Matches to Make After UFC 226

By Brian Knapp Jul 8, 2018

These are the kinds of accomplishments they chisel into a man’s tombstone.

With the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title already resting on his mantle, American Kickboxing Academy captain Daniel Cormier knocked out Stipe Miocic to capture the undisputed heavyweight crown in the UFC 226 main event on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Miocic bowed out 4:33 into Round 1, his historic reign atop the division at an end.

The dramatic victory paints Cormier in an entirely new perspective, as he joins Conor McGregor as the only fighters in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously. The 39-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana, native was flawless outside of few eye pokes, one of which left Miocic in visible distress, resulted in a brief pause and prompted referee Marc Goddard to issue a stern warning. Moments later, the two heavyweights tied up in the center of the cage. Cormier connected with a short but vicious right hook on the break, trailed the fallen Miocic to the mat and blasted him with hammerfists until the job was done.

Afterward, Cormier invited former UFC heavyweight champion and current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar into the cage. A predictable shoving match ensued, setting the stage for a potential showdown between the two later this year.

With the wheels for a Cormier-Lesnar superfight evidently in motion, here are five other matches that ought to be made in the aftermath of UFC 226:

Related » UFC 226: By the Numbers

Derrick Lewis vs. Junior dos Santos-Blagoy Ivanov winner: Lewis battled through an apparent back injury and dealt with a disengaged opponent, as he took a unanimous decision from Francis Ngannou in a co-main event that was greeted by jeers and boos upon its conclusion. According to preliminary FightMetric data, the two heavyweight contenders landed a combined 31 strikes in their forgettable 15-minute encounter. A timid and unwilling Ngannou looked nothing like the man who nearly decapitated Alistair Overeem with an uppercut a little more than seven months ago, and the physically compromised Lewis capitalized for his eighth win in nine appearances. Dos Santos and Ivanov will collide in the UFC Fight Night 133 headliner on July 14 in Boise, Idaho.

Mike Perry vs. Siyar Bahadurzada: No matter how one feels about Mike Perry, no one can discount his thirst for combat inside the cage. In his first outing under the Jackson-Wink MMA flag, the 26-year-old action hero did enough damage to warrant a split decision over Paul Felder in a gory welterweight showcase. Bathed in blood, his own and that of his opponent, Perry mixed in a few takedowns and tore into the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder with mean left hooks and vicious standing elbows, as he successfully rebounded from back-to-back losses to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Max Griffin. He remains a must-see attraction. Bahadurzada last fought at UFC Fight Night 128 on April 21, when he wiped out Luan Chagas with a front kick to the body and uppercut to the temple.

Anthony Pettis vs. Justin Gaethje-James Vick winner: Pettis broke out the lightning-strike submission capability that once made him one of the sport’s pound-for-pound greats, as he tapped Michael Chiesa with a triangle armbar in the second round of their featured lightweight confrontation. “Showtime” has alternated wins and losses in each of his last five appearances, and while he may never fully regain his championship form, the longtime Duke Roufus protégé still has something left in the tank. Gaethje and Vick have been booked opposite one another in the UFC Fight Night 135 main event on Aug. 25 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Israel Adesanya: Costa once again took the blunt-force-trauma route to victory, as he cut down two-time Ring of Combat champion and former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist Uriah Hall with second-round punches in their middleweight clash. The undefeated Brazilian has finished all 12 of his opponents inside the first two rounds, 11 of them by knockout or technical knockout, and looks like a contender on the rise at 185 pounds. Adesanya, meanwhile, carved up Brad Tavares in “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale main event on July 6, as he earned a clear-cut unanimous decision and improved to 14-0.

Raphael Assuncao vs. Jimmie Rivera-John Dodson winner: Arguably the most underappreciated fighter in the sport, Assuncao extended his winning streak to four fights with a convincing unanimous decision over Team Sityodtong’s Rob Font on the undercard. The Brazilian called for a bantamweight title shot following his latest conquest, but no such opportunity appears to be forthcoming, with reigning champion T.J. Dillashaw and archrival Cody Garbrandt ticketed for a rematch at UFC 227 in August and former World Series of Fighting titleholder Marlon Moraes waiting in the wings as the No. 1 contender. Rivera and Dodson will square off at UFC 228 on Sept. 8.


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