NEW YORK — Kamaru Usman obtained the job carried out at UFC 268, stopping the late surge of Colby Covington to retain the UFC welterweight championship. Usman scored two knockdowns within the second spherical which practically put Covington away, however there could be no end within the rematch and the scorecards had been learn.
Rose Namajunas additionally left Madison Sq. Backyard together with her title reign intact, defeating Zhang Weili by break up resolution. This rematch was far completely different than their first encounter and Zhang showcased quite a lot of new techniques, the results of her first coaching camp at Battle Prepared in Arizona. Namajunas managed the top of the combat, holding Zhang on the bottom, and formally closes her chapter with Zhang.
However the first combat on the primary card is the one which will probably be mentioned for years to come back. Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler, two of the most effective strikers within the sport, placed on a present. Each males had been wobbled. Each supplied up all they might muster. Ultimately it was Gaethje together with his palms raised excessive and a title shot on his thoughts.
So who’s subsequent for UFC 268’s massive winners? Let’s check out the choices:
Kamaru Usman, welterweight champion (defeated Colby Covington by unanimous resolution)
The UFC cannot deny Edwards any longer. He is one of the crucial deserving title challengers in current reminiscence, frankly. He is on a 9 combat win streak, which might be ten if he will get previous Masvidal.
There have been lots of false begins with Edwards, a lot of which weren’t his fault. He is missed out on some alternatives resulting from dangerous luck. He did not take full benefit of an enormous combat in opposition to Nate Diaz earlier this 12 months. And he is additionally misplaced to Usman earlier than, though that is been a very long time now.
He is actually been pressured to take the lengthy path to a title shot, however there may be nowhere left for him to go however a championship combat if he beats Masvidal subsequent month.
Wildcard: Vicente Luque
Luque is an thrilling possibility, and prone to get a title shot in due time. If Edwards had been to lose to Masvidal, Luque could be the subsequent most tasty possibility at welterweight.
So, there’s a path for Luque to get the subsequent title shot, however it might require Edwards to lose, and likewise, probably, it might require UFC middleweight challenger Robert Whittaker to lose as properly. As a result of if Whittaker takes the belt from Usman’s pal Israel Adesanya early subsequent 12 months, there’s a probability Usman may transfer up in weight and combat for a second belt.
Colby Covington, welterweight (misplaced to Kamaru Usman by unanimous resolution)
Who must be subsequent: Jorge Masvidal
No matter whether or not Masvidal beats or loses to Leon Edwards subsequent month at UFC 269, this must be subsequent. Let’s e book this one.
There’s presumably no angle in fight sports activities that sells higher than buddies turns enemies, and that is what we’ve got with Masvidal and Covington. Former roommates and buddies who are actually bitterly in opposition to each other. Masvidal has his palms full first, but when he is in a position to knock out Edwards in Las Vegas after which minimize a promo on Covington — which we all know he is able to — we may see this subsequent.
Wild card: Stephen Thompson
Thompson slipped up in opposition to Vicente Luque in his final combat — a unanimous resolution loss again in July. Each of those welterweights want a win over a ranked opponent to get again on observe and begin speaking a couple of title once more. They’re in comparable spots. It makes lots of sense.
Rose Namajunas, strawweight champion (defeated Zhang Weili by break up resolution)
Rose Namajunas defends her title efficiently at Madison Sq. Backyard with a hard-fought split-decision victory at UFC 268.
Who must be subsequent: Carla Esparza
Whew. Sigh of aid for Namajunas, who regardless of wanting assured concerning the final result, got here very near dropping the title on Saturday. That combat was extraordinarily shut and got here right down to how one choose noticed just a few positive particulars. That is nerve wracking, however ultimately, Namajunas retains and is now free to maneuver on from Zhang.
Esparza just isn’t a blockbuster combat. It isn’t a matchup the UFC will probably be salivating to make. However as soon as upon a time, Esparza did beat Namajunas for the inaugural strawweight title, and that is a narrative price revisiting. Esparza can be legitimately deserving of the shot, having received 5 in a row.
Wild card: Marina Rodriguez
Stylistically, this appears like much more enjoyable than Namajunas vs. Esparza. Rodriguez is combating confidently proper now. She’s obtained size and energy. She seems able to difficult Namajunas on the toes.
Rodriguez is probably going combating for the title sooner or later in her profession, and if the UFC actually needed to press her into it now, it is warranted. However this combat is not that a lot greater than Esparza, so I do not see the UFC going away from its rankings to make it.
Justin Gaethje, light-weight (defeated Michael Chandler by unanimous resolution)
Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler kick off the UFC 268 important card with an unimaginable three-round battle.
If Gaethje does not get the subsequent title shot, “we riot.” That is what he stated going into this combat and anybody who did not agree with him then, has to agree with him now. Gaethje has been the sufferer of woefully dangerous timing over the past 12 months. He simply so occurred to be the final man to lose to Khabib Nurmagomedov, earlier than Nurmagomedov retired.
He was as deserving as anybody to combat for the light-weight championship over the past 12 months, however it did not occur solely as a result of he was Nurmagomedov’s final title protection. Frankly, Gaethje did not have to beat Chandler to show to anybody he was a title challenger. We knew that already. However these had been the playing cards he was dealt and he beat a really motivated, on level Michael Chandler on Saturday. Give him his properly deserved title shot.
Wild card: Nothing
I can not even give you something. If one thing actually bizarre had been to occur within the combat between Oliveira and Poirier — one thing that made it needed they had to combat once more, then simply let Gaethje wait. Each time his subsequent combat comes, it must be for the light-weight championship.
Michael Chandler, light-weight (Misplaced to Justin Gaethje by unanimous resolution)
Who must be subsequent: Islam Makhachev
For the primary time since Chandler moved over to the UFC from Bellator, there’s not an apparent opponent for him to combat. There was clearly nothing fallacious with this efficiency, and there’s no disgrace in dropping to a person in Gaethje who may maintain the belt by the top of his subsequent combat. However Chandler is now wanting down the barrel of a two-fight skid, and there is not an apparent matchup for him.
If I needed to guess, I do not assume that is the one the UFC will land on, however it truly makes probably the most sense to me. Chandler by no means obtained a shot at Nurmagomedov. He all the time thought his type introduced Nurmagomedov the hardest problem. And he does not draw back from tough fights. His inventory continues to be a lot excessive in identify worth, and Makhachev wants yet another massive combat earlier than he is prepared for a title shot.
Relying how lengthy of a break Chandler wants, this is smart.
Wild card: Conor McGregor
One factor Chandler confirmed on Saturday? He is one of the crucial entertaining lightweights on the roster. His showmanship and grit made that combat what it was.
Who does McGregor combat when he comes again in 2022? There are lots of choices — and naturally there are, he is the most important star within the sport. I would not peg Chandler as the favourite, however it might make sense for lots of causes. Chandler has a fanbase now. He is nonetheless extremely ranked. Stylistically, he is a really enjoyable matchup for McGregor.