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UFC 268: Matchmaking for Winners

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Finally, the bad blood was settled for a second and potentially final time in the main event of UFC 268 as Kamaru Usman successfully defeated his foe, Colby Covington, with a composed performance. But now the question will turn to who will be next to face him and the rest of the winners on the main card of UFC 268. Here is who could potentially be next for the victors! 

Kamaru Usman

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 06: Kamaru Usman prepares to fight Colby Covington in their welterweight title bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ overcame severe late tests Covington threw at him in the championship rounds to continue his dominance at the top of the welterweight division. He secured a unanimous decision victory. The American appeared to have rocked Usman late in the fourth and pushed the champion in fifth to take him the full-distance, making hard work of his title defence. The champion also went close to finishing Convington in the second when he dropped him twice before the 33-year-old recovered.

Leon Edwards should be next in line for a title shot should he successfully get through Jorge Masvidal at UFC 269. However, if BMF title holder upsets the Brit then it could Vicente Luque up next for the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ as it is unlikely Masvidal would get a third opportunity at the title so soon. Edwards previously fought the champion in 2015 when he was defeated via a unanimous decision from which he has since been unbeaten, winning nine one-sided victories.

Rose Namajunas

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 6: Rose Namajunas celebrates his victory over Zhang Weili in their Women’s Strawweight bout during the UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington 2 event on November 6, 2021, at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The UFC strawweight’s title fight provided a thrillingly close battle in the co-main event as a rematch bout between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili went the distance at UFC 268. The decision had the potential of going either way, and this was reflected in the scorecards, with one judge scoring it for the challenger and two for the champion as Rose defended her belt for the second time in her career. 

Carla Esparza will likely be next for the two-time champion as she was expected to be the first challenge for Rose before it was announced to the shock of the fans that Weili would get her rematch. Even the champion herself admitted she was expecting to face ‘The Cookie Monster,’ stating that she had deserved a title shot with Esparza sitting at #2 in the strawweight rankings.

Marlon Vera

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 06: Marlon Vera celebrates after his TKO victory over Frankie Edgar in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Frankie Edgar suffered back-to-back knockout losses with his defeat to Marlon Vera. The Ecuadorian warrior turned around the fight, seemingly losing the first round to control the next two before finishing the battle fantastically with an upkick knockout that caught his opponent totally off guard.

Chito is now on a two-fight win streak and will climb the rankings when it’s updated on Monday morning, taking the former UFC lightweight champion’s spot at #8. This will see him looking up the division with his eyes on a title shot in the near future. Up next for the 28-year-old could be the rising star Merab Dvalishvili who may be waiting a while for one of the top five unless T.J. Dillashaw steps up to the challenge avoiding a potential shot at the title next.

Shane Burgos

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 06: Shane Burgos celebrates against Billy Quarantillo in their featherweight bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Shane Burgos was put to the test against the ever so likeable Billy Quarantillo, who showcased his toughness in a gruelling fifteen minutes on the main card of UFC 268. Eventually, the #14 ranked featherweight rose victorious via a unanimous decision, having gone close to finishing his opponent multiple times throughout the three rounds. 

The ‘Hurricane’ will be expecting a ranked opponent next and will be looking above him as he looks to climb the rankings of one of the most talented divisions. Above Burgos in the rankings lie some potential opponents, to name a few; Sodiq Yussuf, Bryce Mitchell, and Edson Barboza. A rematch in the new year between Burgos and Barboza following the Brazilian’s KO victory over the American back in May would not be a lousy spectacle. 

Justin Gaethje

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 06: Justin Gaethje celebrates after his decision victory over Michael Chandler in their lightweight bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

A fight of the year contender was on display in the opening fight of UFC 268 as Justin Gaethje, and Michael Chandler left their all in the octagon, with both fighters close to being knocked out. The former interim lightweight champion came out on top in the end as he secured a unanimous decision in a hard-fought victory over the former Bellator champion in what was ‘fight of the night.’ 

The fight was seen as a title fight eliminator, with the winner being set to face the victor of the next UFC lightweight title fight between Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira at UFC 269. Therefore, the next for Gaethje should be the UFC lightweight champion past UFC 269. If not, then Islam Makachev will be waiting in the wings to earn his title shot with potentially winning over him.

Who would you like to see UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and the rest of the victors at UFC 268 face? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow me on Twitter @Dionwills16 for news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all of your sporting needs. And don’t forget @MMA_OTH for all things MMA. Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!

Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images

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Dion Williams is a Combat Sports writer for Overtime Heroics covering mainly UFC but also Bellator and Cage Warriors!