UFC president Dana White and his team of stalwart matchmakers have consistently made some of the best fights in combat sports over the years, but nobody is perfect. That’s why Heavy decided to create a list of perfect next fights for every single UFC champion on the roster. Even if a champ’s next fight is already sorted out and on the way, that won’t keep Heavy from naming the best possible fight the UFC should have made instead.
Here are the best fights that can be made right now in the UFC. Read through our list of fights to make, and be sure to leave your own in the comments.
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Francis Ngannou, Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya
UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou wants to fight UFC superstar Jon Jones next, and, honestly, most UFC fans would love to see that fight, too. But now that former stablemate Cyril Gane has become the interim champ at heavyweight, and since the Frenchman did it by completely destroying Derrick Lewis in a way not believed possible, the best potential fight for Ngannou right now is against Gane for undisputed status. That fight is not on the schedule yet, but it should be soon.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz is coming off the biggest win of his career against UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Now, the Polish powerhouse is set to face former UFC title challenger Glover Teixeira at UFC 267. While Blachowicz vs. Teixeira won’t sell a bazillion pay-per-views, it’s exactly the right fight at 205 pounds. Blachowicz has shown he has broad enough shoulders to carry the mantle Jones left by moving up to heavyweight, but Teixeira has never looked better in recent outings. Both Blachowicz and Teixeira have won fights during their recent win streaks that most pundits thought they might lose. That makes UFC 267: Blachowicz vs. Teixeira on October 30 one of the most compelling fights in MMA.
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya failed at becoming the next UFC “champ champ” against Blachowicz, but “The Last Stylebender” rebounded nicely by dominating Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 in June. Adesanya seems to be on his way to facing former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker next in a rematch. While Adesanya won this first fight by knockout, Whittaker was the champ at 185 pounds long enough to deserve the rematch, and he’s looked good enough in winning three straight fights to warrant the gig. Adesanya vs. Whittaker is the fight to make at 185. It gets “Izzy” back to doing what he does best, and it gives “Bobby Knuckles” the chance to win his title back.
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Kamaru Usman, Charles Oliveira and Alexander Volkanovski
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is one of the most dominant champions in MMA, but the UFC welterweight division is stacked with talent. It’s so deep that a fighter such as Leon Edwards can go on a 10-fight unbeaten streak in the division and still be left out of getting a title shot. Where many pundits believe Edwards should get his chance soon, the plain truth of the matter is that the UFC is right about making the Usman vs. Colby Covington rematch happen next at UFC 268 on November 6. Usman stopped Covington in the fifth round of the first fight in 2019, but the two rivals paired then for a thrilling contest up to that point. Usman vs. Covington 2 is the right fight to make at the right time.
UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira won the title vacated by the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov by stopping three-time Bellator champ Michael Chandler at UFC 262. The Brazilian is due for another big fight, and there’s really no fighter hotter in the 155-pound division right now than former UFC interim champion Dustin Poirier. “The Diamond” stopped UFC superstar Conor McGregor twice this year, and now the new champ and the division’s cleary No. 1 contender have some business to sort through themselves. The fight hasn’t been announced yet, but, hopefully, the UFC is getting ready to do so.
UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski has to face top-rated contender Brian Ortega next. The UFC wouldn’t spend so much money on using “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series as marketing its product without intending to give the people who watch that show on ESPN+ the fight they want to see. That means Volkanovski vs. Ortega is the right fight for UFC 266 on September 25 even if it means leaving former champ Max Holloway out of the picture even though most fans seem to believe he deserved the nod over Volkanovski in one or both of their previous fights. Volkanovski vs. Ortega is next, and Holloway should get the winner.
Aljamain Sterling and Brandon Moreno
UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling won his title when Petr Yan struck him with an illegal knee in the fourth round at UFC 259. Since the win, the American has leaned into being a heel about it. Yan seemed to be beating Sterling in that first fight, but now the two will rematch at UFC 267 on October 30 to settle the score. That’s the only fight to make thanks to the circumstances surrounding the first fight, and it’s an easy promotion because the fighters have basically not shut up about the rematch since on social media.
UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno is 1-0-1 against former flyweight king Deiveson Figueiredo. After their first back-and-forth battle remained unsettled by being scored a majority draw at UFC 256 in December 2020, Moreno won the second fight by third-round submission at UFC 263 in June. A third fight seems likely someday, but since the two stars have already fought twice in a row, and because of the Mexican’s dominant win in the second fight, it probably makes more sense for Moreno to face someone like Askar Askarav next. Moreno and Askarav fought to a draw in 2019 without UFC gold on the line, but Askarav has won three straight fights since making his UFC debut. The rematch between Moreno and Askarav is the right fight for the men’s flyweight champ.
Amanda Nunes, Valentina Shevchenko and Rose Namajunas
UFC women’s featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is one of the most dominant champions in the sport. She was supposed to face Julianna Pena at UFC 265 last month, but “The Lioness” was forced to pull out of the fight due to COVID-19. None of that kept “The Venezuelan Vixen” from continuing to call out Nunes during fight week in Houston. Most pundits expect Nunes to dominate Pena whenever the two lock horns down the line, but Pena’s constant harassment of Nunes makes the promotion way different than most Nunes fights. That alone makes the fight worth watching even if the better fight on paper would be a third fight against women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko has cleaned out her division, and she rivals Nunes for being one of the most dominant champions in the sport. Shevchenko twice lost to Nunes by decision, but some people believe she should have been awarded the second fight. Still, the salient point is that Shevchenko was facing the fighter most people consider to be the best women’s MMA fighter ever, and she was doing it a full weight class above her natural fit. So Shevchenko is truly one of the best fighters in the world, and the UFC has run into the same problem that it has with Nunes sometimes. They can’t find worthy contenders for her to fight. The next such idea at solving that issue is streaking contender Lauren Murphy. The American is on a five-fight win streak, so it makes sense she would get a shot a the champ. Shevchenko vs. Nunes 3 is way more interesting, but Shevchenko vs. Murphy at UFC 266 on September 25 is what’s happening.
UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas returned to former glory by stopping Weili Zhang for the title in April 2021. Facing Zhang in a rematch makes some sense, but it might be hard to justify doing it so soon because Namajunas stopped the former champion in the first round. Another big name looking for a fight is former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but Namajunas is already 2-0 against “JJ”. That leaves Carla Esparza for the gig, and she might actually make the most sense out of all three. Esparza is riding a five-fight win streak, and she probably deserves a crack at UFC gold for her efforts. Namajunas should face Esparza next, while Zhang and Jedrzejczyk duke it out with each other or others to stake their claims at earning fights against “Thug Rose”.
What About Jones?
Jones is ranked No. 1 on the UFC’s official pound-for-pound list, but he doesn’t plan on competing again until 2022.
While most fans and pundits would probably have preferred to see Jones in action this year, the way things stand after Gane defeated Lewis at UFC 265 is that it probably makes more sense now for Jones to simply wait for the winner of that fight.
Sure, Jones could face either of the two heavyweight champs right now, or even former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Any of those would be huge fights, and Jones would be facing a tough enough task in his new weight class that it would sell quite well on pay-per-view.
But what would be as compelling a superfight as any in history would be Jones fighting the winner of the presumed upcoming battle between Ngannou and Gane.
That’s a true superfight, and that’s where “Bones” fits best.
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