After successful title defense at UFC 266, what’s next for Alexander Volkanovski?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 266, Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) defended his featherweight title against Brian Ortega (15-2, 1 NC). Ortega was getting his second crack at UFC gold while Volkanovski was trying to defend for the second time.

When this fight was first announced, I really liked Ortega’s chances. The Brian Ortega that fought Chan Sung Jung last year looked like he could be the guy to take out Volkanovski. Or, so I thought.

Volkanovski has had an interesting run so for as UFC champion. He did the unthinkable when he defeated Max Holloway (22-6) to win the title. Then he barely edged out Holloway in the second fight to retain.

However, the split decision nature of the second fight has casted some doubts regarding his status as UFC champion. Well, Saturday night he did a pretty damn good job of silencing those who casted doubt.

From the opening bell, Volkanovski controlled the fight. Sensational feints and pinpoint striking had Ortega flustered throughout the fight. However, there was one moment where the fight almost went to Ortega.

Ortega locked in a mounted guillotine in the third round. It was so deep that I was tapping from my chair at home. However, the UFC champion gutted it out and survived. Ultimately, he won a lopsided unanimous decision.

What’s next after UFC 266?

Volkanovski now finds himself in an interesting spot after UFC 266. To me, the clear option for his next opponent is the trilogy with Max Holloway. However, Holloway has a fight with Yair Rodriguez in November so there’s likely going to be a layoff for the champ.

Nobody is expecting Holloway to have troubles with Yair Rodriguez so I think the plan is already in place for the UFC to do the trilogy. However, there could be an outside the box idea that could get considered.

Henry Cejudo (16-2) continues to tease a comeback. The former two-division UFC champion and Olympic Gold Medalist retired last year after defending his bantamweight crown. He’s talked about his desire to capture a belt in three weight classes which has never been done.

I do not expect the UFC to go in this direction, but I wouldn’t dismiss it either. If Volkanovski wants to fight relatively close to the beginning of the year, they might have to go a different direction than Holloway. That direction could be the King of Cringe.

Henry Cejudo teases UFC comeback on ESPN

UFC, Henry Cejudo

Is the King of Cringe coming back to the UFC? Former Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division world champion, Henry Cejudo (16-2), is once again teasing a return to the octagon. This time, he teased the news on ESPN.

Cejudo appeared on ESPN’s SportsNation this morning where he talked about the bantamweight division. Of course, a lot of the conversation centered around UFC 259. The event’s bantamweight title match ended in controversy with Aljamain Sterling (20-3) becoming champion by disqualification.

Petr Yan (15-2) looked like he was well on his way to retaining his bantamweight title. However, with 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush. The problem was that Sterling’s knee was still on the ground so the strike was illegal.

Sterling was unable to continue and ultimately he walked away as the new UFC bantamweight champion. The promotion has come out and said that the rematch will happen as soon as possible. 

Cejudo acknowledged that he believes the UFC will do the rematch with Yan and Sterling next. However, Cejudo then said that he would like to line up both Yan and Sterling and beat them both. He signed off the interview by saying, “Triple C’s coming back, what’s up!”

UFC return for Henry Cejudo?

The last time we saw Henry Cejudo was back at UFC 249 when he finished Dominick Cruz in the second round. It was the first successful title defense of his bantamweight title. After the fight was over, Cejudo announced that he was walking away from the sport on top.

Cejudo has a case for the most decorated combat sports athlete in history. He’s a two-division UFC champion and he won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. He’s also only 34 years old which means he has plenty of career left if he wants to come back.

From 2018 – 2020, it’s hard to put on a run like Henry Cejudo did. First, he defeated Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC’s flyweight champion. Then, he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in seconds when Dillashaw was trying to become a two-division champion.

From there, he stopped both Marlon Moraes to win and Dominick Cruz to defend the UFC bantamweight championship. It was truly something special and it was enough where Cejudo felt comfortable walking away.

However, Cejudo has constantly been teasing a return. The UFC’s bantamweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Throwing back in Henry Cejudo could make things even more interesting. This will definitely be something to watch.

Ryan Garcia plans to retire from boxing at 26 then potentially move to the UFC

Could one of boxing’s brightest and younger stars be bound for the UFC? One of the most popular figures in boxing right now is WBC interim lightweight champion, Ryan Garcia (21-0). Garcia in a way is like the modern day Oscar De La Hoya.

