After an incredible, action-packed weekend filled with the best that mixed-martial-arts has to offer, the UFC is gearing up for week number two of its return which contains two more cards on May 13th and 16th.

But before we move forward, we can look back at UFC 249 and what will be in the future for some of these incredible fighters.

There were a total of six fights on the prelims at UFC 249. There were originally seven, but after the unfortunate news of Jacare Souza and two of his cornermen testing positive for COVID-19, the fight against Uriah Hall was scrapped.

Bryce Mitchell v Charles Rosa

The first notable prelim fight pitted the still undefeated Bryce Mitchell against Charles Rosa. Mitchell showed exactly why he is one of the biggest upcoming stars in the Featherweight division by putting on an absolute masterclass performance in his unanimous decision victory. Mitchell was executing extremely high-level submission skills throughout all three rounds. Go back and watch this fight and hear the level of excitement from Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier throughout Mitchell’s incredible performance. And despite losing 30-25, 30-25, and 30-24, all of the credit in the world goes to Rosa.

Rosa fought through every submission attempt from Mitchell including twisters and arm triangles. There is an incredibly bright future for both of these stars and especially Mitchell. Mitchell is now 13-0 and is only 25 years old.

Vicente Luque v Niko Price

The next fight to talk about happened to be the next fight on the card; Vicente Luque defeating Niko Price in the third round due to a doctor stoppage. This fight was simply some beautiful violence. There was no doubt from any MMA pundit that this would be an entertaining fight.

It appeared as though Price had the upper hand through the first two rounds until Luque finished the fight in the third after a picture-perfect overhand left caught Price and almost immediately closed his the right eye. It’s a shame this fight cannot happen on every card because we would all be thoroughly entertained every single time.

Michelle WatersonCarla Esparza

Donald Cerrone v Anthony Pettis

The final point of emphasis from the prelims involves two fights: Michelle Waterson losing via decision to Carla Esparza, and Donald Cerrone losing via decision to Anthony Pettis. The topic of how bad MMA judging is deserved its own article, but here are two clear examples. Let’s start first with Waterson-Esparza. The final scoring for this fight was 30-27 Waterson, 30-27 Esparza, and 29-28 Esparza netting Esparza the split decision victory. What this scoring means, is that one judge thought Waterson won all three rounds, one judge thought Esparza won all three-round, and the third judge thought Esparza won two of the three rounds.

It was very clear that it was a close fight, but to receive two completely lopsided and opposite scores is asinine. Moving onto the Cerrone-Pettis fight, Pettis can be heard audibly saying “I’ll take it” after the final score was announced and he was granted the victory. No one, not Joe Rogan who provided the post-fight interview, Anthony Pettis who had just won, or Donald Cerrone who had surprisingly lost, could believe it. It was easily the worst decision in recent memory,

Moving to the main card, the Hardy-De Castro fight, unfortunately, did not play out quite how the fans thought it would. Yorgan De Castro seemed to have suffered a foot injury early in the fight which made the entire bout a sluggish affair. Hopefully, both fighters can move on and have many more entertaining fights.

Up next is Calvin Kattar’s beautiful elbow to knockout Jeremy Stephens. Kattar is quickly staking his claim for a future Featherweight title shot. Kattar has become one of the most impressive fighters in the UFC and at 32 years of age, he is still in his prime and getting better. Stephens, on the other hand, has now lost his fourth straight fight and is no doubt in jeopardy of being released by the company. Stephens holds the record for the most losses in UFC history currently and if he does not pick up a win soon, we may not be seeing much more of Stephens in the UFC.

Francis N’Gannou is the scariest human being in the UFC and is the number one contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, no question about it. His 20-second knockout of Jairzinho Rozenstruik only further proves how scary N’Gannou’s hands are. N’Gannou is unfortunately stuck in this mess at the top of the UFC’s Heavyweight division as it is unclear if the Stipe-Cormier trilogy will be completed. If it is not, N’Gannou will be in whatever fight the UFC makes to determine the new Heavyweight Champion.

The co-main event saw Dominick Cruz stopped in the second round by Henry Cejudo for Cejudo to retain his Bantamweight title. The storylines for this fight came after the fight more so than during it. Starting with the champion, Cejudo retired from MMA at 33 years old vacating the Bantamweight title. This came as a shock to everyone as no one truly expected the champion to walk away so young. Cejudo seems fairly set on walking away and beginning the next chapter of his life. In a sport that seems so many greats hang on for far too long, it’s refreshing to see someone go out on top with their health in tacked . UFC President Dana White has said that if Cejudo’s retirement is serious, he will be making the fight to crown a new champion in the near future and it will include Petr Yan.

In Cejudo’s post-fight press conference, he didn’t seem thrilled with the idea of Petr Yan fighting for the Bantamweight title, but after stringing together nine straight victories and being undefeated inside the octagon, he is more than deserving of the title shot. Dominick Cruz on the other hand, his future seems a bit more unclear. Cruz is 35 now, not exactly a spring chicken for the lighter pound divisions. Cruz was stopped in his first fight back in three and a half years. Cruz’s unfortunate comments about referee Keith Peterson after the stoppage, which have already been refuted by fellow referee Herb Dean, leave Cruz looking bitter in defeat.

For clarification, Cruz stated that he smelled alcohol and cigarettes on Keith Peterson during the fight. After showing so much grace in his post-fight press conferences, like after losing the Bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt, Cruz is now painted in a much more unfavorable light. Cruz will no doubt try to heal up and put this loss behind him, but this leaves the fans wondering what is next for the former Bantamweight Champion.

Finally, the main event. Tony Ferguson, the man who was the undoubted number one contender in the Lightweight division, on a 12 fight win streak, who had nothing to gain and everything to lose, lost. Not only lost, but he was stopped in the fifth round and suffered a broken orbital bone. Khabib versus Tony, the fight that everyone wanted and that we never got, is off once again. It’s incredibly unfortunate for fight fans. Though this hurts now, and we will all still be wondering “what if” in regards to Tony and Khabib, Khabib versus Justin Gaethje will be just as exciting. This is an interesting match up for Khabib stylistically.

The last time Khabib fought someone who is known for having powerful hands was Conor McGregor which saw Khabib lose around for the first time inside the octagon. Gaethje brings that same power of McGregor but adds to it with an elite collegiate wrestling background. While Gaethje has attempted zero takedowns inside the octagon, having the wrestling background will be paramount in his fight with the wrestle-heavy Khabib. Much like Dominick Cruz, the future for Tony is uncertain. He will heal up from this fight with Gaethje and hopefully return better than ever. It’s possible he could meet Conor McGregor in a super fight or Dustin Poirier following this loss.

What were your takeaways from UFC 249?
What are you looking forward to that is coming up in the UFC?

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