UFC 270 Review and Post-Fight Matchmaking

In MMA, you should always expect the unexpected. At UFC 270, that mantra rang exceptionally true with two upsets in the first two title fights of the year.

Francis Ngannou

Having recorded no victories in fights that went past the second round, Francis Ngannou surprised the masses with a unanimous decision victory over former Interim Champion Ciryl Gane. What made the result all the more unexpected was that Ngannou, who had dropped the first two rounds, relied on a grappling heavy approach in the last three rounds of the bout to secure his first ever decision victory. At 35 years of age and still adding new facets to his game, Ngannou’s future appears very promising. With his current contractual woes, we may not see Ngannou fight in the near future if at all for the promotion. If they are able to come to an agreement, the next likely challenger should be Jon Jones – the magnitude of the bout perhaps justifying an increase in pay for Ngannou. Otherwise, a trilogy bout with Stipe Miocic doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility either.

Ciryl Gane

Unbelievable. After securing the first two rounds of his bout with Ngannou, Gane began to fold under his opponent’s heavy grappling pressure. However, in the fifth and decisive round, Gane landed a takedown and found himself on top of Ngannou. Rather than ride out the round on top and most likely win the fight, Gane made the incomprehensible decision to dive on a heel hook attempt. Not only did his attempt fail, but he found himself under Ngannou for the remainder of the round and lost the fight as a result. With his skillset, Gane may soon find himself challenging for the title once again, but he’ll have to use better judgement going forward. To begin his resurgence to the top, a bout with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic makes the most sense given their rankings and their recent losses to Ngannou. However, should the UFC opt for a slower build back to the top of the division, a match opposite Chris Daukaus who just lost to Derrick Lewis by KO seems like an appropriate first step.

Deiveson Figueiredo & Brandon Moreno

Deiveson Figueiredo’s decision to train with Henry Cejudo paid off in spades. Figueiredo showed a much better gas tank in this bout compared to their last and maximized powerful shots to secure three of the five rounds and in turn become the first ever two-time UFC Flyweight Champion. Conversely, Brandon Moreno utilized a different gameplan than he did in their second meeting, opting to trade with the power puncher for much of the contest. It wasn’t until the fifth round that Moreno secured a takedown and this lack of grappling may have resulted in Figueiredo’s ability to maintain a five-round pace. The pair now stand at 1-1-1 across three bouts. With Figueiredo calling for a fourth bout in Mexico and the rest of the Flyweight division still developing, it seems quite likely that the UFC will opt for a fourth bout between the two next.

Michel Pereira

Michel Pereira may not be doing as many backflips in his fights, but his somewhat more measured approach has found him on a four-fight win streak and 5-2 overall in the promotion. Demonstrating a better use of his energy and well-rounded skills in his bout with Andre Fialho, Pereira is likely ready for a step up in competition.  Long-time veteran Tim Means, who has himself acquired a three-fight win streak fits the bill and should help determine whether Pereira is truly one to watch in the Welterweight division.

Said Nurmagomedov

Said Nurmagomedov is dangerous. The Dagestani striker exhibited hellacious offense in the form of spinning back kicks and backfists against Cody Stamann before latching onto a ninja choke to secure a victory just 47 seconds into the first round. Finishing Stamann in that fashion is quite a feather in Nurmagomedov’s cap given that Stamann had only every been stopped once prior – that being by current UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling. Stamann was likely on the fringe of the top 15, so a bout with someone within that sphere seems appropriate for Nurmagomedov. Fellow prospect Chris Gutierrez, who holds a 5-1-1 record with the promotion, seems like an appropriate pairing given his proclivity for striking duels.

Michael Morales

At just 22 years of age and with a spotless 13-0 record, Michael Morales could be destined for big things in his future. His first round TKO over a veteran in Trevin Giles was very impressive, but a slow build is likely the way to go with the talent from Ecuador. Jordan Williams has found himself against a few prospects in his UFC run and he would likely be a good next step for Morales.

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