Booking the UFC 289 main card winner’s next fights, including Oliveira vs. Makhachev 2

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Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 289 is now in the books and delivered some memorable and historic moments from the MMA world leader. A GOAT retired, a pound-for-pound got back to his winning ways and several rising stars had big wins in Vancouver.

Related: Honoring the standout UFC 289 performances, including Amanda Nunes’ dominance

Following the UFC’s pay-per-view card for June, let’s put on our matchmaking hats and book the next scrap for the UFC 289 winners.

Amanda Nunes – Retirement

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Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Amanda Nunes looked unstoppable in her lopsided decision win over Irene Aldana. The 35-year-old showed no signs of the inevitable decline that awaits every fighter. But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore “The Lioness” leaving her gloves and two championship belts in the center of the cage. 

Without anything left to accomplish, retirement feels like the right move for Amanda Nunes. She conquered two divisions, even if one of them wasn’t exactly fully fleshed out. She has defeated every other woman in her generation whose legacy can be mentioned in the same legacy. Why not ride off into the sunset and enjoy time with her growing family?

Of course, this is MMA and retirements don’t usually last. If Amanda Nunes gets bored on the couch and behind the scenes in the near future, she could easily find herself fighting for the belt she never lost. 

Charles Oliveira – Islam Makhachev

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Charles Oliveira made sure he reminded everyone who he is Saturday night. At the expense of a surging Beneil Dariush, Oliveira made a strong case for getting a chance to get revenge on Islam Makhachev and reclaim the belt he lost at UFC 280. 

Olivereira’s biggest ally in his campaign for a title shot could be time. Everyone else in the top 5 is occupied except for the champion. Although Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier will be locking horns again next month, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the winner will need an extended vacation to recover. 

It’s been four months since Makhachev defended his crown at UFC 284. If he’s feeling impatient, running it back with “Do Bronx” just might be the best option. 

Mike Malott – Max Griffin/Michael Morales winner

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In case you couldn’t tell at UFC 289, the UFC is pretty high on Mike Malott. How else can you explain a pay-per-view main card appearance for an unranked fighter on his third trip to the Octagon? By securing a fight-ending guillotine choke in the second round, Malott showed exactly why the promotion gave him such a prominent spot in the event. 

Don’t expect the UFC to start pumping the brakes on Malott anytime soon after giving him a performance bonus. That’s why facing the winner of the July 1st fight between Max Griffin and Michael Morales makes sense. Griffin has served as a reliable gatekeeper for the welterweight division hovering just outside of the rankings. Much like Malott, Morales is a Contender Series vet on a hot streak. Either way, we get a potentially exciting and consequential fight.

Dan Ige – Sodiq Yusuff

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Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Ige continues to provide an adrenaline shot to the already exciting featherweight roster. Ige’s thrill ride decision win over Nate Landwehr at UFC 289 was a textbook reminder of what the Hawaiann has to offer.

This seems like a good time to pair Ige with Sodiq Yusuff. This fight would not only offer the stylistic ingredients for another firefight but with both men in the top 15, it would also serve as a springboard for either man to climb the divisional ladder. 

Yusuff is enjoying a two-fight win streak and was last seen submitting Don Shainis in the first 30 seconds at UFC Fight Night 211 this past October.

Marc-Andre Barriault –  Bruno Ferriera/Abdul Razak Alhassan winner

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Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Marc-Andre Barriault understood the assignment at UFC 289: Make his fellow Canadians happy as the pay-per-view portion of the card begins. His war with Eryk Anders was worthy of Fight of the Night honors and also propelled Barriault to his first win streak since his run as a regional champion in 2018.

Pairing Barriault with the winner of Bruno Ferriera and Abdul Razak Alhassan seems appropriate. Ferriera is currently undefeated and has yet to make it past the second round in his professional career while Alhassan has proven to be reliable for a good old-fashioned slugfest.

If “Hulk” wins, Barriault would be a good step to further test the Brazilian wrecking machine. If Alhassan gets his hand raised, he’d be matched up with someone who is similarly looking to establish consistent success.

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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