Saturday’s UFC 238 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Chicago, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at United Center.
I like “CCC” as Henry Cejudo’s new nickname, and no one earned it more than the Olympic gold medalist and UFC flyweight champion who added a bantamweight title belt to his trophy case on Saturday night with a memorable come from behind win over Marlon Moraes. Moraes is no joke and we saw that as he put it on Cejudo in the opening round, but the Arizonan showed the importance of having a Plan B, and as he implemented it and turned the UFC 238 main event into a fight, well, you saw what happened. I hope Cejudo gets his shot to defend both his 125 and 135-pound titles, and if he wants to go for a third belt at 145 pounds, I’m all-in to see that.
I hate looking at one performance and thinking, “Wow, this fighter is gonna stay on top for a long time,” but that was exactly what ran through my mind when Valentina Shevchenko scored a devastating knockout of Jessica Eye last weekend. As good as Shevchenko was at 135 pounds, she’s next level at 125 pounds, and as a lifetime martial artist who truly lives the lifestyle of a fighter, she’s not going to beat herself by getting complacent or being distracted. With all that said, Shevchenko may be queen of the flyweights for as long as she wants to be.
MMA Gods, I don’t ask for much, but if you’re listening, can we see Tony Ferguson against the winner of the Khabib Nurmagomedov-Dustin Poirier fight by the end of the year, maybe January at the latest? In the meantime, Ferguson versus Conor McGregor would be pretty special too. Early Fall? These prayers should be delivered by every MMA fan after another stellar effort by “El Cucuy” against Donald Cerrone on Saturday. No, it wasn’t the ideal ending for either fighter, but before the end came, we saw that neither injuries, nor layoffs, nor out of the Octagon issues can slow down Mr. Ferguson. And if you believe he’s the best lightweight on the planet, I won’t argue with you, but let’s see him get his shot to prove it once and for all.
Aljamain Sterling finally arrived on Saturday night, and what timing for the “Funk Master,” as he put on a brilliant show against Pedro Munhoz in a bout that should propel the New Yorker into a title fight against newly crowned champ Henry Cejudo. For years, we saw the potential in Sterling, but in the biggest fight of his career, he showed that he is close to the finished product. No tune-ups necessary, let’s see Sterling fighting for the gold.
This was a tough call for the final slot here, and I could have easily made a case for Petr Yan, Alexa Grasso or Eddie Wineland to land here, but my winner here is none other than New England’s own Calvin Kattar. When we talked before the fight, he spoke of beating Lamas and joining the killers who already bested “The Bully,” guys like Max Holloway, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Simply put, if you beat Lamas, you’re a special fighter. And winning the way he did adds even more weight to his victory. Kattar is on the rise at 145 pounds. And he’s moving fast.