Living up to the billing, UFC 264 would provide a whole host of quality bouts as well as some memorable stoppage victories.
While the blockbuster PPV event would end in somewhat anti-climactic fashion, Dustin Poirier would come out victorious in his trilogy with Conor McGregor after a strong first-round for ‘The Diamond’ quickly turned sour following a nasty leg injury to McGregor.
With a break to both his tibia and fibula by his left ankle, McGregor was swiftly ruled out of a contest that in all honesty looked to be in Poirier’s total control.
Elsewhere at UFC 264, Gilbert Burns would put a stop to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s late-career title surge with a unanimous decision win, Tai Tuivasa would quickly rebound from a shaky start to land a KO blow on Greg Hardy while Sean O’Malley would open up the main card with a dominant performance over a durable short-notice opponent in Kris Moutinho.
Now with Saturday nights event in the books, and another high-ranking lightweight clash set for this upcoming weekend, here are the fights to make in the immediate aftermath of UFC 264:
Dustin Poirier vs. Charles Oliveira
There is only one fight to make for the UFC lightweight championship and it’s a fight that will pit the current two best fighters at 155 lbs against one another.
After Dustin Poirier added another win to his resume, and became the third-fastest in promotional history to 20 wins in the process (Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre quicker), ‘The Diamond’ is the clear #1 contender while Charles Oliveira is champion.
With both men in the form of their lives, their title fight could be one for the ages.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III
Despite McGregor’s assertions that his latest loss was “illegitimate”, it’s clear at this point that ‘The Notorious One’ needs to build himself back up to the elite level.
Now sidelined with rehabilitation on a broken leg, the UFC should act accordingly to McGregor’s setback and provide the Irish fighter with a much more winnable bout.
Undoubtedly the promotion will look for a big fight to try and keep McGregor’s stock high and another trilogy bout would do just that.
With McGregor and Nate Diaz tied one apiece, a third bout between the two stars would be a huge event and a suitable step down in competition.
Gilbert Burns vs. Luque / Chiesa Winner
Sticking to his clearest route to victory, Gilbert Burns would remain close to Stephen Thompson on the mat and control their contest through position-based grappling.
Rebounding nicely into the win column after a failed welterweight title bid earlier in the year, Burns will have to put together another strong winning streak before another shot at Kamaru Usman.
As for what’s next for the Brazilian, the UFC should look toward the upcoming clash between Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa and pencil in the winner for a bout with ‘Durinho’ in late 2021.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergei Pavlovich
Making it three stoppage wins in a row, Tai Tuivasa’s first-round KO of Greg Hardy should see the Australian take on a top 15 ranked opponent next time out.
With Sergei Pavlovich currently sitting in the #15 spot, a bout with ‘Bam Bam’ would make sense for both parties.
Irene Aldana vs. Ladd / Chiasson Winner
Scoring a first-round TKO win over Yana Kunitskaya, Irene Aldana showcased that she is a heavy hitter not to be trifled with on the feet.
While the fact that Aldana missed weight for the contest will likely be held against her to some degree, a title eliminator should be next for the Mexican fighter.
With Aspen Ladd set to take on Macy Chiasson later this month, a fight with Aldana would be a fresh #1 contender bout for the bantamweight division.
Sean O'Malley vs. Ricky Simon
Handily winning a fight he was expected to, Sean O’Malley picked up a third-round TKO win against the remarkably durable Kris Moutinho.
While a short-notice replacement couldn’t be avoided for O’Malley, it’s about time he faces a credible opponent at 135 lbs.
With Ricky Simon available and possessing skills that would trouble O’Malley, the UFC simply has to test O’Malley now and take off the stabilisers for his career.
Ilia Topuria vs. Alex Caceres
Ilia Topuria put another foot forward on his promising career as the Georgian – Spanish fighter put away the tricky Ryan Hall in the first round.
Now 3-0 since joining the UFC in 2020, Topuria is a high-quality prospect in the featherweight division and is ready for a ranked foe.
With Alex Caceres ranked #15 at 145 lbs, Topuria vs. Caceres would test both men at this point in their respective careers.