One of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history reached its epic conclusion on Saturday, with Colby Covington coming out on top of long-time rival and former teammate Tyron Woodley.
In the co-main event, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone fought to the first draw of his career in his 53rd professional fight, against Niko Price, and Khamzat Chimaev continued his rapid upward trajectory with a 17-second TKO of Gerald Meerschaert.
So what’s next for the big names who fought on Saturday’s Fight Night? Here’s ESPN’s take for where the UFC could go with some of the key winners (and losers) of the night.
Colby Covington (defeated Tyron Woodley by fifth-round submission)
Who should be next: Leon Edwards. This is the only option there is, really. Covington and Edwards have established themselves — irrefutably — as the top two guys in the division other than champion Kamaru Usman, and the man Usman is expected to fight in December, Gilbert Burns. Edwards hasn’t fought in 2020, but he wants to. Saturday’s win over Woodley was Covington’s only fight this year, and under different circumstances, he might have been able to sit and wait for a title shot, even though the next championship fight isn’t booked for another three months. But because Edwards has also been so impressive, these two need to fight it out to determine the next No. 1 contender.
Wild card: Jorge Masvidal. I’ll mention Masvidal only because there is a serious history here between these two former roommates. Masvidal has said he wants to get back to another title fight, and beating Covington would greatly help his chances in getting back to the top. But Masvidal is pretty committed to fighting Nate Diaz in early 2021.
Tyron Woodley (lost by fifth-round submission to Covington)
Who should be next: Geoff Neal. Neal is the scariest guy in the division right now — a guy no one seems to want any part of. Woodley has now lost three in a row, and he looked very uninspiring in the majority of those performances. He said himself prior to the fight on Saturday, he’s not really in a position to call his shots. And even less so, now. Neal deserves a big name. This would absolutely be a situation in which the younger guy is looking to make a name off the older guy, but like it or not, that’s the spot Woodley is in here. I don’t know what other type of fight makes sense for him now.
Wild card: Neil Magny. Similar reasons as above, but a different name. And to be clear, Magny is not being avoided right now like Neal is, but he’s similar to Neal in that he deserves to fight someone ranked ahead of him.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (fought to a majority draw against Niko Price)
Who should be next: Matt Brown. We’re approaching that unnerving time in a legend’s career in which calls for Cowboy to retire are going to get pretty loud. He dismissed any retirement talk heading into Saturday, and if I know Cowboy, I don’t expect him to call it quits following this draw. Shortly after the fight, Cerrone told me he’s done with 2020, and that he felt he lost that fight, regardless of Price losing a point, which led to the draw.
The UFC has something of a situation on its hands now, having to roll Cowboy out there again against a dangerous foe after five straight fights without a win, and that’s not good for anyone at this point.
Now, to be clear, Brown is dangerous, but he’s not as dangerous as he used to be. These two fought in 2016 and it was, as you’d imagine, a great fight. Cerrone won by TKO in the third. I’d like to watch this again in 2021, and I think it’s an appropriate matchup for both at this point in their respective careers.
Wild card: Nick Diaz. Alright, I’ll say it right now, I’m still skeptical about Diaz making a comeback in 2021. There’s still plenty of time between now and then, and Diaz has teased a return before. Until he’s actively negotiating a fight and signing a contract, I consider him more retired than Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Henry Cejudo and every other name out there who has teased retirement in 2020. But if he does come back, I actually think this is the fight. Another option for Diaz is Robbie Lawler, and I love that fight as well. But Cowboy is a great option for Diaz, and one I don’t feel many people have talked about yet.
Niko Price (fought to a majority draw against Cerrone)
Who should be next: Michel Pereira. I promise you, this will be Fight of the Night whenever it happens, and I don’t care what other fights are on the card. Seven Fight Night bonuses, collectively, between these two. They are two of the most entertaining guys in the division, and they are finishers. They have personality. They’re also both building a case to enter the UFC’s Top 15 rankings. I don’t know what else there is to say about this matchup. Anyone who has seen these two fight, knows what I’m talking about. Just an awesome, awesome matchup.
Wild card: Robbie Lawler. Lawler did not look great, at all, in his last fight against Neil Magny, but I didn’t think he looked like a guy who needed to retire that night. He was rusty and fighting against a style that had a good chance of neutralizing him, even if he was on the top of his game. Price is dangerous and he’s not gonna “neutralize” Lawler. He’s going to try to put him out. Lawler is a guy who gets more dangerous, the more danger he’s in. In a way, this could be a perfect fight to bring out the best in him.
Khamzat Chimaev (defeated Gerald Meerschaert by first-round TKO)
Who should be next: Demian Maia. The UFC has already made it clear that’s his next fight, likely some time in November. I love the matchup. Strength against strength. Grappler against grappler. Arguably the best grappler in UFC history, against a guy who looks like he could be the best grappler in the for years to come. Let’s see it.