Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back at it again last night (Sat., Feb. 8, 2020) as UFC 247 went down from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. In the main event, Jon Jones escaped “H-Town” with his Light Heavyweight title after earning a unanimous decision win over Dominick Reyes (see it) following a grueling five-round title fight. In the co-main event of the evening, Valentina Shevchenko dominated Katlyn Chookagian en route to a third round technical knockout victory (recap) to earn her third straight title defense.
Winner: Jon Jones
Who He Should Face Next: Corey Anderson vs Jan Blachowicz winner
Ideally, I would love to see a rematch against Dominick Reyes, but Jones is the champion here and he doesn’t have to grant “The Devastator” an instant do-over, as he’d prefer to face someone fresh to add to his ever-impressive resume. As Anderson (No. 5) and Blachowicz (No. 6) gear up to headline next weekend’s (Sat., Feb. 15) UFC Fight Night 167 event in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the two men have something extra to fight for with Jon’s latest win. With an impressive showing, the victor can slide into the next title fight. Jones isn’t going up to Heavyweight anytime soon, and a fight against Israel Adesanya, well, I think we should just forget about that. Jones wants to stay at 205 pounds and either Anderson or Blachowicz is next in line. Plain and simple.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko
Who She Should Face Next: Amanda Nunes
Don’t flame me, just hear me out. At the moment, there isn’t another 125-pound female fighter who has done enough to warrant a shot at “Bullet’s” title, regardless of what this list says. When you look at the rankings, the top 10 just isn’t cutting it at the moment. She’s already taken out Chookagian and Jessica Eye (violently). Joanne Calderwood barely got back in the win column in her last fight, while Jennifer Maia is coming off a loss. Roxanne Modaferri is on a one-fight win streak, Viviane Araujo is coming off a loss, while Lauren Murphy (No. 7) is the only fighter in the top 10 other than Valentina who has consecutive wins. And let’s not forget that the Maycee Barber hype train was recently derailed. Nunes, meanwhile, is still wrecking things at both Bantamweight and Featherweight, and has stated that a defense of her 135-poundstrap is next. In that division, it’s sort of the same story as it is at Flyweight, no one really stands out at the moment. So while both of those divisions play out over the next year, I’d like to see the promotion book Shevchenko vs Nunes part three at 135 pounds. Yes, Nunes has two wins over Valentina, but her second win at UFC 215 was a bit too close for comfort. International Fight Week in July seems like a good landing spot as co-headliner to Usman vs Masvidal.
Winner: Derrick Lewis
Who He Should Face Next: Curtis Blaydes
This is a fight I’ve been wanting for some time now, and it makes more sense than ever. Curtis is on a three-fight win streak, while “Black Beast” has won two straight. Junior dos Santos is firmly out of the mix at the moment, while Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruick are set to collide next month. A trilogy fight between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic is still very much up in the air, so it only makes sense for Derrick and Curtis to throw down to keep things moving. The winner can cement his shot at the division strap.
Winner: Justin Tafa
Who He Should Face Next: Stefan Struve
Tafa earned his first UFC win in impressive fashion by knocking out Juan Adams. That said, he is still very young in his overall mixed martial arts (MMA) career, so he has a way to go before he starts fighting the cream of the crop, obviously. While Struve is a well-known figure, he hasn’t been in the top 15 for some time now. He’d be a good test for the 26-year old, who is looking to climb into the mix sooner, rather than later. A win over “Skyscraper” helps to give him some momentum. On the flip side, a win for Stefan could be a good turning point in his career.
Winner: Dan Ige
Who He Should Face Next: Shane Burgos
Ige picked up his fifth straight win against Mirsad Bektic in a rather close bout in “H-Town,” which will help him eye bigger fights moving forward. I’m digging a fight against Burgos, who has won three straight and six of seven overall inside the Octagon. Both men are promising and rising contenders, and their paths will cross eventually. With both of them eyeing a spot in the top 15, the time to see who will take that next big step up is now.
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