This past Saturday at UFC 296 we saw a big time featherweight matchup kickoff the PPV main card. Former interim title challenger Josh Emmett (19-4) was looking to snap his two-fight losing streak as he took on “Thug Nasty” Bryce Mitchell (16-2).
Mitchell stepped in as a last-minute replacement after Giga Chikadze tore his groin leading up to the fight. Mitchell presented a completely different fight from a stylistic standpoint. Chikadze is an elite striker while Mitchell is one of the best grapplers in the division. It was going to be an easier fight on paper for Emmett on the feet, but Mitchell presented a ton of challenges if the fight got to the ground.
That was a big if and an if that didn’t play out inside the octagon. Throughout the first round, you could tell that Mitchell respected the power of Emmett. He didn’t rush in and chose to fight on the outside. Typically, Mitchell fights with a lot of forward pressure, but he was much more cautious and he had a reason to be.
Later in the first round, Mitchell came forward with a straight right hand. Emmett ducked under and uncorked a massive right that landed flush. Mitchell was out on impact and went crashing to the canvas. A truly scary knockout and a massive statement at UFC 296 for Josh Emmett.
What’s next after UFC 296?
This was a huge win for Emmett who was able to get back in the win column following those two tough losses to Yair Rodriguez and Ilia Topuria earlier in 2023. Now that he’s back in the win column and he did so emphatically, what should be next for the UFC’s most powerful featherweight?
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind them rebooking the Chikadze fight. If you look at the contenders ahead of or around Emmett, there aren’t a ton of great options. Chikadze and Max Holloway are the only two in the top ten who either aren’t booked or haven’t faced Emmett already. I don’t see Emmett getting a fight with Max Holloway.
With that in mind, they should just rebook the Giga fight. To me, it makes the most sense and I could see the UFC rebooking that one perhaps in a Fight Night main event.