Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ended its 2018 campaign this past weekend (Sat., Dec. 29, 2018) with the UFC 232 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which went down from inside The Forum in Inglewood, California. Headlining the event was a Light Heavyweight title fight that saw Jon Jones once again defeat Alexander Gustafsson, this time knocking him out in the third round to win the vacant title (see it again here). In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes became the women’s Featherweight champion after she knocked out Cris Cyborg in just 51 seconds (highlights).
Winner: Jon Jones
Who Should He Fight Next: Daniel Cormier
I hate to say it but it has to be “DC.” Do I really want to see it? I’m not clamoring for it, but I will watch. With all of the drama surrounding Jones’ second win over Cormier back at UFC 214, which caused his victory to be overturned to a “No Contest” after his string of wonky drug tests over the last few months, UFC might as well do it one final time. Jones quickly called out Cormier after the fight, and surprisingly Cormier responded positively ... with a catch, though. Remember: Cormier was holding out for a big-money Heavyweight title fight against Brock Lesnar, but despite how much lip service we’re getting, I don’t think that’s going to happen. With a win over Jones, Cormier can sail off into the sunset and enjoy retirement knowing he finally got one over on his biggest rival. For Jones, it’s his opportunity to get even more bragging rights over the former Olympian. Plus, what other fight is out there for Jones — Anthony Smith? Yeah, let UFC try to sell that over a Cormier trilogy.
Winner: Amanda Nunes
Who Should She Fight Next: Cris Cyborg....maybe?
There has been some chatter about a potential rematch between Nunes and Cyborg after “Lioness” dismantled the most dominant force in women’s MMA. But, running it back so soon just doesn’t feel right, especially after it was being built up as the biggest fight in women’s MMA.
As entertaining as the 51-second fight was, an instant rematch just doesn’t do it for me ... at least not right away. Let me explain the reasons. Say it happens and Cyborg wins, then we do an instant trilogy fight, holding up the Bantamweight division for more than one year ... if not longer. Nunes now holds the golden ticket in both divisions, as she can easily face Megan Anderson next, or even Holly Holm down the line. She also has plenty of business to handle at 135 pounds, like against Ketlen Vieira or, again, Holm. Dana White isn’t too interested in running it back right away, but if he gave Joanna Jedrzejczyk an instant do-over after Rose Namajunas toyed with her, then Cyborg has a good case to keep lobbying for
Winner: Alexander Volkanovski
Who He Should Fight Next: Jose Aldo-Renato Moicano winner
Volkanovski picked up his biggest win to date after stomping out Chad Mendes in a thrilling Featherweight bout. With “Money” being the No. 5-ranked contender in the division, facing anyone below him doesn’t seem right for Volkanovski, who has gone undefeated (6-0) so far inside the Octagon.
That’s the reason a fight against the winner of Jose Aldo (No. 2) and Renato Moicano (No. 4) makes sense. The two Brazilians are set to bang it out at UFC on ESPN+ 2, which is scheduled to go down on Feb. 2, 2019, inside Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil. Either of those two men would be formidable foes for Volkanovski, who isn’t looking for a slow, easy road to the top.
Winner: Corey Anderson
Who He Should Fight Next: Thiago Santos
Don’t look now, but Corey Anderson is making some waves. His win over Ilir Latifi is his third in a row, with his other two victories coming against Glover Teixiera and Patrick Cummins. In this previous piece, I suggested Thiago Santos fight the winner of this match up, and it still holds true.
Santos has also been on a tear, winning three in a row, including his destruction of Jimi Manuwa at UFC 231. Both men like to bang it out on the feet, which means it could be another barnburner for fight fans. The victor scores his fourth in a row and makes a huge jump up the ladder.
Winner: Michael Chiesa
Who He Should Fight Next: Alex Oliveira
Chiesa looked good at Welterweight — avoiding the dreadful cut down to 155 pounds allowed him to perform at his best, destroying Carlos Condit in the very first round.
Sure, Condit hasn’t looked all the great over the last two years, but “The Maverick” showed up and took care of business. A fight against Oliveria — the last man to defeat Condit prior to Chiesa — makes sense. “Cowboy” was last seen getting split open (pic) by Gunnar Nelson at UFC 231. Once he heals up from his wounds — including a grenade attack — I’d like to see these two men go at it.
For complete UFC 232 results, including play-by-play, click here.