Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Khabib Nurmagomedov and UFC 229’s other winning fighters?

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 229’s losing fighters?)

The biggest event in UFC history took place on Saturday with UFC 229. The five-fight main card aired on pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and despite everything being overshadowed by the brawl after the main event, the performances from all the winners were impressive.

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) registered the most important win on the card when he defeated Conor McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) by fourth-round submission to defend his UFC lightweight tile for the first time, but Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) , Dominick Reyes (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC), Derrick Lewis (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC) and Michelle Waterson (16-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC) also emerged victorious in critical bouts.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 229’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Michelle Waterson

Should fight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Why they should fight: Waterson put on one of the more complete showings of her UFC career when she beat Felice Herrig by unanimous decision in a key matchup for the strawweight division.

“The Karate Hottie” has had some inconsistency in her UFC career, but it appears that she’s hit her stride, and that means there are some interesting fights ahead for the former Invicta FC champ at 115 pounds.

Waterson called for a matchup with Kowalkiewicz (12-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) earlier this year, but her wish wasn’t granted. With the Polish fighter coming off a knockout loss to top contender Jessica Andrade at UFC 228 in September, though, the timing could be right to pair her against Waterson.

Derrick Lewis

Should fight: Curtis Blaydes or UFC heavyweight champion
Why they should fight: Already a fan-favorite, Lewis won over the hearts of many more when he scored the biggest statistical comeback in UFC history with a epic knockout of Alexander Volkov in a fight he was just 11 seconds away from losing on the scorecards.

Lewis has now won nine of his past 10 fights inside the octagon and has beaten some solid heavyweight competition along the way. His victory over Volkov will live in UFC infamy, and it put “The Black Beast” on the cusp of a title shot – even if he thinks he’s not quite ready for it yet.

Few would argue with Lewis fighting for the title next, but with Daniel Cormier set to defend against Brock Lesnar next year, there’s going to be a bit of a wait until an opportunity to fight for the gold opens up. That leaves Lewis looking at a fight with Blaydes (10-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who is booked to face Francis Ngannou in November’s UFC Fight Night 141 headliner. If Blaydes wins a fight with Lewis is about as legitimate a No. 1 contender matchup as you can get.

Should Blaydes lose to Ngannou, though, then Lewis should wait for the Cormier vs. Lesnar. Lewis just beat Ngannou at UFC 226 in July, and although he would be coming off a key win over Blaydes, everyone remembers what happened the last time he fought Lewis, and, well, no one wants to see that again this soon.

Dominick Reyes

Should fight: Jan Blachowicz
Why they should fight: There’s been a hunger for new light heavyweight contenders to arrive on the scene for the past several years. After thoroughly handling Ovince Saint Preux for a lopsided decision, it appears Reyes could be that guy.

Reyes’ performance against Saint Preux turned him from prospect to contender, and he made it clear at the post-fight news conference who he wants next: Blachowicz (23-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC).

Like Reyes, Blachowicz is currently on a four-fight winning streak at 205 pounds and is talking title shots. He hasn’t done enough to break into the absolute cream of the crop in the division and get that opportunity, but a matchup with Reyes would set up the winer to get there.

Tony Ferguson

Should fight: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Ferguson should challenge Nurmagomedov for the title next after his victory over Anthony Pettis.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Should fight: Tony Ferguson
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Nurmagomedov should fight Ferguson next for his second title defense.

For complete coverage of UFC 229, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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