UFC 290 Aftermath: Predicting the Next Big Matches
UFC 290 gave fans an unforgettable night of fights, from four knockouts in 38 seconds or less to three electrifying matchups, including two championship bouts. As we reflect on the biggest results, excitement abounds about what’s next for the winners and how they may impact future matches. Now that UFC 290 is in the books, let’s explore which fights could be on the horizon – which clashes could headline future events?
The Main Event
Alexander Volkanovski faced up against featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez in the main event. Even though Volkanovski’s much-heralded 22-fight winning streak—12 of which came in the UFC—came to an end in a champion-versus-champion showdown against Islam Makhachev, where he lost by a razor-thin decision—he was still the man to beat at 145 pounds because he had never lost in the weight class and had made four successful title defenses.
Despite becoming the interim featherweight champion, Rodriguez only had a two-fight winning run. He had narrowly lost a five-round decision to former champion Max Holloway in late 2021. Still, he had rebounded well, defeating an injured Brian Ortega late in Round 1 and then pounding Josh Emmett mercilessly before submitting him late in Round 2 to win the interim title.
Volkanovski frequently knocked Rodriguez to the ground and pummeled him with punches and elbows despite a few strong attacks from Rodriguez on the feet. Volkanovski defeated the Mexican opponent in the third round with a stunning right-hand counter to a kick that had injured him severely. He then finished the Mexican opponent with blows to the ground.
Pantoja Defeats Moreno
Flyweight champion Brandon Moreno attempted a third time to overcome rival Alexandre Patonja in the co-main event. In January, Moreno succeeded against Deiveson Figueiredo, winning by third-round TKO to capture the UFC flyweight championship for a second time. Pantoja, who has two wins over a young Moreno, was the formidable opponent he selected because he was eager to finally face someone fresh. He used a rear-naked choke to finish Moreno off on “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2016, and he later triumphed in a judges’ decision on a Fight Night show in 2018.
Outside of the fight, Pantoja has had less success than Moreno, losing to Askar Askarov in 2020 and being thoroughly outclassed by Figueiredo in 2019. The UFC oddly allowed Askarov to depart the company. However, Pantoja was on a three-fight winning run going into the championship matchup after submitting top contenders Brandon Royval and Alex Perez after comfortably defeating Rizin champion Manel Kape. He undoubtedly wants to get Moreno’s phone number.
What followed was a real martial arts classic, with the two guys trading blows back and forth for 25 uninterrupted minutes while engaging in ground, air, and ground grappling attacks. Ultimately, it was difficult to determine who had exerted sufficient effort, but Pantoja, 33, emerged victorious after a split decision, taking the title of new flyweight king.
UFC 290 was an incredible night of fights featuring four knockouts in 38 seconds or less and three electrifying matchups. Alexander Volkanovski effectively defended his featherweight title against Yair Rodriguez, while Alexandre Pantoja emerged as the new flyweight king after a split-decision victory over Brandon Moreno. These two champions are now set to face off for what could be one of the biggest bouts in UFC history, with online sports betting sure to heat up around their potential matchup.