International Fight Week has concluded, and UFC 226 is now in the books. The card took place on July 7th from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the night’s main event, Daniel Cormier made the successful move to heavyweight by capturing gold with a first-round knockout over the reigning and defending champion Stipe Miocic. With the win, Cormier has become the second-ever fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously in two separate weight classes.
A scheduled bout for the co-main event was to see UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway attempt to defend his belt against undefeated Brian Ortega. However, concussion-like symptoms exhibited from Holloway resulted in the fight being removed from the card. A rescheduling will likely, and should, come sometime in the near future.
To see other results from the card, check out MMASucka’s here.
There were numerous performances, both finishes and decisions, that stood out Saturday night. What are the top five fights to make after UFC 226? Let’s take a look.
5. Khalil Rountree vs. Jimi Manuwa
It only took Khalil Rountree 96 seconds to stop Gokhan Saki, one of the world’s most prestigious kickboxers-turned-MMA. The win was much needed, as despite Rountree’s last fight being overturned to a ‘No Contest,’ he had suffered a unanimous decision loss in that meeting. The victory was his third in the UFC, each one having come by knockout inside the very first round. His career has taken a step in the right direction since coming up short in his 2016 finalist bout on The Ultimate Fighter 23.
I would believe Rountree is now sitting just outside of the UFC’s top fifteen rankings in his respected weight class. Jimi Manuwa, currently ranked in the sixth spot, has suffered two straight losses to both Volkan Oezdemir and Jan Blachowicz. The potential for a knockout is fairly definite, seeing a needed rebound for Manuwa or a continued climb in the rankings for Rountree.
Card Suggestion: PPV (first/second fight) or FS1 headliner for UFC 230, November 3rd @ Madison Square Garden in New York City
4. Mike Perry vs. Alex Oliveira
An entertaining fifteen-minute striking battle with a touch of wrestling lead to Mike Perry’s split decision win over Paul Felder. It was a critical performance for Perry, having loss back-to-back fights beforehand to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Max Griffin. This was also the first fight in Perry’s career to have won by a decision, as 11 of his 12 wins have come by way of knockout.
The name Alex Oliveira stands out as a potential opponent, coming off an impressive second-round guillotine submission over UFC and WEC veteran Carlos Condit. A fight beforehand saw him in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate with Yancy Medeiros, who was originally set to fight Perry on this UFC 226 card. Oliveira has won three of his last four all the while earning three post-fight bonuses.
Not only does a fight between Perry and Oliveira make sense according to their positioning in the welterweight division, but it would make for a truly epic clash (and some trash talk).
Card Suggestion: Main card or headliner for The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale, November 30th @ Pearl Theatre in Las Vegas
3. Anthony Pettis vs. Dan Hooker
Anthony Pettis got back in the win column with his second-round triangle armbar choke over Michael Chiesa, who had missed weight at 157.5 pounds (a pound and a half over the allotted lightweight limit). The former UFC and WEC lightweight champion needed to regain his strides after suffering a rib injury loss in his last outing against Dustin Poirier. Sure enough he did, and despite being 3-5 in his last eight octagon appearances, Pettis is still a dangerous threat at 155 pounds.
Another fighter to come out on top this same card was Dan Hooker, finishing Gilbert Burns in the first round with a hard left hand and some ground-and-pound. The New Zealander has now won four-straight in the UFC, all of them coming by either knockout or submission. A fight between Pettis and Hooker would surely be an intriguing one.
Card Suggestion: Main card or co-main event for UFC Fight Night (# TBD), December 1st in Adelaide, Australia
2. Paulo Costa vs. Israel Adesanya
Paulo Costa is one terrifying man, as we saw with his second-round TKO and ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus over Uriah Hall. The win extends his undefeated and unbeaten streak to twelve straight since beginning his professional mixed martial arts career. On top of that, Costa has finished every single opponent: eleven by knockout, one by submission. Costa now holds four UFC victories, likely to climb the middleweight rankings with this stoppage.
The main event of The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, one day before UFC 226, saw Israel Adesanya earn an extremely dominant decision win over Brad Tavares. In Adesanya’s post-fight interviews, he wanted to fight the winner of Costa and Hall. On the opposite end, Costa shrugged off the fight when asked following his win.
Now the UFC could either take one of two paths. The first, keeping on-the-rise talent away from each other (giving Costa and Adesanya separate opponents who have maybe been in the game awhile) so their hype trains do not derail. Option two: having them fight. The UFC will more than likely go with the first choice; preferably, I am all for this match-up. I do not believe this fight will happen, but the two are striking machines and it would really be really exciting one to watch.
Card Suggestion: Main event or co-main event for UFC Fight Night (# TBD), December 1st in Adelaide, Australia
1. Daniel Cormier vs. Brock Lesnar
Rounds two, three, four, and five were not needed. We can now call Daniel Cormier the UFC light heavyweight champion and the UFC heavyweight champion. Or, as some people call it: ‘The Champ-Champ.’ He becomes the second man to stop Stipe Miocic and the only to stop him in the first round.
Right before his fight started, a familiar face entered his way into the arena: Brock Lesnar. And as Cormier gave his winning post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, he called Lesnar into the cage. After some scripted pushing and shouting, we know what heavyweight fight will happen next.
I could go on and preach as to why Curtis Blaydes deserves a title shot, or that Alexander Volkov has potentially earned one as well, or that Stipe Miocic (despite this knockout loss to Cormier) deserves a rematch. This fight makes absolutely no sense in the world. However, the UFC wants the money fight; the fight that will draw in the diehard, casual, and even wrestling fans. Cormier has wanted this fight with Lesnar for a long time, and rightfully so, he deserves his wish.
Card Suggestion: Main event for either UFC 230 (November 3rd @ Madison Square Garden in New York City) or UFC 232 (December 29th @ T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas)
Other fights to make after UFC 226:
Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa
Raphael Assuncao vs. John Lineker
Drakkar Klose vs. Nik Lentz
Curtis Millender vs. Vicente Luque
Emily Whitmire vs. Syuri Kondo
Stipe Miocic vs. Alexander Volkov
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos / Blagoi Ivanov winner
Paul Felder vs. Mairbek Taisumov (lightweight)
Michael Chiesa vs. Gregor Gillespie (lightweight)
Gokhan Saki vs. Abdul-Kerim Edilov
Uriah Hall vs. Jack Hermansson
Rob Font vs. Frankie Saenz
Lando Vannata vs. James Krause
Max Griffin vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Gilbert Burns vs. Davi Ramos
Jamie Moyle vs. Maia Stevenson
Embed from Getty Images