What’s next for UFC 228’s winning fighters?

One of the better Pay-Per-View events of the year from top-to-bottom took place on Saturday in Dallas, Texas. UFC 228 had incredible fights all card long. The three women’s fights did not fail to produce (as usual). The co-main event and Flyweight championship fight between then-champion Nicco Montano and Valentina Shevchenko was scrapped due to an illness from weight cutting. Montano was sent to the hospital by the UFC and later stripped her of the title.

Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz were bumped up to the co-main event, which produced a performance bonus to the winner.

Tatiana Suarez and former Strawweight champion Carla Esparza went to battle as did Irene Aldana and Lucie Pudilova. All three women’s fights were fun in their own right. But where do the winners go from here? We’ve got the answers!

Jessica Andrade

It took the #2 ranked Strawweight, Jessica Andrade, less than 2 minutes to knock out #4 ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz– and it was a vicious KO. Andrade has all of the qualities to be a champion in the premier MMA promotion. She has knockout power along with a great ground game. To be honest, Andrade has the total package. Taking a fight against Kowalkiewicz did nothing for her to move up in the rankings but she took the fight because she likes to stay active.

The time is now for Jessica Andrade. Since making her Strawweight debut at UFC 199 in June of 2016, Andrade has 6 wins and only one loss– a decision defeat to then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211. With that being said, a title shot should be on the horizon for Andrade. She is deserving of another shot at the title in a division that is pretty stacked with contenders.

We don’t know when Champion Rose Namajunas will make her return to the Octagon. When she does Andrade will be waiting. Rose Namajunas versus Jessica Andrade needs to happen. Andrade said in her post-fight interview that she wants to fight on the UFC 232 card on December 29th in Las Vegas alongside the Featherweight Super Fight between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes. The thought of having two women’s championship fights on the same card is awesome. The only question is if Rose Namajunas will be ready or willing to fight Andrade in December or beyond.


Tatiana suarez

With under a minute to go in the fight, Tatiana Suarez finished former champion Carla Esparza with a hellacious plethora of elbows and punches. Just seven fights into her MMA career, the TUF 23 winner keeps getting stronger every fight. Her wrestling is the gem here but the striking on the ground is what won her the fight. Esparza was by far her most difficult opponent to date but she answered by dominating all three rounds– despite how one “judge” had one of the rounds for Esparza. (In case you missed it, one of the judges gave Esparza a 10-8 round. To be fair, this absolutely had to be a mix-up.) Suarez showed she is ready for the top-contenders in the Strawweight division, Esparza was just the first.

In her post-fight interview, Suarez said, “Rose better put that in my mailbox”. Although Suarez looks to be on a fast track to the championship, maybe her time isn’t quite here with Andrade present. One more fight against a top-tier fighter in the Strawweight division might benefit her more than a title fight would at this point in her career.

Instead of fighting Rose Namajunas next, a fight against another former champion would be good for her budding career. Joanna Jedrzejczyk comes to mind. A fight against the former champion would be a true test for Suarez. Although Jedrzejczyk hasn’t fought a wrestler like Suarez, she would most likely keep the feet standing longer than anyone Suarez has fought. Although as time goes by and they get to the later rounds Suarez would use that wrestling background and take Joanna down. It wouldn’t be an easy fight for either of them but it would be an excellent one for the Strawweight division– especially with all of the top contenders waiting on champion Rose Namajunas.


Irene Aldana

In an absolute bloody war in the Octagon, Bantamweights Irene Aldana and Lucie Pudilova left it all in the cage. In fact, Aldana and Pudilova might have put on what was one of the best fights in WMMA history.  Their fight was so good, it won the Fight of the Night award and could very well be in the running for Fight of the Year Awards.

The winner, Irene Aldana, broke her hand in the first round but kept on going and showed no signs of injury. The true warrior spirit came out for both fighters but with a broken hand Aldana easily could have let off the striking. Instead, she kept moving forward and showed why she is one of the best strikers in Women’s MMA.

We don’t know how long Aldana will be out due to her broken hand so it’s hard to gauge who will be available to fight when she’s ready to return. As of now, Aldana is ranked #12 in the official UFC Bantamweight rankings. A top-10 opponent should be next for the striker.  Bethe Correia, her scheduled opponent for UFC 227, is also without an opponent and is ranked number 10. Perhaps when Aldana is ready to return after her hand heals, Correia will be ready to return after dealing with her eye.

 

Fight fans, what do you think of these match-ups?

Stephen

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