The UFC returned to Phoenix, Arizona for a stacked UFC 274 card where Charles Oliveira lost his lightweight title on the scale.
In the main event, Oliveira still took on Justin Gaethje but it was only ‘The Highlight’ who could win the lightweight strap. The co-main event saw Rose Namajunas looking to defend her strawweight title against Carla Esparza.
In the end, it was Oliveira winning by submission in the first round to leave the lightweight title vacant. Esparza, meanwhile, edged out a split decision in a snoozer of a fight. After UFC 274, here is what I think should be next for the four fighters involved in the two big fights.
Charles Oliveira is no longer the UFC lightweight but he still won the fight and will now be one-half of a vacant lightweight title fight next time out.
Oliveira could’ve had his second title defense but by missing weight by 0.5 pounds, he had to vacate his title. There was some controversy surrounding the scale, but it doesn’t matter now, as he is just the number one contender, and when he returns, it’s uncertain who will be next. Islam Makhachev will still fight Beneil Dariush his next time out so that leaves an opening for Conor McGregor to return to an immediate title shot. It’s a massive fight for the UFC and given it’s a vacant title with no clear-cut contender, the promotion will jump at the chance to put the Irishman in a title fight.
Justin Gaethje came up short in his second shot to become the UFC lightweight champion, and in both instances, he lost by submission.
Given the fight ended in the first, Gaethje didn’t take much damage which means he can return relatively soon. When he does a return, a rematch against Dustin Poirier makes all the sense in the world. It’s a fan-friendly fight that can headline a Fight Night card this summer as both men are coming off submission losses to Oliveira.
Carla Esparza is once again a UFC champion and did so in a lackluster fight as she landed just 30 strikes and got two takedowns.
It was not the fight many expected and Esparza’s next fight will likely happen in the fall or winter of this year and that is against the winner of Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2. Zhang and Jedrzejczyk are fan favorites and can add some hype to Esparza’s first title defense after this lackluster fight.
Rose Namajunas came up short after only landing 37 strikes and after the fight, she thought she clearly won. It was hard for anyone to determine who was winning the rounds and when Namajunas returns, a fight against Mackenzie Dern make sense as the jiu-jitsu ace is looking to work her way to a title fight.