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Matchmaking for the UFC 265 Losers

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UFC 265 is in the books and what a night it was. With five straight finishes to get the event started, we got a little bit of everything. Flying knee KO’s, submissions, three-round bangers, and a new UFC interim heavyweight champion.

For the men and women who came up short on the main card, I will be giving my thoughts on what I think their next step should be as the train continues to roll on in the biggest fighting promotion on earth.

UFC 265 Losers: Who’s Next?

Casey Kenney (16-4)

Opening up UFC 265’s main card was a pair of unranked bantamweights trying to make a big statement in what seems to be the UFC’s hottest division at this very moment. 23-year old Chinese prospect Song Yadong defeated Casey Kenney via split decision in an extremely competitive matchup that never saw either guy ease their foot off the gas for the entirety of the fight. Yadong would often counter Kenney with hard shots and his footwork got him in and out of his range at will. His strike output and work rate lead him to a solid victory, although I am unsure if he did enough to earn a number next to his name. Yadong is currently 6-1-1 since his debut in 2017 and looks to be a player at bantamweight for the next half-decade to come.

In a division riddled with prospects, there are multiple fun, competitive fights that could be made with Casey Kenney being the constant in the equation. The first one that comes to mind is Raoni Barcelos. Both fighters bring unrelenting forward pressure and fight at a pace that seems unsustainable over the course of three rounds. Kenney is currently on a 2-fight skid dropping back-to-back split decisions to Dominick Cruz in March and again last night. Barcelos is coming off a majority decision loss to Timur Valiev back in June but holds a 5-1 record inside the octagon in three short years with the promotion.

A few other names I would consider throwing into the hat are the loser of Jack Shore vs Said Nurmagomoedov, Trevin Jones who is coming off a TKO victory over Kenney’s teammate Mario Bautista, or Davey Grant who is coming off a decision loss to Marlon Vera just two months ago.

Angela Hill (13-10)

A rematch between Angela Hill and Tecia Torres took place in the women’s strawweight division on UFC 265’s main card and a decision victory went to the ladder, improving her record to 2-0 against Hill and currently riding a 3-fight win streak after losing four straight between 2018 and 2019. Her athleticism and speed gave Hill all sorts of trouble that had Hill plotting into all sorts of attacks.

“Overkill” has always had a win some, lose some career but in recent years it’s felt like she has put things together although it hasn’t shown on her record. She dropped two back-to-back split decisions to Claudia Gadelha and Michelle Waterson respectively that I felt she deserved more from. 1-3 in her last four, the #12 ranked strawweight will be determined to get back on track in what will most likely be the beginning of 2022.

A very interesting fight I’d love to see at strawweight is Angela Hill vs Cheyanne Buys, who just last weekend scored a tremendous round one head kick KO over Gloria De Paula.

Micheal Chiesa (18-5)

Since Vicente Luque‘s decisive loss to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in 2019, “The Silent Assasin” has been running through his opponents with relative ease. Knocking out Niko Price and Randy Brown in 2020, Luque began his 2021 with the biggest victory of his career after submitting former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, putting the rest of the division on notice. In a similar fashion to his last fight, Luque found himself in danger early against Michael Chiesa when “The Maverick” had multiple different submissions deep before Luque was able to reverse the position and earn his fourth D’Arce choke finish inside of the octagon. Luque called out the champion Kamaru Usman who subsequently tweeted shortly after the interview.

Chiesa looked great early, keeping himself light on his feet bouncing back and forth, waiting for Luque to plant his feet and throw his strikes, even landing a clean 1-2 that had Luque bleeding from the nose. The plan was to time Luque’s attacks with takedowns and he landed his one and only he shot on the night. After sinking in multiple submission attempts, Luque was able to reverse himself to top position and finish Chiesa off with his unforgiving D’Arce choke we all now know about.

Michael Chiesa had this to say after his performance:

Chiesa is currently sitting at the #5 spot with Luque right in behind him at #6. I expect them to swap places in the coming days with Luque set for big things in the near future. As for Chiesa, a fun next matchup would be the winner of Khamzat Chimaev and #12 ranked welterweight Li Jingliang set to take place at the end of next month on UFC 267. Some other fun names would be Jorge Masvidal or “Wonderboy” with all three currently coming off a loss.

Pedro Munhoz (19-6)

In the co-main event was the all Brazillian bout between UFC legend Jose Aldo and top contender Pedro Munhoz that ended in a dominant victory for the former featherweight champion and “King of Rio”. In retro style, Aldo outclassed his opponent using his jab, body shots, and activity in a way that looked like his last chapter has yet to be written. Aldo now 2-2 at bantamweight, looks to finally be fully comfortable in his new division even breaking his own personal best significant strike numbers landing 114 throughout 15 minutes of action.

Now 1-3 in his last four, Munhoz is still sitting inside the bantamweight top 10 and still has the chance to fight some notable names in the division. A very interesting fight that the matchmakers could make for Munhoz would be a Sean O’Malley fight. Fans are crying out for “Suga” to fight a ranked contender and Munhoz would be a tough fight for the young prospect who’s coming off a third-round finish just last month. A risky fight because O’Malley is still unranked, the 34-year-old has the experience and skills to make for an extremely fun bout.

Some other names currently inside the top 15 that would make for great fights would be Cody Stamann, Merab Dvalishvilli, or a rematch against fellow Brazillian Raphael Assuncao.

Derrick Lewis (25-8)

In a highly anticipated heavyweight championship fight, it is Ciryl Gane who entered enemy territory and captured interim gold in an effortless fashion. Officially out-landing Derrick Lewis 98-16 in significant strikes, Gane becomes the first-ever French-born champion in UFC history. Despite the hostile environment, the undefeated “Bon Gamin” put on an absolute clinic Saturday night. A heavyweight that primarily uses footwork, angles, and feints to set up his shots is hard to come by and Gane executes the style flawlessly. He really seems like the new bread of heavyweight.

As for Lewis, I suspect he stays within the top three at heavyweight until a winner between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Curtis Blaydes emerges next month. At this point, the top five at heavyweight is a little muddied with no real contender shining through as the number one contender besides Gane who is guaranteed a shot at Francis Ngannou in his next bout.

With Stipe Moicic calling for a shot at the title and Jon Jones still lurking in the background, it is anyone’s guess what happens at heavyweight within the next year. As of now, an Alexander Volkov matchup seems plausible. Both are coming off losses to Gane and I’d assume Volkov would do anything to get that loss back after Lewis astonishingly knocked out the Russian giant who was cruising to a unanimous decision victory with just seconds to go. Some other sensible matchups could be the loser of Rozenstruik vs Blaydes or the winner of #7 ranked Shamil Abdurakhimov vs #10 ranked Chris Daukaus.


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Featured Image Credits To Embed from Getty Images

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