Fantasy Matchmaking Post-UFC 250

It was history in the making for 135-145 lbs champ Amanda Nunes at UFC 250
(Photo Credit: Amanda Nunes Instagram)

The conclusion of UFC 250 marks yet another successful card during the pandemic-era. It wasn’t the most star studded pay-per-view card the UFC has ever put together, but many of the results have big implications in their respective divisions. Amanda Nunes was the headliner, becoming the first champion to successfully defend two belts; however, the card served as a showcase for the bantamweight division, with the next title challenger being lined up, a former champion returning to form and a budding prospect scoring yet another emphatic knockout. All of these winners and losers will need to get back to the drawing board and find their next opponent, and for some, their next career.

Amanda Nunes def. Felicia Spencer via unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-45)

Winner: Amanda Nunes

Next Opponent: Winner of Holly Holm vs Irene Aldana

Amanda Nunes has proven once again that she is just far better than any woman above 125 pounds. The featherweight division is completely void of challengers so for her next fight she must go back to bantamweight to defend that belt. Even though she has nearly cleared out the 135 pound division, there are still fights happening and younger fighters moving up the rankings. It may be a while before she fights as her wife Nina is expecting a child in the next few months and no big fight on the horizon.

Loser: Felicia Spencer

Next Opponent: N/A??

There are only about four other fighters in the UFC’s featherweight division and Felicia has fought three of them. Sure she could fight against Norma Dumont but there really isn’t much of a point in making that fight other than keeping Spencer on the roster to earn a paycheque. She has little to no chance at winning a title fight against Nunes so there is not much reason for her to get back to the Octagon and try to earn a title shot again. 

Cody Garbrandt def. Raphael Assuncao via second-round knockout (punch)

Winner: Cody Garbrandt

Next Opponent: Marlon Moraes

Cody had about as an impressive return to form as he possibly could have. The buzzer beater walk off knockout of Assuncao will boost the former champ right back into the top 5 and one win away from the championship fight queue. Marlon Moraes has been the man left out of all of these bantamweight fights and title eliminators, now is a chance to set up him or Cody as the next guy in line after Aljamain Sterling. 

Loser: Raphael Assuncao

Next Opponent: John Dodson

This loss is surely going to send Assuncao back down the rankings, it’s his third defeat in a row and this one is by far the most devastating of the three. It’s unclear how much longer he’ll continue to fight but it does seem like he’s established himself as a gatekeeper of the top 5 of the division. He has not yet faced Dodson in his career and it’ll be a test to see if he does still belong and can still compete at the highest level. 

Aljamain Sterling def. Cory Sandhagen via first-round submission (rear naked choke)

Winner: Aljamain Sterling

Next Opponent: Winner of Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

“Aljo” made quick work of Cory Sandhagen, cementing his claim to a title shot likely this winter. The fight that will decide his next opponent is taking place July 11th on “Fight Island” and whether it’s Jose Aldo or Petr Yan who wins, “Aljo” will have his chance to win the bantamweight belt.

Loser: Cory Sandhagen

Next Opponent: Dominick Cruz or Jimmie Rivera

After such a quick loss it’s tough to take any positives going into his next fight but what is known is that Cory is a smart fighter and will be able to make adjustments and bounce back. This fight was never a must win for Cory given how young and talented he is. He’ll be back and he could return against Dominick Cruz, given Cruz is still looking to fight. A win over Cruz would boost Sandhagen’s stock and push him right back into the title conversation. But if Cruz is going to retire then Jimmie Rivera is a good opponent, who has become a bit of a gatekeeper of the bantamweight division and a win over him would put Cory back into the top 5 and one win away from a title shot.

Neil Magny def. Anthony Rocco Martin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Winner: Neil Magny

Next Opponent: Geoff Neal

Magny has been fighting in the UFC for the past 7 years and has a lot of impressive wins and performances, but any time he faces one of the elites of the division or a highly touted prospect, he comes up short. With his two recent victories over Li Jingliang and Anthony Rocco Martin, he has proven once again that he can bounce back from defeat. Now is the time to give him another hyped prospect in Geoff Neal and see if he can finally put together a performance against a top 15 fighter. 

Loser: Anthony Rocco Martin

Next Opponent: James Krause

James Krause is listed here as his next opponent but Martin could really be matched up with any Welterweight outside the top 15. Martin has never been able to break through the 15th spot and with the overall high skill level and competitiveness of the division, Martin can have a chance against a ranked opponent, but it’s unlikely he will ever be ranked.

