UFC Beijing featured two heavyweight fights that had major impacts on the divisional rankings. In the main event, Francis Ngannou took on Curtis Blaydes in a highly anticipated rematch. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, veteran Alistair Overeem took on UFC newcomer Sergey Pavlovich.
Ultimately, both Overeem and Ngannou won their fights by knockout, which will surely cause both to surge up the divisional rankings. Blaydes and Pavlovich, meanwhile, will have to return to the drawing board.
Here are a few matchups we’d like to see for the heavyweight stars of UFC Beijing in the near future.
Ngannou looked like a future heavyweight champ at the end of 2017. He was knocking out everyone in his path, including Alistair Overeem, which earned him a heavyweight title shot. However, in his title shot, Ngannou was dominated by Stipe Miocic. He then lost to Derrick Lewis in one of the year’s worst fights.
Luckily, Ngannou rebounded with an impressive knockout win over Blaydes which should set him up to fight another top-ranked heavyweight.
A fight that makes sense for Ngannou at this point is the winner of Junior Dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa. Dos Santos is a former UFC heavyweight champion, and if he fights Ngannou, the winner would be right in the thick of the title shot conversation.
Meanwhile, if Tuivasa defeats dos Santos, he would also be a great opponent for Ngannou. Tuivasa is a rising heavyweight prospect who is currently undefeated. If Tuivasa can get past Dos Santos and then fight Ngannou, that fight could determine the number one contender in the heavyweight division.
Blaydes appeared to be on a fast track to a title shot. However, for the second time in his career, Ngannou beat him. If Blaydes got past Ngannou a logical fight would have been against Stipe Miocic, which could have been for the vacated belt if Daniel Cormier does indeed retire after fighting Brock Lesnar. However, things are now a little more complicated.
With his UFC Beijing loss, Blaydes will take a small tumble down the rankings, and be forced to work his way back up. A fight that makes a lot of sense to this end is against Marcin Tybura. Tybura is coming off of a win against Stefan Struve earlier this year after losses to Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum.
If the UFC books this matchup, Blaydes gets a winnable fight against Tybura and can get back on track with a win, while Tybura gets a shot to prove himself against one of the world’s very best.
Heading into his fight with Pavlovich, Overeem was on a two-fight losing streak, having recently been knocked out by Ngannou and Blaydes. While some fans thought Overeem should retire, the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion continued on with his career and got a much-needed win.
A fight that makes sense for Overeem at this stage is a matchup with Shamil Abdurakhimov. Abdurakhimov is coming off of a win against Andrei Arlovski in September and is currently ranked 12th in the division. The fight makes a lot of sense as, if Abdurakhimov gets the win, he can move up into the top-10 of the rankings and the UFC can start building him up as a potential contender. Overeem, meanwhile, can continue to fight, and with a win, could receive a legitimate contender bout as he works his way back toward a title shot. Ultimately, it seems like a win-win for both Abdurakhimov and Overeem.
The former FNG champ Pavlovich was looking to etch his name into the heavyweight rankings but fell short against Overeem. If the UFC keeps him around, which seems likely, a logical fight would be against Stefan Struve. Struve is coming off of three losses in a row against Tybura, Arlovski and Alexander Volkov. The towering Dutchman is still ranked 14th and needs to get a win to stay in the UFC. Why not match him up with Pavlovich to see who really belongs in the heavyweight rankings?
Who do you think the heavyweight stars of UFC Beijing should fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/25/2018.