Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., May 12, 2018) for UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which was headlined by a barn-burner of a women’s Bantamweight title fight which saw division champion Amanda Nunes obliterate Raquel Pennington to hold on to her 135-pound strap (highlights). Also, Kelvin Gastelum scored a huge win over Ronaldo Souza to put himself in the 185-pound title mix.
Winner: Amanda Nunes
Who She Should Fight Next: Cris Cyborg
Just give is this fight already. The two were going back and forth over the course of this year trying to lock down a champion vs champion super fight, which almost went down at UFC 224. But after Cris made quick work of Yana Kunitskaya and Nunes took care of Pennington, now is the best time to get this going.
Because let’s face it, there isn’t a clear cut contender at 135 pounds who deserves a shot at the strap. Holm — in my opinion — needs to win another fight to even be in title consideration, while Julianna Pena is still on maternity leave. There is always the undefeated Brazilian Ketlen Vieira, but if UFC wants to get the most bang for their buck, Cyborg vs Nunes is the fight to make, first.
Winner: Kelvin Gastelum
Who He Should Fight Next: Title shot vs Whittaker vs Romero winner
Since moving up to Middleweight, Gastelum has earned wins over Ronaldo Souza, Michael Bisping, VitorBelfort and Tim Kennedy which has been good enough to earn him a top 5 ranking. In front of him is Luke Rockhold, who is fresh off a knockout loss, Souza he just beat and who knows when Chris Weidman will return to action. Kelvin is sitting pretty in his current position, so all he has to do now is wait to see who prevails at UFC 225 on June 9, 2018 between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero.
Winner: Mackenzie Dern
Who She Should Fight Next: Angela Hill
Scale fail aside, Dern looked good in her sophomore UFC effort by choking out Amanda Cooper prior to knocking her down with a vicious overhand right. Up next for Dern should be a stiffer test against Angela Hill. Ranked No. 15, Hill hasn’t competed since February and has been dying to get back into the cage. While experience, Hill hasn’t has the best run so far inside the Octagon, going an even 2-2. It would be a huge step up in competition for Mackenzie. Of course, that’s assuming Dern doesn’t move up to Flyweight.
Winner: John Lineker
Who He Should Fight Next: Aljamain Sterling
Both men are coming off impressive wins, with Sterling defeating Brett Johns one moth ago and Lineker knocking out Brian Kelleher in Rio. A bigger fight is in store ofr each of them, so it only makes sense for them to sqaure of against one another. Both have been up and down in their Octagon careers thus far, but a win over wither of them will give them the boost they need in the title race.
Winner: Lyoto Machida
Who He Should Fight Next: David Branch
You’re not getting Michal Bisping, so give it a rest, “Dragon.” What he should get is a showdown against Branch seems more appropriate, as a fight and win over someone who actually has interest in competing will do more wonders for your goal to get back to the big dance. Branch is coming off a knockout win over Thiago Santos. It will be a tough draw for “The Dragon.” but if he wants to get back to a championship fight, he needs to start beating top contenders, not up and comers and legend long past their prime.
For complete UFC 224: “Nunes vs. Pennington” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.