Who should the UFC 261 losers on the main card fight next? Valentina Shevchenko and Kamaru Usman defended their belts in an incredible night of fights, while Rose Namajunas regained strawweight gold. Here are my thoughts on what the future may hold for the five fighters who lost on the UFC 261 main card on Saturday.
UFC 261 Losers:
Anthony Smith vs Jimmy Crute
Anthony Smith earned his second straight win after a leg kick completely blew out the left knee of Jimmy Crute. Crute was able to finish the first round and tried to toughen it out, but the doctor called off the fight after Crute was unable to put any weight on his left foot. Smith came out hot, but Crute, who was ranked 13th among Light Heavyweights coming in, was just getting started.
Despite the loss, Crute deserves to fight a ranked opponent when he heals up and can step into the octagon again. One possible matchup for Crute is Nikita Krylov, who is currently ranked ninth among Light Heavyweights and coming off a loss. However, the pick I’m going with for Crute is Johnny Walker. Walker had a ton of hype around his name, but injuries have slowed him down, putting him in a situation similar to where Crute is now. This would be a great matchup and could be a co-main event.
Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman
Continuing in our matchmaking for UFC 261, the talk will turn gruesome! In one of the most horrific moments in UFC history, Chris Weidman suffered a broken leg just 16 seconds into his fight with Uriah Hall. Out of respect for Weidman, it wouldn’t be right to ponder his next matchup, and hopefully, he can heal up soon. Per reports, Weidman will undergo surgery to repair his leg on Sunday. On behalf of Overtime Heroics, get well soon, Chris Weidman, and we are all hoping to see you make a recovery and get back in the octagon.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade
Valentina Shevchenko proved why she is still the best in the world, earning a second-round TKO victory against Jessica Andrade. It seems that Andrade, who had been a champion at 115 pounds, is now without a clear path ahead. She could continue to fight at 125, but she definitely needs at least one more win to get another title shot. Therefore, I’m going to present two hypotheticals, one where Andrade remains at 125 and one where she goes back down to strawweight.
If Andrade remains at 125, her next opponent should be the winner of the Katelyn Chookagian v Viviane Araujo fight. Lauren Murphy and Joanne Calderwood are set to battle on June 12th, and the winner is likely next to fight Shevchenko. The winner of that match between Chookagian and Araujo would still be one fight away from getting a title shot. Andrade should fight the winner of that bout to set up an eventual matchup with Valentina.
If Andrade goes back down to 115 pounds, she should fight Mackenzie Dern. There is an argument that Andrade should fight Rose Namajunas in a trilogy, but she has not earned that chance yet without another win. Joanna Jedrzejczyk does not have a fight lined up, but she may rematch now-former champ Weili Zhang. Dern has been on fire lately as the fifth-ranked strawweight, recently submitting Nina Nunes. Jessica Andrade v Mackenzie Dern would be guaranteed to be a ridiculous fight.
Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang
In what is sure to be an iconic moment, Rose Namajunas knocked out Weili Zhang with a head kick to re-gain strawweight gold. Considering how quickly she lost, Zhang did not do enough to earn an immediate rematch with Namajunas, but she is likely only one win away.
Clearly, the fight to make here is to run back a matchup between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a five-round main event. Their first fight was one of the greatest fights of all time, and those two are clearly the next in line for the title. Give Namajunas time off while Zhang and Joanna battle in a rematch to become the top contender. If Yan Xiaonan beats Carla Esparza, then Zhang v Xiaonan could be a fantastic matchup as well, especially if it were to take place in China.
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal
Our UFC 261 losers matchmaking continues, as we talk Usman vs Masvidal 2! Kamaru Usman silenced all critics, knocking out Jorge Masvidal with a devastating right hand in round two. Masvidal is still a big name, but this fight leaves him without a clear path to becoming champion. Most likely, Masvidal will only take big names and money fights for the rest of his career.
If Colby Covington loses to Kamaru Usman, then Masvidal v Covington would be a great fight between former friends turned rivals. If Nate Diaz loses, then there’s a strong argument that he and Masvidal should rematch for the BMF belt. Heck, even a matchup with Conor McGregor is possible. However, call me crazy, but I would love to see Masvidal fight Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev was the hottest prospect in the game before having a major COVID setback. Khamzat is ready for a big name, and Masvidal fits that description in a fight that would sell well on the main card of a PPV.
What’s your opinion on the matches made for these UFC 261 losers? Leave your comments below!
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