UFC 252: Matches to Make

Written by Dillon Louw (@TheMMA_Arsenal) — August 31st 2020


On Saturday, August 15th we witnessed a pay-per-view card that will be etched in UFC history as the most significant heavyweight title fight to date, seeing Stipe Miocic win the rubber match against Daniel Cormier and assume the mantle of heavyweight goat.

Sean O’Malley failed to deliver the goods as we saw his hype train somewhat derailed by the hands of Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. Although it didn’t come without controversy, O’Malley was served a sizable slice of humble pie.

Following UFC events, we often speculate about what is next for the athletes. Let’s dive in and take a look at some compelling matchups for the winners and losers on the main card.


The Losers:

John Dodson

“The magician” John Dodson came up short after losing a unanimous decision against the always-improving Merab Dvalishvili. Despite the fact that Dodson was able to deny most of Merab’s takedown attempts he seemed reluctant to engage in the striking realm, where most fans thought he would have had the upper hand.

Next for the New Mexico native could be against rising contender Song Yadong. Team Alpha Male member Yadong has made quite the impression since joining the UFC, and won a fairly controversial unanimous decision over Marlon Vera in his last outing. Another possibility for Dodson could be a move back down to flyweight, a division in which he achieved much more success.


Herbert Burns

Herbert, the younger brother of welterweight contender Gilbert Burns, has been on a tear in the UFC since he earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series finishing his first two UFC fights in the first round. Unfortunately for him, he came up against a UFC returnee in Daniel Pineda who had it all to prove after getting cut by the promotion following his first stint. Pineda managed to get the Brazilian in the mounted crucifix position in the second round and Burns had no way of avoiding his devastating elbows, forcing the referee to intervene.

(Image by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

Junior Dos Santos

Junior “Cigano” dos Santos stepped on the scales in arguably the best shape of his career, but his physique didn’t prove to be enough to get him back in the win column as he fell victim to the power of Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The Brazilian now has his work cut out for him as he will be looking to overturn a 3 fight skid.

Next for “Cigano” should be the loser of the upcoming bout between Alexander Volkov and Walt Harris. All three of these fighters are looking to turn around their fortune as they all are coming off losses. Personally, I believe Volkov beats Harris and we see Harris and dos Santos square off in what could be a compelling matchup.


Sean O’Malley

(Image by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

“Sugar” Sean O’Malley saw his impressive win streak and undefeated MMA record diminished as he experienced what seemed to be a case of foot drop after suffering damage to his peroneal nerve (see Henry Cejudo vs Demetrious Johnson 2 for another example). This was no fluke however, as the nerve damage was inflicted by Vera with a perfectly placed leg kick which saw O’Malley trip over his own feet. Vera pounced and subsequently finished the fight via ground and pound.

O’Malley will be looking to turn the tables in his next fight and prove all his doubters wrong. A promising matchup could be against fellow prospect and rising star Nathaniel Wood. Wood, now 4–1 in the UFC, would like a fighter with some name value in his next match up. As for O’Malley, he would like to get back to winning ways and start another run as he aims to push for UFC gold.


Daniel Cormier

DC, based on accomplishments alone, is without a doubt one of the best fighters to ever do it. Unfortunately, his story didn’t end as the fairytale he hoped for. Nevertheless, it was a privilege to follow his career and we wish him all the best for life after retirement from MMA.


The Winners:

Merab Dvalishvili

(Image by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

Merab Dvalishvili, a product of the Serra-Longo fight team based in Long Island, New York saw his pressure fighting style be successful yet again, taking his win streak to 5 after losing his first 2 fights in the promotion. The Georgian native finds himself in the #12 spot of the bantamweight rankings.

“The Machine” Dvalishvili, will now be looking to make further inroads along the top-10 of the division. Next for him should be Raphael Assuncao, the #8 bantamweight in the UFC. Assuncao, now on a 3-fight skid (Marlon Moraes, Cory Sandhagen and Cody Garbrandt), will be aiming to defend his spot in the top-10 and get back to winning ways.


Daniel Pineda

Pineda impressed in his return to the UFC after going 3–4 in his initial stint stretching from 2012–2014. The Dallas, Texas native proved to be too much for Herbert Burns when he disposed of him via brutal ground-and-pound elbows in the second round.

Pineda will be looking to ensure his second run in the UFC is successful, and a potential fight for him could be against Makwan Amirkhani. Amirkhani, who has gone 6–2 in the UFC, could see the Pineda fight as a path to getting a ranked opponent next. He has fought ranked opponents twice previously and fell short both times, will the third time be the charm? Or will Pineda spoil another party?


Jairzinho Rozenstruik

(Image by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

The fighting pride of Suriname bounced back after his devastating knockout loss to Francis Ngannou by disposing of Junior dos Santos in the second round. Rozenstruik saw his undefeated record blemished by the power of Ngannou but he is now back to winning ways. There are several intriguing matchups which lie ahead for him.

Fortunately for Rozenstruik, there still are some moving parts in the heavyweight division that could see him get next in line for a shot at the heavyweight belt after Francis Ngannou gets his rematch with the champion. The moving parts I’m referring to is the upcoming bout between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. Rozenstruik vs the winner of this matchup will certainly be compelling, and he has his sights firmly set on a rematch with Ngannou in the future. A win in this bout would almost guarantee that his wish gets granted.


Marlon Vera

“Welcome to the Chito show” were the words uttered after Marlon Vera put Sean O’Malley away in the first round. Vera, now 10–5 in the UFC, will have gained some well-deserved traction following his victory over the extremely popular O’Malley, and he plans to climb the rankings by fighting a top-10 opponent next.

The Ecuadorian has called for a fight against the #7 bantamweight, and who am I to argue? Although Jimmie Rivera will be the one carrying all the risk by fighting someone ranked so much lower than he is, this matchup will certainly prove to be exciting. Rivera has fought the who’s who of the bantamweight division and Marlon Vera is a name he wouldn’t mind adding to his resume.


Stipe Miocic

(Image by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

The pride of Ohio has delivered yet again. Stipe Miocic is undoubtedly the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time. Following the drawn-out trilogy with Daniel Cormier, he walks away with bragging rights, as well as the championship belt. With an unrivalled 4 title defenses in the heavyweight division, Miocic has finally put the Cormier rivalry to bed by dominating the former two-division champion.

Francis Ngannou undoubtedly deserves the next shot at the title after violently finishing his last 4 opponents. Although I really believe Ngannou deserves the next shot at Stipe, there is not a single bit of me that does not want to see Stipe welcome the greatest mixed martial artist of all time(in my opinion), Jon Jones, to the heavyweight division.

There is no bigger fight in the UFC that can be made at this stage, and Jon Jones believes he would comfortably beat Miocic. There still is a lot to gain here for Miocic, though. If he can become the guy who beats Jones, he will cement his legacy even further. However, for Jon Jones there is a lot more at stake as he will be carrying all the risk in this one.

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