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UFC 300 fight fallout: Next fights for Max Holloway, Alex Pereira, Jiri Prochazka and more after big wins

UFC 300 lived up to its potential as an all-time memorable event. The card boasted 12 current or former UFC champions, plus as many fights with implications for the UFC’s official rankings. Big performances by Alex Pereira, Max Holloway and others set the stage for big things to come.

Pereira showcased dominance by knocking out Jamahal Hill in their light heavyweight title main event. Holloway added a legendary moment to a career that is already Hall of Fame worthy. There’s also the matter of UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili, who overcame a difficult middle frame to turn back challenger Yan Xiaonan.

In the aftermath of an unforgettable card, let’s take a look at what the future could look like for UFC 300’s winners and losers.

Light heavyweight

Alex Pereira vs. Magomed Ankalaev: It’s not the most exciting fight, but it is the most appropriate one. The UFC’s top five light heavyweights are all coming off losses, except for Ankalaev and Prochazka. It’s hard to justify Prochazka’s title shot after he was knocked out by Pereira in November. Ankalaev is undefeated in 12 fights and built back a bit of steam with a recent KO win over Johnny Walker. Pereira welcomed the fight and a chance to test himself against a different style. Anakalev’s grappling is a fresh challenge for the dominant striker. Pereira suggested a heavyweight turnaround for UFC 301 on May 4, but UFC president Dana White wasn’t thrilled about it.

Jamahal Hill vs. Jiri Prochazka: Pereira’s fortune is Prochazka’s misfortune. The former champ called for a title fight after beating Rakic but it’s a hard sell. Rakic lit up Prochazka with leg kicks and long combinations for most of their fight. Many of the defensive gaps he showed against Pereira still plagued him. Prochazka personified “the best defense is good offense” to defeat Rakic, but such recklessness is a death sentence against Pereira. It’s slim pickings coming off a win but fighting a fellow former champion sounds appealing. A win over Hill should secure Prochazka a title shot.

Aleksandar Rakic vs. Jan Blachowicz: Rakic looked razor-sharp against Prochazka, but he couldn’t survive the onslaught. Rakic was originally tabbed to run it back against Blachowicz after a knee injury stopped their first fight short. It’s a solid fight for two guys looking to work their way to a title shot. Besides, it seems to already be on the promotion’s radar.

Lightweight

UFC lightweight championship — Islam Makhachev or Dustin Poirier vs. Arman Tsarukyan: Sorry, Tsarukyan. It’s a done deal. UFC president Dana White announced on Saturday that Makhachev vs. Poirier will headline UFC 302 in Newark on June 1. It makes sense for Makhachev’s timeline, but Poirier is not the most deserving contender. Oliveira and Gaethje, both of whom lost on Saturday, have recent wins against Poirier. That should put Tsarukyan well ahead of Poirier in the queue. After all, Tsarukyan vs. Oliveira was dubbed a title eliminator by White. It’s probably in Tsarukyan’s best interest to wait, but if Poirier pulls off the upset you can bet the UFC will book the rematch.

Justin Gaethje vs. nobody: Gaethje should take some time off. He absorbed tons of damage in the Holloway fight and suffered one of the biggest KOs in UFC history. Gaethje knows he’s close to the end of his career anyway. There will be lots of movement in the lightweight division by the time he returns. It’s best to let the field clear. Rematches against Poirier, Oliveira and Michael Chandler could all make sense by then. So could fights against Benoit Saint Denis, Dan Hooker and Mateusz Gamrot, all of whom will surely fight before we see Gaethje again.

Charles Oliveira vs. Mateusz Gamrot: Speaking of Gamrot, here’s an interesting one. Twice now Oliveira has struggled with wrestlers who can fend off submission attempts. Gamrot is ready for a big opportunity after winning three consecutive fights. Gamrot is also the last person to beat Tsarukyan. It’s a suitable step down for Oliveira, who is always one or two fights away from a title fight. It won’t make the fans happy but it’s an important test for both men.

Featherweight

UFC featherweight championship — Ilia Topuria vs. Max Holloway: Holloway called out Topuria and Makhachev post-fight, but he seemed particularly passionate about reclaiming the featherweight title. Holloway deserves whatever he wants — both for what he accomplished on Saturday and his total body of work. I’m not generally a fan of fighters getting a title shot coming off wins in different divisions, but Holloway’s circumstance is unique. He’s been the top contender at featherweight for a long time. Unfortunately, three losses to Alexander Volkanovski locked him out of the title picture no matter how many other contenders he beat. The path is clear with Topuria taking the 145-pound throne. Holloway has enduring popularity, is coming off a legacy win in a storied career and has a meritocratic claim. The UFC would be foolish not to take this fight to Spain immediately.

Women’s strawweight

UFC women’s strawweight championship — Zhang Weili vs. Tatiana Suarez: Candidly, I’d love to see Suarez get one more rep before challenging for the title. She looked uncomfortable striking in her last fight against Jessica Andrade. That’s something she needs to hammer out before fighting Zhang. Suarez was scheduled to face Amanda Lemos at UFC 298 but withdrew. That’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Suarez is the only legitimate challenger available to fight Zhang. She also has the most name value. Zhang has developed into a damn good wrestler, but Suarez is an Olympic wrestling hopeful. Most expect Zhang to have a serious advantage on the feet. It’s a great fight to make on paper and the one UFC can market most easily.

Yan Xiaonan vs. Amanda Lemos: The other fighters in the mix at this level are Andrade and Virna Jandiroba. Since both Xiaonan and Lemos beat Andrade, it makes the most sense to book Andrade vs. Jandiroba next. Xiaonan repeatedly rocked and dropped Zhang in a gritty losing effort. Xiaonan’s finishing ability hasn’t followed her to the UFC but she’ll find a willing dance partner in the heavy-handed Lemos. This is a great fight to position the winner for another run to the title.

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