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UFC 255 takeaways — Who’s subsequent for the flyweight champs? Don’t rush Joaquin Buckley

ESPN’s panel of Brett Okamoto, Phil Murphy, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim breaks down the most important tales popping out of UFC 255 on Saturday evening, together with what’s subsequent for the headliners and the rise of Joaquin Buckley.

Okamoto: Who’s subsequent after UFC 255?

Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC flyweight (defeated Alex Perez by way of first-round submission)

Who needs to be subsequent: Brandon Moreno

I used to be absolutely on board with Cody Garbrandt getting a direct title shot at Figueiredo earlier than he received injured and was pressured to tug out of UFC 255. Garbrandt is a former bantamweight champion. He’s coming off a knockout win over Raphael Assuncao. And in fact the truth that he is a star issues. I did not suppose there was a ton of buzz behind a Moreno title shot, or an Alex Perez title shot. So ebook a really enticing struggle between Figueiredo and Garbrandt, and have Moreno and Perez battle it out for the subsequent shot. That was the unique plan, and I assumed it was an excellent plan.

But plans change. Saturday became a flyweight showcase. And with Moreno delivering a spectacular performance in opposition to Brandon Royval — and Garbrandt nonetheless coping with well being points in the meanwhile — Moreno needs to be subsequent. Figueiredo agrees. After his win on Saturday, he had a message for UFC president Dana White: “I want to face Brandon Moreno. Dana, make this happen. That’s the fight that I want to happen.” White mentioned he is on board and the plan is to ebook that struggle for December.

Wild card: Cody Garbrandt

If the UFC opts to go together with its authentic plan and rebooks Garbrandt, I will not be outraged. I now not suppose it is one of the simplest ways to go, however Garbrandt shifting to 125 is a giant storyline and I will not complain about seeing it.

Valentina Shevchenko, UFC flyweight (defeated Jennifer Maia by unanimous determination)

Who needs to be subsequent: Jessica Andrade

Andrade has just one win at 125 kilos within the UFC (a knockout of Katlyn Chookagian final month), however I’ve no downside elevating her to a direct title shot. She’s a former strawweight champion, and albeit, she’s in all probability (lastly) in her greatest weight class. She began off within the UFC at 135 kilos, after which dropped all the best way to 115 as a result of there was no 125-pound division. I imagine, whether or not she wins a title right here or not, that is her dwelling for the foreseeable future. And she’s the best risk to dominant champion Shevchenko.

Wild card: Lauren Murphy

With Cynthia Calvillo‘s loss to Chookagian on Saturday, Murphy turns into the highest-ranked choice to face Shevchenko if it is not Andrade. But I believe we’re all just about assuming it should be Andrade, proper? Well, within the occasion it isn’t, Murphy can sneak in there, and she or he’s constructed the profitable streak to justify it. But my guess is Murphy will want another win to get her shot at gold.

Desensitized by Shevchenko’s dominance

Murphy: The closest prefight odds in any of Valentina Shevchenko’s 4 title defenses was -1250 in opposition to Katlyn Chookagian. Jennifer Maia garnered reward Saturday evening in what was, in reality, a reasonably snug victory for the champion. Shevchenko has reached a degree of dominance that makes any resistance really feel extra aggressive than it really is. Maia opened some eyes within the second spherical, definitely. But there was a postfight narrative that she uncovered a weak point in Shevchenko’s sport for future opponents to take advantage of. That’s overstating a powerful stanza from the challenger.

Shevchenko punctuated the struggle emphatically, pulling away over the ultimate two rounds. No doubt remained who received and even by what margin. It was as clear a 49-46 as judges might need. There’s been an identical challenger bias with all-time greats resembling Demetrious Johnson and Georges St-Pierre, wherein the expectation is that they need to outclass each opponent at each flip. Competitive rounds, and positively these misplaced, stick within the reminiscence greater than the lion’s share that affirms a champ’s superiority.

Shevchenko was marvelous and well-rounded once more. She’s not bulletproof. But she does not have to string collectively many extra flyweight defenses, particularly surveying the present crop of challengers throughout the division.

Joaquin Buckley is not any one-hit surprise

Raimondi: Buckley uncorked one of many most ridiculous knockouts of all time, a spinning again kick KO of Impa Kasanganay, final month. What made it so notable was the setup. Kasanganay caught a Buckley kick, then Buckley used the leverage from Kasangany’s personal grip to spin and kick him within the face with the opposite leg. It nearly defied physics. Kasanganay was out on contact. Buckley’s TKO win at UFC 255 was a bit extra conventional — he mashed Jordan Wright with an enormous punching mixture. Wright’s eyes rolled again in his head — the identical means Kasanganay’s did — on impression.

Despite the stress of making an attempt to prime essentially the most considered knockout ever on UFC social media, Buckley nonetheless put forth a highlight-reel end Saturday. He has all types of energy and has the makings of a future star within the UFC. Buckley continues to be solely 26 years outdated and he is not a full-time fighter. His job as an assistant supervisor at Walgreen’s has precluded him from touring from his native St. Louis to Michigan to coach at budding camp Murcielago MMA. He did practice there previous to this bout and it appeared to make a distinction. Buckley is a couple of to look at: He’s a must-watch.

At this level, it might be clever for the UFC to match him rigorously, like an up-and-coming prospect. People are going to expect Buckley fights to be stand-up wars with spectacular finishes. Someone like Punahele Soriano would match the invoice properly. But it might be a mistake to push Buckley up the cardboard too rapidly. After all, he has already been knocked out by Kevin Holland.

Buckley referred to as out James Krause after the struggle, though Krause fights at welterweight. Krause has been important of Buckley not too long ago and it didn’t go unnoticed.

Marc Ratner is invaluable to the UFC

Wagenheim: Every single time I’ve been at cageside for a UFC occasion, the evening has not handed and not using a between-fights go to from Marc Ratner. He’d stroll over to press row and change pleasantries, not as a part of some skilled networking technique however with a congeniality and care that had been wholly real. He actually did need to know the way you had been doing. He’d smile broadly as you complimented his scarf — there was at all times a chic one draped round his neck. The man has fashion and oh a lot substance.

But my private affinity for him apart, I used to be excited to listen to the announcement that Ratner, the UFC’s vice chairman of regulatory affairs, will probably be inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame as a result of he’s a most deserving honoree. Whatever you consider the Hall, which has no unbiased voting panel and is admittedly extra akin to a sports activities franchise’s ring of honor, Ratner warrants particular recognition for his invaluable contribution to the expansion of the UFC and MMA usually. When he joined the promotion in 2006, MMA was nonetheless unlawful in a number of states. It took Ratner 10 years to chip away, state after state, earlier than New York grew to become the ultimate holdout to legalize the game in 2016. This was important to MMA’s development from fringe spectacle into the sports activities mainstream, and Ratner spearheaded the trouble.

The UFC Hall of Fame is not going to be Ratner’s first enshrinement. After spending 14 years as govt director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, regulating lots of the nice boxing matches of the period, Ratner was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and in addition was a part of the primary class of inductees into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. Now he’s being acknowledged as soon as once more, and it’s a well-deserved honor for a really good man.

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