UFC 270 has come and gone and it is time to look ahead. Decisions need to be made in the aftermath of Francis Ngannou’s narrow victory over Ciryl Gane, and Deiveson Figueiredo’s hotly contested victory over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy bout.
The UFC heavyweight division is anything but populated with deserving title challengers. The men’s flyweight ranks have legitimate contender’s in the wings, but they will likely need to occupy themselves elsewhere. After a pair of wild title fights to open 2022, let’s take a closer look at what could be next for the leading men in both of these weight classes.
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Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones
There is a lot contingent on Ngannou vs. Jones materializing, but it is the only fight to make at heavyweight. Ngannou and UFC need to reach terms on a new contract, and UFC president Dana White’s actions — or lack thereof — on Saturday night speaks volumes on how that could go. Jones, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, has not competed since February 2020 as he himself deals with his own contractual issues. Jones has also never competed at heavyweight. Regardless, Ngannou vs. Jones is both the most lucrative and most meaningful bout at heavyweight, given that both fighters are able to get the money they deserve for accepting that fight. The only fighter in the top 10 with an active winning streak is Tom Aspinall, who is too far down the contender’s list and has a fight booked with Alexander Volkov. When it comes to heavyweight title fights, it’s Ngannou vs. Jones or bust (with a lean toward bust).
Ciryl Gane vs. Stipe Miocic
News of Ngannou’s MCL tear may cause viewers to reconsider how UFC 270’s main event played out. What we know, however, is that Ngannou won 3-2 on two judges’ scorecards. One of those rounds was likely the fifth, which Gane could have taken had he not fished for a heel hook after securing top control. It was too close of a fight to push Gane far down the pecking order as he’s asserted himself very well against the division’s elite. Former UFC champion Stipe Miocic will likely refuse anything other than a title shot, a big money fight or a No. 1 contender’s bout. Miocic’s experience edge and wrestling against Gane’s athleticism and movement should make for an interesting scrap.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall (if Aspinall beats Volkov)
UFC’s high hopes for Chris Daukaus were crushed by Derrick Lewis. The other exciting prospect in the land of giants is Aspinall. Should he beat long, accurate striker Alexander Volkov in March, a fight against Blaydes could cement Aspinall as a much-needed contender in a stonewalled division.
Men’s flyweight division
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 4
The UFC has found itself an all-time great saga in what for a long time 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 a rematch to Moreno in the latter’s home nation of Mexico (and later changed his tune to preferring Brazil). You will be hard-pressed to find anyone, except perhaps the division’s other contenders, who will complain about the first four-fight saga in UFC history. Appropriately, the UFC has already booked the other must-see match-up in the men’s flyweight division.
Askar Askarov vs. Kai-Kara France (booked)
The undefeated Russian has suffered the most as a consequence of Figueiredo-Moreno trilogy. An upcoming fight against Kara-France on March 26 will cement the perfect title challenge at the conclusion of the proposed four-fight series. Kara-France, a teammate of UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, elevated his stock with a thunderous knockout of Cody Garbrandt at UFC 269.