#UFC251 Aftermath: Kamaru Usman Boringly EffectiveTweet
UFC 251 was packed with fights and featured three title fights to treat fans to. The debut of Fight Island went off pretty much without a hitch. So let’s take take some time and see what is next for some of our favorite fighters on the UFC 251 card on this episode of Aftermath.
Welcome to the show, Jiri Prochazka
Next opponent for Jiri Prochazka: Johnny Walker, Smith/Rakic loser
Jiri Prochazka made the jump from being the RIZIN light heavyweight champion to test the waters in the UFC. His last win was over former UFC talent, CB Dollaway. He jumped straight into the fire at UFC 251 taking on seventh ranked Volkan Oezdemir. Volkan has tremendous power in his hands and with Prochazka fighting the interesting way he does (hands down), it was a big test. Prochazka managed to dispatch Oezdemir at the beginning of round two leaving him almost lifeless on the mat.
Jiri Prochazka called out Johnny Walker after the fight and I’m not sure that’s a good move for Prochazka. Prochazka defeat the seventh ranked Oezdemir and Walker is ranked 12. Fighting down isn’t what Prochazka should do. But, Walker has shown weakness in his last two fights. The only gamble is Prochazka fighting with his hands down and that could be disaster with someone as explosive as Walker. Prochazka might do well getting another UFC fight under his belt, however, before making a run at the light heavyweight title.
If the UFC has other plans for Prochazka and are looking for potential matchups in the future for Jon Jones, they could look to fast track him and have him fight up. Anthony Smith and Alexsandar Rakic are scheduled to fight on August 29th. The winner will be looking to have his name in the newly-rejuvenated light heavyweight rankings. The loser would be a perfect matchup for Jiri Prochazka. He would fight either a former title challenger, Anthony Smith, or an explosive Aleksandar Rakic. A win for him over either would put him in the position for a contender fight.
Amanda Ribas Wrecks Paige VanZant’s Free Agency
Next opponent for Paige VanZant: Free Agency
I theorized that the UFC intended to tank Paige VanZant’s free agency value by putting her against a fighter that she was likely to lose to so her value in free agency would tank, giving the UFC better odds to pay her more than the next promotion. We explored in an episode of MMA Mathematics that the evidence suggests that Paige VanZant increased viewership of UFC cards by 37.36%. The UFC is keen on signing her while paying her as little as possible because, you know, they’re a business. It worked, however, and VanZant lost the fight pretty quickly. VanZant lost via armbar in the first and is now a free agent.
Now, VanZant will test free agency and if I may predict myself, VanZant will end up in Bellator with her husband, Austin Vanderford. But, she will text free agency regardless and there are plenty of options out there, especially if Paige VanZant wants to get paid. Bellator will surely send her an offer. But there’s also ONE Championship who has been keen on building up their stars by letting them dismantle former UFC figures. PFL also has the million dollar tournament and they have built up a division around Kayla Harrison already.
Next opponent for Amanda Ribas: Jessica Aguilar, Tecia Torres
The fight with VanZant was a layup for Amanda Ribas. She had a quick nights work against the fan-favorite and the UFC built her name on the win over VanZant. Ribas shined in press conferences too. Her quirky, bubbly personality was well received by fans. Ribas was just way ahead of VanZant skill-wise.
Ribas is a ranked straw weight and will likely want to return to her weight class. She needs a couple fights before she makes a run towards the top of the division now. Jessica Aguilar is one fighter looking for a scrap. Aguilar lost her last two fights to Weili Zhang and Marina Rodriguez. Having not fought since 2019, she’s likely ready to get back in the action. Ribas had a quick night at UFC 251 and can likely look forward to a quick turnaround.
Second option for Ribas is Tecia Torres. This idea of the fight is simple, Torres is ranked higher than Ribas and could be a stepping stone to moving Ribas to a top ten spot in the women’s strawweight division.
