Top five fights to make after UFC 238
UFC 238 is now one for the memories.
All the action took place Saturday, June 8th from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. In the main event, Henry Cejudo claimed the vacant UFC bantamweight championship by technical knockout over former WSOF king Marlon Moraes. Women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko defended her strap for the first time in the co-main slot with a “Knockout of the Year” contender over Jessica Eye. Exciting lightweights Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone put on a show for the fans before a swollen eye from Cerrone resulted in the doctor calling an end to the contest.
Other bouts throughout the event including potential title eliminator bouts delivered. Tatiana Suarez, Aljamain Sterling, and Katlyn Chookagian all scored unanimous decision victories over their respected opponents. Former WSOF and PFL heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov earned the 18th victory of his professional career with a decision over Tai Tuivasa. 25-year-old Alexa Grasso scored an impressive win over Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
What is next around the corner for these athletes? It is time to look into the top five fights to make after UFC 238, as well as matchmaking for those victorious and defeated from the Chicago event.
5. Calvin Kattar vs. Yair Rodriguez
A beautiful two-punch combination from Calvin Kattar connected picture perfect on the chin of Ricardo Lamas, Kattar finishing the fight seconds later with follow-up shots on the canvas. To dive into the technicality and calculations made by Kattar resulting in his victory, check out this fantastic breakdown from Sucka’s own Danny Martin. The victory was his fourth in the UFC, suffering only one decision loss in the past nine years to Renato Moicano.
I am very interested in a fight between he and Yair Rodriguez, “El Pantera” lastly knocking out Chan Sung Jung in one of the greatest jaw-dropping knockouts you will ever see. He started his UFC journey by defeating Leonardo Morales in the 2014 season finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Kattar and Rodriguez are known for their dynamic striking attacks, both men still fairly youthful in their UFC tenures. I think we could expect a very skillful battle between these two with a victory propelling one or the other a step closer to the featherweight’s peak.
Card Suggestion: Main event of UFC Fight Night 159 on September 21st in Mexico City, Mexico (or, if too soon, the next main event for a Mexico card)
4. Tatiana Suarez vs. Jessica Andrade
Tides began to shift towards Nina Ansaroff the third and final round, but it was Tatiana Suarez whose hand was raised in the fight’s end by decision. The victory moved Suarez to 8-0 as a professional with the win Saturday night being her fifth in the UFC. Other victories in this stretch include a first-round submission over Alexa Grasso and a third-round TKO over former strawweight champion Carla Esparza.
Even with the fight’s closure going the way it did, I believe Suarez is next in line for a title shot against Jessica Andrade. The suggestions I had in mind consist of this, Rose Namajunas taking on rising star Weili Zhang, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk making her strawweight return against Michelle Waterson. I believe these options are interchangeable, as any pairings among these six at the top would be fantastic.
Card Suggestion: First quarter of 2020, co-main event
3. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Valentina Shevchenko continues to prove she is among if not the greatest female mixed martial artists of all-time. Her lone career losses consist of a doctor stoppage defeat to Liz Carmouche in 2010 and two close decisions in favor of current bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Her incredible head-kick knockout over Jessica Eye Saturday was her first defense with the flyweight belt, and she looks to extend her legacy as champion for the years to come.
Looking through the top candidates for a crack at Shevchenko next, there are not many. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane may be the biggest threat at this very moment, but unless she wraps up in Bellator and signs a contract with the UFC, this fight will never happen. I will suggest Katlyn Chookagian who also won Saturday, earning a tight decision over Joanne Calderwood. She sits at 4-1 in her last five outings dating back to April of 2017. If Shevchenko versus Chookagian is not of interest, give it to Carmouche if she gets past Roxanne Modafferi next month.
Card Suggestion: Co-main event of UFC 245 on December 14th (TBD location)
2. Henry Cejudo vs. Aljamain Sterling
Henry Cejudo is now a two-division UFC champion. He finished with ground and pound a fatigued Marlon Moraes late in the third round, stopping the Brazilian’s dominant four-fight win streak. Cejudo has now won five fights in a row including the flyweight strap over Demetrious Johnson and a 32-second knockout flyweight defense over TJ Dillashaw.
Cejudo called out three fighters in his post-fight interview: Dominick Cruz, Cody Garbrandt, and Urijah Faber. Cruz is recovering from shoulder surgery, Garbrandt has been TKO’d in his last three fights, and Faber has not competed in nearly three years. In my opinion, none of these should even be slightly considered. The title shot should go to someone who has rightfully earned one, my suggestion being Aljamain Sterling. Sterling has looked sensational his past four octagon appearances including Saturday’s win over Munhoz and a dominant decision over Jimmie Rivera. I would also be in favor of a rematch between Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez, only if Benavidez gets past Jussier Formiga later this month. If Benavidez does come out victorious, have Cejudo defend at flyweight (potentially for one last divisional title fight) and pair Sterling with Petr Yan in a title eliminator bout for Cejudo’s move back to 135 pounds.
Card Suggestion: Co-main event of UFC 244 on November 2nd in New York City, New York
1. Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov / Dustin Poirier winner
It was a thrilling show between Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone while it lasted. Both men traded back-and-forth for 10 minutes before the doctor halted action due to Cerrone’s swollen shut right eye. Since his last lost in May of 2012, Ferguson has claimed numerous impressive victories over notables including former champions Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos. The victory over Cerrone gave Ferguson his 12 by way of knockout or technical knockout out of 25 professional mixed martial arts victories.
Some are calling for a potential rematch between Ferguson and Cerrone due to the fight’s end result. However, denying the 12-fight win streak of Ferguson a shot at the title seems a little outrageous, especially seeing that his current streak of wins is the fifth longest in UFC history (only behind notables Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Georges St-Pierre, and Max Holloway). It would make the most sense for him to fight the winner of September’s fight in Abu Dhabi between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier. Poirier and Ferguson have yet to fight inside the octagon, and the thought of it sounds fantastic on paper. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled against each other four times, so…. fifth time’s a charm?
Card Suggestion: First quarter of 2020, main event
Other fights to make after UFC 238:
Petr Yan vs. Raphael Assuncao / Cory Sandhagen winner
Blagoy Ivanov vs. Alexey Oleinik / Walt Harris winner
Alexa Grasso vs. Tecia Torres
Xiaonan Yan vs. Carla Esparza
Darren Stewart vs. Oskar Piechota
Eddie Wineland vs. Rani Yahya II
Marlon Moraes vs. John Lineker / Rob Font winner
Jessica Eye vs. Vanessa Porto
Donald Cerrone vs. Charles Oliveira II
Jimmie Rivera vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Tai Tuivasa vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Nina Ansaroff vs. Carla Esparza
Pedro Munhoz vs. Cody Stamann
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Emily Whitmire / Amanda Ribas winner
Ricardo Lamas vs. Julio Arce
Angela Hill vs. Virna Jandiroba
Bevon Lewis: released
Grigory Popov vs. Boston Salmon
Joanne Calderwood vs. Jennifer Maia
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