The Ultimate Fighting Championship made its promotional debut Saturday night in New York City, New York. UFC 205 was the first card since UFC 33 in September of 2001 to include three title fights, all being contested on the pay-per-view. The main event was headlined between current featherweight champion “The Notorious” Conor McGregor and then lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in a contest for the lightweight championship. The co-main event featured a battle for the welterweight title between current champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Lastly, the third title fight to make up the card had champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz fight for the woman’s strawweight championship. Also on the pay-per-view was a middleweight bout between Chris Weidman and Yoel Romero, and a woman’s bantamweight fight between Miesha Tate and Raquel Pennington. Following Saturday night’s historic event, it is time to provide options for fights to make after UFC 205.
Conor McGregor (21-3)
Last Opponent: Eddie Alvarez
Who Should be Next: Nate Diaz (19-11)
What a performance from Conor McGregor, who now simultaneously holds both the lightweight and featherweight title. His second-round knockout win Saturday night was nothing but flawless, dropping Eddie Alvarez numerous times throughout the fight. Let us assume that McGregor remains at lightweight, as this seems to be a natural weight for him. The question then arises: who more rightfully deserves the title shot? I think we can agree towards either Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov, who have both scored impressive wins within the past two weeks. However, if we look at possibilites from the business side, the “money” fight to make would be the trilogy at lightweight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Their first meeting showed Nate Diaz coming out victorious, submitting McGregor by rear-naked choke in the second round. The second fight went the full 25 minutes, seeing McGregor defeat Diaz by majority decision. Both of these fights occured at welterweight; it will be interesting to see how they fair against each other at 155 pounds.
Tyron Woodley (16-3-1)
Last Opponent: Stephen Thompson
Who Should be Next: Demian Maia (24-6)
Despite the fight being delcared a majority draw, I am leaving Tyron Woodley under the “victorious” column since he does get to retain the welterweight championship. The biggest moment of this UFC 205 “Fight of the Night” showed Woodley dropping Thompson in the fourth round, doing significant damage and almost securing a guillotine choke. Before this fight, Woodley had won the welterweight belt by knocking out then champion Robbie Lawler inside of one round. A rematch between Woodley and Thompson could be in discussion, as a draw shows there to be no true winner. Demian Maia may be the most deserving fighter outside of Thompson to get the title shot. Maia currently rides a six fight win streak over Alexander Yalkovlev, Ryan LaFlare, Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson, Matt Brown, and (most recently) Carlos Condit. Within his last four fights, Maia has absorbed only 13 significant strikes. That is a number that Woodley would definitely want to change.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0)
Last Opponent: Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Who Should be Next: Jessica Andrade (15-5)
Despite being rocked in the fourth round, Joanna Jedrzejczyk successfully defended her strawweight belt against Karolina Kowalkiewicz by earning a unanimous decision victory. This win is Jedrzejczyk’s fourth title defense and keeps her undefeated as a professional, dating all the way back to May of 2012. Many of the top ranked strawweight fighters have already fought and loss to Jedrzejczyk, so it feels as though the possible options are running slim. However, many have yet to have a crack at the champion. Brazil’s Jessica Andrade would be a very tough challenge for the Polish fighter. Andrade made the drop this year from bantamweight to strawweight after compiling a 4-3 UFC record at 135 pounds. She currently rides a two fight win streak, finishing Jessica Penne with strikes in June and Joanne Calderwood by guillotine in September. This fight might be the toughest test for both individuals in their own respected careers.
Yoel Romero (12-1)
Last Opponent: Chris Weidman
Who Should be Next: Michael Bisping (30-7)
The athleticism of Yoel Romero is something special, especially for being 39 years old. After a back-and-forth fight, Romero landed a flying knee early on in the third sending Chris Weidman crashing concussed to the canvas. He is currently undefeated in the UFC with eight straight wins, six of those coming by way of knockout. Despite showing a tendancy to struggle with cardio in latter rounds, Romero holds the UFC record with most third round finishes with five (Ronny Markes, Derek Brunson, Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, and now – Chris Weidman). Romero’s performance over Weidman was a huge statement in his career and also an important fight in regards to title fight discussion. The fight that seems most reasonable to make next would be Romero vs. current middleweight champion, Michael Bisping. Bisping took the title from Luke Rockhold in June, and also earned a unanimous decision victory over Dan Henderson in October.
Raquel Pennington (9-5)
Last Opponent: Miesha Tate
Who Should be Next: Valentina Shevchenko (13-2)
Raquel Pennington scored a dominate unanimous decision victory, sending former bantamweight champino Miesha “Cupcake” Tate into retirement. Pennington currently rides a four-fight win streak including other wins including a submission win over Jessica Andrade, and decision victories over Bethe Correia and Elizabeth Phillips. With one more win, Pennington could rightfully earn herself a title shot. An experienced and tough opponent to test her skills could be Kyrgyzstani fighter Valentina Shevchenko, who holds many credentials in kickboxing. Shevchenko is 2-1 in the UFC, having wins over Holly Holm and Sarah Kaufman and a unanimous decision loss to Amanda Nunes. A dominate performance from one or the other would be very significant in their respected career.