Sean O’Malley def. Eddie Wineland via first-round knockout (punch)

Winner: Sean O’Malley

Next Opponent: Rob Font

The way Sean O’Malley has gone about picking and choosing his opponents and slowly building up and taking small steps up in competition has been nothing short of perfect. He’s very aware of the risks and rewards of any fight he signs the contract for. Many people will want to match him up with a top 10 or even top 5 fighter in the weight class but O’Malley is smarter than that, he’ll want to keep this slow build going as long as he gets out of each fight taking no damage or injuries and gets back in the octagon quickly. Rob Font is a proven top 15 fighter and another good matchup for Sean, John Dodson is another gatekeeper than Sean could realistically fight next. The calls for matching him up with Garbrandt are a little ridiculous at this stage in Sean’s career. In the next few months, Font, Dodson or even Jimmie Rivera could be the next fighter to be welcomed to the Sugar Show.

Loser: Eddie Wineland

Next Opponent: Nathaniel Wood or Retirement

Eddie has been fighting professionally for the past 17 years and after this past devastating knockout it might be time for him to give it up. Eddie is a true professional and a warrior so he could very easily want to keep going and fight another prospect like Nathaniel Wood, who’s coming off a loss in his last fight. But Eddie’s days of fighting ranked opponents are well past him. 


Alex Caceres def. Chase Hooper via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner: Alex Caceres

Next Opponent: Giga Chikadze

It’s been four years since Alex Caceres had strung two wins together. Caceres’ 22 fight UFC career has been extremely inconsistent so it’s hard to put any stock in his wins, especially when one of them is against a prospect as young and unproven as Chase Hooper. What Caceres needs next is another prospect, but this time a striker in Giga Chikadze. Giga last fought in May in Jacksonville. He should be ready to fight again soon on another one of these cards at the Apex or “Fight Island”.

Loser: Chase Hooper

Next Opponent: Spike Carlyle or Cut

This could be a fight for the fans, Spike is a fast starter and a finisher but gets himself into trouble and Chase is a durable BJJ specialist. It’s a matchup that could workout well for either guy. But in reality, Hooper might not have the skills to compete in the UFC. He’s only 20 years old and just doesn’t have the ability to fight on the feet against the fighters in his weight class. It would be smart for him to take some time on the regional scene to get more experience and find gameplans that work for his skill set. He still has a bright future in this sport, but maybe outside of the UFC for now.

Ian Heinisch def. Gerald Meerschaert via first-round TKO (punches)

Winner: Ian Heinisch

Next Opponent: Brendan Allen

This one has already been booked a few days after the card. With Heinisch getting out of the fight Saturday without even breaking a sweat he’s ready to get back in soon. This will be a tough test for both fighters as they look to make their way towards the top 10.

Loser: Gerald Meerschaert

Next Opponent: Loser of Karl Roberson vs Marvin Vettori

It’s looking more and more like Gerald Meerschaert will never see a number next to his name. His UFC career has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, he’s gotten one fight away from being ranked then lost twice by split decision and now this time he lost by stoppage. He’s still a crafty veteran and only 32 years old so he still has some years left in the fight game. That being said, Vettori and Roberson are very close to the top 15 as well and the winner of that fight has a chance of getting ranked, so it only makes sense to give Meerschaert the loser of a fight for a ranking.

Cody Stamann def. Brian Kelleher via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner: Cody Stamann

Next Opponent: Song Yadong

Now that both Cody and Song have each gotten wins after their somewhat controversial draw, now is a good time to have them rematch. Stamann’s win over Kelleher on Saturday was at 145 pounds so before Stamann can fight up in the rankings he should prove he can make the weight cut to 135 once again and perform well by avenging the draw on his record against the young Team Alpha Male prospect Song Yadong. 

Loser: Brian Kelleher

Next Opponent: Casey Kenney

It really seems like Kelleher is fighting every weekend, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up and get back in the octagon in the next few weeks. Casey Kenney fought and won over Louis Smolka on May 30th so it could be within the realm of possibility that these two could match up at the Apex in Las Vegas in the near future, granted it doesn’t take either of them too long to recover. Kelleher could realistically be matched up with just about anyone near his ranking, like Nathaniel Wood or Said Nurmagomedov. It all depends on how quickly Kelleher is offered a fight because he never seems to turn any down.

