Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Tony Ferguson, Demetrious Johnson and UFC 216's other winners?

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 216’s losing fighters?)

UFC 216 took place on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card that saw every winner beat her or his opponent by some form of submission.

The two championship fight finishes were especially impressive, with Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) winning the interim lightweight title against Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the main event while Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) produced more excellence with his historic flyweight title defense against Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the co-headliner.

Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Mara Romero Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) forced their opponent so tap out in short order, picking up wins early in the first round. The main card also featured one fight that didn’t produce a winner, as Evan Dunham and Beneil Dariush fought to a draw.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 216’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Mara Romero Borella

Andrea LeeShould fight: Andrea Lee
Why they should fight: Just the second women’s flyweight fight in UFC history went in the favor of Romero Borella, who earned a main card victory over fellow promotional newcomer Kalindra Faria.

Romero Borella made her UFC debut on less than a week’s notice and managed to top a seasoned veteran in Faria by first-round submission, immediately putting her on the radar in the budding 125-pound division.

She will likely have to wait a little while to get another fight as the UFC rolls out the new weight class with the ongoing season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will crown the inaugural women’s flyweight champion.

Romero Borella could fight anyone who doesn’t make it to the finals of that show, but giving her a fight with Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who she stepped in for at the event, in the first quarter of 2018 would also be an option that would work.

Fabricio Werdum

Should fight: Cain Velasquez
Why they should fight: Former UFC heavyweight champion Werdum bounced back from his loss to Alistair Overeem over the summer with a crucial first-round submission of outmatched last-minute replacement Walt Harris.

Had he lost, Werdum would be 1-3 in his past four octagon appearances. Instead, he’s 2-2 and can still make the argument he’s one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division.

Although Werdum seems to believe the win over Harris puts him at the top of the line to rematch current UFC champ Stipe Miocic, that’s not likely to be the case. He can strengthen his argument with another win against a contender, and if Velasquez (13-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) can get healthy, it’s the fight to make.

Werdum won the UFC title from Velasquez by submission at UFC 188 in June 2015. The promotion has attempted to set up a rematch several times since, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. Velasquez recently said he’s seeking a return to action in early 2018, and that would be a perfect timeframe for Werdum’s return.

Demetrious Johnson

Sergio Pettis

Should fight: Winner of Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis at UFC 218
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Johnson should fight the winner of the UFC 218 bout between Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) next for his 12th consecutive title defense.

Tony Ferguson

Should fight: Conor McGregor
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Ferguson should meet McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) next in a lightweight title unification bout.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/kZysKpDSjUG4B7zroo5zrb/276953”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Ferguson def. Lee”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Cain Velasquez praises Stipe Miocic's run as UFC heavyweight champ, expects 2018 return

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_HSEoE3pc_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/HSEoE3pc.xml”}
);

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

EDMONTON – Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has been out of competition for more than a year, and while his return is starting to loom, he’s reluctant to put an exact date on when he’ll be able to fight again.

The past several years of Velasquez’s (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) career have been nothing short of challenging. Injuries have restricted him to competing just twice in a nearly four-year stretch, with his most recent bout being a first-round TKO of Travis Browne at UFC 200 in July 2016.

Once touted as the man who could rule the heavyweight division for as long as he desired, Velasquez, 35, hasn’t been able to stay consistently healthy. He wants to make sure there’s no doubt when he returns to the octagon, even if it requires putting it off until next year.

“When I come back I want to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy,” Velasquez told MMAjunkie at a Bud Lite Living Rooms event today in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “I owe it to the fans, and I owe it to me. I can’t mess around anymore. I have to be ready. … I’m about 80 percent. I would say sometime next year I’ll be ready to fight.”

In the meantime, Velasquez, No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, said he and his wife are expecting their second child in November. He’s enjoying spending his time with family, but he’s also been keeping an eye on happenings in the heavyweight division.

During Velasquez’s absence, current champ Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) has evolved into arguably the most dominant titleholder in divisional history. Miocic has knocked out his past four opponents inside the first round, making quick work of the likes of Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, and more.

“The way that he’s gone out there and won (is) definitely impressive,” Velasquez said. “He looks great out there. Good for him.”

Although Velasquez has been impressed with Miocic’s performances, he’s not going to demand a title upon his return. Velasquez would certainly take the fight if offered but said if the UFC brass feels the need to see him prove he’s healthy, he’s understanding of that as well.

“I think whoever the UFC wants to put in front of me (I’ll fight),” Velasquez said. “I’m all for taking those big challenges. Whoever they want to put in front of me, that’s how I’ve always been.”

