Projecting next UFC fights for TJ Dillashaw Henry Cejudo from UFC 227

MMA


One of the better rivalries in recent years came to a (presumed) conclusion, and the most dominant champion in UFC history was finally toppled.

Between TJ Dillashaw‘s first-round finish of Cody Garbrandt and Henry Cejudo‘s historic upset against Demetrious Johnson, UFC 227 delivered the goods last weekend inside Staples Center in Los Angeles.

What’s next for the competitors of UFC 227? Here is my humble take.


TJ Dillashaw, bantamweight champion

Result: Defeated Cody Garbrandt via first-round knockout

Next: Dominick Cruz

Does Cruz “deserve” a title shot, considering his most recent win was more than two years ago? Depends whom you ask.

On one hand, come on, his most recent win was more than two years ago! On the other, Cruz is still considered the best bantamweight of all time, and he did beat Dillashaw back in 2016.

There’s a history to this matchup. It’s an absolute beaut, stylistically. The first time they fought, it was a Fight of the Year candidate. Dillashaw now has a firm track record of owning rematches. Cruz has indicated he’ll be back before the end of the year. Take this to UFC 231 in December.


Cody Garbrandt, bantamweight

Result: Lost to TJ Dillashaw via first-round knockout

Next: John Lineker

How will Garbrandt respond? It’s a legitimate question.

He has all the talent in the world, and is only 27 — but he’s now lost back-to-back fights to the defending champ (in an emotional rivalry). He’s been knocked out twice in nine months, and he battled a chronic back injury in 2017.

None of that is to suggest Garbrandt is done, by any stretch of imagination, but he’s been through a lot in the last year. Is he eager to get back on the horse as soon as possible after this loss, or does he want some time off?

If he wants to fight again in 2018, the opponent is an easy call for me. John Lineker all day. They were supposed to fight in 2016, but Lineker pulled out due to illness. Lineker is a hard hitter, but his striking style is more straight-forward and plodding than Dillashaw’s. This fight would have heat and high stakes for both.


Henry Cejudo, flyweight champion

Result: Defeated Demetrious Johnson via split decision

Next: Demetrious Johnson

Moments after claiming the 125-pound title, Cejudo was calling for the 135-pound title shot.

It was a great move. Johnson never loved the idea of moving up in weight, and he had his reasons for that — but Cejudo immediately contrasting his position with a willingness to do so was good for business. Fans like those types of callouts.

As far as what is actually next for Cejudo, however, it’s not Dillashaw. It should be Johnson. Cejudo deserves all the credit in the world for winning that fight, but it was a split decision. And Johnson is the longest-reigning champion in UFC history. Immediate rematch is a no-brainer.


Demetrious Johnson, flyweight

Result: Lost to Henry Cejudo via split decision

Next: Henry Cejudo

It’s obvious. They are 1-1 against each other. He clearly deserves it. This last fight was close. Etc.

Really, this is the only fight for Johnson. There’s nowhere else for him to go. It’s not like he’s going to suddenly move up in weight off a loss, and there is zero sense in him facing any flyweight other than Cejudo.

If Johnson doesn’t get this rematch, he should probably sit out in protest, quite frankly. I believe he’ll get it.


Result: Defeated Cub Swanson via first-round submission

Next: Jose Aldo

Moicano wants a rematch with No. 1 contender Brian Ortega, and that should eventually happen, but Ortega has bigger food on his plate at the moment.

Aldo is coming off a sensational knockout of Jeremy Stephens on July 28. He looked like his old self in that win. Moicano is flying up the 145-pound rankings with a 5-1 record in the UFC. Feels like these two are from different generations, but Aldo is only two years older than Moicano.

This probably isn’t a matchup we would have foreseen at the beginning of the year, but the more you look at it, makes perfect sense.


Cub Swanson, featherweight

Result: Lost to Renato Moicano via first-round submission

Next: Ryan Hall

This is an out-of-left-field suggestion. I mean, waaaaaaaaay left field. But that’s kind of where Swanson is at. He’s a fan favorite and one of the classiest, most entertaining guys in the sport, but he’s now riding the worst losing streak of his career and it’s fair to wonder how much time he has left at the top.

Hall is a complex story. He hasn’t fought since late 2016. He has one of the most unique styles in the UFC, which makes him difficult to prepare for. He doesn’t have a ton of name recognition, and he has a high standard of opponents he’s willing to accept. That’s made matchmaking him a bit of a nightmare.

Swanson is at a point in his career where he wouldn’t have much to lose in a fight like this. It could get Hall back in action, finally. And I actually think it would produce a very compelling fight. Sign me up.



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