After a historic night of fights in Madison Square Garden which saw three titles change hands without needing to go to the judges score cards, it is safe to assume that UFC 217 will go down in the record books as one of the best fight cards ever.
So what’s next for the winners and losers from the PPV portion of the card? Here’s what I would do if I was the UFC matchmaker:
Cut Johny Hendricks
I have the utmost respect for Hendricks but he’s now 1-5 in his last six fights. He got absolutely destroyed last night against Costa and was also handedly beaten by journeyman fighter Tim Boetsch in his previous bout.
This may sound harsh but it’s time to cut him. Look for Hendricks to either retire or sign with another organization such as Bellator within the next few months.
Paulo Costa vs. Uriah Hall
After destroying former champ Hendricks, Costa has established himself as one of the top middleweight prospects to look out for in 2018. While it would make sense to build the unbeaten Brazilian up slowly against lower tier middleweights, I think it would be better to fast track him a bit against someone in the top 10.
Hall is currently the No.1o ranked fighter in the division and would be an exciting challenge for the young up and coming Costa to test himself against.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson vs. Colby Covington
Thompson thoroughly picked Jorge Masvidal apart tonight and proved why he is the perennial #1 contender in the welterweight division. Unfortunately, Thompson failed in two attempts to dethrone welterweight champ Tyron Woodley and needs to rack up a few more wins in order to be granted a third opportunity.
I’d match “Wonderboy” up with rising star and Brazil’s “favorite” fighter Covington next. It looks like the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos is getting the next shot at Woodley so I think it would make sense in terms of rankings to pair No.3 against No.5 to determine who is next in line after that.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valentina Shevchenko
I don’t know how likely this is to happen but I’d like to see Joanna move up in weight to help enhance the new UFC Women’s flyweight division. She’s already held the strawweight title and beaten many of the top stars in the division.
I know she is probably going to want a rematch with Namajunas but I’d like to see her go up in weight and set her sights on capturing a title in another division. A fight between her and Shevchenko would be a battle between the two best pure strikers in women’s MMA.
UFC Women’s Strawweight Title- Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade
I had a feeling that Joanna’s trash talk would come back to bite her and sure enough it did. Not only did Namajunas finish Joanna but she forced the seemingly unbreakable champion to tap from strikes!
Namajunas is now UFC Women’s Strawweight champ and her first defense is likely to come against No. 3 ranked Andrade.
Cody Garbrandt vs. John Lineker
UFC Light Heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier said it best last night on commentary: if Garbrandt and Dillashaw fought 10 times the results may vary but last night wasn’t “No Love’s” night.
A rematch between the two is inevitable but not right away. Dillashaw is likely to challenge “Mighty Mouse” next and Garbrandt will need to work his way back into contention.
I’d pit Garbrandt up against No.5 ranked Lineker is a title eliminator in the spring of 2018.
UFC Bantamweight Title- TJ Dillashaw vs. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson
This fight HAS to happen next! Whether Dillashaw drops down to flyweight or Johnson goes up, this is the only fight to make next for either champ.
Personally, I’d rather see Johnson move up to bantamweight for this one. “Mighty Mouse” has already cleaned out the flyweight division so a return to bantamweight is a lot more intriguing at this point.
Michael Bisping vs. Chris Weidman
You have to give Bisping credit. He could have easily called it a career after last night and retired into the sunset but he still has the fire to compete. He doesn’t want to walk away on a loss and feels he still has plenty fight left in him.
I’d pair him up in a grudge match against a fellow former middleweight champ. Bisping and Weidman have exchanged words back and forth over the years so a fight between the two would only make sense.
UFC Middleweight Title- Georges St-Pierre vs. Robert Whittaker
I don’t know about you guys but I’m still at a loss for words over St-Pierre’s legendary comeback last night. I’ll be honest with you, after a 4 year lay off and competing in a heavier weight class, I gave GSP little to no chance at dethroning Bisping last night.
St-Pierre proved me and all of the other doubters wrong in a big way and solidified himself as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
The win opens up a TON of huge matchups for 2018 and beyond but before we can start talking about Woodley or even McGregor, GSP needs to defend his middleweight crown.
Whittaker is the interim champ and hungrier than ever right now to become the undisputed king. I know you guys want to see GSP vs. McGregor but this ain’t WWE! Whittaker is next.
Mitchell Ciccarelli is the owner and Chief Editor of FightPurist.com. His work has been syndicated on SI.com and FoxSports.com. He is a U.S Air Force NCO and a brand ambassador for DAS Labs/Bucked Up Supplements. Follow Mitchell on IG @Sarge_America