Yoel Romero vs. Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping’s luck may have just run out.
The middleweight contenders’ picture became disturbingly clear at UFC 205 when Yoel Romero bludgeoned Chris Weidman with a gruesome flying knee before finishing with strikes in Round 3. Post-fight, Romero launched into an impassioned plea for a future title shot against Bisping, telling the reigning champion at 185 pounds that he “loved” him in the most threatening way possible.
Romero is 8-0 in the UFC with wins over top-10 middleweights Weidman, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Lyoto Machida. If Bisping can look past Romero’s USADA violation from January that the Cuban was able to successfully appeal, then the UFC must book Romero for Bisping’s second title defense.
Raquel Pennington vs. Julianna Pena
Raquel Pennington shook up the women’s bantamweight division with a one-sided unanimous decision win over Miesha Tate that may have sent the former champion into retirement. In doing so, Pennington claimed Tate’s spot in the top five of the rankings, but it still feels too soon to grant her a title shot.
Instead, Pennington can take on the perpetually disgruntled Julianna Pena, her former “Ultimate Fighter 18” teammate. The two almost met in the finals of that season’s tournament, but Pennington was upset in the semifinals while Pena would go on to become the first female “TUF” winner.
The streaking Pena has been vocal about wanting a title shot, and a fight with Pennington won’t make her happy. However, the matchmakers don’t appear to be ceding to her demands anytime soon, so it would be wise for Pena to force their hand with another strong performance.
Frankie Edgar vs. Ricardo Lamas
The UFC’s 145-pound division is like quicksand: the harder you fight, the less you seem to make any progress. That’s the reality that Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Lamas face at this stage of their careers.
Lamas submitted Charles Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 98, setting him up nicely to face the winner of Edgar’s UFC 205 bout opposite Jeremy Stephens. “The Answer” outworked Stephens for a unanimous decision win, putting him in line to take on another top-five contender.
Both Edgar and Lamas have failed in bids to capture featherweight gold, and if they want another crack (whether it’s against Conor McGregor or interim champion Jose Aldo) they’ll have to climb over each other’s carcasses to get it.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson
Unfortunately for lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, they’re living in McGregor’s world now. Both fighters are riding lengthy win streaks, yet find themselves at the mercy of an Irish madman who is arguably the most influential man in the sport of MMA next to UFC president Dana White.
Don’t be surprised if McGregor and White decide that what’s best for business is Nurmagomedov and Ferguson battling to the death for their amusement while McGregor pursues other opportunities against welterweight champ Tyron Woodley, rival Nate Diaz, or (gulp) Floyd Mayweather.
Aside from the fact that it would be an incredible fight, the Nurmagomedov-Ferguson winner would cement themselves as the undisputed No. 1 contender at 155 pounds. So long as McGregor agrees, of course.