• Thu. Jul 7th, 2022

UFC 275 fight fallout: Next options for Jiri Prochazka, Glover Teixeira, Valentina Shevchenko and Zhang Weili

Byaayme

Jun 13, 2022

UFC 275 may not have been the most marketable pay-per-view of the year, but it was a powder keg of action. Spectacular results set the stage for spectacular follow-ups.

Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira used their limbs as brushes and painted violent art on Saturday night. Teixeira repeatedly overcame adversity and turned the tide. Teixeira was 30 seconds away from winning a war of attrition before Prochazka did the unthinkable and tapped him with a rear-naked choke.

Valentina Shevchenko and Zhang Weili also emerged from the main card victorious. Shevchenko gutted out a win over a bigger Taila Santos and Zhang face-planted Jededrzejczyk with a spinning back fist. Both are now primed to challenge for world titles, even if Shevchenko already has one.

CBS Sports has pieced together four fights to make in the aftermath of UFC 275.

Light heavyweight division
UFC light heavyweight championship — Jiri Prochazka (c) vs. Glover Teixeira: Apologies to Jan Blachowicz, who is expecting to face Prochazka in the aftermath of UFC 275. Father Time is ticking away on this rematch, though the ageless wonder Teixeira begs to differ. Teixeira, the oldest first-time UFC champion in history, was about 30 seconds away from defending his crown at 42. It would have served as the ultimate validation of Teixeira’s 20-year journey in this sport. This might just be the frontrunner for Fight of the Year but they may not have two years to run it back as Zhang and Jededrzejczyk did. Both men absorbed immense damage on Saturday, but Teixeira has accumulated more over time. There are a lot of moving parts at light heavyweight that could disrupt this matchup like Blachowicz, Magomed Ankalaev or Anthony Smith. It may be wise to strike while the iron is hot.

Women’s flyweight and bantamweight divisions
UFC women’s bantamweight championship — Julianna Pena (c) or Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko: It is time for Shevchenko to return to women’s bantamweight. Shevchenko toughed out a split decision win over Taila Santos at UFC 275. It may not have been an awe-inspiring, dominant launching pad to a super-fight, but the reality is that women’s flyweight is hurting for fresh contenders. You will have to reach down to the winner of Alexa Grasso (No. 5) vs. Viviane Araujo (No. 7) to find Shevchenko’s next challenger at 125 pounds. Shevchenko’s only two career losses are to former women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, including a decision that many believe should have gone her way. Julianna Pena vs. Nunes 2 is set for UFC 277 on July 30. If Nunes wins, Pena will have a hard time building her case for an immediate rematch. If Pena wins, Nunes is out of the picture. Either way, the door is open for Shevchenko. The women’s flyweight champion has expressed her desire to fight for the bantamweight belt by year’s end. That should also leave room for UFC to build up challengers in both divisions like Ketlen Vieira (women’s bantamweight), Grasso and Manon Fiorot (women’s flyweight).

Women’s strawweight division
UFC women’s strawweight championship Carla Esparza (c) vs. Zhang Weili: This one is a no-brainer. Zhang just notched the biggest knockout of her career, capping off a memorable rivalry with Jededrzejczyk and sending her fellow former champion into retirement. UFC president Dana White already stated that the winner of Zhang vs. Jededrzejczyk is next in line and it makes perfect sense. Fellow contender Marina Rodriguez has fought her way back into the title scene with four wins since losing a split decision to Esparza in 2020. Unfortunately, every dollar of UFC’s promotional machine can only do so much to sell an Esparza fight after she and Rose Namajunas delivered arguably the worst UFC title fight in history. Zhang can remedy that to some degree. Book Esparza vs. Zhang, as well as Namajunas vs. Rodriguez to tee up a potential challenger for the winner.

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