Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Jorge Masvidal and UFC 244’s key winning fighters?

NEW YORK – After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next.

With another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 244’s key winning fighters.

Those included Jorge Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC), who defeated Nate Diaz (20-12 MMA, 15-10 UFC) by third-round TKO to win the “BMF” title in the main event at Madison Square Garden in New York, as well as Darren Till (18-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC), Stephen Thompson (15-4-1 MMA, 10-4-1 UFC), Derrick Lewis (22-7 MMA, 13-5 UFC), Kevin Lee (18-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC), Corey Anderson (13-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Katlyn Chookagian (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC).

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Katlyn Chookagian

Should fight: Valentina Shevchenko

Why they should fight: In what was seemingly a title eliminator in the women’s flyweight division, Chookagian got her hand raised against Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision in a relatively uneventful affair.

The win was most important, though, because each one of them counts in a thin 125-pound division. Chookagian vs. champion Shevchenko (18-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) isn’t a fight people will be rushing to the box office to throw down their cash for, but it’s a serviceable fight given the state of the weight class.

Chookagian believes she has the balanced striking attack and grappling skills to give Shevchenko problems. Many will disagree, but she might be given the chance to prove her worth.

Edmen Shahbazyan

Should fight: Derek Brunson

Why they should fight: Shahbazyan proved just how legit he is when he did something current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya couldn’t do: stop Brad Tavares inside the distance.

Not only did Shahbazyan put Tavares away, but he obliterated the Hawaiian inside one round, finishing the job with a crushing head kick. He declared in his post-fight interview that he’s the “new contender” at 185 pounds, and with an undefeated record at just 21, he might very well be right.

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Shahbazyan without question deserves an upper-tier name in the division, and Brunson (20-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC) would certainly be a good test. Brunson has faced many of the best fighters the weight class has to offer, and if Shahbazyan could put on a similar performance as he did against Tavares, he’d instantly be shot toward the top of the weight class.

Corey Anderson

Should fight: Jon Jones

Why they should fight: A title shot could finally be on the horizon for Anderson after his surprisingly quick TKO of Johnny Walker to move his winning streak to four.

At this point the next fight for light heavyweight champ Jones (25-1 MMA, 19-1 UFC) appears to be a two-horse race between Anderson and Dominick Reyes. The resume of Anderson is better, but there’s definitely an appeal around Reyes’ undefeated record.

Anderson said post-fight that he wanted to be released from the UFC if he doesn’t get the opportunity to fight for the belt next. With his newly profane demeanor, the promotion should oblige to his demands.

Kevin Lee

Should fight: Islam Makhachev

Why they should fight: Lee announced his arrival back to the lightweight division in the most devastating of fashions when he took away Gregor Gillespie’s undefeated record with an all-time head kick knockout in the first round.

It was just the third finish via strikes of Lee’s career, but by far the most impressive, especially given the hype around Gillespie coming into the bout. Now that hype is back around Lee, who despite having a storied UFC career already, is still just 27 and has good time ahead of him in the sport.

Lee doesn’t want to take any easy fights as he tries to climb to the top of the lightweight division, and there’s many hard ones out there. One name who called Lee out after the knockout was Makhachev (18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC), who has been doing impressive things in his own right.

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Both men have wanted the matchup in the past. Now it’s time to make it happen for them.

Derrick Lewis

Should fight: Alistair Overeem

Why they should fight: After a much-needed break from competition to get knee surgery, Lewis came back to the octagon to get a quality split decision win over Blagoy Ivanov, who took an ungodly amount of punishment from “The Black Beast” over three rounds.

The win snapped a two-fight skid for Lewis and served as a reminder he’s still a player at heavyweight. He could push that point home even further, though, if he decides to make a quick turnaround against Overeem (45-17 MMA, 10-6 UFC) next month.

Overeem is currently without an opponent for the UFC on ESPN 7 headliner next month in Washington after Walt Harris dropped out of the fight due to the continued search for his missing stepdaughter. There’s not a ton of good options for replacements, but Lewis has now positioned himself as a candidate. It’s just a matter of whether he’s willing to make the quick turnaround to save the day.

Stephen Thompson

Should fight: Demian Maia

Why they should fight: Thompson proved that at 37, he still has a lot left in the tank when he ended Vicente Luque’s winning streak with an exciting unanimous decision win in the “Fight of the Night.”

There was legitimate questions about where “Wonderboy” stood in his career after losing by knockout for the first time in his career against Anthony Pettis in March. He showed that wasn’t the end for him, though, and now Thompson is once again in position to get a big fight at 170 pounds.

Maia (28-9 MMA, 22-9 UFC), who is coming off a submission win over Ben Askren at UFC on ESPN+ 20 just a week prior to Thompson’s victory, is an opponent who stands out among the bunch. The Brazilian has a vastly different style to Thompson, and it would be interesting to see how the stylistic matchup between former title challengers would play out.

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Darren Till

Should fight: 
Robert Whittaker

Why they should fight: Till made a major impact in his middleweight debut when he scored a split decision win over one of the top contenders in Kelvin Gastelum.

It wasn’t the most exciting of fights. However, it was crucial for Till’s career after back-to-back stoppage losses caused him to move up a weight class. Now he has a new lease on life at 185 pounds, and it’ll be curious to see if he can reach a title fight like he did at welterweight.

Till said he brought a knee injury into the fight, and it remains to be seen how long that keeps him out. If he’s ready for the first quarter of 2020, though, there are rumors the UFC plans to go to New Zealand in February, and a matchup between Till and former UFC champ Whittaker (20-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) is very logical, who wants to rebound after losing the belt to Israel Adesanya. It may seem like a quick step for Till in just his second fight in the weight class, but that’s what he put himself in position for by beating Gastelum.

Jorge Masvidal

Should fight: Winner of Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington at UFC 245

Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Masvidal should fight the winner of the UFC 245 welterweight title fight between Usman (15-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) and Covington (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) next.

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