We were treated to undoubtedly one of the best shows in UFC history as UFC 211 delivered action-packed fights from start to finish. It was overall an amazing display of talent and heart and arguably the best card the promotion has ever had. Now as we look to the future here are the fights I see best suited for the winners and losers of UFC 211.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
It was a huge victory for Stipe Miocic as he avenged his loss to Junior Dos Santos and retained his UFC heavyweight title. In a fight that was very much expected to be a war, Miocic shut Dos Santos down and stopped him early picking up a TKO win a little over two minutes into the first round. Scrambling through the UFC heavyweight title picture there really isn’t much left on the table. Cain Velasquez is out and fighting the Fabricio Werdum/Alistair Overeem winner provides us with a rematch far too early in Miocic’s heavyweight title run. So instead why don’t we make this interesting? Stipe Miocic next fight should be against the French monster Francis Ngannou.
This is a great fight stylistically and though it may be early in the career of Francis Ngannou, his 5-0 record inside the octagon and easy win over Andrei Arlovski suggest he is ready. Ngannou is a powerful striker with efficient boxing skills, phenomenal takedown defense, and a very solid ground game. Stipe Miocic is a boxer/wrestler with an ever improving game and a style that is quite frankly tough to match. This fight would provide a stern test for Stipe Miocic’s history-making third title defense as he attempts to break the heavyweight curse. The battle also gives Ngannou the absolute biggest test of his young career as he looks to shock the world and become the UFC’s first French champion.
vs. Rose Namajunas
Perhaps the most outstanding performance of the night was the masterful work of UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She put on an Aldo-esq masterclass performance stopping everything Jessica Andrade tried and beating her to every strike. Skillwise it is tough to think of anybody that can match the talents of Joanna Jędrzejczyk, but the ever-improving “Thug” Rose Namajunas appears confident in her abilities and if anybody can pull off the upset it would be her.
If anything this fight does provide a very different challenge for Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Rose Namajunas is a very efficient and patient striker with long limbs and finishing ability. The champion hasn’t faced a striker with this much length. Namajunas also has a remarkable jiu-jitsu game to fall back on although it is unlikely she can take the champion down. Joanna Jędrzejczyk is a tactician. She is one of the best strikers to ever enter the UFC and she displays that with every fight. Her takedown defense is phenomenal and her ability to get back up once down is simply amazing. In the clinch Joanna is deadly her rapid fire knees and elbows make for a tough time in close.
This is a very intriguing battle that fans can get behind. Joanna Jędrzejczyk has aspirations to win another title as the UFC creates a women’s flyweight division. Namajunas may be her last real test at strawweight and it would easily be one of the most hyped title fights in the division’s history as both come in with a strong fanbase and an even stronger mindset.
Demian Maia vs. Tyron Woodley
It wasn’t the best performance by Demian Maia nor was it his easiest victory. However, the split decision win over Jorge Masvidal makes it seven in a row for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace. Now the 39-year-old will finally receive his much deserved welterweight title fight with Tyron Woodley. This fight is very interesting no matter how you look at it. Tyron Woodley has the advantage both on the feet and in the wrestling, but it doesn’t exactly mean he is going to win. Demian Maia has ways of forcing his game on opponents despite their striking and despite their wrestling. He ends up on your back before you know it and you either get choked out or waste an entire round fighting hands.
This is a fight fans have wanted for quite a while now. Maia was a deserving challenger before he beat Masvidal and he is an even more deserving challenger now. Tyron Woodley has the knockout power and wrestling to negate much of Demian Maia’s attack but one mistake and Maia will typically capitalized. This is a fight with a clear route to victory for both parties involved and it will all come down to execution on fight night. Whoever can impose their will and come out on top will leave with the welterweight crown. Will Demian Maia realize a dream or will Tyron Woodley continue to prove himself as the best welterweight in the world? That will be decided when these two meet.
Frankie Edgar vs. Ricardo Lamas
Frankie Edgar is no stepping stone. I repeat, Frankie Edgar is no stepping stone. At UFC 211 Frankie Edgar proved this once again as he put a savage beating on highly regarded young prospect Yair Rodriguez. It wasn’t pretty and quite frankly it wasn’t easy to watch as the fight started to look much like Edgar/Penn 3 before the doctor decided to end the fight. It is safe to say Frankie Edgar isn’t a guy we feed to prospects, not even close. So with that being said the next fight for Frankie Edgar should be top featherweight contender and one-time title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Both of these men have fought at 145 for a number of years but surprisingly have never faced each other.
