Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar
Max Holloway is now the undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion after a 3rd round TKO win over former featherweight king Jose Aldo. Finding his confidence late in round 2, Holloway swarmed on Aldo with punches after dropping him with a big punch in round 3 of their title fight this past Saturday. Not only did he capture the title in epic fashion, but Holloway extended his current win streak to 11 fights, one of the most in the UFC along with Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson. With a fresh face at the top of the division, the next logical step to take would be to book Max Holloway against Frankie Edgar, who is on a 2-fight win streak following his destruction of Mexican prospect Yair Rodriguez. With both guys having cleaned out most of the competition they’ve faced, no other matchup for the title makes more sense, and it would be a massive test for both guys as they are both the best fighters they have ever been in their respective careers. A win over Edgar could solidify all-time great status for Holloway, while Edgar would look to become a 2-division champion along with the likes of Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, and Conor McGregor.
Claudia Gadelha vs Carla Esparza/Maryna Moroz winner
Number 1 ranked strawweight Claudia Gadelha scored her most impressive and most dominant performance yet inside the octagon as she submitted #2 ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the first round of the co-main event of UFC 212 this past Saturday. Scoring her 1st win inside the distance in the UFC, Gadelha is now on a 2 fight win streak following her title fight loss to reigning champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk back in July of last year. With the next title shot going to Rose Namajunas, Gadelha would be better off taking another fight to keep herself busy, while also allowing her to grow more as a fighter before getting another shot at the title. The winner of the upcoming bout between former champion Carla Esparza and Maryna Moroz makes the most sense to me, as they would both still be in the top 10 with a win, and a win for Esparza would set up a long-awaited bout between her and Gadelha.
Vitor Belfort vs Hector Lombard
For the first time since 2007, “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort scored a victory by going to the judges scorecards for a unanimous decision win over fellow MMA veteran Nate “The Great” Marquardt. Showing perhaps the most patient fight strategy we’ve ever seen from the knockout artist, Belfort shows much more restraint when executing combos in the 2nd and 3rd round, not tiring himself out with his usual known flurries, leading him to his first victory since 2015. At the near end of his career with only 1 fight left on his current UFC contract, Belfort stated that he feels he has 5 fights left in his long, storied career. At 40 years of age, Belfort is better off taking interesting and stylistic fights rather than chasing the belt, which is why I would love to see a fight between him and fellow hard-hitter Hector Lombard, who’s coming off a unanimous decision loss to Johny Hendricks back in February. This fight would surely produce an exciting result regardless of who comes out the winner, and it’s a fight I’m sure a lot of fans wouldn’t mind seeing before either fighter steps away from MMA.
Raphael Assuncao vs Dominick Cruz
Raphael Assuncao played the role of spoiling once again as he derailed Marlon Moraes’ widely anticipated UFC debut with a back and forth split decision win. Though there are people who believe Moraes should have gotten the nod, Assuncao was just a little bit faster to the punch despite both fighters coming in with similar approaches, swaying 2 out of 3 judges to score the fight in his favor.
Coming off back-to-back wins after losing to current title challenger T.J. Dillashaw back at UFC 200, Assuncao has cemented his spot as a top 5 contender, calling for the next shot at the title against the winner of Dillashaw vs currently champion Cody Garbrandt. But with an injury delaying the anticipated matchup, Assuncao will likely find himself having to take another fight rather than sitting and waiting. The matchup that would lead him to a title shot quickest is a fight with former dominant champion Dominick, who is looking to take back his belt after to dropping it to Garbrandt at the end of last year. The winner of a potential fight between these two would have a pretty hard case to deny for a shot at the belt.
Matchups for the remaining UFC 212 fighters:
-Jose Aldo vs Cub Swanson II
-Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Jessica Andrade
-Paulo Borrachinha vs Anthony Smith
-Oluwale Bamgbose vs Magnus Cedenbald
-Yancy Medeiros vs Zak Cummings
-Erick Silva vs Ben Saunders
-Marlon Moraes vs John Lineker
-Antonio Carlos Junior vs Thales Leites
-Eric Spicely vs Andrew Sanchez
-Matthew Lopez vs Tom Duquesnoy
-Johnny Eduardo vs Augusto Mendes
-Brian Kelleher vs Marlon Vera
-Iuri Alcantara vs Damian Stasiak
-Viviane Pereira vs Danielle Taylor
-Jamie Moyle vs Amanda Bobby Cooper
-Luan Chagas vs Dominique Steele/Luke Jumeau winner
-Deiveson Alcantara vs Naoki Inoue/Carls John de Thomas winner
-Marco Beltran vs Matt Schnell or cut