Rose Namajunas Gets Revenge
Next opponent for Jessica Andrade: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Waterson/Hill winner.
Jessica Andrade is out on tough times now. She’s dropped her second straight fight, first being her loss of the belt to Weili Zhang. Now, she’s two straight after losing two straight, the former champion will have a long road back to the title. She showed great game planning going into the fight. She was pieced up by Namajunas before slamming her on her head, stealing the belt. She came in and had pretty good head movement and slipped a lot of what Namajunas had to offer.
Now, Andrade is looking for a way back into the title picture. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the name for Andrade. The two fought in 2017, Jedrzejczyk’s last successful title defense. Andrade managed to clip Joanna in the fight and had her wobbled. With Jedrzejczyk having lost her last fight to Weili Zhang, she’s also looking for a way back into the title picture. With either fighters getting a win over the former champion, it would boost their resume and would be a fun rematch as well.
Second option is the winner of Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill. Hill and Waterson could use a win and should they become victorious would be looking to get their name in the top of the women’s best division. Waterson and Hill would be a fun matchup with Andrade, both posing very interesting matchups. Waterson is technically sound and has decent grappling. Hill is also very powerful and has pop in her hands as well.
Next opponent for Rose Namajunas: Weili Zhang
Rose Namajunas is truly a pleasure to watch fight. She has great footwork and fundamentals. While Namajunas doesn’t have the most power, she makes up with it creating angles with footwork and piecing up Andrade all night. She did fade in the third round, but having not fought since May of 2019, she could be suffering from ring rust. Don’t forget her five round war with Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense.
Now, Namajunas has one option, Weili Zhang. She punched her ticket for the second title shot and hopes to capture UFC gold once again. Zhang and Namajunas is a Fight of the Night contender and would be one of the most technically sound fights in women’s history.
Petr Yan, The Next Great Bantamweight Champion
Next opponent for Jose Aldo: Dominick Cruz, Josh Emmett
Jose Aldo proved a lot of people wrong in his two fights at bantamweight. He took Moraes to a decision and didn’t look too bad early on against Yan at UFC 251. He kicked more as well, showing shades of Jose Aldo of old. But, the MMA gods weren’t down with double champ Aldo. He was given too much damage on the ground by Yan but that’s only the ref to blame.
It seems like Aldo’s gone from one of the greatest champion of all time to a modern day gatekeeper. Aldo is still incredibly fun to watch and will be a fan favorite for the rest of his career. He now has options to take fights that would simply be fun. The prime one: Dominick Cruz. Cruz and Aldo reigned their respective divisions at the same time and fans have clamored to have the two legends fight. While both Cruz and Aldo are not the same fighter, it is still a fun fight at this point in time. But here’s my catch, let’s just do it at 145. They both could simply forgo the tough weight cut and fight, similar to how Conor McGregor and Cowboy Cerrone did at UFC 246.
I am not keen on Aldo doing too many more of these 135 weight cuts. I would like to see him finish his career where he was king: 145. A return would make me happy, simply. A good fight would be Josh Emmett. Emmett and Shane Burgos went to war at UFC Vegas 3. Emmett has to fix his knee but upon his return, he could use a good and durable fighter like Aldo. Aldo and Emmett would be a great fight and one that could headline a ESPN+ card.
Next opponent for Petr Yan: Aljamain Sterling
First off, I will take a moment to gloat. In January, I did an interview with Petr Yan and called him “the next great bantamweight champion.” He is one of two fighters I was sure will be champion one day. Check out the interview with Petr Yan below!
Petr Yan Interview: The Next Great Bantamweight Champion
After the biggest win of his career, Petr Yan sets his eyes on the next accomplishment, becoming a UFC champion. We talk about that and more in this interview.
So now, Petr Yan is champion. He fought Aldo pretty well but didn’t look as terrifying as he has in the past. Aldo is an incredibly experienced fighter and was by far. But Yan eventually got the job done, finishing Aldo in the fifth.
