4 Fights We Need to See After UFC Fight Night 227
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Alexa Grasso (left) and Valentina ShevchenkoChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
On Saturday night, the UFC celebrated Mexican Independence Day with an exciting 11-fight card in Las Vegas.
The event was topped by a flyweight title rematch between Mexican champion Alexa Grasso and the woman she won the title from in a shocking upset earlier this year, Valentina Shevchenko. After five back-and-forth rounds, their second encounter was ruled a split draw, which meant that Grasso retained the title, but also that we were deprived of a definitive end to their entertaining rivalry.
In the co-main event, rising welterweights Jack Della Maddalena and Kevin Holland engaged in a competitive three-round fight, with Maddalena winning a split decision that should set him up for another big step up the rankings.
Beyond the top two fights, the only ranked fighter on the bill was once-beaten flyweight Tracy Cortez, who defeated Jasmine Jasudavicius by decision in the third bout of the night. Like Maddalena, she can look forward to a big opportunity in her next Octagon appearance.
Keep scrolling for the fights we’re hoping to see when the dust has settled.
Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko III
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Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Alexa Grasso’s March submission win over Valentina Shevchenko was one of the biggest upsets of the year. Shevchenko was riding nine straight victories heading into the fight and was considered one of the top fighters in the sport.
Those accolades earned her an immediate rematch with the new champ, which landed in Saturday’s main event, and was supposed to answer all our questions about whether Grasso’s March win was a fluke, or whether somebody has finally caught up to Shevchenko.
Unfortunately, it didn’t give us the closure we hoped for, as the two women battled to a split draw, which technically counts as a title defense for Grasso but didn’t really clear up which woman is the superior fighter.
After their draw, it’s somewhat tempting to suggest Grasso should defend her title against a new contender like Erin Blanchfield or Manon Fiorot. As amazing as Shevchenko has been, it’s always exciting when a dominant champion falls from their perch and the title gets passed around a bit.
However, denying Shevchenko a third fight with Grasso seems like an error. She deserves another shot based on her previous accomplishments and the fact that many viewers believed she did enough to win on Saturday night.
Once she and Grasso have settled their score for good, Blanchfield or Fiorot can have their turn.
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Vicente Luque
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Jack Della Maddalena (left)Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Australian welterweight contender Jack Della Maddalena picked up the biggest win of his career on Saturday night, scoring a split decision against popular finisher Kevin Holland.
It was Maddalena’s second split-decision win in a row, after a hard-fought victory over short-notice opponent Bassil Hafez in his last fight, but it should still set him up for a big fight next time out.
Given that he’s already ranked No. 14 in the division, we’d like to see him matched up with No. 10-ranked contender Vicente Luque, who is fresh off an impressive decision win over former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
Luque, who is an excellent striker with slick submission skills, seems like a great test for Maddalena at this stage. The real appeal of the booking, though, is that both guys have a habit of engaging in extremely exciting striking battles. It’s hard to imagine this one being anything short of a thriller, and the likelihood of somebody hitting the deck seems high.
Book it for a pay-per-view main card, and if Maddalena comes out on top, it will be time to start thinking about pitting him against one of the division’s top dogs.
Kevin Holland vs. Neil Magny
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Kevin Holland (left)Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Kevin Holland was riding back-to-back finishes against Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michael Chiesa heading into his fight with Jack Della Maddalena, but after he suffered a split-decision loss, it’s back to the drawing board for the popular American welterweight.
Holland has plenty of options—he matches up well with a lot of his fellow welterweights—but our pick would be a fight with long-time contender Neil Magny.
Magny actually holds the record for most wins in UFC welterweight history but suffered one of the worst losses of his career in his last fight, as he was handily beaten in a decision loss by rising contender Ian Garry.
He is surely very eager to put that tough setback behind him, and a fight with a popular contender like Holland would be a great opportunity to do that. It seems like a sensible matchup for both fighters right now, and it would tell us a lot about where they belong in their division.
Tracy Cortez vs. Maycee Barber
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Tracy Cortez (right)Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
After a solid decision win over Jasmine Jasudavicius on Saturday night, No. 14-ranked flyweight contender Tracy Cortez is now 6-0 in the UFC and 11-1 overall. That record includes a split-decision win over top contender Erin Blanchfield before either of them arrived in the UFC.
Needless to say, Cortez has a lot of momentum behind her and looks increasingly like she could become a title threat in the next couple of years.
She’s not quite there yet, but a fight with No. 8-ranked contender Maycee Barber would be a great opportunity to get closer.
Barber has long been seen as a future title contender herself, and after struggling with consistency in the earlier chapters of her UFC career, has now won five straight, including a TKO defeat over Amanda Ribas in her last fight.
She may be leery of taking a fight with a lower-ranked opponent like Cortez, but it looks like a tough matchup for both of them on paper, and it’s one of the most interesting options available for either of them, as many of their fellow contenders are booked up with other obligations.