The UFC had its first card on big ESPN last night. In the co-main event of the evening, we witnessed a battle between two top lightweights in James Vick and Paul Felder. In the main event, meanwhile, Cain Velasquez made his long awaited return to the Octagon to take on Francis Ngannou.
Ultimately, Felder defeated Vick by unanimous decision which should put a number beside his name, while Ngannou beat Velasquez in just 26 seconds by TKO to cap off a crazy night of fights.
Here is what we think should be next for those four fighters.
Ngannou had a tough 2018, which saw him lose a heavyweight title fight with Stipe Miocic and then a slow fight with Derrick Lewis. However, Ngannou then bounced back and knocked out Curtis Blaydes in under a minute to set up this fight against Velasquez.
Now, with two quick finishes behind him, Ngannou is back up near the top of the heavyweight rankings. With that, a fight that makes sense for him is a title fight with Daniel Cormier. Cormier has been chasing a fight with Brock Lesnar, but with Lesnar’s future uncertain, it makes sense for Cormier to try and avenge his longtime friend and training partner Velasquez against Ngannou.
After two and a half years away, Cain Velasquez returned in hopes of reasserting himself as a top heavyweight contender. However, Francis Ngannou caught him with an uppercut, and it appeared Velasquez injured his knee in the subsequent moments.
Now, the question remains of whether or not Velasquez will fight again. If he does fight again, a fight that makes sense one with Curtis Blaydes, no matter the outcome of his upcoming fight with Justin Willis.
Felder executed a great game plan to beat Vick. With the win, he will most likely be ranked 10th in the division, which sets up a fight against the winner of Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje’s upcoming fight. This is what Felder called for after the fight, and frankly, this fight makes perfect sense, as whoever comes out on top is a legitimate top-five lightweight.
Vick has now suffered two losses in a row at the hands of Gaethje and now Felder. He will probably now be out of the top-10, but should still have a ranking next to his name as he looks ahead to his next fight. A fight that makes sense is taking on Alexander Hernandez as the two are coming off losses and both need a win to get back in the top-10 and start their climb to the top again.
What do you think should be next for these four fighters?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/18/2019.