UFC 279 is now one for the history books and it will certainly be in the minds of many for a number of years. After a chaotic fight week which saw three bout changes on the main card, two weight misses and a fight weight change at the last minute, we finally got 13 fights and plenty of discussion points.
We take a look at those at the top of the card and who they could be matched up with next.
UFC 279 Post Fight Matchmaker
Despite picking up his fifth straight loss, Tony Ferguson‘s stock didn’t drop at all. He looked revitalised at welterweight. He put on a great performance against Nate Diaz and let’s not forget, he stepped up on short notice to fight five rounds, rather than the scheduled three he’d prepared for.
What’s next up for ‘El Cucuy’? Hopefully, he remains at 170lbs and takes a slight drop down in competition. He’ll always be a fan favourite due to his notorious finishing style, slick BJJ and devastating elbow attacks. He brutalised the leg of Diaz at UFC 279, showing that he is now much better at following a game plan than previously. Let’s see him against Gunnar Nelson, Alex Morono or in a legends fight against Matt Brown next. It makes sense to not put him in against a title contender, a young up-and-comer or someone that is a horrible stylistic match-up for him. Respect Ferguson while he’s still around.
Khamzat Chimaev. Oh, Khamzat Chimaev. The man came into fight week, shook it up, was the reason that the card was (at one point) in huge jeopardy and yet still gets headlines due to his dominant performance. His week, in a nutshell, included turning up at the airport to ‘greet’ Nate Diaz, fighting with Kevin Holland backstage before the press conference and getting it called off, missing weight by a huge margin on Friday causing a huge card shake-up and then putting on another dominant performance on Saturday night.
He submitted Holland in 2:13 with a d’arce choke in the first round. He shot for a takedown without throwing a strike and mauled Holland from there on out. Yet again, he received zero damage in this fight.
Next up for ‘Borz’ needs to be a #1 contenders fight. The question is, is it at welterweight or at middleweight? Not only did he miss weight on Friday, but he missed big. He weighed in at 178.5lbs for his contacted welterweight fight. If this happens in a title fight, it gets cancelled.
If he is to get his weight in check, the perfect fight is for Chimaev to face Colby Covington. The build-up alone would drive PPV buys. This week, Chimaev lost a lot of fans due to his fight week antics and Covington is the consensus ‘Bad guy’ of the UFC. Everyone, however, respect both men’s skills. Covington is ranked #2 at welterweight with his only losses in the past 11 fights coming to Kamaru Usman.
Covington has a solid wrestling background averaging 4.05 takedowns per fight with an accuracy of 45%. His takedown defence is an impressive, 72% and has only been taken down seven times in the UFC. His cardio is notorious and his striking is improving fight on fight. Covington is the fight to make next for Khamzat Chimaev and would provide a different test for Chimaev.
In a back-and-forth fight, Irene Aldana finally got it done with a crazy liver shot from her back via an upkick. It’s a finish we’ve never seen before and it earned Aldana a performance of the night bonus. After a great first round, the Mexican had a difficult second round before a close third round before she finished things off her back.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) September 11, 2022
She’s certainly game and has finished four of her last five wins, something that is quite rare in the women’s divisions. Aldana needs either a title shot against Amanda Nunes or a final eliminator next. She’s a ‘fresh face’ to face Nunes and brings a different skill set to anyone that the champion has faced before. It would be exciting, competitive and likely a very close fight.
She could also face either Ketlen Vieira or the former champion, Julianna Pena next. Aldana holds a brutal knockout victory over Vieira when they faced each other back in 2019, however, the Brazillian has gone 3-1 since then. The Pena fight also makes sense as she’s a big name in the division having been the woman who beat Nunes in her first title fight. Although she was dominated badly in the rematch, she’s still a threat and will be looking to get back in the title picture herself.