The UFC returned on December 3rd to the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas, hosting the The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale. The season was comrpised of 16 different flyweight champions from outer-UFC promotions around the world. Former UFC fighter and Titan FC champion Tim Elliott would come out victorious from the show, earning an immediate title shot at one of the pound-for-pound greatest mixed martial artists of all-time, Demetrious “Mighy Mouse” Johnson. The co-main event featured a battle between the flyweight coaches of this season’s show, Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo. Following Saturday night’s event, it’s that time again to provide fights to make after The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale.
Demetrious Johnson (25-2-1)
Last opponent: Tim Elliott
Who should be next: Joseph Benavidez (25-4)
Despite experiencing a first-round submission scare from the challenger, Demetrious Johnson earned a unanimous decision victory over The Ultimate Fighter 24 winner Tim Elliott. “Mighty Mouse” continues to show his dominance inside the octagon, now moving his title defense record to nine and his overall win streak to eleven. The flyweight division has been pracitcally sweeped of competition since Johnson continues to defeat everyone that steps in his path. He utilizies his effective speed and dynamic toolset in each performance, having knockout and submission wins over some of the 125-pound best. It seems as though the only man deserving for another chance at the title is Joseph Benavidez, who earned a close split decision victory against Henry Cejudo on this card. Benavidez has already fallen twice to Johnson, once by decision in 2012 and again by knockout in 2013. However, the knockout loss to Johnson was the last loss he has suffered. Benavidez has now won six straight, including a first-round submission victory from the man who just took Johnson to the decision, Tim Elliott. The only other potential option for Johnson could be moving up to face Dominick Cruz in a superfight for the ages. For now, I think Johnson will stick at flyweight and close up the trilogy between he and Benavidez.
Jorge Masvidal (31-11)
Last opponent: Jake Ellenberger
Who should be next: Winner of Donald Cerrone (31-7, 1 NC) vs. Matt Brown (20-15)
Following an exchange of strikes, Jake Ellenberger looked for a knee and when landing, planted his foot in between the cage and the octagon mat. Jorge Masvidal would take advantage to the odd moment, picking up the TKO victory following Herb Dean’s intervene. This moves Masvidal to his first two-fight win streak since defeating Daron Cruickshank in July of 2014 and James Krause in September of 2014. Masvidal has always been known for his striking; however, the win was only his second knockout victory in his last 12 victories. Following his fight, Masvidal called out the winner between next week’s UFC 206 fight between Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown. The fight would surly provide obscene amounts of trash-talk and a possible war between Masvidal and the soon-to-be-determined winner.
Jared Cannonier (9-1)
Last opponent: Ion Cutelaba
Who should be next: Ilir Latifi (12-5, 1 NC)
Following his unanimous decision victory over Ion Cutelaba, how can you not be a fan of Jared Cannonier? He made his debut at light heavyweight, utilizing his strength carried from the heavyweight division and impressive cardio to batter Cutelaba in the later minutes. Cannonier’s lone UFC career loss came to Shawn Jordan in January of 2015; despite that loss, he has looked sharp since. Lauren Murphy stated on Twitter that following Cannonier’s announcement of recevining “Fight of the Night” honors, he called his mother and told her he would pay to fix up her house. He should stay at this weight, because it looks as though it’s the most fitting performance-wise for him. A big test for his next fight could come against Sweden’s Ilir Latifi, who just suffered a brutal knockout loss to Ryan Bader in his last outing. A win for Cannonier would propel him into the Top 15 rankings, while a win for Latifi would affirm he still belongs at the top of the division.
Sara McMann (10-3)
Last opponent: Alexis Davis
Who should be next: Valentina Shevchenko (13-2)
Sara McMann became the first person to submit Alexis Davis, using top control after a takedown to plant an arm-triangle choke in the second round. McMann hadn’t seen two victories go her ways since a decision win in 2012 and a TKO victory in her April 2013 octagon debut. McMann was calling for a title shot following her performance; however, I believe she is still a small step away from that for now. I believe that either Raquel Pennington or Julianna Pena is next in line to recieve a shot at the winner between Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey. With one more victory, however, McMann would be in the discussion. A fight with Valentina Shevchenko may be the fight to make next for McMann, who also is in talks of receving a shot following her decision win over Holly Holm. As we can see, there is a lot of action happening at the top of the woman’s bantamweight division. A fight between McMann and Shevchenko could provide for that classic “grappler vs. striker” match-up, as they say.
Brandon Moreno (13-3)
Last opponent: Ryan Benoit
Who should be next: John Moraga (16-5)
22-year-old Brandon Moreno earned a closely-tested split decision victory over Ryan Benoit. His wrestling and grappling skills showed to be the strongest aspects of his game; even with 16 fights in his career already, Moreno has plenty of time for improvement. Moreno had competed on this 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter, falling by submission in the “Round of 16” to Alexandre Pantoja as the #16 seed. He filled in short-notice to face Louis Smolka back in October; despite being a huge underdog, Moreno tapped the highly-ranked fighter by guillotine in the first round. Since that performance, Moreno’s name has been remembered as a contender here in the flyweight division. John Moraga was expected to face Zach Makovsky at next week’s UFC 206 until an injury forced him off the card. Moraga is in desperate need for a win, following two straight decision losses and winless since December of 2014. A fight between the two could play as a big turning point for both in their mixed martial arts careers.
Other fights to make after The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale:
Ryan Hall vs. Alex Caceres
Rob Font vs. Iuri Alcantara
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Kajan Johnson
Jamie Moyle vs. Heather Jo Clark
Anthony Smith vs. Scott Askham
Devin Clark vs. Jonathan Wilson
Tim Elliott vs. Ian McCall
Henry Cejudo vs. Ali Bagautinov
Jake Ellenberger vs. Patrick Cote
Ion Cutelaba vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Alexis Davis vs. Ashlee Evans Smith
Ryan Benoit vs. Matt Schnell
Gray Maynard: released or retirement
Brendan O’Reilly: released
Kailin Curran: released
Elvis Mutapcic: released
Josh Stansbury vs. Daniel Jolly