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/YyhWMYSJPGE49yUgx6aaxK/270587”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Velasquez def. Browne, UFC 200”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Jon Jones and a history of 2-time UFC champions

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5525891367001
Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, UFC

Claiming a UFC championship belt is one of the most difficult accomplishments in MMA. Doing it twice, however, is almost otherworldly.

Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) became the latest to join the short-list of fighters to win a UFC title in the same weight class on two different occasions this past Saturday when he defeated Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) by third-round knockout to reclaim the light heavyweight belt in the UFC 214 headliner.

“Bones” became the eighth fighter in UFC history to reign over a division on two occasions, and if his post-fight comments are any indication, the second run is going to be ever better than the first, which was one of the most dominant ever.

Here’s a rundown of the group Jones joined with his third-round knockout of Cormier at UFC 214, which took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Randy Couture (heavyweight and light heavyweight)

Randy Couture

Not only was Couture (19-11 MMA, 16-8 UFC) the first to become a two time UFC champion, but he did it twice in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. “The Natural” first won heavyweight gold at UFC Japan in December 1997. His second reign began at UFC 28 in November 2000. Years later, Couture dropped to 205 pounds where he had title reigns in September 2003 and August 2004. Then he won the heavyweight title again in 2007, making him a three-time heavyweight champ – though one whose first ride with that belt was vacated.

Tim Sylvia (heavyweight)

Sylvia (31-10 MMA, 10-4 UFC) first became UFC heavyweight champion in February 2003. A failed drug test caused him to be stripped of the gold. However, he came back to win the belt more than three years later before he dropped it to Couture at UFC 68 in March 2007.

Cain Velasquez (heavyweight)

Cain Velasquez

The first run of Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) as UFC champ came to an abrupt end when he was knocked out by Junior dos Santos in just 64 seconds at the inaugural UFC on FOX event in November 2011. He stormed back to take the belt in the rematch when he battered Dos Santos at UFC 155 in December 2012 to set up his second run as champion.

Jon Jones (light heavyweight)

One can only wonder what Jones’ career would currently look like had he not been stripped of the title following a run eight consecutive title defenses due to a series of outside-the-cage indiscretions. The road back to a second shot at UFC gold was tumultuous, but he made the most of it by beating his biggest rival in Cormier to claim the strap.

Matt Hughes (welterweight)

Matt Hughes

Hughes (45-9 MMA, 18-7 UFC) first became UFC welterweight champion in May 2001 when he took the belt from Carlos Newton at UFC 31 in one of the closest instances of a double knockout in UFC history. He defended five consecutive times before losing it to B.J. Penn. However, when Penn was stripped of the title for leaving the organization, Hughes immediately snatched it back up at UFC 46 in January 2004.

Georges St-Pierre (welterweight)

Georges St-Pierre

The heir to Hughes’ welterweight throne was St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), who forced a changing of the guard at 170 pounds when he beat Hughes at UFC 65 in November 2006. “Rush” would drop the gold to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in April 2007 in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. The French-Canadian proved he was superior in the rematch, though, taking the belt back from Serra at UFC 83 in April 2008.

Jose Aldo (featherweight)

Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is the only fighter on this list who had two different UFC title reigns without ever actually winning the belt inside the octagon. He first run at 145-pound champ came when he was promoted from WEC titleholder in November 2010, and his second reign six years later was the result of being promoted from interim champion after Conor McGregor was stripped.

Dominick Cruz (bantamweight)

Similar to Aldo above, Cruz’s (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) first stint as UFC champion stemmed from him being promoted from a WEC titleholder when the division was folded into the UFC late 2010. “The Dominator” had his time as champion completely derailed due to a long series of injuries, and he was forced to finally vacate in January 2014. One of the most spectacular comeback stories in the sport’s history saw him rally from those dark times and reclaim the title with a victory over T.J. Dillashaw in January 2016.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/bdoeQcZL7CgusvB3jtbMZ9/263161”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Jones def. Cormier”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Mark Hunt and UFC Fight Night 110's other winners?

brightcove.createExperiences();
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

The UFC made its second stop in New Zealand on Saturday with UFC Fight Night 110, which took place at Spark Arena in Auckland. The event, which aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, saw five of six main-card fights end in a stoppage.

In the main event, heavyweight veteran Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) dazzled once again when he stopped Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) by fourth-round TKO in a “Fight of the Night” affair.

Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC), Dan Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Ion Cutelaba (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) all put their opponents away in memorable fashion, which left Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) as the only main-card fighter who needed the judges to get his hand raised.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 110’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Volkanovski

Chas Skelly

Should fight: Chas Skelly
Why they should fight: Volkanovski has burst onto the UFC scene with consecutive wins, the latest a unanimous-decision triumph over veteran Mizuto Hirota.

