A welterweight champion retained his title against a heated rival. A featherweight king surrendered his crown. And a bantamweight lioness continued her dominant reign over the 135-pound division.
The UFC's last pay-pre-view event of 2019 did not disappoint, all the way down to a fifth-round knockout in a crucial welterweight title fight. It was only the fifth time in UFC history a single event featured three title fights, and the scene inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas lived up to its billing.
Kamaru Usman, welterweight
Result: Defeats Colby Covington via fifth-round TKO
Next: Jorge Masvidal
Masvidal is on the lookout for big money fights. Even after this bout, Usman isn't a superstar, but his stock just went up exponentially. His performance in the fifth round was a career-defining moment. Beating Covington by decision would have been commendable. Putting him away in the fifth like he did was spectacular. We've come a long way from the "30 percent" jokes Usman endured four fights ago.
Masvidal is deserving of a title shot. And even though he would like to hear about potential bouts against Conor McGregor and Nick Diaz, I just don't see either of those happening. And if I'm being honest, I don't think they should. Usman vs. Masvidal is the rightful welterweight title fight.
Colby Covington, welterweight
Result: Lost to Kamaru Usman via fifth-round KO
Next: Mike Perry
It will be intriguing to see what happens to Covington's stock coming off this fight. On one hand, the shtick loses some of its appeal. It just does. He built a persona around people wanting him to lose. And now he has lost. And he didn't just drop some split decision. He was knocked out in the main event of a major pay-per-view, against a rival.
Maybe this is a crazy suggestion, to have Covington drop down and fight a man who is well below him in the rankings. But the other obvious option for Covington is Tyron Woodley -- and the UFC wants him to fight Leon Edwards. That's a fight that makes a ton of sense. Perry is fun, and Covington needs to rebound somehow. This matchup is way out of left field, but I think fans would dig it.
Alex Volkanovski, featherweight
Result: Defeated Max Holloway via unanimous decision
Next: Max Holloway
Max Holloway, featherweight
Result: Lost to Alex Volkanovski via unanimous decision
Next: Alex Volkanovski
This one warrants an immediate rematch. Holloway is on a very short list as the greatest featherweight of all time. The result of this fight wasn't controversial, in my opinion, but it was competitive. And I have no trouble giving one of the best fighters in the world a chance to make adjustments and get this one back.
Holloway already was making some adjustments in the fight by going to Volkanovski's body. Volkanovski won fair and square, and no one can take this result away from him. This would not be a rematch due to controversy. It would be a rematch because it's the right thing to do.
Amanda Nunes, UFC women's bantamweight champion
Result: Defeated Germaine de Randamie by unanimous decision
Who should be next: Irene Aldana
Nunes already has beaten every woman to ever hold the UFC's bantamweight and featherweight titles. Now, she is starting to beat some of them twice. Which is to say, there isn't a whole lot else Nunes has to do at this point. She already is considered the best women's MMA fighter of all time and deservedly so. How does she further cement her legacy?
Nunes already has beaten all the big names -- the Ronda Rouseys, the Holly Holms, the Cris Cyborgs. The only thing left now is welcoming in the next generation, and that starts with Aldana, who knocked out undefeated contender Ketlen Vieira at UFC 245. That fight will be particularly interesting, since de Randamie was able to get to Nunes a bit on the feet. Aldana is a great boxer.
There probably will be a third fight down the line between Nunes and UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes has beaten her twice, but both were close, and Nunes acknowledged this week that Shevchenko was the toughest opponent she has faced. Aldana, though, has done enough for that next shot at the bantamweight title. She has won five of six and if not for a very close split decision loss to Raquel Pennington (one many thought should have been scored for Aldana) would be on a six-fight winning streak.
Nunes said she would defend her featherweight belt next, but there are no clear challengers in the shallowest division in UFC history. Another option: Have Aldana and Aspen Ladd fight in a title eliminator.
