UFC 203 was a night to remember as UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defended his heavyweight title by finishing challenge Alistair Overeem with punches in the first-round of their main-event fight on Saturday night. Miocic said afterwards that he plans to take a little bit of time off, but that he’s ready to take on whoever the UFC throws at him next. Let’s take a look at who that next title should be, and who the rest of the winner from UFC 203 could be matched up with next.
Getty ImagesRey Del Rio
Stipe Miocic vs. Cain Velasquez
Stipe Miocic’s next title defense should pit two of the very best strikers currently in the heavyweight division. Also touting a strong boxing-based striking approach, former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is coming off a first-round TKO of Travis Browne, a strong rebound from his first loss in four years. Miocic has finished Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem consecutively. If he can add Velasquez to that list, he’d solidify himself as a heavyweight great.
Getty ImagesRey Del Rio
Fabricio Werdum vs. Winner of heavyweight title fight
Fabricio Werdum earned his decisive victory over Travis Browne on Saturday night but it wasn’t dominant enough to jump over Cain Velasquez for an immediate shot the heavyweight title. Werdum, who lost the belt to Miocic in March, would be wise to sit and wait and see how a matchup between the current champ and Velasquez plays out before challenging the winner. He has history with both men, as he took the title from Velasquez in 2015, so he’s in great position to fight for the title again as long as he doesn’t mind waiting a bit.
Mickey Gall vs. Sage Northcutt
Following his win over CM Punk at UFC 203, Mickey Gall said he wanted to fight “corny” lightweight Sage Northcutt and I’m totally down for a matchup of these two talented prospects. Northcutt and Gall were both discovered on Dana White’s show “Lookin’ for a Fight” and both have shown immense potential during their time under the UFC banner. It’s a bit early to matchup their two marquee prospects, but if they both want it happen -- and White said Northcutt’s camp is open to it -- let’s make this fight happen.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Aljamain Sterling
Add Jimmie Rivera’s name to the long list of young, talented bantamweight contenders. Rivera executed a perfect game plan Saturday night to become the first bantamweight to beat second-ranked Urijah Faber in a three-round non-title fight, establishing himself as a bona fide contender worthy of the 135-pound top 10. Let’s match him up with a guy like seventh-ranked Aljamain Sterling, who has the speed and dynamic striking to challenge Rivera in the stand-up game. This fight would test the mettle of both fighters.
Jessica Andrade vs. Carla Esparza
Jessica Andrade won her second straight UFC strawweight fight on Saturday and showed she was ready to take on the division’s top 10. Andrade is known for her powerful striking, but it was her suffocating ground game that helped her earn the submission win at UFC 203. She’s faced fellow strikers in her lone strawweight bouts, however, so I’d like to see her tested by someone like former champion Carla Esparza, who has arguably the best wrestling in the division.