He’s got the look and he’s got the skill to become a superstar. His skills in the boxing ring have led him to the interim WBC lightweight championship and a 21-0 record before he’s even turned 23 years old.

The plan has been in place for Garcia to lead the boxing world for years to come. However, Garcia has different plans. In fact, he’s not planning on sticking around in boxing very long.

Garcia was on the Rich Eisen Show this week and he talked about his desire to walk away from boxing at 26. He wants to retire undefeated and only fight if people truly believe he can’t win. Once he conquers all boxing challengers, he only sees one arena where people would doubt him.

That arena would be the UFC. Garcia mentioned a possible transition to MMA saying, “Say at 26 I retire and boxing is all good, right? You know what I’ll do? I’ll go prove to them (doubters) that I’m the best fighter all-around in the world. I will go to MMA to prove a point.”

Ryan Garcia to the UFC

It is worth nothing that Garcia has had some back and forth with former two-division UFC champion, Henry Cejudo (16-2). Granted, the talks centered around Cejudo potentially going to boxing to face Garcia.

I completely understand where Ryan Garcia is coming from. He wants to prove that no matter what the discipline is, he’s the best fighter in the world. However, that’s much easier said than done.

The reality is, nobody in the UFC’s bantamweight division could throw hands with Ryan Garcia. In pure boxing, he’s going to light up anyone in that division. We’re talking about one of the best boxers in the world here.

However, there is so much more to this than just your hands. Garcia would be young enough to really focus on MMA training if he wanted to make that transition, but it would take a long time to really learn.

He would have to learn how to defend/check kicks. Garcia would have to learn how to stop a takedown. Garcia would have to learn how to get out of submissions. He would have to learn how to get out of clinch positions along the fence.

In my opinion, the transition is so much easier for wrestler/grappler based athletes than pure strikers. For example, take Dillon Danis (2-0). Danis was purely a jiu jitsu competitor before transitioning to MMA.

It’s easier for an elite grappler to learn the skills of striking versus a striker learning all the other aspects. Garcia is an elite boxing. However, he’s extremely flat-footed when he boxes.

Think about some of the elite fighters in the UFC. They’d either light up his legs with kicks or take him straight to the ground and without being light on his feet, he’d have no answer. Garcia is young enough to learn the arts and make the jump, but it’s a lot more difficult than he’s making it sound.

UFC: If Henry Cejudo returns in 2021, who will he fight?

UFC, Henry Cejudo

At UFC 249 in May of last year, Henry Cejudo (16-2) successfully defended his bantamweight title when he stopped Dominick Cruz (22-3). The fight capped off an incredible three-year run for Cejudo.

Cejudo lost a split decision to Joseph Benavidez (28-7) in December of 2016. However, after that loss, Cejudo would not lose again in the UFC. He climbed to the top of the flyweight division where he was the first flyweight to defeat Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1).

From there, he defeated TJ Dillashaw (16-4) before moving up to bantamweight. At bantamweight he stopped Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) to capture the title before of course stopping Cruz at UFC 249.

After the fight was over, Cejudo said that he was walking away on top. At just 33 years old, Cejudo seemed comfortable with his decision to retire. However, he’s been constantly active on social media over the last few months.

Cejudo doesn’t talk like someone who’s fought his last fight in the UFC. He’s hinted at returning to the octagon at some point and perhaps 2021 is the year. So if Cejudo does return, who should he fight?

Who would the UFC pair him with?

The fight that Cejudo really wants is a fight with the UFC’s featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Fighting Volkanovski would give Cejudo the chance to do something truly remarkable.

Cejudo is already an Olympic Gold Medalist and a two-division UFC champion. However, if he were to fight and defeat Volkanovski, he would become the first fighter in the promotion’s history to have held a title in three divisions.

However, given the landscape of featherweight, I think this is unlikely. Volkanovski has a big challenge in front of him in Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). After Ortega, there is a plethora of top contenders waiting.

I can’t imagine the UFC giving Cejudo that fight because I don’t think he would commit to defending that title. I believe if he moved up for that fight it would be a one and done type of situation.

Now, if Volkanovski clears out the division over the next year or two, then I could see the UFC doing it. However, that division is too fluid right now to have a one and done type of title fight.

The same situation could be said about bantamweight. Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3) are getting ready to fight for that title. Bantamweight is one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC. I can’t see them letting Cejudo hold up the division.

Return to flyweight or a catchweight?

Of course that leaves flyweight and Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). To me, this is the most likely fight as things currently stand. Figueiredo is set to have a rematch with Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) followed by a fight with Cody Garbrandt (12-3) should he beat Moreno.

If Figueiredo wins both of those fights, I could see the UFC pairing him up against Cejudo in a one-off fight. It would be a massive fight for Figueiredo who the UFC is putting a lot of stock into. They’ve already had some fun back and forth which could fuel the potential fight.

As you can see, there are a number of options across three divisions. If Cejudo commits to coming back and competing more than once, any of the divisions are a possibility. However, if it’s just a one-time deal it will likely be against the flyweight champion of the world.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021

One of the divisions that has really flipped in 2020 is the UFC‘s bantamweight division. I’m not sure anyone saw the division going the way that it did when the year started. Granted, I don’t think anything about 2020 went as planned.

When the year started, Henry Cejudo (16-2) was the reigning UFC bantamweight king. He was angling for a fight with former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7), after Aldo lost by split decision to Marlon Moraes.

Cejudo and the UFC brass felt that Aldo won the fight. The two men were scheduled to fight in May. However, after the pandemic hit, Aldo was not able to travel for UFC 249 to take on Cejudo.

That’s when former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (22-3), stepped to the plate. Cruz had been out since 2016, but in that fight he lost his world title. The two men met at UFC 249.

That night, Cejudo finished Cruz in the second round then retired after the fight. The promotion decided to give Aldo a title shot after he was promised one and paired him against top contender, Petr Yan (16-1) for the vacant title.

At UFC 251 on Fight Island, Yan and Aldo met for the bantamweight championship. Aldo had some good moments early, however, Yan took over late. Ultimately, Yan finished Aldo in the fifth round to become bantamweight champion.

UFC’s Bantamweight Division in 2021

We already know the first title fight, we just don’t know when. Yan was supposed to defend his title against Aljamain Sterling (19-3) at UFC 256. However, Yan had to pull out for undisclosed reasons. That fight is supposed to be setup early in 2021.

An interesting wrinkle in the division is the return of former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw never lost his UFC title in the ring, but his suspension forced him to be stripped of the 135 pound title.

Dillashaw’s two-year suspension is up in January and he’s looking to get right back in the mix. Jose Aldo is one of the men that wants a shot at Dillashaw. Aldo is coming off of a big win against Chito Vera at UFC Vegas 17. 

The two former UFC champions could make for a very compelling matchup. Another key matchup early in the year is the matchup between Cory Sandhagen (13-2) and former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1).

That matchup on February 6th might be a title eliminator. Rob Font (18-4) might be the one contender to watch in 2021. Font just knocked out Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17. His hands looked incredibly crisp and he’s busted into the top five at bantamweight.

The UFC‘s bantamweight division is absolutely stacked. I didn’t even mention the matchup between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera that’s booked on January 20th. So many incredible matchups in that division.

Petr Yan looks like a world-beater. However, his division is full of guys who are waiting to take away that crown. So many interesting storylines and potential matchups surround the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021.

Will we see Henry Cejudo return to the UFC in 2021?

UFC, Henry Cejudo

One of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC walked away from the sport in his prime in 2020. That fighter would be the former two-division world champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, Henry Cejudo (16-2).

We last saw Henry Cejudo compete at UFC 249 where he defended his bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz. Cejudo executed a perfect game plan that night and went on to finish Cruz in the second round to retain his title.

After the fight was over, Cejudo was interviewed by Joe Rogan inside the octagon. It was at that moment where the two-division UFC champion announced that he would be walking away from the sport at 33 years old.

It was a shocking announcement for most considering Cejudo’s stature in the sport. Cejudo had just capped off a four-fight run where he defeated Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, and Dominick Cruz in UFC title fights.

“Triple C” appeared to be just starting out his reign of dominance as he decided to walk away. However, it wasn’t the first time Cejudo walked away on top. He also walked away from wrestling after winning his gold medal.

Yet, there has been rumblings about Cejudo’s desire to compete in the UFC again. Cejudo has stayed extremely active online calling fighters out and expressing his desire to fight. Most recently, Cejudo posted a music video talking about it being his next walkout song. 

Will Cejudo return to the UFC?

Earlier this year, Cejudo appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience where he said he would love to come out of retirement if the fight was right. The one fight he said he wanted was Alexander Volkanovski.

The UFC‘s featherweight champion is tentatively scheduled to defend his title against Brian Ortega in Q1 2021. However, Cejudo talked about his desire to capture a title in a third weight class which has never been done in the UFC.

In my personal opinion, I think there’s too many opportunities inside the cage for Cejudo to stay away. This upcoming year Cejudo will just be turning 34 years old. There are many fights that could bring the former champion out of retirement.

A featherweight title fight could bring him out but also a fight with UFC flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, could bring him out of retirement. I would put the odds at 50/50 that we see Cejudo in 2021. The odds are even higher for seeing him to return to the UFC at some point.

UFC: What happened to Marlon Moraes?

At UFC 238, Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) entered the cage as the betting favorite to capture the vacant bantamweight championship. Standing in his way was the promotion’s flyweight champion of the world, Henry Cejudo.

Entering UFC 238, Moraes had gone 17-1 in his previous eighteen fights. The lone loss was a split decision to Raphael Assuncao which Moraes emphatically avenged when he stopped Assuncao in the first round of their rematch.

Moraes had finished his previous three UFC fights in the first round and many believed he would be too much for Cejudo. In the first round, Moraes was really dominating the fight on the feet. He brutalized Cejudo with low kicks and kicks to the body.

Cejudo looked like he was going to be overwhelmed by Moraes. However, he wasn’t going to go away easily. The first half of the second round looked the same with Moraes dominating the striking. However, momentum started to switch.

You could almost see Moraes starting to break at UFC 238 after Cejudo refused to fall to his attacks. In the third round, Moraes looked like a broken fighter and Cejudo went on to finish him in the third.

Since that loss, Moraes has not looked like the same fighter in the UFC. He defeated Jose Aldo last December by split decision, but the vast majority of people believe that Moraes lost the fight.

Rough 2020 for the UFC’s Magic Man

Entering 2020, Moraes had a lot to prove inside the octagon. Cejudo completely broke him at UFC 238 and many thought Aldo won their fight. Aldo was actually awarded the title shot over Moraes despite Moraes technically winning their fight.

After being out the first part of the year, Moraes got his first UFC contest of 2020 in October against Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen was coming off of an embarrassing loss and many believed that this was a good fight for Moraes to get back on track with.

However, that didn’t happen at all. Sandhagen went on to finish Moraes in the second round of their fight. Frustrated with another loss, Moraes wanted a quick turnaround. The UFC game him Rob Font at UFC Vegas 17.

Font has really good boxing, but the grappling and kicking advantage would go to Moraes. For those reasons, I believed Moraes would win the fight. However, what transpired was another loss for Moraes.

Moraes started out strong, however, it was clear that he didn’t want to stand with Font. After taking him down early in the first round, Moraes was forced to stand after Font worked his way back up. It didn’t take long for Font to knock him out once on the feet.

In the eyes of many, Moraes has lost four fights in a row starting with the Cejudo loss. I personally think that Moraes needs to take some time to really evaluate where he’s at in his career and how can proceed forward.

He’s gone from being the UFC‘s magic man to truly everyone knowing his tricks. I still believe he has a lot of talent, but if he suffers another loss, he could be on the chopping block.

TJ Dillashaw’s UFC return is upon us

The former two time UFC bantamweight champion is getting ready to make his return to the octagon. In about three months, the suspension will be lifted from TJ Dillashaw (16-4) and he will once again be allowed to compete in the UFC.

A couple of years ago, Dillashaw was riding an incredible wave in the UFC. He had regained his bantamweight title by knocking out Cody Garbrandt, then he knocked Garbrandt out again in the rematch that took place at UFC 227.

Following that, Dillashaw attempted to do something that only Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Amanda Nunes had done. Dillashaw wanted to become a two division champion and hold both belts at the same time.

Dillashaw’s task was to take out the UFC‘s flyweight king, Henry Cejudo. TJ Dillashaw appeared to nearly kill himself making the flyweight limit, but he successfully made it and the fight was on. However, the fight ended in just 32 seconds after Cejudo connected with a shot and put Dillashaw down.

Dillashaw protested the stoppage and wanted to run things back. The UFC seemed interested in the rematch as well. Then out of no where, Dillashaw announced that he was relinquishing his bantamweight title due to a positive drug test.

Long road back to UFC glory

Later, it came out that Dillashaw had popped for EPO. A performance enhancing drug that specifically aides in your energy levels. Dillashaw said he was struggling to maintain energy while trying to cut down to the flyweight limit. Dillashaw was suspended for two years.

Since then, Dillashaw has used the time away from the UFC to get his body right. He had a couple of shoulder surgeries to repair some damage that had been lingering for some time. Now, he feels like he is better than ever ahead of next UFC run.

There are going to be a lot of questions surrounding Dillashaw. There is also going to be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. If he can come back, test clean, and win the UFC title once again, it will be a big statement to the level of fighter that Dillashaw is.

However, if he can never return to his past form, people will always wonder if it was just the PEDs that aided Dillashaw. Granted, he never had failed a test, but popping for EPO after rumors had circulated for some time about Dillashaw isn’t a good look. Dillashaw is expected to return in early 2021 to the UFC.

What’s next for Marlon Moraes after UFC Fight Island 5 Loss?

Last night was another rough night at the office for “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-7-1). UFC Fight Island 5 was supposed to be a bounce back fight for Moraes despite a win in his last outing that came against Jose Aldo at UFC 245.

While Moraes walked away with his hand raised that night, most people thought he lost the fight. Prior to that loss, Moraes challenged for the UFC bantamweight championship against Henry Cejudo back at UFC 238.

In the first round of that fight, Moraes looked like the dangerous contender everyone thought he was. Devastating kicks and combinations flustered Cejudo. However, Cejudo wouldn’t go away. Eventually, Moraes tired, and Cejudo went on to break and finish Moraes in the third round.

Cory Sandhagen (12-2) is a tough matchup for anyone. He was actually the betting favorite last night, but I thought it was going to be a good night for Moraes. I thought his crisp striking would be enough to carry him to a victory.

However, UFC Fight Island 5 proved to be another bump in the road for Moraes. He struggled to land anything against the longer Sandhagen. In the second round, he was caught with a spinning kick and was finished on the ground seconds later for his second loss in three fights.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 5?

In the eyes of many, Moraes is a fighter who has lost three fights in a row. Granted, the fights were to Cejudo, Aldo, and Sandhagen who are all either former champions or a top contender. Still, three bad performances in a row for Moraes.

The UFC is in an interesting position when it comes to Magic Marlon. Entering last night, he was the number one ranked bantamweight in the UFC‘s rankings. However, I’m expecting a big drop after the performance he had last night.

In looking at the rankings, I think a good next fight for Marlon would be a matchup between him and Pedro Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC). Munhoz is ranked sixth in the rankings currently, but he is also on a two fight losing streak.

To me, it’s perfect match making to pair the two of these top contenders up. One of them is bound to right the ship, while the other will continue to sink. Both of these top contenders could be looking at a sink or swim next fight in the UFC.

UFC: Henry Cejudo Says Sean O’Malley Isn’t Built To Last

Sean O'Malley

For many fighters in the UFC, receiving their first loss after an undefeated career start brings them back down to Earth a bit. And Sean O’Malley, one of the most promising fighters in the organization’s ranks, received his first career loss in August when he was defeated by Marlon Vera. Not only that, but O’Malley will have time to think about his current situation as he sits out injured.

It’s a tough time for O’Malley. It’s a crossroads moment where he may either come back better or slide further. But former UFC champion Henry Cejudo doesn’t seem to have much faith in the young star. According to him, O’Malley overrates himself a bit.

Sean O’Malley not built to last?

Sean O’Malley can dish out pain but not take it. At least, that’s what Henry Cejudo implied when he gave his take on the Real Quick with Mike Swick podcast. That’s not to say that Cejudo is a hater. He claimed to have a lot of friends in common with O’Malley, and sent him advice before his fight with Vera.

“I’ll be honest with you, I actually like the kid. In some way I’m hating on him, in some way I like him. I’m weird like that. I wish the kid the best, but I also think that he thinks he’s better than what he really is. Even though he’s got the gifts, he’s got great distance, great demeanor, great fakes. Watching those like very subtle. I look at all these minor little details but he hasn’t been built to freaking last,” Cejudo said.

He continued by saying that O’Malley hasn’t been through a war yet, at this point in his career.

“You can give the pain but can you take the pain? That’s the difference between somebody like Sean O’Malley and me. Does he have better striking than me? Probably because of his length and his range, makes him a little dangerous. But you’ve just got to be the full package.”

Being a former champion in two divisions, Cejudo knows a bit about what it takes to win a belt. But his advice isn’t just some quick tips that O’Malley can apply. Rather, he blamed a lot of the problem on inexperience. The only way to solve that is for O’Malley to fight more.

That won’t be for a bit, thanks to the new injury for O’Malley. How he responds when he comes back, though, may just alter the path of his career.