This is a fantastic matchup on all fronts. Frankie Edgar has great speed, footwork, and timing on the feet. The wrestling of Edgar is remarkable and his top game is second to none. Ricardo Lamas is a crafty vet with a ton of top level experience. His striking and pressure is solid and his strength is a real factor for him at 145. Lamas is a wizard on the mat having won five fights by submission including a submission win in his last bout over highly respected BJJ specialist Charles Oliveira. This is the fight we need going forward as these two vets look to stake a claim to another title shot.
David Branch vs. Derek Brunson
Two-division WSOF champion David Branch made his return to the UFC at UFC 211. While it wasn’t the most inspiring performance, Branch was able to control the action and in turn come away with a split decision victory. Being matched with Jotko made it clear that Branch isn’t being brought in slowly, nor should he be. So his next fight should be against top middleweight Derek Brunson. This would be a very interesting battle. Both men are strong wrestlers with a fully developed Mixed Martial Arts game. Brunson is an all offense fighter who comes straight at opponents looking for the finish while Branch is more of a defensive fighter looking for his openings to lans strikes and takedowns.
Despite losing to Anderson Silva by unanimous decision in his last out Derek Brunson is still a top middleweight and a win here would be huge as he spoils David Branch’s UFC run becoming the first man to beat him since a 2012 loss to Anthony Johnson. For David Branch a win here proves he is without doubt a contender in this middleweight division and will put him against another top name in the division. This is an interesting fight as both men have a great deal of talent and much to prove moving forward.
James Vick vs. Al Iaquinta
Suffering his first career loss at UFC 199 to Beneil Dariush, James Vick has now bounced back with two in a row and has looked much improved. After a dominant second round submission victory over Abel Trujillo, Vick took on the always exciting Marco Polo Reyes UFC 211. It only took James Vick a little over two minutes to dispatch of typically iron chinned Reyes. Now the top lightweight should take on Al Iaquinta in his next contest. This would be a good step in the right direction for Vick. A win here would be the biggest of his career as he looks to build on his momentum. Al Iaquinta is a solid striking specialist with great finishing ability and a strong fanbase. “Raging” Al made a triumphant return when he defeated Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 108 and a win here puts him back into the picture as a contender.
Jason Knight vs. Brian Ortega
There hasn’t been much prospects more impressive than Jason Knight. After losing his UFC debut to top featherweight vet Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jason Knight rattled off three impressive wins in a row. At UFC 211 the exciting 24-year-old extended his win streak to four defeating fellow top prospect Chas Skelly by TKO in round 3. Now Jason Knight should take on top 15 featherweight and undefeated submission ace Brian Ortega. This would be a fun fight between two great young prospects looking to prove they are ready for the top dogs in the stacked featherweight division.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier
Nobody likes a No Contest, and this fight was so fun that the best move is to run it back. The fight was going in Dustin Poirier’s favor for the most part. Both men was hurt, both men were going for the kill. It was the violent and chaotic display we all expected when these two were matched up. Unfortunately Eddie Alvarez landed illegal knees to the head of Dustin Poirier, who was grounded, cutting him wide open. The fight was stopped and the ref ruled it a no contest. Who wouldn’t want to see this fight again? Both men have a score to settle now and it will be a very intriguing battle just as it was becoming at UFC 211.
Junior dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve II
Before receiving his shot at the UFC heavyweight crown Junior Dos Santos was originally slated to take on Stefan Struve in a rematch of their 2009 meeting at UFC 95. This is a good match to make right now. Junior Dos Santos has been very inconsistent since losing his title at UFC 155 going 3-4 over the last six years. Stefan Struve has had health issues that prevented him from fighting as often as he once did, but he is currently on a two-fight win streak emerging victorious in both of his 2016 fights.
