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UFC 254 results: Matches to make for ‘Khabib vs Gaethje’ main card winners

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UFC 254 went down yesterday (Oct. 24, 2020) inside Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The event featured a Lightweight title unification bout that saw Khabib Nurmagomedov defeat Justin Gaethje via second round submission (see it again here) and — perhaps not totally shocking — walk away from the fight game. In the co-main event, Robert Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier to earn the right to face current Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, the man who dethroned him over a year ago.

(We’re obviously skipping Khabib here ... )

Winner: Robert Whittaker
Who He Should Fight Next: Israel Adesanya

Forget the fact that Adesanya said he’s interested in moving up to Light Heavyweight since nothing else interests him at Middleweight. Sorry, but unless it’s for a fight against Jon Jones, he needs to stay put at 185 pounds unless he’s planning to vacate his title (one he has only defended two times). I can see why he wouldn’t want to face Whittaker again so soon, but the fact remains “The Reaper” has earned his shot at revenge after defeating Darren Till and Cannonier, the man “The Last Stylebender” wanted to fight next. Georges St-Pierre had 13 title fights and nine defenses of his belt before he moved up a weight class to win the strap there. Jones had 15 championship fights and 13 defenses before he decided to go up to Heavyweight, so “Izzy” still has some work to do at 185 pounds before he starts hopping divisions.

Winner: Alexander Volkov
Who He Should Fight Next: Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Curtis Blaydes (No. 2) and Derrick Lewis (No. 4) are set to tango next month, and I really want Alistair Overeem (No. 5) to face the winner. That leaves Rozenstruik (No. 3) as the only viable option for “Drago.” Rozenstruik is coming off a knockout win over Junior dos Santos, so his confidence is once again sky high. “Bigi Boy” would be a great, fresh match up for Volkov, whose last two defeats came at the hands of Lewis and Overeem. There isn’t much science involved in this one, so just book it.

Winner: Phil Hawes
Who He Should Play Next: Jun Yong Park

Hawes made an explosive impression in his debut, knocking out Jacob Malkoun in just a matter of 18 seconds. With the victory, he extends his win streak to five. Up next for the “Contender Series” alum, a fight against Jun Yong Park seems logical. Park earned his second straight win just last weekend by defeating John Phillips via unanimous decision at UFC on Fight Island 6, bringing him to 9-1 over his last 10 fights. He is only 2-1 so far in his UFC career, so he doesn’t have that much more experience than Hawes inside the Octagon. They should both be eying a return around the same time, so it makes sense.

Winner: Lauren Murphy
Who She Should Fight Next: Cynthia Calvillo

Murphy and Calvillo were set to collide at this event before Cynthia was forced out of the event following a positive COVID-19 test. After Murphy defeated late replacement Liliya Shakirova, she proclaimed herself the No. 1 contender in the women’s Flyweight division. That distinction, however, belongs to Jessica Andrade, who claimed the spot last week. Murphy currently sits at No. 5, but a win over Calvillo (No. 4), should be enough to get her closer to the top.

Winner: Magomed Ankalaev
Who He Should Face Next: Johnny Walker

Ankalaev finally put the Ion Cutelaba phase of his MMA career behind him, putting “The Hulk” to sleep in the opening round with some devastating strikes. Up next for Magomed should be a bump up in the rankings after winning five in a row, as well as a fun matchup against Johnny Walker. The towering Brazilian was once considered a legit threat to Jon Jones, but after back-to-back defeats his hype fizzled a bit. He bounced back nicely with a knockout win over Ryan Spann last month, so he got some much-needed confidence back. As it stands, Walker is ranked two spots ahead of him in the rankings, so the fight makes sense in that aspect.

For complete UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” results and play-by-play, click HERE.