Booking the UFC 291 Main Card Winner’s Next Fight, Including Justin Gaethje Going for Gold

With the dust settling on UFC 291, let’s take a look at what could be in store for main card winners like Justin Gaethje, former middleweight king turned light heavyweight Alex Pereira, and the “Black Beast” himself Derrick Lewis.

Related: New BMF Champion Crowned At UFC 291

Justin Gaethje vs. Islam Makhachev/Charles Oliveira winner

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Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody doubted Justin Gaethje’s claim to being one of the baddest [insert dirty word] in the UFC. But by knocking out Dustin Poirier with a picture-perfect head kick he got a piece of hardware to confirm his status.

As fun as the novelty title can be let’s unify it with the real indicator of BMF honors: the undisputed championship. Just like his predecessor Jorge Masvidal, this should lead directly into a chance for gold against the winner of Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveria. Whoever leaves Abu Dubai with the belt presents a chance of redemption for Justin Gaethje.

Oliveria winning would mean Justin Gaethje can exact revenge for his first-round submission loss at UFC 274. Makhachev would be a stand-in for his friend Khabib Nurmagomedov who also submitted Gaethje at UFC 254. Makhachev and Oliveria will rematch at UFC 294 in October.

Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Prochazcha 

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Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The infamous weight cut necessary for Alex Pereria to make middleweight made everyone wonder what a less depleted version of the decorated kickboxer would look like. We got our answer with his split decision win over former champion Jan Blachowicz. While the scorecards can be debated, there’s zero doubt that Poatan is now among the elite at light heavyweight.

Let’s do some simple math. If you defeat a recent champion, you might be ready for a title shot. While Jamahal Hill is sidelined with an Achilles injury and is expected to vacate the throne, let’s bring in another former champ who opted to not hold the division up. Jiri Prochazcha should be given the opportunity to reclaim what he never lost in the cage while Pereira attempts to earn his second division championship.

Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou

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Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Just when the obituary on Derrick Lewis’ career was being written, the “Black Beast” decided to snatch the pen and finish the final chapter his way. His quick finish of Marcos Rogério de Lima felt like a return to form for the most prolific knockout artist in UFC history.

Also Read: Nate Diaz next fight: UFC great is back Aug. 5 to box a ‘Problem Child’

Finishing out his contract with the win, Lewis hits free agency with a bit of wind in his sails. There will be no shortage of suitors as every MMA promotion that can afford him will put in a bid. Instead of signing back to the UFC, let’s see if PFL wants to welcome the last person to defeat Francis Ngannou to the SmartCage and give him a guaranteed $2 million for his troubles. Even though their heavily hyped fight in 2018 failed to come close to expectations, it still represents one of the easiest fights to promote for the lineal UFC champion.

Bobby Green vs. Diego Ferreira

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Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Green emerging victorious against Tony Ferguson was far from a surprise. But Green pulling it off via submission in the closing seconds of the third round was not on anybody’s bingo card. 

That being said, being the sixth consecutive person to defeat the former interim lightweight champion isn’t exactly worthy of title contention. So, let’s put Green opposite Diego Ferreira. The Fortis MMA product recently rebounded from a three-fight skid with a stunning KO victory over Michael Johnson in May.

Kevin Holland vs. Anthony Hernandez/Chris Curtis winner

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Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Chiesa’s return to competition after a nearly two-year layoff was far from triumphant. In under three minutes, Kevin Holland completely dominated the TUF Live winner and sunk in a fight-ending d’arce choke.

Claiming the neck of a reliable veteran like Chiesa means that Holland has pushed his way into the top 15 of the division. However, Holland seems far less interested in making his way up that ladder and instead wants to enjoy steaks in camp as a middleweight. If he’s serious about making his way back up the scale, the winner of Anthony Hernandez and Chris Curtis would be a good start.

“Fluffy” Hernandez and Curtis will be featured on the main card of a September fight night.

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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