Maki Pitolo def. Charles Byrd via second-round TKO (punches)

Winner: Maki Pitolo

Next Opponent: Deron Winn

Pitolo has officially moved to 185 pounds to avoid the weight cut to 170 and after proving himself against Byrd, he’ll need to be tested with another undersized middleweight before he’s given a legit big 185er. Winn is coming off a recent loss to Gerald Meerschaert and a matchup against Pitolo could give him a chance to bounce back. And “Coconut Bombz” has a chance to prove that he belongs at middleweight. 

Loser: Charles Byrd

Next Opponent: Tom Breese or Retirement

This is the 3rd knockout loss in a row for the Dana White Contender Series alumni. Something with Byrd needs to change, he’s training with an established gym with Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas but he just can’t seem to implement a gameplan or find any success in his last three fights. Tom Breese coming off a loss makes sense as an opponent for him but with his post-fight message to followers on Facebook, it seems as though Byrd’s professional MMA career may be over.

Early Prelims

Alex Perez def. Jussier Formiga via first-round TKO (leg kicks)

Winner: Alex Perez 

Next Opponent: Kai Kara France

After convincingly beating a perennial top 5 gatekeeper in Formiga, Perez is only about one win away from getting into the title shot queue behind Brandon Moreno. And with Alexandre Pantoja set to face off with Askar Askarov in July on Fight Island, that leaves Kai Kara France waiting for an opponent. France is admittedly a step down in competition from Formiga but the top of the flyweight division is a bit locked up at the moment with the belt still vacant despite there being a title fight back in February. A case could be made for Perez to fight Moreno but with the resume and recent string of wins Moreno has had, anything but a title fight against the winner of Joseph Benavidez and Deivison Figueredo would be a travesty. 

Loser: Jussier Formiga

Next Opponent: Brandon Royval or Retirement

Formiga has fought in the UFC 16 times and has never fought for a UFC title. He’s been consistently at the top of the division but always one fight away from the very top of the contenders list. And with his recent string of three defeats, two of which by stoppage, it may be time to call it quits for Formiga. Although he’s only 35, the flyweight division is only getting younger. He could realistically go back in against Brandon Royval to try and climb up the rankings one last time. It would be a tough test for Royval. Though it might be some time before Formiga could get back into the octagon after the damage he took on Saturday.

Devin Clark def. Alonzo Menifield via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner: Devin Clark

Next Opponent: Jamahal Hill

Devin Clark has had a tough run in the UFC with a few ups and downs. I don’t think the UFC will take it easy on him for his next time out. He was able to derail Menifield’s undefeated record on Saturday and the UFC should match him up with another undefeated fighter in Jamahal Hill. Clark is now on a two-fight winning streak but his performances haven’t been very impressive. Jumping up to fight someone higher in the rankings isn’t the right move, but if he can grind out another win against an undefeated light heavyweight, he might be on his way towards the top 15. This will also be a good test for Hill’s takedown defense and cardio against a wrestler like Clark.

Loser: Alonzo Menifield

Next Opponent: Aleksa Camur

The UFC should force Menifield to prove that he can adjust and make improvements after a defeat. Too many times we have seen prospects at 205+ pounds get one loss and neve get back to being the fighters they were before the defeat. They could very well match him up with a fighter coming off a loss or a string of losses like Sam Alvey or Justin Ledet. But a fight with Camur would be a great test for the both of them and a win for either of them could propel them back up the rankings into the mix just outside the top 15.

Herbert Burns def. Evan Dunham via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)

Winner: Herbert Burns

Next Opponent: Cub Swanson

The Burns brothers are surging and gaining popularity and traction in their respective divisions during these pandemic-era cards. It may be the right time to push Herbert in with the rest of the featherweight prospects, however he’s only had two fights in the UFC and it would be too early to match him up with a prospect like Sodiq Yusuff or Arnold Allen and end either of their win streaks. A veteran with a recognizable name like Cub Swanson makes the most sense as a good test for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist. We saw BJJ expert Kron Gracie fail against Cub not too long ago. So if Burns can get past Swanson that will establish him as a legit top 15 fighter at the 145-pound division. And with Cub eyeing a return in the fall or winter and Herbert injuring his foot during the Dunham fight on Saturday, the timing should work out well for this fight to take place in a few months.

Loser: Evan Dunham

Next Opponent: N/A

It’s time to hang it up for Dunham. He already retired before this fight in 2018 after getting finished twice in a row by strikes and on Saturday he was finished once again. He’s already flirted with retirement before so it shouldn’t be hard for him to let go of the fight game at his age. 

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