The Aftermath: UFC 226 Post-Fight Matchmaker
UFC 226 was an event for the ages. Daniel Cormier knocked out reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic to earn his second title belt in the UFC and set up a fight with Brock Lesnar for early 2019. In addition, fans were treated to a night of brawls sure to make headlines for weeks to come. Now that the dust has settled, let’s have a look at the winners and losers from the historic night and see what may be in store for them next time out:
Daniel Cormier vs. Yoel Romero: Cormier successfully etched his name into history, knocking out Miocic for the heavyweight title and setting the groundwork for an early 2019 fight with Lesnar to close out a legendary career in MMA. Before the eventual Lesnar fight, Cormier will likely have to defend his light-heavyweight title if he wants to keep it. Yoel Romero has reportedly opted to move to 205 and is eyeing a fight with Cormier. A fight between two of the UFC’s most decorated wrestlers is too tantalizing to pass up, even with a fight with Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir likely determining the next contender.
Derrick Lewis vs. Stipe Miocic: Derrick Lewis was his own biggest critic following a highly anticipated matchup with Francis Ngannou that devolved into a staring contest and acknowledged the fact that he’ll likely need a few more fights if he wants to achieve a title shot. A fight with recently dethroned champion Miocic will undoubtedly get him back on track while getting the foul taste of the Ngannou fight out of the mouths of fans.
Mike Perry vs. Yancy Medeiros: Mike Perry took out Paul Felder in a fight snubbed for Fight of the Night honors and rebounded from back to back losses with a split decision victory. Perry was originally slated to square off against Yancy Medeiros and the matchup is still too good to pass up. Medeiros’ injury is reportedly a minor one and rebooking the duo for a fight on an end of the year card would make for magical moments of pure violence.
Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz: I know, I know. Nate Diaz has been sidelined since the Conor McGregor rematch and no one knows when he’ll return, if ever. This matchup is still too good not to happen before both are retired. Anthony Pettis and Diaz have bad blood stemming from past encounters and the pair of dynamic lightweights make for one of the most interesting style matchups lightweight has to offer. If Diaz is going to make a comeback, a fight with Pettis is one that just may get the juices flowing for Stockton’s finest once again.
Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Jimi Manuwa: Perhaps a bit premature, but Khalil Rountree just achieved his 5th career KO in 7 wins, knocking out a kickboxing legend in Gokhan Saki just over a minute into the first round of their bout to open the UFC 226 PPV card. Regardless of his up and down UFC career so far, the fact remains that he has a strong chance to flat-line any fighter in his division on a given night. Manuwa has been on a skid lately, dropping his last two fights. At the age of 38, a fight like this may be make or break for the English knockout artist.
Paulo Costa vs. Derek Brunson: “The Eraser” picked up his 12th win in as many professional victories, succeeding once again in never allowing a contest to go to the scorecards knocking out Uriah Hall with a vicious barrage of punches in the 2nd round. After four straight victories inside the UFC, Costa will likely move into top 10 ranked competition. He and Derek Brunson have exchanged words in the past and now the two may finally have the opportunity to fight each other and settle the beef.
Stipe Miocic vs. Derrick Lewis: Miocic’s heavyweight title reign came to a violent end in UFC 226’s Main Event. As explained above, a fight with fellow UFC 226 contestant in Lewis is a perfect matchup to get either fighter back on track and closing in on a rematch with Cormier before the new champion sets off for retirement.
Francis Ngannou vs. Mark Hunt: Ngannou went into a title fight with Miocic being dubbed one of the scariest knockout artists to grace the UFC’s heavyweight division. Fast forward two fights and Ngannou is 0-2 and at an awkward stage in his career, especially taking into account the way his fight with Lewis went. A fight with an MMA legend and stand up brawler in Mark Hunt would give him another opportunity to get back on track. If Ngannou turns in a performance similar to UFC 226, it may spell an early end to what was looking like a promising career in MMA.
Paul Felder vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier/Alex Hernandez Loser: Felder suffered a disappointing loss to Perry in a temporary move-up to welterweight in a back and forth bout that placed him on the losing end of a split decision to go along with a broken arm and giant gash above his right eye. The loss shouldn’t hurt him all that much in his campaign throughout the lightweight top 15. A fight between the loser of the upcoming bout between Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Alex Hernandez will give each fighter an opportunity to bounce back into the division’s elite.
Michael Chiesa vs. Bryan Barberena: Post UFC 226 weigh-ins, Michael Chiesa declared the bout would be his last in the lightweight division following a brutal and unsuccessful weight cut. He suffered his second straight submission loss and moves up to the welterweight division looking to rebound with a new start. A fight with Bryan Barberena would be a nice introduction to the division and a win would show us if he’s got what it takes to last in a bigger weight class.
Gokhan Saki vs. Mike Rodriguez: Saki lost to Rountree in shocking fashion, falling to the underdog via knockout in the first round. While Saki is a seasoned kickboxer, he’s still new to the world of MMA with only three professional fights. Mike Rodriguez failed to deliver in his UFC debut coming off of earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. A win here for Saki allows him to continue with his transition into MMA and a loss may send him into retirement.
Uriah Hall vs. Tim Boetsch: While Hall put up a good fight against Costa early on in their bout, he dropped his fourth fight in his last five and is in need of a win if he hopes to remain in the UFC. Tim Boetsch is a veteran also recently taking his fair share of loses. Boetsch may be looking toward retirement if he doesn’t pick up a win soon. This is a do or die matchup for both fighters.