UFC 270 has come and gone and it’s time to look forward. Decisions must be made after Francis Ngannou’s narrow win over Ciryl Gane and Deiveson Figueiredo’s hotly contested win over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy.
The UFC heavyweight division is full of deserving title contenders. The men’s flyweight ranks have legitimate contenders on the wings, but they likely need to be taken care of elsewhere. After a couple of wild title fights to open 2022, let’s take a closer look at what could be next for the leading men in these two weight classes.
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Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones
There is a lot that depends on Ngannou vs. Jones materializes, but it’s the only fight that can be made at heavyweight. Ngannou and the UFC need to come to terms on a new contract, and UFC president Dana White’s actions on Saturday night speak volumes about how that could go. Jones, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, has not competed since February 2020 as he deals with contract issues of his own. Jones has also never competed at heavyweight. Regardless, Ngannou vs. Jones is the most lucrative and significant fight at heavyweight given that both fighters can get the money they deserve for taking that fight. The only fighter in the top 10 with an active winning streak is Tom Aspinall, who is too far down the list of contenders and has a fight booked with Alexander Volkov. When it comes to heavyweight title fights, it’s Ngannou vs. Jones or bust (with a tilt towards the bust).
Cyryl Gane vs. Stipe Miocic
The news of Ngannou’s MCL tear may have viewers reconsidering how the main event of UFC 270 played out. What we do know, however, is that Ngannou won 3-2 on two judges’ scorecards. One of those rounds was probably the fifth, which Gane might have taken if he hadn’t gone for a heel hook after securing top control. It was too close a fight to push Gane down the pecking order, as he has asserted himself so well against the division’s elite. Former UFC champion Stipe Miocic will likely turn down anything other than a title shot, a big money fight or a number one contender fight. Miocic’s experience advantage and Gane’s fighting athleticism and movement should make for an interesting fight.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall (if Aspinall beats Volkov)
The UFC’s high hopes for Chris Daukaus were crushed by Derrick Lewis. The other exciting prospect in the land of the giants is Aspinall. If he beats long, accurate striker Alexander Volkov in March, a fight with Blaydes could cement Aspinall as a much-needed contender in a stone-walled division.
Men’s flyweight division
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 4
The UFC has become an all-time great saga in what has long felt like the little brother division that White and company didn’t want. Figueiredo and Moreno are 1-1-1 in a trilogy that has produced nothing but action. Figueiredo offered Moreno a rematch in the latter’s native Mexico (and later changed his tune to prefer Brazil). It will be hard to find anyone, except perhaps the other contenders in the division, to complain about the first four-fight saga in UFC history. Fittingly, the UFC has already booked the other must-see matchup in the men’s flyweight division.
Askar Askarov vs. Kai-Kara France (money)
The undefeated Russian is the one who has suffered the most as a result of the Figueiredo-Moreno trilogy. An upcoming fight against Kara-France on March 26 will cement the perfect title challenge at the end of the proposed four-fight series. Kara-France, a tag team partner to UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, raised his value with a thunderous knockout of Cody Garbrandt at UFC 269.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism