Matches to make for Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler other UFC 257 winners

Here are the opponents we think should be next for the winners at UFC 257.

While there were plenty of fantastic performances at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier was without a doubt the biggest winner of the night. Poirier was able to get his revenge on Conor McGregor in the main event, defeating him via second-round TKO. The co-main event saw promotional newcomer Michael Chandler confirm that the hype was indeed real after he knocked out top lightweight Dan Hooker in just 2:30. While the preliminary card was a bit uneventful with all but one fight going to decision, the main card certainly made up for it. Four out of five bouts ended via stoppage, with Joanne Calderwood grabbing the lone decision victory over Jessica Eye.

Now that the event is over and the bonuses have been handed out, let’s take a look at what’s next for the winners from Saturday’s 5-fight main card.

Potential next opponents for the UFC 257 main card winners

Dustin Poirier

Next Opponent: Charles Oliveira

Dustin Poirier couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to end his time on Fight Island than a TKO victory over Conor McGregor. Although he dropped the first round 10-9, “The Diamond” was able to push forward and land more than a few immobilizing kicks to McGregor’s lead leg. Poirier eventually landed a right hand that sat McGregor down, which was the beginning of the end as Poirier threw a few more for good measure before the referee stepped in.

Poirier looked sharp and his next fight must be for the undisputed title. It seems like a long shot that lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the Octagon anytime soon, so a match between Poirier and No. 3 contender Charles Oliveira could be scheduled for later this year. Oliveira is coming off a dominant decision victory over former interim titleholder and top contender Tony Ferguson. While Michael Chandler looked phenomenal in his UFC 257 bout vs. Dan  Hooker, Chandler still needs a victory over a top-5 lightweight in order to get a crack at UFC gold, especially this only being his first fight in the promotion. Poirier even said himself in the post-fight press conference that he doesn’t feel Chandler has earned a shot just yet, and that Oliveira has more of a claim to a title fight than Chandler.

Michael Chandler

Next Opponent: Justin Gaethje

Talk about a UFC debut. Michael Chandler absolutely obliterated Dan Hooker in half a round. When a highly-touted prospect makes their Octagon debut there’s usually some nerves and jitters, but Chandler walked out of the cage unscathed with a knockout win over the No. 6 contender in the organization. Chandler was a three-time lightweight champion in Bellator, and he looked every bit a champion at UFC 257. Hooker was on his horse and circling to his right the entire bout, but Chandler was able to time a perfect left hook that knocked Hooker down and it was essentially over from there.

While Chandler did look very impressive in his debut, he probably still needs another win to get a shot at the title, especially with Poirier basically saying he wants nothing to do with him. Chandler vs. Gaethje is a matchup that fans would get extremely excited for considering both men are power punchers that know how to defend each other’s takedowns. If Dana White wants to make Chandler vs. Poirier next for the undisputed title then so be it, but most would say Chandler needs a win in the top-5 to get a title shot.

Joanne Calderwood

Next Opponent: Lauren Murphy

Fans saw a vintage Joanne Calderwood performance on Saturday when she defeated Jessica Eye via unanimous decision on Saturday night. “Jojo” was able to throw a lot of volume Eye’s way in the form of punches, elbows, kicks and knees. Calderwood was winning a majority of the exchanges in the clinch and when Eye seemed to slow down, she kept her foot on the gas. Calderwood seems to have gotten over the Jennifer Maia upset loss and has her sights set on fighting Valentina Shevchenko sometime soon. It doesn’t seem likely that she will be next for Shevchenko, so a bout with No. 3 Lauren Murphy would be interesting. Calderwood has already fought most of the women in the top five at strawweight, with Murphy being the exception. Murphy is riding a four-fight winning streak and has only lost once at flyweight, and a fight between her and Calderwood could be a potential title eliminator.

Makhmud Muradov

Next Opponent: Zak Cummings

Makhmud Muradov had himself a performance, defeating fellow middleweight and former TUF 23 winner Andrew Sanchez via third-round TKO (punches). That’s 3 wins in the UFC and 14 a row now for Muradov, who could use a step up in competition after that bonus-winning finish. Muradov should take on a guy like Zak Cummings in his next bout. Cummings is a long-time veteran of the UFC and has wins over notable names at 185 lb. Both men share victories over Trevor Smith and Alessio Di Chirico and if Muradov can get past Cummings, a meeting with a  top-15 fighter should await him.

Marina Rodriguez

Next Opponent: Michelle Waterson

In a clash between top-10 strawweights from Brazil, Marina Rodriguez was able to secure the knockout victory in round two over Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez seemingly knocked Ribas out twice in the fight after referee Herb Dean appeared to step in to stop the action, only to let it continue until Rodriguez hurt Ribas badly for a second time. Regardless of the gaffe, Rodriguez’s hands looked incredibly sharp and powerful en route to an sizable upset win to open up the UFC 257 main card. As for what’s next for Rodriguez, a bout with Michelle Waterson makes sense considering Rodriguez was the one who stepped in for Waterson when she was forced to withdraw from the bout back in December. Waterson is currently ranked No. 7 at 115 lb and with the UFC resume Rodriguez has put together, she deserves a higher-ranked opponent.

UFC 257 took place on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, live from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.

Published at Sun, 24 Jan 2021 23:13:12 +0000

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