There’s only one option now for Petr Yan and that is Aljamain Sterling. Sterling has won five straight fights, most recently against Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250. Now it’s time to have a proper title fight and put the two best bantamweight fighters in the ring and lock them in to fight.
Alexander Volkanovski Max Holloway’s Max Holloway
Next opponent for Max Holloway: Calvin Kattar, The Korean Zombie
Max Holloway is in a similar spot as Jose Aldo was in when he took the belt from Aldo. Aldo lost two straight to Holloway and was the second best fighter in the division by far. Contenders couldn’t beat him and it limited who Holloway could fight. Now Holloway is in that spot. He took the champ to the brink again and simply didn’t do enough in the judges mind to recapture the belt.
Now, Holloway will have a long climb to the belt if Volkanovski doesn’t lose. So, for now, he can take a little more time off, wait for the pandemic to ease up and get a proper training camp. Calvin Kattar is looking to get his name in the top five and would be a really great matchup with Holloway. Holloway and Kattar would be able to test each other in unique ways and would be a banger of a fight. Should Kattar get past Ige, it would be a great fight to make.
The Korean Zombie is the other fight to make for Holloway. Korean Zombie is rumored to be fighting Brian Ortega but, win or lose, that fight would be one to make for The Korean Zombie and Holloway. Two fan favorite fighters going at it and would be a slobberknocker as well.
Next opponent for Alexander Volkanovski: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Alexander Volkanovski was simply tougher than Max Holloway. He was knocked down at the end of rounds one and two and persevered and brought it to Holloway in three, four, and five. It was a very close fight and for anyone calling the fight a robbery is simply a Holloway stan. Volkanovski got takedowns in the fourth an fifth and ending on top probably secured the victory for Volkanovski.
There aren’t many options for Volkanovski and the obvious choice is Zabit Magomedsharipov in Russia for the first pay per view in the country. Only problem is that I’m not sold on Zabit’s title contender worthiness. He’s been drug to deep waters in his last two fights against Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens. He was beat up in the third round and his gas tank is a question for me. I don’t think that fight ends well for Zabit.
Kamaru Usman: Boringly Efficient
Next opponent for Jorge Masvidal: Colby Covington, Nate Diaz rematch
Jorge Masvidal had no business being in the cage with Usman on short notice. He had his moments and looked very good at times in the first round. He kicked quite predictably and Usman caught the kick and brought the fight to the ground quite quickly. Masvidal did show great takedown defense and showed his ability to get back up against the fence against the division’s best wrestler. Unfortunately, Masvidal just wasn’t ready for this fight.
Masvidal was dominated by Usman and will have to win a few fights before getting his shot at real gold again. The best bet for this would be a fight with former-teammate, Colby Covington. Covington won’t get a title shot over Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards. Masvidal and Covington have a history and bad blood. Masvidal and Colby would be a fun fight with a good stylistic matchup and full of action.
If Masvidal is more keen on money than a title shot, Nate Diaz would be the fight. I don’t think it’s a good fight to make, Masvidal was dismantling Diaz. But the fight was unceremoniously stopped due to “cuts” when it’s painfully obvious that Diaz bleeds a lot. Run it back if you want a spectacle again.
Next opponent for Kamaru Usman: Gilbert Burns
Don’t let my title of this section let you believe I don’t think Kamaru Usman is not a fantastic fighter. He is very great and incredibly effective. The only issue is that he’s so effective and has such a bullet proof game plan, it is boring. He is stronger than everyone in the division and uses that along with his wrestling to win. The Covington fight was the lone exception.
I don’t care to look at any other options for Usman next aside from Gilbert Burns. Leon Edwards is out there but Usman already has a win over him. Burns was supposed to fight Usman at UFC 251, of course, before coming down with COVID-19.
Usman took next to no damage against Masvidal and can likely have a quicker turnaround. While Burns is on the Cowboy Cerrone fight schedule, a little patience will do him well here as the two are destined to tango.