Germaine de Randamie, women's bantamweight
Result: Lost to Amanda Nunes by unanimous decision
Who should be next: Felicia Spencer
De Randamie continues to be one of the best women's bantamweight fighters in the world, but with two losses to Nunes, it seems unlikely she would get another shot at the bantamweight title any time soon. However, there is another intriguing path for the Dutch kickboxer.
De Randamie was the first-ever UFC women's featherweight champion. Why not go up to 145 and strengthen that division? Nunes is the champion there, as well. But Nunes has never beaten de Randamie at featherweight, and de Randamie showed some flaws in Nunes' armor on Saturday. If the UFC is going to continue on with the women's 145-pound division, it's going to need more talented fighters. De Randamie going back up there and facing Spencer, who is coming off a loss to Cyborg, makes a ton of sense.
Marlon Moraes, bantamweight
Result: Defeated Jose Aldo by split decision
Who should be next: Cory Sandhagen
Moraes' climb back to another possible bantamweight title shot has now begun, courtesy of a win over a legend in Aldo. That's definitely a big victory for Moraes' résumé, but he already has lost to 135-pound champion Henry Cejudo and needs to do more in order to qualify for another chance at the belt -- even if he currently is ESPN's No. 2-ranked bantamweight.
Sandhagen likely will be looking for a new opponent for UFC Raleigh on Jan. 25, with Frankie Edgar now fighting Chan Sung Jung at UFC Busan next week. Moraes potentially could slide right into that spot if he doesn't mind a quick turnaround. Or Moraes vs. Sandhagen could be pushed back. One more potential option: a rematch between Moraes and Aljamain Sterling, who surely wouldn't mind getting back a 2017 knockout loss to Moraes.
Jose Aldo, bantamweight
Result: Lost to Marlon Moraes by split decision
Who should be next: Cody Garbrandt
Aldo made 136 pounds on Friday, even though he looked disturbingly gaunt all week. The move down did not equate to a victory against the excellent Moraes, though it hardly went as poorly as most expected. Aldo was more than competitive against Moraes; no one would have complained if he won by decision. The crowd booed when the cards went for Moraes. Aldo didn't quite look like the championship version of old, but it was a quality enough performance to hang with or even beat one of the best bantamweights in the world. That's not too shabby. If Aldo wants to continue this experiment at bantamweight, it won't be an easy go.
The UFC has taken lately to pitting veteran stars against fighters they are hoping to build for the future. Garbrandt, though he is a former champ, represents just that. Garbrandt, 28, has dropped three straight and will face Raphael Assuncao at UFC Columbus on March 28. Aldo could be a fascinating matchup for "No Love," and it would continue that long-standing Nova Uniao vs. Team Alpha Male rivalry.
Petr Yan, bantamweight
Result: Defeated Urijah Faber by KO
Who should be next: Aljamain Sterling
The idea for the bout against Faber was pretty transparent. It would either give Yan a win against a big name as he continues to jet up the ranks. Or Faber would collect a legitimate scalp en route to a title shot during an epic run after returning from retirement. The former happened -- in dominant, violent fashion -- but Cejudo appears to be defending the flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez when he returns from injury. Yan has won all six of his UFC fights and has arguably done enough for a title shot. The only recourse is a title eliminator with Sterling, the current top bantamweight contender.
Urijah Faber, bantamweight
Result: Lost to Petr Yan by KO
Who should be next: Rani Yahya
A potential run for the belt was dashed for Faber on Saturday night. It's doubtful he retires, though. Faber does have a lot going on outside the cage, including about a dozen businesses and an infant daughter. But he always has been entrepreneurial, and fighting provides one heck of a profit margin. Faber banked a guaranteed $250,000 against Yan.
Faber will fight again, but it has to make sense for him. Yan might be too dangerous of a striker. Yahya is not, though he is one of the most underrated grapplers in UFC history. Both Faber, 40, and Yahya, 35, go back to the WEC days but surprisingly have never fought each other. Faber undoubtedly wants to welcome his protégée-turned-rival TJ Dillashaw back after a suspension in what would be a heck of a grudge match, but after UFC 245, that doesn't seem like the best idea.