UFC 274 went down last night (Sat., May 7, 2022) from inside Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., featuring now-former Lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira, submitting Justin Gaethje in the first round (see it again here). In the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to win the women’s Strawweight title, while Michael Chandler sent Tony Ferguson on a trip through the multiverse by knocking him out with a brutal front kick to the face (video here).
Winner: Charles Oliveira
Who He Should Face Next: Islam Makhachev
After Oliveira sliced right through Geathje to earn what should have been his second straight title defense, “Do Bronx” now has to win one more fight before he can technically call himself champion again. The fight to make is one against Makhachev, who has more than earned his spot at the top of the list. He is currently on a 10-fight win streak inside the Octagon and the No. 3-ranked fighter in the division. Beneil Dariush is hanging around at No. 4 with a seven-fight win streak, so the promotion could very well decided to re-book that fight as a title eliminator fight.
Winner: Carla Esparza
Who She Should Face Next: Marina Rodriguez (But will likely be Jedrzejczyk or Weili)
Just like she did in 2014, Esparza won the Strawweight title, defeating Rose Namajunas in an absolute snooze-fest. Now that she’s champion again, “Cookie Monster” is the hunted and will attempt to earn her first title defense, something she never got to do in her first, short-lived title reign. Winner of six straight, Esparza should be defending her belt against Marina Rodriguez, who is ranked No. 3 and on a four-fight win streak. Esparza does have a win over Rodriguez, but the Brazilian bomber has won four in a row since the razor-thin split decision win. But, since Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are set to run it back at UFC 275 on June 11, 2022, the winner of that fight could very well slide in to get the shot.
Winner: Michael Chandler
Who He Should Face Next: Dustin Poirier
Chandler picked up a thunderous knockout win over Tony Ferguson, sleeping him with a perfectly-placed front kick to the face in the second round. The win snapped Chandler’s two-fight skid and gave him the opportunity to go on an epic callout rant post-fight where he lobbied for a shot at the title ... or fight against Conor McGregor. But, neither of those two options are likely to happen next. Personally, I’d love to see Chandler face off against Poirier next. “The Diamond” came up short in his bid to dethrone Oliveira at UFC 269, and he hasn’t been seen from since. Personally, I’ve given up on UFC matchmakers trying to book Poirier vs. Nate Diaz, so Chandler is the man to get the Louisiana native next.
Winner: Ovince Saint Preux
Who He Should Face Next: Tyson Pedro
“OSP” picked up a second win over Mauricio Rua in a rather close fight many felt should have gone “Shogun’s” way. Nevertheless, Saint Preux was able to snap his two-fight skid, though he is still a long way to go before he can earn a ranking in the Top 15 again. Up next, a fight against Pedro seems like a good option. Like “OSP,” Pedro recently snapped his losing streak by earning a much-needed win, knocking out Ike Villanueva few weeks ago in the first round. The winner would earn his first back-to-back win streak since 2017.
Winner: Randy Brown
Who He Should Face Next: Francisco Trinaldo
Brown picked up his third straight win and improved to 5-1 over his last six fights after he defeated Khaos Williams in the opening bout of the PPV main card. Fighting the the super-stacked Welterweight division, it’s going to take a lot of work for him to earn a rankings spot, but taking out someone as experienced as Trinaldo would go a long way in helping achieve that goal. Trinaldo was also victorious at UFC 274, defeating Danny Roberts via unanimous decision in the featured bout of the “Prelims.” Trinaldo is on a two-fight win streak and like Brown, is also 5-1 since 2019.
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