Callout Collection: Who UFC 259 winners want next – and how likely they’ll get them

Earning wins in the UFC is certainly no easy task, but what comes next is often even more important: the post-fight callout.

So, after Saturday’s UFC 259 event in Las Vegas, who took advantage of their time on the mic?

See below for this week’s Callout Collection – and just how realistic each one is.

Amanda Lemos

Wants to fight: Michelle Waterson or Angela Hill

The callout: “I want to be more active, I think I deserve it. I’m fighting once a year. I showed again tonight that I can be in the octagon and put on big fights. And that is all I want: more opportunities and to show my work, my evolution. May, June. I want to fight against a top 10 like Michelle Waterson or Angela Hill, these girls that are ranked above me. I want to fight.”

The reality: Since her debut defeat to Leslie Smith, Amanda Lemos has looked superb in the octagon, with her win over No. 15-ranked Livinia Souza giving her a three-fight winning streak heading into the summer. Now the Brazilian wants opposition with some real name recognition, and her namechecks of Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill both make a ton of sense as she targets her next assignment.

Waterson is already coming off a win over Hill and is likely to be eyeing targets above her current No. 8 ranking, but if “Overkill” is successful in her rearranged bout against Ashley Yoder at UFC Fight Night 187, the always-active Hill may be able to be persuaded to make a relatively swift turnaround to face Lemos in the summer. If a bout with Hill isn’t viable, a matchup with No. 14-ranked Felice Herrig, who is currently on a three-fight skid, might be an alternative option.

Sean Brady

Wants to fight: Li Jingliang or Robbie Lawler

The callout: “Top 15, I know there’s ‘The Leech,’ there’s Robbie Lawler, there’s a lot of names in that top 15. So if any of them come across from me, I’m signing.”

The reality: Sean Brady continues to impress inside the octagon, and his skill and patience were on full display in his third-round submission win over Jake Matthews at UFC 259. Now he wants to move up the ladder, and has identified former champ Robbie Lawler and Chinese fan-favorite Li Jingliang as possible opponents.

Jingliang is likely to be targeting top 10 opposition after his finish of Santiago Ponzinibbio, but with options pretty limited at 170 pounds, Brady’s undefeated record may give him a shot at “The Leech.” Lawler would be a fascinating test, but stylistically and from a career trajectory standpoint, a bout with Jingliang looks like an ideal next test.

Askar Askarov

Wants to fight: Deiveson Figueiredo

The callout: “I’m going to improve my game and I think I’m ready for the title. This is the message I want to send to Dana White: Dana, all the guys I’ve fought in the UFC have been Top 1, Top 2, Top 3. I’ve fought all the top-ranked guys and I beat them. I’m here. I’m ready for this title. It doesn’t matter who has it, I want to fight for it.”

The reality: Askar Askarov has done virtually everything asked of him since arriving in the UFC. His debut saw him battle to a draw with current top contender Brandon Moreno, and the former ACB champion has since picked up decision wins over Tim Elliott, Alexandre Pantoja and Joseph Benavidez. If there’s any justice, it should mean the Russian is installed as the next challenger for the 125-pound title.

There’s the unfinished business between champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Moreno to deal with, first. But after dominating a four-time title challenger in impressive fashion, there really isn’t much more for Askarov to prove. The only blemish on his weekend was his failure to make weight, but if he can assure the UFC that it was a blip and not an ongoing problem, he should be handed the next title shot at 125 pounds.

Dominick Cruz

Wants to fight: Hans Molenkamp

The callout: “This was a callout because he calls himself a pro fighter. He’s got 100 pounds weight on me, and I’m like, we can make this a win-win situation,” he said. “Let’s do a charity event. Monster picks the charity, and we scrap it out. He says he’s got three pro fights. Let’s prove it. Put your money where your mouth is. You’ve got a little tiny guy calling you out for charity. Not for anything else. Why not?”

The reality: Virtually none, I suspect. Cruz’s callout of Monster Energy’s sponsorship exec Hans Molenkamp was clearly about making a point about some behind-the-scenes goings-on that he isn’t happy with, and the former bantamweight champ even successfully brought UFC president Dana White into the conversation. In that regard, he’s probably already made his point. As for the fight itself, it seems improbable, at best. Maybe we’ll see a clip of a sparring session, or some scrambling on the mats, on social media at some point. But an actual bout between the pair? Highly unlikely. Even if it is for charity.

Aleksandar Rakic

Wants to fight: Jan Blachowicz

The callout: “I want the title shot. Thiago is the third former title challenger I beat and come on, I deserve it. I want all the pieces of the cake.”

The reality: Aleksandar Rakic is in a similar position to the one occupied by Ciryl Gane following his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Both men headed into the bout with many viewing the matchup as an opportunity to make a statement and push themselves toward the front of the title queue. But, while both men won, there was a sense that there could potentially have been more.

Rakic was controlled, composed and a deserved winner against former title challenger Thiago Santos, but perhaps didn’t open up and let his shots go with the same ferocity we’ve seen from him earlier in his UFC run. Obviously, there was a lot on the line, and Santos is a dangerous striker himself, but with Glover Teixeira sat at octagonside during proceedings, Rakic almost certainly didn’t do enough to unseat the Brazilian veteran as the top contender for Blachowicz’s 205-pound title.

It means Rakic will likely have to pick up one more win before he finds himself within touching distance of a title shot, and a bout against the winner of the upcoming Jiri Prochazka vs. Dominick Reyes clash on May 1 looks his most likely next assignment.

Islam Makhachev

Wants to fight: Tony Ferguson

The callout: “In 2021 I have to fight two more times and in the beginning of 2022, I have to fight for the title. My dream fight is Tony Ferguson. That’s my dream fight. I just want to make him retire. He talks too much. Khabib is retired, now he keeps pressuring him, for what? I’m here, I have a seven-fight win streak, make this happen.”

The reality: Islam Makhachev needed to make a statement upon his return to UFC action, and his submission finish of Drew Dober did just that. However, I’m not sure whether he’s directed his callout at the right man.

Tony Ferguson is dangerous, undorthodox and a former interim champion. But after losses to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira, he’s also on a two-fight skid. If Makhachev really wants to make some noise and upset the applecart at 155 pounds, I think he should have called out the one man who nobody else seems to be calling for – Oliveira.

Both men are outstanding on the mat, albeit with very different styles, and they are both capable of throwing hands to great effect, too. Victory over “Charlie Olives” would likely see Makhachev leapfrog both the Brazilian and Gaethje and catapult the Russian to the front of the queue, alongside the likes of Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. Beating Ferguson is no joke, but the upside to defeating “El Cucuy” now isn’t as appetizing as it was 12 months ago.

In pictures: UFC 259

In pictures: UFC 259 scorecards

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/lists/ufc-259-callout-collection-islam-makhachev-aleksandar-rakic-dominick-cruz

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