Aftermath is back with another edition following UFC 248. With some of the sports most popular names crammed on the card, seeing what’s next for them is the most fun. So no nonsense, let’s dive in.
Suga Show Is Back
Next opponent for Sean O’Malley: Nathaniel Wood, Ricky Simon
Sean O’Malley is one of the UFC’s most popular, if not, the most popular, prospects. He’s flashy, a good dude, he’s a Fortnite player, and he smokes a lot of weed. He’s a fan friendly guy. O’Malley was out for two years and people wondered what he would look like coming back after such a long layoff. Well the answer is even better than before.
According to his coach, O’Malley came in 20 pounds heavier than his last fight. O’Malley’s striking was even more crisp, it was more polished, and it seemed even quicker than before. Jose Quinonez stood no shot against O’Malley in his comeback. O’Malley is on a date with the top ten in the bantamweight’s stout division and on the verge of superstardom. The kid just has it all and he’s improving.
While I think he is ranked bound, I don’t think O’Malley should get that ranked opponent just yet. He needs to prove to the UFC and the fans that he can stay clean of any “tainted supplements” that had him on the bench for two years. Nathaniel Wood is the exact test that O’Malley needs. Wood has fought some of the toughest fighters in the bantamweight division. He and O’Malley would put a fun night of fighting on for fans.
Option two is even better: Ricky Simon. Ricky Simon is one of the best prospects and has some of the best hands the bantamweight division has to offer. Simon is coming off of two losses to Rob Font and Urijah Faber. Simon and O’Malley is simply a banger of a fight and one we deserve.
Beneil Dariush Wins Again
Next opponent for Beneil Dariush: Diego Ferreira, Lee/Oliviera loser
Beneil Dariush has had some ups and downs in his career. But after his insane knockout of Drakkar Klose at UFC 248, Dariush is arguably fighting the beat he’s ever fought. While his submission game is well known, Dariush showed off the power he has in his hands.
Klose is a great striker who had Dariush hurt in the second round. Unfortunately for him, he went overboard trying to finish the fight and got clipped himself. Dariush did a fantastic job of stalking down Klose and putting him away without being put away. His experience got him through that tough section of the fight and gritted out a win.
Dariush is now borderline ranked in the lightweight division. Diego Ferreira is a great option to see just where Dariush is. Ferriera is coming off the biggest win of his career against Anthony Pettis. Plus, Dariush also holds a win over Ferriera in 2014. Now the two fighters have changed immensely and to run that one back would be a good way to see how the two have improved.
Another option would be to pit Dariush against the loser of Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira. The winner will be destined for a contender fight to put their name in the lightweight title contender hat. The loser will be a possible stepping stone for Dariush to see where he belongs in the division.
Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk Steal The Show at UFC 248
Next opponent for Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Xiaonan Yan, Jessica Andrade
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has fought the toughest fights available to her. But, since losing her title, Jedrzejczyk is 2-4, losing to Rose Namajunas twice, Valentina Shevchenko, and now Weili Zhang. Jedrzejczyk is a long way off from a title shot again. Her path will be long and filled with the best of contenders, similar to where Jose Aldo was after his two losses to Max Holloway.
Jędrzejczyk didn’t fight bad, either. She did keep her head on the center line a little too much. While she didn’t need to do that against contenders like Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. But against an efficient striker like Shevchenko, Namajunas, and Zhang, that won’t cut it. Jedrzejczyk’s still a phenomenal fighter. Her hands are quick and her footwork is a step up from most of the competition.
As mentioned, Jedrzejczyk’s road to another title shot, after dropping three in a row, is long and hard. It will be a while after Jedrzejczyk gets back in the cage due to the massive injuries suffered at UFC 248. Xiaonan Yan is coming off of an impressive win over Kowalkiewicz. That fight was a few weeks ago and can afford to wait for Jedrzejczyk. It would get Jedrzejczyk get a win under her belt against a talented opponent and would give Yan an opportunity to fight a former champion.
Second option for Jedrzejczyk is a rematch with Jessica Andrade. Andrade had Jedrzejczyk hurt in their fight in 2017. The fight went the distance and booking two former champions is always a good fight and a good proving ground to get wins for either fighter. While Andrade has a fight booked with Rose Namajunas, a win shouldn’t get her a title shot after being knocked out in the first round.
Next opponent for Weili Zhang: Rose Namajunas (if victorious), Tatiana Suarez
Weili Zhang has had a sting of exciting beat downs since arriving in the UFC. She’s finally been dragged into the deep waters put in a war and had her tenacity tested. Jedrzejczyk tested Zhang, had the hands to compete with her and Zhang came through. It was an incredible performance from Zhang. Her hands are out of this world.
Weili Zhang is a monster and there is one real contender at 115 that jumps out. Rose Namajunas is a better fighter than Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She’s taken the title from her and made her first defense against her. Namajunas has much better head movement and footwork as well. I’m curious to see how much Zhang has improved after being in such a war. Namajunas is that next step up in competition for Zhang.
While there is talks of Zhang taking on Valentina Shevchenko. I don’t like that fight for Zhang right now. There are contenders at strawweight who deserves a shot at the belt. Namely, Tatiana Suarez. Suarez might book fight before Zhang comes back but Suarez and Zhang is an amazingly perfect stylistic matchup. These two throwing down would be at treat for MMA fans.
Izzy and Yoel Snooze Fans
Next opponent for Yoel Romero: Hall/Souza winner, Brunson/Shahbazyan winner
Yoel Romero fought ridiculous at UFC 248. He called out Israel Adesanya for being scared to engage when he was just as trigger shy. Romero waited for Adesanya who waited for Romero and so on. It resulted in a lackluster performance from both fighters.
People talk about Romero’s wrestling like he’s Khabib Nurmagomedov or Georges St-Pierre. Romero doesn’t use his wrestling and when he does, it’s not effective at all. The one takedown he did get saw Adesanya get right back to his feet. Romero may be an olympic wrestling medalist, his wrestling hasn’t panned out that well in MMA.
Yoel Romero is even farther from a title shot than Jedrzejczyk. Romero is now 1-3 in “title fights” with his lone win being over Luke Rockhold, a fight in where he was ineligible to win the belt due to missing weight. Romero needs at least 4 wins to get back anywhere near a title. While I’m keen on Romero moving up to light heavyweight, he seems like he does not want to make the switch.
There are not many unbooked fighters in the range where Yoel Romero needs to be matched up with. One option would be for him to take the winner of Urijah Hall and Jacare Souza. It’s a good fight either way and Romero holds a split decision win over Souza.
Second option is similar to the first. Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan are set to fight. Romero and Brunson fought in 2014 and time has come around to fight again at this point in both their careers. Since Romero will be out with his leg being mangled for some time, it will only be a matter of timing.
Next opponent for Israel Adesanya: Paulo Costa, Jon Jones
While Israel Adesanya didn’t have a jaw dropping fight he promised fans, he fought correctly. Of all of Romero’s last fights, both Whittaker fights, Luke Rockhold, and Paulo Costa have left out with serious injuries. Adesanya could fight in a month’s time. Adesanya wasn’t flustered by Romero’s gun shy-ness. He did what he was supposed to do and took his time and picked his shots.
Now, Adesanya has really one option: Paulo Costa. Costa was the rightful heir to the title shot before he had bicep surgery keeping him out for an extended period of time. With Romero and Izzy wanting to fight, the fight was just placed in both their laps. Now, Costa is cleared and Adesanya hasn’t sustained much damage. Costa and Adesanya is much more of an exciting fight than Romero; Costa will bring the show to Adesanya.
Second option is Jon Jones, just because.