The UFC held its final pay-per-view of 2019 this past Saturday featuring three championship fights and one new champion crowned.
Alexander Volkanovski clearly earned the decision over Max Holloway, ending his reign as the top 145-pound fighter in the world. The immediate discussion went to a rematch between the two and we will discuss if that is the best option for each heading into 2020.
Kamaru Usman retained the UFC welterweight title, stopping Colby Covington in one of the best fights of the year. Heading into the final round, the judges were split with one having Usman ahead 3-1, another with Covington up 3-1, and one judge had it even 2-2. Usman eliminated any debate by dropping Covington twice and finishing him with strikes. We will discuss the options for Usman, who has cemented himself as one of the greatest welterweights of all-time and presents a difficult style to contend with for so many.
And, in this week’s edition of Five Questions with Phil Chertok, we also look at the performance from Jose Aldo at UFC 245, the news that Rory MacDonald has joined the PFL and this Saturday’s main event between Frankie Edgar and Chan Sung Jung in South Korea.
POST: After his stoppage of Colby Covington, which welterweight is the most likely to receive the next title fight against Usman and who would be the most competitive fight for Kamaru Usman?
Phil Chertok: The welterweight to get the next title shot hinges on the result of the January 18th main event between superstar Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone. If McGregor wins, a 170-pound BMF title match with 2019’s most popular fighter Jorge Masvidal would most likely be in order. This would leave a well-deserving Leon Roberts as the obvious #1 contender. He’s already lost to Usman but has been on an eight-fight winning streak since then and has done more than enough to earn a chance at gold. Now if Cowboy comes up with the victory, the UFC is more than likely going to push Masvidal into that Welterweight title fight. Masvidal is a deserving contender as well and might even have a better chance at beating Kamaru. Regardless of who ends up with the title shot, the champion should be a strong favorite.
POST: Is an immediate rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway the best move in your opinion following their title fight on Saturday?
Phil Chertok: I do think it’s the best move at featherweight right now. Although Volkanovski fought a brilliant fight on Saturday night to claim the featherweight title, it was not a one-sided affair and Holloway has done more than enough throughout his career to deserve an immediate rematch. The second fight in Australia could be a huge event for the UFC, which has exploded in the region over the last few years. It would also give people who have little experience watching Alex an opportunity to see him against the biggest name in the division. Much like how Max had to beat the former Featherweight king Jose Aldo twice to establish his reign on the division, it appears that Alexander Volkanovski will have to do the same to show his greatness.
POST: Who are some of the bantamweights that are intriguing opponents for Jose Aldo after his performance at the new weight?
Phil Chertok: A rejuvenated Jose Aldo has me salivating at the possible opponents for him at bantamweight. I’m happy to say that Aldo proved me wrong with a vintage performance that, despite the loss, shows he’s more than prepared to deal with the best fighters in the 135-pound division. If I had my way, I’d love to see Aldo vs Rob Font. Font is coming off a strong win over prospect Ricky Simon. He’s a very technical stand-up fighter and I feel like a contest with Aldo is guaranteed to be fireworks. An alternative could be a rematch with former rival Urijah Faber. Despite a knockout loss to Petr Yan on Saturday, Faber did not look out of place. If these two legends are going to ever square off again, right now might be the best time. I strongly suspect we won’t see either of those contests though. Based on UFC President Dana White’s comments following UFC 245 it appears like Aldo, despite his loss, is going to be thrust into a title eliminator or even given a crack at champion Henry Cejudo.
POST: Were you surprised to see Rory MacDonald sign with the PFL and does this heighten your interest in watching the next season of the PFL?
Phil Chertok: I was surprised in the sense that I was caught off guard by it because I wasn’t aware that Rory was a free agent but considering how much money the PFL put into each of their seasons, it’s not surprising that they would go after such a high-profile fighter. The PFL took me by surprise last year with a series of impressive events and a legitimately compelling tournament. If the organization can set up quality opponents for Rory, then I would be interested in checking out his matches. Rory may not be in the running for the best welterweight in the world anymore but he’s still a high-level fighter and if he can keep his mental focus he can definitely go home with a million dollars next year.
POST: Finally, who do you favor in this Saturday’s main event between Chan Sung Jung and late replacement Frankie Edgar? Does Edgar postpone his move down to bantamweight with a win on Saturday?
Phil Chertok: I’m going to have to go with the ‘Korean Zombie’ as my favorite but it’s not without some serious consideration. Edgar has been fighting the best of the best in the featherweight and lightweight divisions for the last decade and I’m certainly not going to count him out now. Considering that featherweight has a new champion it would not at all surprise me to see Edgar get another title shot at some point in 2020 with a win over Jung. I do think that win will be difficult to acquire, though. Since Jung returned to the octagon following his military service, he’s looked absolutely phenomenal, even in a classic, last-second defeat to Yair Rodriguez last year. I just feel that Jung is currently firing on all cylinders and at some point, in 2020, he’s going to be squaring off with whoever is holding the featherweight gold.
Phil Chertok co-hosts our monthly UFC POST Show and returns on Saturday, January 18th following UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone.