In the main event of UFC on Fox 23, we saw Valentina Shevchenko become the next challenger to the women’s bantamweight title. In the co-main event, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal put on a breakthrough performance. Let’s go over could be potential opponents for Valentina Shevchenko and Jorge Masvidal’s next fight, as well as some other fighters from this past weekend.
Valentina Shevchenko’s Next Fight
It’s not often you know exactly who a fighter will get next after they defeat someone, but in this case we do. Shevchenko put on a sensational performance in the main event as she submitted Julianna Pena with a second round armbar. This means she will face Amanda Nunes for her women’s bantamweight title.
The two fought a year ago at UFC 196 in a three-round contest. Nunes won 29-28 against Shevchenko, but many believed Shevchenko would have won if it was a five-round fight. Now we’ll get the chance to test that hypothesis. This is going to be an awesome contest, and I can’t wait. Hopefully it makes it onto a big PPV card.
Jorge Masvidal’s Next Fight
A lot of people were anticipating Donald Cerrone to move his welterweight record from 4 to 5 in a row. However, “Gambred” Masvidal shut Cerrone down with a vicious second round TKO. Masvidal showed up more aggressive, more refined, and more confident than ever. He had Cerrone nearly finished at the end of the first round, but Cerrone was saved by the bell. Then, not too long into the second round, Masvidal cracked Cerrone with an overhand right, then finished him off with shots to the body. It was a jaw-dropping, break-through performance for the former backyard street fighter.
Now, the question becomes, who will Jorge Masvidal’s next fight be against?
With a three-fight win streak in his pocket, and a win over #5 Cerrone, I don’t think it’s too far off to say he’s one or two wins away from a title shot. We know Tyron Woodley will be defending his belt against Stephen Thompson in a rematch. That means top contender #3 Demian Maia is still available (assuming he’s not going to wait for his own title shot opportunity). A barnburner of a match up would be against former champ, #4 Robbie Lawler. Even though Lawler has left American Top Team (ATT), I question whether the two would be willing to fight each other.
My last suggestion would be unranked Nick Diaz. It seems Diaz is close to signing a comeback fight. For a while, his opponent seemed to be Robbie Lawler, but that was scrapped after Lawler announced he needed more time to recover. Diaz and Masvidal would surely be a fight for the ages.
Whoever Masvidal’s next fight is against, I can see it headlining a Fight Night.
Francis Ngannou’s Next Fight
Heavyweight Francis Ngannou dished out a break-through performance in his main card scrap with former champ Andrei Arlovski. Ngannou welcomed Arlovski’s aggressive striking game, and knocked him out with a beautiful counter left-hook, right-uppercut combo. This was Ngannou’s first test against a high-level heavyweight, and he passed with flying colors. This now makes Ngannou 5-0 in the UFC, and ready for his next big test.
In his post-fight interview, Ngannou wished for a fight against either Alistair Overeem or Junios dos Santos. However, dos Santos was rumored to be challenging Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title at UFC 211. Meanwhile, Overeem is scheduled to face Mark Hunt at UFC 209.
There’s a short list of heavyweights that could be next for Ngannou, but one of them could be #5 Ben Rothwell. “Big Ben” hasn’t fought since losing to Junior dos Santos about a year ago, but suffered a knee injury last August. If he’s healthy, I can see these two being paired.
Otherwise, #1 and #2 ranked Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez (respectively) are the only available top 10 fighters. These two were supposed to fight each other for the second time at UFC 207, but Velasquez couldn’t get cleared by the NSAC. I expect the UFC will re-book this match up.
I can see Ngannou replacing any top 10 match up if someone gets injured. #3 Alistair Overeem vs #6 Mark Hunt and #8 Derrick Lewis vs #9 Travis Browne are fights on the horizon that Ngannou could be involved in.
Jason Knight’s Next Fight
To start off the main card on Fox, Jason Knight put on an impressive performance against Alex Caceres. He submitted Caceres in the second round, and moved to 3-1 in the UFC. Considering Caceres was just on the fringe of the top 15 in the featherweight division, it’s like he faces a ranked fighter next.
In his post-fight interview, Knight expressed desire to face #11 Doo Ho Choi. This would be an incredible match up to see considering both are young up-and-coming prospects. We saw Choi face off against #4 Cub Swanson in a Fight of the Year performance at UFC 206. As a big fan of Choi, I would like to see him rebound against a bigger name than Jason Knight. I think a guy like #15 Andre Fili would be a great opponent for Knight.
Raphael Assuncao’s Next Fight
On the prelims, bantamweights Raphael Assuncao and Aljamain Sterling fought to a close split decision. In the end, it was Assuncao who got the nod. With the bantamweight division heating up now that Cody Garbrandt is now the champion, there are lots of options for Assuncao.
In his post-fight interview, Assuncao voiced his desire to fight former champ, #1 ranked Dominick Cruz. Even though Assuncao didn’t necessarily look that impressive against Sterling, I think this fight makes sense. Cruz is looking to bounce back after losing to Garbrandt, and Assuncao is #4 in the division. If this fight doesn’t get made, then I’d like to see Assuncao get #3 John Lineker. Meanwhile, I’d like to see Cruz fight #6 Jimmie Rivera.
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