Fantasy Matchmaking

UFC 258 – Post Card Matchmaker

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UFC 258 is now one for the books. With a card that saw four finishes and six decisions, the card was solid. In the main event, we saw Kamaru Usman retain his welterweight title with a solid third-round knockout of former teammate, Gilbert Burns. The co-main saw up and comer Maycee Barber suffer her second straight loss, despite rallying in the third round. Further down the card we saw wins for Kelvin Gastelum, Belal Muhammad and comeback wins for Anthony Hernandez and Julian MarquezPoliana Viana also notched her second straight armbar finish on the prelims. We’ll grab a few of these fighters and try and match them up for their next bouts.

UFC 258 Post Card Matchmaker

Kamaru Usman

What’s next for the 170lbs king? Despite people whispering Jorge Masivdal‘s name, the next fight for Usman should be either Leon Edwards, Colby Covington or Stephen Thompson. Yes, he already holds a win over Covington, but it was a close fight that Usman won in the final round. Covington did dominate Tyron Woodley in his first fight after losing to Usman. One more win would cement ‘Chaos’ as #1 contender.

Leon Edwards certainly deserves a shot at the belt. Riding an eight-fight winning run, Edwards is long overdue a shot at the belt. His upcoming fight with Khamzat Chimaev has been cancelled and he’s long, long overdue a fight. Edwards may need a tune-up fight before facing Usman seeing as he’s been out of the octagon since 2019, but we all know in the UFC there are no easy fights.

Stephen Thompson is riding a two-fight winning run and is one of only a few fighters ranked in the top 10 that Usman hasn’t beaten. It would provide an interesting clash of styles and would provide Usman with a look he hasn’t seen before.

Gilbert Burns

Heart-broken after his loss, Burns will likely return with a fire in his belly. He is, without doubt, one of the most dangerous men at 170lbs and will likely realise a title shot again in the future.

Who should he fight next? Jorge Masvidal. That is the fight that makes sense and will prove which man is deserving of being in the title picture. Both men are coming off a loss to the champion and only one man can prevail as the next top contender. In an interesting clash of styles, these two former lightweights will go to war in order to keep themselves relevant at 170lbs.

Maycee Barber

A second straight loss in the UFC 258 co-main event taught us that Maycee Barber has a lot to work on in ‘The Future’. She needs to take a sensible fight next that won’t see her outclassed and won’t ruin one of the UFC’s better prospects of recent years. The worst thing to happen to Barber was finishing her first three UFC bouts via TKO. She believes too much in her power and it has lead to her not rounding her game out as effectively as she should have. At 22 years old, however, she can easily make these improvements and become a contender.

Who’s next for Barber? Let her face someone outside of the top 15, on the prelims or much further down the main card. That’ll take the pressure off the young fighter’s shoulders. Liverpool’s Molly McCann is also coming off the back of two losses and is a fringe top 15 fighter. This is a fight that makes sense for both women who have similar styles. Both solid in the clinch and reasonable on the ground, these two women are bangers who would come to fight.

Alexa Grasso

Grasso was able to put two wins together for the first time since 2016 with a solid performance at UFC 258. Showing improvements on the ground, the Mexican showed how she can be a big contender at 125lbs. She needs another ranked opponent in order to progress through the rankings and really test her skills.

Who is ranked above Grasso that could be a good measure of whether she can hang with the best? Two of the gatekeepers to the top five, Jessica Eye and Roxanne Modafferi. Both of these women are coming off lacklustre losses and will likely be nowhere near the top of the division any time soon. Both women are experienced and would provide Grasso with a tough test in her new bout. Book it against either woman, we’re not fussy with this one.

Former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian also seems keen for the Grasso fight. Taking to Twitter, Chookagian congratulated the Mexican on her performance and stated she’d ‘love’ the fight next.

Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum snapped a three-fight skid with a win over Ian Heinisch, showing off his wrestling game for a change. As he’s lost to the champion already, lost two top contenders, Gastelum will likely have to fight someone lower in the rankings than him again. We could see the TUF winner square off against up and comer Makhmud Muradov. Muradov is coming off a big win against Andrew Sanchez on fight island. Muradov is due a big fight and Gastelum should be that name.

A win against Muradov would prove that Gastelum is here to stay at 185lbs and deserves to be squaring off with a top-five guy again. Gastelum did offer to jump in at short notice should anything happen to either man in the main UFC on ESPN+ 48 main event. Fair play to Gastelum, but he shouldn’t be thrown into the title picture again just yet.

Anthony Hernandez

Hernandez pulled off one of the upsets of the night at UFC 258 when he not only beat Rodolfo Vieira, but submitted the highly regarded black belt. Yes, Vieira gassed himself out but don’t let that take anything away from ‘Fluffy’s performance. 

Hernandez needs to fight a few more guys before he breaks into the rankings picture. Deron Winn, Tom Breese, Karl Roberson or the debuting, undefeated Isi Fitikefu all make sense. Hernandez needs to take confidence from this win and run with it in an attempt to progress in the rankings.

Polyana Viana

Viana notched her second straight armbar victory against Mallory Martin at UFC 258. Martin’s game plan was certainly questionable, mixing it with a solid black belt on the ground is never wise. Next up for Viana could be Loma Lookboonmee in a classic striker vs grappler match up. This would provide entertainment for all as two specialists go at it.

Up and comer Cory McKenna could also be an option. At 1-0 in the UFC so far, McKenna needs to stay active and look to keep her winning run going. An outside chance could see her matched with the impressive Kanako Murata. Murata is coming off the back of a debut win over Randa Markos. The future is bright for strawweight. 

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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