This fight is just as intriguing as it was when it was first made. In 2009 Junior Dos Santos was a top prospect who just took out heavyweight legend Fabrício Werdum in his UFC debut. Stefan Struve was an impressive tower standing 7’0 and on a five-fight win strea making his UFC debut against Dos Santos. Now in 2017 both are established heavyweight veterans. Both have had their ups and downs and now there is no better time to run this fight back. A win here would be gigantic for Struve as he avenges his loss and extends his win streak to three. A win for Dos Santos puts him right back on track proving he isn’t done yet.
Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres
While Jessica Andrade didn’t manage to win the title, or even a round against Joanna Jędrzejczyk, she did earn the respect of MMA fans around the world. Andrade was all heart and soul in the cage, getting beat to ever punch and kick, taking a beating, and still coming forward. Andrade never once gave up in that fight and despite the lopsided loss she proved she is, without a doubt, an elite strawweight. Her next fight should be against proven top contender Tecia Torres.
Top strawweight Tecia Torres has proven herself a tough out for anybody at 115. “The Tiny Tornado” is 4-1 inside the octagon and bounced back from her close decision loss to Rose Namajunas with a victory over Bec Rawlings in her last bout. This fight would be one of the most intriguing in the division. Jessica Andrade is a dangerous fighter with remarkable strength, knockout power, slams, and submissions. Torres is a pressure fighter with great speed, combinations, and wrestling skills. It will be interesting to see how Torres deals with the power and strength of Andrade and equally as interesting to see how Andrade deals with the speed and athletic ability of Torres. A win here is big for both as they look to continue their climb up the UFC strawweight ladder.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Gunnar Nelson/Santiago Ponzinibbio
A loss is a loss but there are some very good takeaways from this loss for Jorge Masvidal. The long-time MMA vet was able to last with Maia on his back and negate Maia’s offense better than highly regarded fighters like Carlos Condit and Gunnar Nelson. While making this observation I realized how nice a fight between Jorge Masvidal and Gunnar Nelson would be. However, Nelson has a difficult challenge ahead of him as hw takes on the very underrated Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Glasgow. The winner of this fight should be up against Jorge Masvidal next in what would be an outstanding contenders match.
Either guy will provide a stern challenge for Jorge Masvidal. SBG’s Gunnar Nelson is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist but he has opened eyes with recently with his Karate style and fast hands. Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio is an aggressive fighter with great finishing ability both on the feet and on the mat. He is currently on a four-fight win streak and holds a 79% finish ratio. A long time fighter, Jorge Masvidal has seen it all and isn’t too shocked by anything he sees in the cage. A bout with Gunnar Nelson would be heavily hyped and a win would be a huge feather in the cap of both fighters. Santiago Ponzinibbio, on the other hand, will have his chance to prove himself a welterweight contender if he beats Nelson and make claim for a title shot if he beats Masvidal.
Yair Rodríguez vs. Dennis Bermudez
It was the worst performance of Yair Rodríguez career. He took a beating and never once looked to be in the fight. After losing two straight 10-8 rounds the doctor decided to stop the fight due to the swelling of Rodriguez. Despite looking very impressive beforehand, it was clear at UFC 211 that he wasn’t ready for that step up in competition. Now Rodriguez should take on 9th ranked UFC featherweight Dennis Bermudez. This fight would be a true test Yair Rodriguez showing us where he stands in the division and gives Dennis Bermudez a chance to once again prove himself as a contender.
After suffering a loss in his UFC debut, Dennis Bermudez became an instant contender as he rattled off seven in a row before losing to Ricardo Lamas. Since that loss Lamas had gone 2-2 more recently losing to returning title contender Chan Sung Jung by knockout. Much like Bermudez, Yair Rodriguez took the UFC by storm winning his first five fights impressively before running into Frankie Edgar at UFC 211. Now the two are looking to bounce back from very disappointing loss in hopes to regain momentum and work back toward the top of the division.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Sam Alvey
It has been an impressive run in the UFC thus far by Krzysztof Jotko and he has nothing to be ashamed of as he dropped a split decision to David Branch at UFC 211. The next fight for Jotko should be “Smilin’” Sam Alvey. This would be a true test to both men as they look to bounce back from close decision losses in their last outing. Alvey is an always forward moving power puncher with a ton of knockout power. Jotko is a technical striker with a solid ground game and a wealth of knockout power himself. This would be a fun middleweight fights between two underrated contenders as they look to continue climbing the ranks in the stacked division.