Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged its first pay-per-view (PPV) event of 2021 with UFC 257 going down inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” yesterday (Sat., Jan. 23) in Abu Dhabi. In the headlining act, Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor in the second round via strikes (see it again here). In the co-headlining act, Michael Chandler made an explosive Octagon debut, knocking out Dan Hooker in the first round with a vicious left hook (recap here).
Winner: Dustin Poirier
Who He Should Face Next: Charles Oliveira for the Lightweight title
Khabib Nurmagomedov is not going to walk through that door, so it’s high time for Dana White and Co. to forget about that idea. And while White did insinuate that it makes sense to book Poirier vs. Michael Chandler for the title next, that would be a big slap in the face to Oliveira, who has been putting in work for the promotion for a decade now and is currently riding an impressive eight-fight win streak. This is the title fight to make, there is no other match up that makes sense at the moment for either man.
Winner: Michael Chandler
Who He Should Face Next: Justin Gaethje
Chandler had perhaps the best UFC debut of a former champion coming in from another promotion after knocking out Dan Hooker in the first round. Afterward, an excited Chandler called out the cream of the crop of at 155 pounds, leaving out one important name in the form of Gaethje. And that’s the fight that should be made next. As I mentioned earlier, White led many to believe that the former Bellator MMA champion would be fighting for the title next, but Oliveira should get that honor first. In the meantime, Chandler can stay busy against Gaethje. A potential clash between these two men would be as even as it gets since both have outstanding wrestling and hit like Mack trucks.
Winner: Joanne Calderwood
Who She Should Face Next: Lauren Murphy
Joanne Calderwood got back on track and back into the championship race after defeating Jessica Eye on “Fight Island.” While the win was impressive, she still has some work to do before she can score a date against Valentina Shevchenko. A fight against Murphy makes sense since she is currently ranked No. 3 and is on a four-fight win streak. She was set to face Cynthia Calvillo, but was forced out of the fight as a result of a positive COVID-19 test. The winner here could make a big case for the next shot at the strap.
Winner: Marina Rodriguez
Who She Should Face Next: Michelle Waterson
Rodriguez spoiled Amanda Ribas’ impressive undefeated run inside the Octagon (4-0) by putting it on her, knocking her out in the second round ... on two occasions. Indeed, Marina seemed to have the win in hand after brutalizing Ribas with one shot after another. Upon celebrating, Herb Dean informed her that he had not put an end to the bout. No problem, Rodriguez regrouped and once against tagged the Brazilian sensation with nasty strikes, this time putting an end to the fight for good. Since Rodriguez stepped in for Waterson after she bowed out of the Ribas fight, it only makes sense to award her with that match up. A win over “Karate Hottie” would definitely raise her stock.
Winner: Makhmud Muradov
Who He Should Face Next: Dalcha Lungiambula
Muradov earned his fourteenth straight win after knocking out Andrew Sanchez in the third and final round. With three straight wins inside the Octagon, Muradov is starting to make some waves at Middleweight and a few more wins will get him closer to the rankings sooner rather than later. A fight against Lungiambula next sounds appealing. Lungiambula was last seen earning a win over Markus Perez at UFC Fight Island 8 just last week, so their respective turnaround times should line up. Dalcha has won seven of his last eight fights, so both men are scorching hot at the moment.
For complete UFC 257 results and coverage click here.