UFC 194 was a momentous occasion, not only did we see Conor McGregor solidify the hype and establish himself as the undisputed featherweight champion and pound-for-pound great with one punch, but we also seen Luke Rockhold snatch the middleweight belt from Chris Weidman in dramatic fashion with what was a career defining performance. The night was all about the changing of the guard. As the dust settles and the chatter dies down it’s time to turn our eyes towards the future and see what exciting match ups we may see on our fight calendar in the coming months.
“The Notorious” has many exciting match ups in the future and it looks as if some of those may be in the lightweight division as opposed to the featherweight division where he won the belt. This Saturday, the 19th, will see Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone face off against lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Should Cerrone defeat Dos Anjos I think it’s the best match up to make for both fighters. They already have had some minor beef over social media and in interviews, it would be a welcome change to see a native English speaker having some verbal sparring with McGregor in the lead up to the fight. Their skills match up well, it would most certainly be a stand up brawl as both fighters have extensive striking backgrounds.
Rafael dos Anjos is perhaps the tougher match-up for McGregor at lightweight, his aggressive striking coupled with fantastic wrestling and jiu jitsu could pose serious problems for McGregor as we have seen him taken down to the mat against Mendes relatively easily. Dos Anjos is definitely more dangerous in that department so it would be interesting to watch their styles collide.
At featherweight we have the always impressive Frankie Edgar waiting in the wings after his one sided TKO win over Chad Mendes. Frankie is a guy who has only lost at the very top tier of the sport, his wrestling, striking speed, and footwork are a force to be reckoned with and he could very well be the guy to test Conor like no other has before. Much like Conor, Edgar has competed at lightweight, even going as far as to defeat the seemingly unstoppable (at the time) BJ Penn and taking his belt. Edgar knows big fights, and fights with composure in the face of adversity, after his first win over Penn he faced a lot of smack talk from the former champ’s camp and fought in the rematch unphased, winning even more impressively. The same could be said following his draw against Gray Maynard. I would go as far as to say “The Answer” fights better when he is motivated by smack talk.
Before we wrap up this article it’s easy to forget the stoic, silent, anti-McGregor, Joseph Duffy. “Irish” Joe is the Yin to Conor’s Yang. I’m eagerly awaiting to see how is ascension plays out. If he defeats Poirier impressively and wins against a top ten Lightweight we could very well see him fighting Conor in early 2017. The back story is already there, the hype is already there, it’s now just a question of “Can Duffy hang with the UFC’s top tier lightweights?” So far we have no reason to believe he can’t. 2016 is going to be interesting.