted, I believe Holloway makes a select list of champion’s who warrant an immediate title re-run.
Amanda Nunes vs. Irene Aldana:
Prevailing wisdom suggests Amanda Nunes is still the women’s Greatest Of All Time. There’s simply no argument to suggest she isn’t. The problem that comes with handing almost every challenge who approaches, a convincing defeat, is that the the challenger’s become few and far between. Enter Guadalajara’s Irene Aldana.
On the Preliminary card of UFC 245, Aldana met with the 10-0, #2 ranked bantamweight contender Ketlen Vieira. Countering the hyper aggressive Vieira on cue, Aldana launched her title bid with a crushing left hook knockout of the Brazilian to extend her win streak to two fights. Aldana entered the contest as the #10 ranked bantamweight challenger – expect a major reshuffle after that showing. Aldana has won five from eight Octagon walks, and with the huge statement that comes to mind with a knockout of a before undefeated challenger, Nunes vs. Aldana is one of the most exciting matchups you could make at 135-pounds today.
Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson:
‘The Lioness’ has hinted at a move back to featherweight in an attempt to defend her 145-pound championship for the first time since her staggering knockout of Cris Cyborg. In a ‘division’ lacking any structure, Australian striker Megan Anderson has a distinct advantage when aligned with the rest of her featherweight hopefuls. She would enter any potential championship bout, having won her last Octagon walk. The former Invicta FC featherweight best finished Zarah dos Santos on home soil recently, and despite her submission defeat to Felicia Spencer, it’s likely the Queensland native will get the nod if Nunes chooses to return to featherweight waters.
Germaine de Randamie vs. Holly Holm II:
This rematch should have been made long before it’s potential re-sell date in my opinion. de Randamie claimed the inaugural featherweight crown in a controversial unanimous decision win over former 135-pound gold holder Holm, despite twice landing strikes after the round ending buzzer. Both women are back competing at the bantamweight limit, and yes, Holm is already scheduled to meet ‘Rocky’ Raquel Pennington for the second time, at UFC 246 on January 18th. but if the Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay gets past The Ultimate Fighter alumni, a re-run with Utrecht native de Randamie should be strongly considered.
Honorable mentions for a de Randamie return include another rematch, this time against Aspen Ladd who took out Yana Kunitskaya via a third round knockout at UFC Fight Night Washington. The Ultimate Fighter season eighteen victor, Julianna Pena recently snapped her Octagon hiatus via a unanimous decision win over Nicco Montano, and was immediately reinstated in the top five of the division. de Randamie vs. Pena is an intriguing battle of a natural, and classic striking tactician and a grappling force.