The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s penultimate pay-per-view card of the year did not disappoint with UFC 218 providing fantastic entertainment from Detroit, Michigan.
In the main event of the evening, Max Holloway retained the UFC featherweight title with another impressive victory over former champion, Jose Aldo; finishing the fight in the third round.
The Hawaiian star lulled Aldo into exerting far too much energy while taking virtually no real damage and his tremendous cardio allowed him to pour on the pressure to gain the stoppage in the third.
There were plenty of great bouts, including two fight of the year candidates, but now we take a look at who could be next for the winners and losers of Saturday night’s action…
Max Holloway def. Jose Aldo via TKO (R3)
It’s hard to see any featherweight beating Holloway at the moment; his constant evolution has propelled him into contention to be one of the greatest ever at 145lbs. Again, Holloway looked exceptional as he dispatched the former champion with ease.
Despite his taunts on social media aimed at UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, the last man to beat him, his next fight should be against Frankie Edgar. ‘The Answer’ was scheduled to face Holloway at 218 before he withdrew with a facial injury.
If Edgar is unable to recover from his injury in the foreseeable future, the winner of Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega will likely get the next shot to dethrone the champ.
Aldo’s future is unclear having lost three out of his last four fights. The cut to featherweight seems to be getting increasingly harder for the Brazilian who is no longer the animal in the cage he once was.
Perhaps he should follow in the footsteps of his fellow countryman, Rafael Dos Anjos, and take a step up in weight for another run at a UFC title. Michael Chiesa is currently without an opponent and could be a potential option for ‘Scarface’.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Holloway vs Edgar/Aldo vs Chiesa
Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem via KO (R1)
The hype is real. Francis Ngannou is for real. The Cameroonian picked up his tenth straight victory with a vicious knockout of Alistair Overeem in the first round – one of the scariest knockouts in UFC history.
Ngannou has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in the UFC, and his next fight is an easy pick – Stipe Miocic. ‘The Predator’ is now 6-0 in the UFC following his win over one of the best heavyweights to ever compete, and no one can deny he is now the number one contender.
Ngannou will meet Miocic inside the Octagon in 2018 to truly crown the baddest man on the planet.
On the other hand, Overeem must take some time off – he lay motionless for several minutes following the huge uppercut. The Dutchman has enjoyed a fine career in MMA, but his faltering chin is proving to be his downfall.
If he returns for one last title run, his next fight could be against Curtis Blaydes who beat Oleksiy Olinyk at UFC 217.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Ngannou vs Miocic/Overeem vs Blaydes
Henry Cejudo def. Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Henry Cejudo picked up a dominant decision victory over Sergio Pettis to put him in prime position for a title shot at flyweight. The Olympic gold medallist continually took his opponent to the ground and controlled him to grind out a decision win.
His next fight is a tough call having already lost to Demetrious Johnson, the current flyweight champion. UFC president, Dana White, stated the next fight for ‘Mighty Mouse’ will be against TJ Dillashaw but it remains to be seen whether the fight will happen and at what weight.
Therefore, next for Cejudo should be Joseph Benavidez. ‘The Messenger’ lost to Benavidez at the Ultimate Fighter Finale 24 via split decision, and many felt it was the wrong call – now is the right time to run it back.
Pettis is still young, and at 24-years-old, he is nowhere near his prime and will only continue to improve. He will learn from this loss and bounce back.
He still deserves a ranked opponent, and Wilson Reis will offer some stylistic dangers while giving the youngster the chance to return to winning ways.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Cejudo vs Benavidez/Pettis vs Reis
Eddie Alvarez def. Justin Gaethje via KO (R3)
Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje earned a performance of the night bonus for their historical war with Alvarez getting his hand raised at the end of the night. Three brutal rounds of punishment concluded with ‘The Underground King’ landing a perfect knee on Gaethje’s chin to end the fight.
His performance was excellent, and Alvarez shoots straight back into title contention after derailing Gaethje’s hype as well as handing him his first professional loss.
His next fight should be against Dustin Poirier. The pair met at UFC 211, but the bout ended in a no contest after Alvarez landed an illegal knee. Both men are coming off a win after Poirier beat former champion, Anthony Pettis.
Gaethje’s crowd-pleasing style and the still impressive record should land him another top-ranked opponent in the lightweight division. Kevin Lee indicated he would like to stay at 155 after his loss to Tony Ferguson and a matchup with Gaethje could be his next move.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Alvarez vs Poirier/Gaethje vs Lee
Tecia Torres def. Michelle Waterson via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Tecia Torres extended her win streak to three with a decision victory over Michelle Waterson in the main card opener.
‘The Tiny Tornado’ continues to climb the rankings at strawweight and could well claim to deserve a shot at the new champion, Rose Namajunas. Torres is 1-1 with the reigning champion, but it seems the UFC will book an immediate rematch between Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
With Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Andrade booked to fight, Claudia Gadelha is without an opponent and should be next for Torres.
Waterson has remained in and around the top ten of the strawweight division but has come up short against the elite of the division. Courtney Casey is also coming off a loss, via split decision to Felice Herrig earlier in the evening, and could be the perfect opponent for the ‘Karate Hottie’ to curb her two-loss streak.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Torres vs Gadelha/Waterson vs Casey
What matches would you like to see following UFC 218? Comment below!