Charles Oliveira answered questions about his legitimacy as UFC lightweight champion when he defeated Dustin Poirier via submission in the main event of UFC 269.
Julianna Pena silenced many doubters when she took the UFC women’s bantamweight title from Amanda Nunes via submission in the co-headlining bout on Saturday.
But the event, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, left fans, fighters and the UFC with some questions to ponder. Read on for six questions that the UFC’s final pay-per-view card of 2021 left hanging in the air.
Does Dustin Poirier want it?
Dustin Poirier fell short of his bid to become the undisputed UFC champion on Saturday night. It was the second time Poirier failed to reach the pinnacle of the UFC. Poirier’s first title fight setback came in 2019 when Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted him in a title unification bout.
Following his submission loss to UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 269, the 32-year-old, who has been with the WEC/UFC since 2010, offered his thoughts on what the future could hold for him.
“I can do anything I put my mind to. I can fight for another belt. I can go on another streak. I can claw and climb and get back to wherever I want to be. It’s just, do I want to? That’s the question I have to look in the mirror and answer,” Poirier said at the UFC 269 post-fight press conference. “Do I want to do it again? Do I want to go down that road again? That answer will come in the next couple of days or next couple of weeks. I’m going to let this pass and see what’s next for me, but if it’s in my heart and that’s what I want to do, I’ll be here again fighting for another world title.”
If Poirier decides he doesn’t want to go through those trials and tribulations again, it would be understandable, and I don’t think anyone should begrudge him that decision. The Dustin Poirier of late 2021 is a different man than the Dustin Poirier of 2010. He has a family, he has a charitable foundation. He has different priorities and motivations. In short, Poirier is much more than a fighter.
With that being said, if Poirier wants to go through the grind again, I suspect he will fight for a UFC title again.
Can Amanda Nunes check back in?
After her massive upset loss at the hands of Julianna Pena, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes acknowledged she was not dialed in for the co-main event of UFC 269.
“I just today checked out. I still need to work on a couple of things,” Nunes told UFC commentator Joe Rogan after her submission loss. “I’m going to keep working until I fix them, and soon I will come back to the gym and come back here. Thank you guys for all the cheers. I’ll see you guys all again soon.”
The Nunes we saw at UFC 269 was not the Nunes we have been accustomed to seeing. She was not the dominating fighter she has been over the past few years. In fact, it seemed as if she was lost once Pena took over the striking exchanges and that she was looking for a way out when she tapped to the rear-naked choke sans hooks.
Nunes has been at the top of the women’s bantamweight division for over five years. That’s a long time for a UFC fighter to have a target on their back and, as we have seen in this sport many times, eventually the competition catches up to the titleholders. I’m not sure if that’s the case for Nunes or if UFC 269 was just not her night.
What does Kayla Harrison do?
A fight between Amanda Nunes and Kayla Harrison can still be made, but that matchup lost a lot of appeal with Nunes losing on Saturday night. With Nunes losing, any bargaining power Harrison had over the UFC went out the window.
Can Cody Garbrandt rebound?
Former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt thought a drop to 125 pounds and a win over Kai Kara-France at UFC 269 would be step one for his “flyweight takeover.”
Instead, Kara-France knocked out Garbrandt and announced that he would like a shot at the winner of the upcoming fight between champion Brandon Moreno and former champ Deiveson Figueiredo.
Garbrandt is now 1-5 since 2017 and he’s been knocked out in four of those losses. I don’t think the UFC is going to part ways with Garbrandt. I also don’t think the UFC is going to give a former champion “easy” fights. With that, Garbrandt needs to do some serious thinking about how he’s going to approach his career post-UFC 269.
Is the UFC really going to pay Sean O’Malley?
UFC president Dana White might have said the quiet part out loud on Saturday night. In the lead up to UFC 269, White said that Sean O’Malley wasn’t ready for ranked competition.
On Saturday night, after O’Malley knocked out Raulian Paiva, White said, “When you talk to him, two things: he wants to get paid, and he wants to fight higher-level competition. Looks like we’re gonna have to pay him. Get him some fights.”
Which begs the question, was White’s pre-fight comment just a smokescreen to avoid paying O’Malley to fight tough competition?
Did Daniel Cormier listen to Dominick Cruz?
Daniel Cormier was not happy that his sometime commentary partner Dominick Cruz said he mutes Cormier’s commentary when he watches fights and that the former two-division champion, “doesn’t do the homework.”
I have been critical of Cormier’s commentary in the past, mostly because he seems unwilling or unable to learn or acknowledge the Unified Rules Of MMA when it comes to scoring and his insistence on trying to get laughs from Joe Rogan. With that being said, I noticed an improvement in Cormier’s commentary during UFC 269.
I don’t know if Cormier’s improvement on the mic was because he took what Cruz said to heart or if UFC 269 was an anomaly, but I hope Cormier attempts to get better at calling UFC fights.
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