A winner in 15 of his 16 pro fights, Volkanovski has displayed some solid skills in his two UFC outings, but how that will play out against a higher level of competition remains to be seen.

Volkanovski is still an unknown to many fans and won’t get a truly big fight until he establishes himself more in the featherweight division. Skelly (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) is not ranked in the weight class, but he has the experience and name value to help get Volkanovski there.

Ben Nguyen

Jussier Formiga

Should fight: Jussier Formiga
Why they should fight: Nguyen pulled off his biggest UFC victory to date when he shocked former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott by submission in just 49 seconds.

Nguyen was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez, but when an injury occurred, a game Elliott stepped in on short notice. He came flying out of the gate, but Nguyen was ready for it and locked up the quick rear-naked choke for his fourth victory in five UFC appearances.

The fact Nguyen has been booked against the likes of Elliott and Benavidez prove UFC matchmakers consider him one of the best prospects on the 125-pound roster. He validated that status with the big win, which should put him in line for another marquee fight.

It’s one thing to find a way to submit Elliott, but repeating the feat against a grappling ace such as Formiga (19-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) would be an entirely different task. Along with Nguyen, the Brazilian is one of few ranked 125-pounders who has yet to share the octagon with champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson. Both men want their shot, and the winner of a potential fight would help build a legitimate claim to making it happen.

Ion Cutelaba

Josh Stansbury

Should fight: Winner of Josh Stansbury vs. Jeremy Kimball at UFC Fight Night 112
Why they should fight: The once-dead UFC light-heavyweight division has begun to thrive again in recent months, and Cutelaba added himself to the excitement when he scored a 22-second knockout victory over Henrique da Silva.

Cutelaba has split results over his four-fight UFC career, but at just 23, there’s a lot to like about “The Hulk.” His performance against da Silva was further evidence of why. There’s still room for development, but in each fight, the Moldovan fighter has shown growth.

The 205-pound weight class is unquestionably top-heavy, which is both a positive and a negative for a fighter such as Cutelaba. He would have to do something dramatic to be thrown in the octagon against one of the division’s biggest names, so he will continue to be pitted against fighters positioned in a similar spot.

Whoever wins the scheduled bout between Stansbury (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Kimball (14-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 112 on June 25 would be coming off his first UFC win and would be a suitable next opponent for Cutelaba.

Dan Hooker

David Teymur

Should fight: David Teymur
Why they should fight: Hooker’s move up to the lightweight division after spending his first six UFC fights at featherweight proved wise when he defeated longtime UFC vet Ross Pearson by second-round knockout.

Hooker has shown flashes of brilliance with some spectacular UFC wins, and the crushing finish of Pearson was another example. He’s failed to be consistent, though, while alternating wins and losses over his seven-fight tenure with the organization. Pearson is by far the biggest win of his career, but Hooker’s main focus should be finding a wave of momentum.

It remains to be seen if the jump to 155 pounds will mark a turning point for Hooker, but Pearson has been slumping, and a win over “The Real Deal” isn’t quite as significant as years prior. Nevertheless, Hooker put himself in a spot to fight another fan-friendly name in his new division. Teymur (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who is coming off an impressive “Fight of the Night” win over Lando Vannata at UFC 209 in March, is just that.

Derek Brunson

Chris Weidman

Should fight: Winner of Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25
Why they should fight: After a two-fight losing skid that resulted from poor fight IQ and lousy judging, Brunson got back on track when he snapped the surprising winning streak of Daniel Kelly with a thunderous first-round knockout victory.

Around this time in 2016, Brunson was riding a five-fight winning streak and considered a rising threat in the 185-pound division. A first-round knockout loss to Robert Whittaker and controversial decision defeat to Anderson Silva derailed his momentum, but “The One” proved that was only a bump in the road with the 76-second destruction of Kelly.

Brunson has been booked in several notable fights over the past few years, and after beating Kelly, there’s no reason that should change. The winner of July’s UFC on FOX 25 headliner between Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Gastelum (14-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) would be coming off a high and represent a step up in competition from Kelly.

Beating a former champion in Weidman would be a massive statement for Bruson, and taking out a rising star in Gastelum would also be significant. There’s upside regardless of who wins – more so than a matchup with Antonio Carlos Junior, whom Brunson specifically called out post-fight.

Mark Hunt

Should fight: Cain Velasquez
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Hunt should fight former UFC champ Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/56uW6wsofxCW5EMfpRV83Z/252767”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Hunt def. Lewis”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie