Charting a path forward for the men and women who emerged victorious on Saturday night at UFC 229, including lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Before we get into the matchups I think will come next for the dozen athletes who picked up victories this past weekend at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, I want to make it clear that when I’m putting this column together, I am legitimately trying to think like Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, the UFC matchmakers, to cobble together bouts that have a legitimate chance of happening.
But that doesn’t always mean that they’re the fights I want to see or what I would do if given the controls for a couple of months.
For instance, if I were actually given the opportunity to book fights going forward and didn’t have to worry about any of the peripheral stuff that gets in the way like contracts, agents, timelines, etc. I would be advocating for the lightweight champion to defend the title against the most deserving contender in the division and I would be setting up a four-man tournament behind that fight to determine who is next in line after that.
However, that isn’t how this works.
As much as I would love to use this space to push a “sport over entertainment” agenda and make cool fights between deserving talents that never come to fruition, it’s far more useful to you, the readers, if I really do try to think like Sean and Mick and make fights that actually have a chance of happening, like when I said Michael Chiesa should fight Carlos Condit in his welterweight debut, which is now set to happen at UFC 232.
So while my personal preference for Khabib Nurmagomedov would be for him to defend the lightweight title against Tony Ferguson, I think there is very little chance of that happening.
Here’s a look at what I do think will happen, for the undisputed UFC lightweight champion and everyone else who earned victories at UFC 229.