Eddie Alvarez (28-5)
Last Opponent: Conor McGregor
Who Should be Next: Edson Barboza (18-4)
Eddie Alvarez suffered a tough knockout loss Saturday night, seeming to struggle with the range and diversity Conor McGregor possessed. This is the second lossAlvarez has suffered in the UFC, having lost a unanimous decision to Donald Cerrone in his September 2014 debut to the octagon. Alvarez is still at the top of the division posessing other wins over notables Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, and Gilbert Melendez. A fight that would be reasonable for Alvarez coming off this loss to McGregor could be with striker Edson Barboza. Barboza is coming off two impressive decision victories over Melendez and Pettis, who I just mentioned were defeated by Alvarez.This fight would be an entertaining one for the fans, as well.
Stephen Thompson (13-1-1)
Last Opponent: Tyron Woodley
Who Should be Next: Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1 NC)
Stephen Thompson’s fight with Tyron Woodley ended in a draw. Howwever, Thompson showed true heart after surviving a strong onslaught of strikes and a guillotine attempt from the champion in the fourth round. Before this fight, Thompson had won seven fights in a row including victories over Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks, and Jake Ellenberger. I mentioned earlier that a rematch between Woodley and Thompson would be perfectly acceptable. However, talks about Demian Maia recieving a title shot have been in the picture as well. If Thompson were not to get a rematch with Woodley, an important and fun fight to make could be with Robbie Lawler. The knockout loss Lawler suffered in July to Woodley was brutal; however, he still remains a top contender in this welterweight division.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1)
Last Opponent: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Who Should be Next: Carla Esparza
Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s unanimous decision loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the first loss of her professional mixed martial arts career. Kowalkiewicz found slight success in the fourth round, hurting Joanna with strikes, but it was not enough. Kowalkiewicz still remains one of the top fighters in the division, having notable UFC wins over Rose Namajunas, Heather Clark, and Randa Markos. A reasonable fight to be next could be with the first ever woman’s strawweight champion, Carla Esparza.
Chris Weidman (13-2)
Last Opponent: Yoel Romero
Who Should be Next: Winner of Derek Brunson vs. Robert Whittaker
Chris Weidman suffered a big third-round knockout loss to Yoel Romero. Weidman has now lost his last two straight fights, including this loss and losing the belt to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194 in December of 2015. This loss does not put Weidman far down the middleweight rankings, as Romero and Rockhold are at the top of the division. Weidman has notable victories over Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, and twice over Anderson Silva. Derek Brunson vs. Robert Whittaker takes place soon. The winner of this fight I find to be slightly behind some other middleweights such as Gegard Mousasi or Jacare Souza who are also in talks of reciving a title shot soon. A bout between whoever wins and Weidman would be very important for the division.
Miesha Tate (18-7)
Last Opponent: Raquel Pennington
Who Should be Next: Retirement
Following her unanimous decision loss to Raquel Pennington, Miesha Tate announced to the crowd in attendence her retirement from mixed martial arts. Tate made her professional mixed martial arts debut in November of 2007, compiling a 5-1 record before winning the Freestyle Cage Fighting Bantamweight Championship in April of 2009. Tate would later sign with Strikeforce, working her way through the division. She would then fight and defeat Marloes Coenen in July of 2011 to become the Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion. In her next fight, Tate would lose the belt to Ronda Rousey by first round armbar. Tate’s rematch would come against Ronda Rousey in the UFC, following a loss to Cat Zingano, at UFC 168 in December of 2013 after coaching on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. She would lose again, suffering another loss by submission. Following these two straight losses, Tate found a streak of success earning four straight decision wins over Liz Carmouche, Rin Nakai, Sarah McMann, and Jessica Eye. This was followed by the most memorable moment of Tate’s career, coming against Holly Holm at UFC 196. Holm had taken the belt from Rousey, who Tate had already lost two twice. In a fight that Tate was losing, she earned a takedown in the fifth and final round against Holm. She managed to find the back and sink in a rear-naked choke to become the bantamweight champion. Four months later, Tate would lose the belt to Amanda Nunes at the historic UFC 200 by first round submission. She would then lose this bout, her final bout, to Pennington by unanimous decision. She retires with 18 wins and 7 loses in her mixed martial arts career. Thank you for everything, Miesha.
Other fight suggestions for the remaining victorious and defeated from UFC 205:
Frankie Edgar vs. Ricardo Lamas
Jeremy Stephens vs. Mirsad Bektic
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson
Michael Johnson vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Tim Boetsch vs. Thales Leites/Krzysztof Jotko winner
Rafael Natal vs. Eric Spicely
Vicente Luque vs. Albert Tumenov
Belal Muhammad vs. Luan Chagas
Jim Miller vs. Joe Duffy
Thiago Alves vs. Bobby Green
Liz Carmouche vs. Bethe Correia
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Sarah Kaufman
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