Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sun., Feb. 17, 2019) as UFC on ESPN 1 went down from inside Talking Stick Resort & Casino on Phoenix, Arizona. In the main event, Francis Ngannou ended Cain Velasquez in just 26 seconds (see it again here). In the co-main event, Paul Felder and James Vick went at it for three rounds in a back-and-forth affair that saw “The Irish Dragon” edge out “The Texecutioner.”
Winner: Francis Ngannou
Who He Should Fight Next: Stipe Miocic
We already know “The Predator” won’t be getting a shot at the title, and the pickings are slim at the top. With division king Daniel Cormier already “lined up” to defend his title — not against Stipe — a rematch between Francis and Miocic makes sense at this point. Stipe defeated “The Predator” a year ago at UFC 220. Soon thereafter, Miocic coughed up his title to “DC” and hasn’t competed since.
Meanwhile, Ngannou has been pretty busy since losing to the ex-champ, going 2-1 with his two victories coming via one-minute knockouts over Curtis Blaydes and now Cain. Stipe desperately wants another shot agaisnt Cormier, but Daniel just isn’t interested, and since “DC” only has one fight left, he isn’t wasting it on a rematch. If Stipe wants another crack he’s going to have to get a “W.” Meanwhile, Ngannou wants another chance to win UFC gold, so going through Stipe is the only way to get there.
Winner: Paul Felder
Who Should He Fight Next: Barboza vs Gaethje winner
After edging out James Vick in a back-and-forth war, “The Irish Dragon” took to the mic to call for the winner of the upcoming 155-pound battle between Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza, which is set to headline UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30. Edson defeated Paul way back in 2015, so it’s one Felder desperately wants to get back. As far as Justin goes, he and Felder have been linked to throw down inside the Octagon but ultimately, it never went through. Paul will be working the event as a commentator, so don’t be surprised to see him face off against the victor once the dust settles in Philadelphia.
Winner: Cynthia Calvillo
Who She Should Fight Next: Michelle Waterson vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
After defeating Cortney Casey in a hard-fought battle, Calvillo called for a title eliminator fight against Tatiana Suarez. It’s just not in the cards, yet. That’s because Tatiana is inching much closer to a shot at the title than Cynthia is, as she is ranked No. 3 and has yet to taste defeat (7-0, 4-0 UFC). Plus, she is rumored to be throwing down against Nina Ansaroff at UFC 237 this May. If that fight goes through, Cynthia (No. 12) will have to look elsewhere for a fight. Michelle Waterson and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are set to throw down at UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30, and I like the winner of that matchup going up against Calvillo.
Winner: Kron Gracie
Who he Should Fight Next: Makwan Amirkhani
While I’m tempted to give Kron a bigger name, I can’t hand him a top-ranked foe, yet. I’d like to see UFC bring him up slowly. For as talented as he is, Kron only has five fights as a pro MMA fighter. After dismantling Caceres in the very first round via rear-naked choke (see it), Kron put the Featherweight division on notice. Still, he will have to work his way up the ladder just like everyone else, and Makwan — who has a 4-1 mark inside the Octagon, would be a good step up for the jiu-jitsu wizard.
Winner: Vicente Luque
Who He Should Fight Next: Demian Maia
Vicente collected his fourth straight win by taking out Bryan Barberena in a thrilling three-round fight (highlights). Afterward, he asked for a top 10 opponent, and the only one that makes sense at the moment would be Maia. Ranked at No. 8, Demian recently got back on the winning track by defeating Lyman Good earlier month. In the process, the submission wizard snapped his three fight losing streak. A showdown between he and Luque would be an obvious clash of styles, but a treat nonetheless.
Winner: Andre Fili
Who He Should face Next: Ricardo Lamas
Fili did enough to earn the nod on the judges’ scorecards against Myles Jury, and now it’s time for a step up. Ricardo Lamas (No. 10) offers just that, as “The Bully” is as tough and experienced as they come. Ricardo recently snapped his two-fight skid by knocking out Andre’s teammate Darren Elkins last November. After taking care a of a blood clot, Ricardo could be nearing a return pretty soon, and a fight against “Touchy” has all the makings of a solid standup war.
For complete UFC on ESPN 1: “Ngannou vs Velasquez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!