3 fighters who should receive a title shot after UFC 300

3 fighters who should receive title shots after UFC 300

It’s quite rare that a UFC card will put forward not one, but two title contenders. But on the one-of-a-kind night that was UFC 300, which had high-level matchups from the opening bout to the main event, many potential title matchups were set up.

Coming out of last weekend’s show from Las Vegas, there are a few fighters who seem to have a clear case for a championship bout sometime in the future. Before we finally move on from what is likely the card of the year and arguably an event that can be compared to some of UFC’s best, let’s discuss some names who deserve a chance at gold soon.

Max Holloway

Max Holloway mocks Ilia Topuria's demands for potential title fight: 'That’s kind of un-BMF'

Even heading into last weekend, Max Holloway had a decent argument for a featherweight title fight.

His track record at featherweight has been phenomenal, but simply not enough to get him a chance against the king of the division in recent years. Why? Because the long-time champ, Alexander Volkanovski, beat him three different times since 2019. With a trio of losses to the top name, it was hard to justify another title fight for Holloway. However, when Ilia Topuria stopped Volkanovski earlier this year to become the new champion, things changed.

Now, Holloway is a fighter who has, apart from his losses to one fighter, gone undefeated at featherweight for a decade. Wins over Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar, Arnold Allen, and many others in the weight class. With the stellar record he has over the past few years against quality opponents, he had a solid argument for a fight against Topuria. That’s a pretty good resume, and it’s worth remembering: This was before he had his massive performance at UFC 300.

In retrospect, Saturday night was icing on the cake. Holloway put together an incredible striking performance against lightweight Justin Gaethje. He then finished it off with a career highlight, scoring a last-second walk-off knockout punch to end the fight in viral fashion. The fight turned Holloway not only into a strong contender but also a fighter riding the momentum of a popular performance.

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UFC 300 could have been a disaster for Holloway. He might have had a weaker argument for a title fight if he lost, even though the bout was in a different weight class. But luckily he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Now he can figure out what, if anything, he needs to do for a title shot.

Some might say that Holloway’s numerous title fight losses to Volkanovski and the fact that he has been in so many wars in the past give him rough odds in a fight against Topuria. There’s no doubt that Topuria will be a tough assignment for him, although it simply is the right fight to make at this moment. Since he is well qualified for a championship chance and is still in a high-level performance part of his career, it feels like the perfect time to give him a chance against Topuria.

Arman Tsarukyan

Arman Tsarukyan stops. Beneil Dariush with brutal knee knockout at UFC Austin highlight
Mandatory Credit: Zuffa LLC

Just after Arman Tsarukyan overcame Charles Oliveira in a competitive three-round decision, it looked like he would be a solid next challenge for Islam Makhachev. However, just a few hours later, it became clear that he would actually have to be the next-next challenger. This was because it was announced later in the evening that Dustin Poirier would challenge for Makhachev’s belt at UFC 302.

While Tsarukyan can’t say he’s next in line for a shot, he might be able to make that case in just a couple of month’s time once the lightweight title goes on the line once again. Due to UFC 300 and 302 being close together, it actually works quite well for Tsarukyan, if he is next up for a shot. And he should be, here’s why.

Heading into this weekend, Tsarukyan already had a strong record at lightweight. However, unlike a situation like Max Holloway, he definitely had to do more to justify a fight against Makhachev. He had nine wins at lightweight, and his two losses along the way came with interesting stories. In 2019, he lost to Makhachev, which is a defeat that has aged gracefully. And in 2022 he dropped a decision to Mateusz Gamrot, a five-round result that was highly debated. Just check out this MMADecisions page to see how people felt about that one.

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Tsarukyan has lots of wins to discuss as well. He stopped Beneil Dariush in just over a minute, beat Damir Ismagulov on scorecards and finished Joel Alvarez with strikes. His win over Oliveira this weekend—while definitely a close fight—is easily the biggest victory of his career.

It was just months ago that Oliveira was up next for a title shot. After suffering an injury in camp, the former champ was removed from his UFC 294 bout against Makhachev. He hadn’t fought in between that time and last Saturday, meaning his status as a top lightweight near a title opportunity hadn’t faded that much. Tsarukyan took that momentum from him with a narrow win and is arguably one of the best-suited challengers for the belt. That is, at least after Poirier, according to the matchmakers.

Kayla Harrison

Kayla Harrison warned against bad move to bantamweight at UFC 300 it's going to suck the life out of her

Women’s bantamweight isn’t a very populated division, meaning it doesn’t take much for a fighter to climb the rankings. If you have a few strong performances, it’s easy to make a case for a title shot.

Kayla Harrison might only have one UFC fight to her name, but she seems to also have an incredibly strong argument for the title match that she has been incredibly focused on for months — following her outing at UFC 300.

Harrison won her promotional debut in dominant fashion, submitting Holly Holm with a rear naked choke in the second round. Her victory came after a week of questions that called into doubt how she would do: Would Harrison struggle to make bantamweight, a class that she has never gone as low as? Will the weight cut hurt her performance? How will she do against UFC-level talent? By making weight, performing normally in the class and putting together a win that made her look like the far more skilled athlete, it silenced a lot of the critics and put her in a great position in the division.

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Harrison’s pre-UFC career must also be considered when weighing whether she should receive a title fight. She is coming over after a 16-fight PFL career, mainly fighting up at the rarely-seen women’s lightweight division. While she never had any huge wins in the PFL, her multi-year dominance in the promotion gave her a reputation that followed into her UFC run.

Harrison was placed fourth in the bantamweight standings this week, putting her below just a few other fighters. The only fighter ranked above her that hasn’t received a title shot in the past is Ketlen Vieira. There’s certainly a case to make that Harrison isn’t the definitive next challenger for the bantamweight belt. However, when you consider that she is a fresh face in the division, had a strong debut against a respected opponent, and has the hype from her successful PFL run, it seems likely that she could get an opportunity for a title soon. And if she does get that chance, it’s hard to argue against it.

UFC 300 Was A Big Night For Making Contenders

Even when looking beyond examples of fighters who could get a title shot immediately, UFC 300 had many bouts that presented talents who could be just one fight away from being in that position.

Take for example former light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochakza, who stopped Aleksandar Rakic in the second round. Or Aljamain Sterling, who bounced back from a title loss and won his featherweight debut. Jessica Andrade might have even gotten a step closer to a rematch against Zhang Weili with her prelim victory over Marina Rodriguez.

It will be interesting to look back on UFC 300 in a few months and see where the winners on this show have gone. Chances are, at least a few will be in title shots, and maybe even one of them will go on to become champion.

Who would you grant a title fight off the back of UFC 300?