ESPN’s panel of Brett Okamoto, Phil Murphy, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim breaks down the largest tales popping out of UFC 255 on Saturday night time, together with what’s subsequent for the headliners and the rise of Joaquin Buckley.
Okamoto: Who’s subsequent after UFC 255?
Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC flyweight (defeated Alex Perez by way of first-round submission)
Who needs to be subsequent: Brandon Moreno
I used to be totally onboard with Cody Garbrandt getting a right away title shot at Figueiredo earlier than he acquired injured and was pressured to tug out of UFC 255. Garbrandt is a former bantamweight champion. He is coming off a knockout win over Raphael Assuncao. And naturally the actual fact he is a star issues. I did not assume there was a ton of buzz behind a Moreno title shot, or an Alex Perez title shot. So, ebook a really engaging struggle between Figueiredo and Garbrandt, and have Moreno and Perez battle it out for the subsequent shot. That was the unique plan, and I assumed it was a very good plan.
However plans change. Saturday become a flyweight showcase. And with Moreno delivering a spectacular performance in opposition to Brandon Royval — and Garbrandt nonetheless coping with well being points in the intervening time — he needs to be subsequent. Figueiredo agrees. After his win on Saturday, he had a message for UFC president Dana White. “I wish to face Brandon Moreno. Dana, make this occur. That is the struggle that I wish to occur.” White stated he is on board and the plan is to ebook that struggle for December.
Wild card: Cody Garbrandt
If the UFC opts to go together with its unique plan, and re-books Garbrandt, I will not be outraged. I now not assume it is the easiest way to go, however Garbrandt shifting to 125 is a giant storyline and I will not complain about seeing it.
.@Daico_Deiveson has the potential to be a draw. There’s new blood on the rise at flyweight in addition to potential fights with No Love and Cejudo. Any of those fights can be very enjoyable to look at. This division was on the point of extinction and now its gaining the steam it deserves.
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) November 22, 2020
Valentina Shevchenko, UFC flyweight (defeated Jennifer Maia by unanimous resolution)
Who needs to be subsequent: Jessica Andrade
Andrade solely has one win at 125 kilos within the UFC (a knockout of Katlyn Chookagian final month), however I’ve no drawback elevating her to a right away title shot. She’s a former strawweight champion, and admittedly, she’s most likely (lastly) in her greatest weight class. She began off within the UFC at 135 kilos, after which dropped all the best way to 115 as a result of there was no 125-pound division. I imagine, whether or not she wins a title right here or not, that is her house for the foreseeable future. And she or he’s the best risk to dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Wild card: Lauren Murphy
With Cynthia Calvillo‘s loss to Chookagian on Saturday, Murphy turns into the highest-ranked choice to face Shevchenko if it is not Andrade. However I feel we’re all just about assuming it is going to be Andrade, proper? Effectively, within the occasion it is not, Murphy can sneak in there and he or she’s constructed the successful streak to justify it. However my guess is Murphy will want another win to get her shot at gold.
Desensitized by Shevchenko’s dominance
Valentina Shevchenko overcomes an early push from Jennifer Maia, however dominates the later rounds within the co-main occasion at UFC 255.
Murphy: The closest prefight odds in any of Valentina Shevchenko’s 4 title defenses have been -1250 in opposition to Katlyn Chookagian. Jennifer Maia garnered reward Saturday night time in what was, in fact, a reasonably comfy win for the champion. Shevchenko has reached a degree of dominance that makes any resistance really feel extra aggressive than it really is. Maia opened some eyes within the second spherical, definitely. However there was a postfight narrative that she uncovered a weak spot in Shevchenko’s sport for future opponents to take advantage of. That is overstating a powerful stanza from the challenger.
Shevchenko punctuated the struggle emphatically, pulling away during the last two rounds. Little doubt remained who gained and even by what margin. It was as clear a 49-46 as judges might need. There’s been an analogous challenger bias with all-time greats like Demetrious Johnson and Georges St-Pierre, through which the expectation is to outclass each opponent at each flip. Aggressive rounds, and definitely these misplaced, stick within the reminiscence greater than the lion’s share that affirms a champ’s superiority.
Shevchenko was marvelous and well-rounded once more. She’s not bulletproof. However she does not must string collectively many extra flyweight defenses, particularly surveying the present crop of challengers throughout the division.
Joaquin Buckley is not any one-hit surprise
Contemporary off his viral knockout in October, Joaquin Buckley finishes Jordan Wright of their prelim bout at UFC 255.
Raimondi: Buckley uncorked one of many craziest knockouts of all time, a spinning again kick KO of Impa Kasanganay final month. What made it so insane was the setup. Kasanganay caught a Buckley kick, then Buckley used the leverage from Kasangany’s personal grip to spin and kick him within the face with the opposite leg. It nearly defied physics. Kasanganay was out on contact. Buckley’s TKO win at UFC 255 was a bit extra conventional — he mashed Jordan Wright with an enormous punching mixture. Wright’s eyes rolled again in his head — the identical method Kasanganay’s did — on impression.
Regardless of the stress of making an attempt to high probably the most considered knockout ever on UFC social media, Buckley nonetheless put forth a highlight-reel end. He has all types of energy and has the makings of a future star within the UFC. Buckley continues to be solely 26 years previous and he isn’t a full-time fighter. His job as an assistant supervisor at Walgreen’s has precluded him from touring from his native St. Louis to Michigan to coach at budding camp Murcielago MMA. He did practice there previous to this bout and it appeared to make a distinction. Buckley is multiple to look at, he is a must-watch.
At this level, it will be clever for the UFC to match him rigorously, like an up-and-coming prospect. Persons are going to expect Buckley fights to be standup wars with spectacular finishes. Somebody like Punahele Soriano would match the invoice properly. However it will be a mistake to push Buckley up the cardboard too rapidly. In any case, he has already been knocked out by Kevin Holland.
Buckley referred to as out James Krause after the struggle, though Krause fights at welterweight. Krause has been vital of Buckley not too long ago and it didn’t go unnoticed.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 22, 2020
Marc Ratner is invaluable to the UFC
Wagenheim: Each single time I have been at cageside for a UFC occasion, the night time has not handed with out a between-fights go to from Marc Ratner. He’d stroll over to press row and change pleasantries, not as a part of some skilled networking technique however with a congeniality and care that have been wholly real. He actually did wish to know the way you have been doing. He’d smile extensively as you complimented his scarf — there was at all times a sublime one draped round his neck. The person has model and oh a lot substance.
However my private affinity for him apart, I used to be excited to listen to the announcement that Ratner, the UFC’s vp of regulatory affairs, can be inducted into the promotion’s Corridor of Fame as a result of he’s a most deserving honoree. No matter you consider the Corridor, which has no unbiased voting panel and is basically extra akin to a sports activities franchise’s ring of honor, Ratner warrants particular recognition for his invaluable contribution to the expansion of the UFC and MMA normally. When he joined the promotion in 2006, MMA was nonetheless unlawful in a number of states. It took Ratner 10 years to chip away, state after state, earlier than New York grew to become the ultimate holdout to legalize the game in 2016. This was important to MMA’s development from fringe spectacle into the sports activities mainstream, and Ratner spearheaded the trouble.
The UFC Corridor of Fame won’t be Ratner’s first enshrinement. After spending 14 years as govt director of the Nevada State Athletic Fee, regulating lots of the nice boxing matches of the period, Ratner was inducted into the Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame and likewise was a part of the primary class of inductees into the Nevada Boxing Corridor of Fame. Now he’s being acknowledged as soon as once more, and it’s a well-deserved honor for a very good man.