Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back at it again last night (Sat., April 14, 2018) for UFC on FOX 29 in Glendale, Arizona, which was headlined by a thrilling five-round lightweight showdown that saw Dustin Poirier finish Justin Gaethje in the fourth round to earn the biggest win of his career (see it again here).
In the co-main event of the evening, Brazilian “Cowboy” Alex Oliveira handed former UFC welterweight titleholder Carlos Condit his fourth-straight loss by forcing “Natural Born Killer” to tap to an air-tight guillotine choke in Round 2 (watch that here).
With the dust settled, we take a closer look that what’s next for UFC on FOX 29’s main card winners.
Winner: Dustin Poirier
Who He Should Fight Next: Eddie Alvarez
Poirier asked for a shot at the title after his knockout win over “Highlight,” and he’s really not that far off. He is currently ranked No. 5 in the division, behind only champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza. But come next week, “Diamond” should have the No. 4, if not the No. 3, spot firmly in grasp.
Since Ferguson could be out of action for a while to rehab from knee surgery (see pic here), and considering McGregor remains in limbo due to legal matters and contract talks with UFC, Poirier could very well slide in to the top spot of the title hunt. The only obstacle in his way could be former UFC lightweight champion Alvarez.
Sure, Poirier has more consecutive wins, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see UFC book a rematch between Poirier and Alvarez. The two originally met back at UFC 211 last year and turned in a classic throwdown, but illegal strikes from “Underground King” rendered the bout a no contest.
If “Notorious” gets his affairs in order, it would be a no-brainer to book him as “The Eagle’s” first-ever title defense. For now, it’s all a big waiting game. And here we thought the UFC’s lightweight division had cleared itself up.
Winner: Alex Oliveira
Who He Should Fight Next: Dong Hyun Kim
I’ll be honest, I was shocked to see that Oliveira isn’t ranked in the welterweight top 15. But after choking out Condit on live television, that should all change once the new list comes out.
Over his last seven bouts, “Cowboy” is 5-1-1, and by scoring a huge win over “Natural Born Killer,” he is on the come up in a highly-competitive welterweight division. The top of the division is all booked up, as are all of the four other fighters taking up rankings No. 11 to 14, so there aren’t many immediate options for the Brazilian.
That leaves veteran Dong Hyun Kim as one of the only foe without an opponent. Kim was last seen getting dominated by Colby Covington nearly a year ago, but has produced a 6-2 divisional record since the start of 2013. A fight between these two makes the most sense at the moment, unless the division needs another late fill-in, in which case Oliveira will definitely be the promotion’s “Cowboy.”
Winner: Israel Adesanya
Who He Should Fight Next: Alessio Di Chirico
Adesanya may not have won in devastating fashion last night, but “Last Stylebender” was able to get past hard-nosed Italian prospect Marvin Vettori and remain undefeated at 13-0. Not too shabby for a fighter who has only been competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) professionally since 2012.
That said, Adesanya has holes in his game, specifically his wrestling defense, so it wouldn’t be wise for UFC to throw him a top 15 opponent his next time out. The promotion is certainly going to promote “Last Stylebender” as one of their most prized up-and-coming stars, but the former kickboxing standout needs time to mature his skills beyond just striking.
In steps another Italian youngster in Alessio Di Chirico, who is coming off a memorable knockout win over talented striker Oluwale Bamgbose this past December. While a win over “Manzo” isn’t going to launch Adesanya to the top of the 185-pound heap, it gives him the opportunity to fight yet another un-ranked middleweight who not only has a couple of UFC fights under his belt, but is also willing to stand and deliver strikes, and sports a decent ground game to test the evolution of “Last Stylebender.”
Of course, UFC may very well rush Adesanya along and give him someone like Uriah Hall, which could produce one of the best striking wars of the year.
Winner: Michelle Waterson
Who She Should Fight Next: Felice Herrig
This is a fight both women have wanted since before they hit the big leagues, and now is the time to make it happen. With a win over Cortney Casey last night, “Karate Hottie” broke her two-fight skid, while Herrig recently had her four-fight win streak snapped by Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 223 earlier this month.
Better yet, Waterson is holding the No. 7 spot down, while “Lil Pitbull” is right behind her at No. 8. I like this fight a lot, and I know the two combatants want it bad, so it really is a no-brainer to book it.
For complete UFC on FOX 29 results and coverage click here.