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 on ESPN+ 38 event in Abu Dhabi, who took advantage of their time on the mic?
See below for this week’s Callout Collection – and just how realistic each one is.
Wants to fight: Bobby Green
The callout: “I have names. Bobby Green, take the fight! Like Khamzat (Chimaev) says: ‘I smash you!’”
The reality: Bobby Green is no stranger to the callout game, so there’s a fair chance he will have enjoyed seeing Fares Ziam calling him out for a fight. Whether “King” thinks it’s the sort of fight he needs at this point in his career is another matter, however.
Green is riding a three-fight winning streak, having picked up unanimous decision victories over Clay Guida, Lando Vannata and Alan Patrick, and with all due respect to Ziam, I’m not sure that a win over the Frenchman is going to elevate the American’s stock given the names he already has on his record. He’s also set to face Thiago Moises in Las Vegas later this month.
It’s a bold callout, but short of a late-notice replacement call-up, it looks like an unlikely long-shot challenge.
Jun Yong Park
Wants to fight: Khamzat Chimaev
The callout: “Does he want to fight me? Where is he? I saw him around here somewhere. Yeah, we’ll go find a nightclub somewhere. We’ll fight there!”
The reality: From being the hunter, it seems Khamzat Chimaev is becoming the hunted, with people now beginning to call him out. However, Jun Yong Park’s grinning call to scrap with “The Wolf” will only pay off if the UFC opts to take a slow-play approach to Chimaev’s career.
The general view following Chimaev’s three octagon wins so far is that he’s ready to move up and face some of the established names, at either 170 or 185 pounds, so on the face of it a fight with a largely unheralded prospect like Park doesn’t seem like the fight to make. However, if the UFC fancies repeating the trick and running two Chimaev fights in relatively quick succession, they may see Park as a potential option.
More likely, though, is the UFC will put Chimaev against someone with more cache to his name, and a fight with someone like Neil Magny or Stephen Thompson would seem more realistic at this point.
It’s a nice callout, and one that will get him a few column inches during this weekend’s recaps, but the Chimaev ship has likely already sailed.
Wants to fight: Antonina Shevchenko
The callout: “I believe she’s ranked 12 or 13. I’d love to see Antonina Shevchenko across the cage from me. I think she’s a great matchup and I’m just trying to move up – so anyone from 1 through 14, really.”
The reality: In terms of the type of opponent she should face next, Gillian Robertson has set her sights just right, but with Shevchenko booked to face Ariane Lipski at UFC 255 in November, she’ll have to sit tight and wait to see if that’s a matchup that will make sense. Also, it likely won’t happen until 2021.
So, if Robertson wants to get back in there before the turn of the year, she’ll have to look elsewhere for suitable opposition. Alexis Davis is listed 11th in the official UFC rankings, and is on a three-fight skid, with her recent losses all coming against higher-ranked opposition. That may be a solid option for Robertson and, if she can surpass the performance of some of her higher-ranked rivals, it could propel her toward bigger and better things in 2021.
Wants to fight: Islam Makhachev
The callout: “I know that Islam Makhachev doesn’t have an opponent next weekend. I’m here and I’m ready to fight. Maybe I’m going to rest this evening, I’m going to rest tomorrow, and the day after that I’ll get to work again and start dropping weight again. I’m not stupid, but he wants probably top 15, top 10 guys and I’m like the new guy. But still, if something (happens), I’m here, and I’m ready.”
The reality: This one might have half a chance, depending on how Makhachev’s team views the situation. The Russian has seen prior bookings with Alexander Hernandez (at UFC 249) and Rafael dos Anjos (at UFC 254) fall by the wayside due to issues relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and as a result hasn’t stepped into the octagon since his September 2019 win over Davi Ramos. If he’s particularly keen to get the show back on the road, the option of facing Kutateladze may appeal. But the Georgian showed enough on his debut to suggest that he won’t be a pushover for Makhachev.
If Makhachev’s camp is confident, and he still wants to fight Saturday, it’s a matchup that would offer additional intrigue to an already stacked card. Personally, I’d love to see it, but I’m not 100 percent sure whether the Makhachev camp will pull the trigger on it. We’ll see.
Wants to fight: Joaquin Buckley
The callout: “Listen, this dude – people just know him from his viral video, for his viral knockout. (It was a) beautiful knockout. I’m not going to rag on that. The dude’s a (expletive)box. … I’ll go back up to middleweight and whoop his ass. I don’t give a (expletive). Normally I need only 24 hours to go up to middleweight. He can get it, though. We can figure this out, no problem. I know he’s got a fight set, but I’ll go back up to middleweight for that. No problem. Easy work.”
The reality: Did anyone see that coming? James Krause arrived at the post-fight press conference spitting fire when he put last weekend’s knockout hero, Joaquin Buckley, on blast, then said he’d be more than happy to step up to 185 pounds and face him.
While I’m usually all for rivalries and bad blood being settled inside the octagon, I’m not sure the fight really makes sense for either man in this case. After handing the dangerous Claudio Silva his second career defeat at UFC on ESPN+ 38, Krause should be targeting ranked opposition in the UFC’s welterweight division, while Buckley will surely be better off facing an experienced 185-pounder to help establish his credentials in the middleweight class.
Krause has certainly let it be known that he’s no fan of Buckley, but that ill-feeling can’t really be converted into a career-furthering matchup for either man so, for me, it’s one that’s probably best left alone from a matchmaking perspective.
Wants to fight: Nikita Krylov
The callout: “I like (Krylov) because he has Kyokushin spirit. I just like him. I reckon that’d be a banger. It’d be the toughest of my career. But if not, I’ll fight anyone. I don’t give a (expletive).”
The reality: I love this callout from Jimmy Crute. He’s man looking to make some headway in the increasingly crowded light heavyweight division, and calling out a fringe contender like Krylov looks like a perfectly pitched challenge.
The Aussie is on a tear, and deserves a crack at some top-level opposition, while Krylov is on the periphery of contention at 205 having picked up notable wins over Ovince Saint-Preux and Johnny Walker, but lost out to current champ Jan Blachowicz and former title challenger Glover Teixeira. It would mean Krylov is fighting down the batting order a little, but as a matchup that could set up either man for a bigger fight early in 2020, this one could be a very nice addition to one of the UFC’s December cards, fitness permitting.
Wants to fight: Valentina Shevchenko
The callout: “I think I can put up a fight against Valentina. It’s something that should have happened already in other organizations, so I think I’m going to make a difference and put on shows in this division.”
The reality: Who on earth can mount a challenge to all-conquering UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko? It’s a question that the MMA world has struggled to find an answer to for the last 18 months. But Jessica Andrade thinks she might be the one to step in and give “Bullet” the toughest night of her championship reign so far.
Former strawweight champion Andrade has shown she has the temperament for the big occasion, and has no problem playing the role of the underdog. But what she does possess is the sort of ferocity that could offer a fresh challenge for Shevchenko, who might just be, along with Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC’s most dominant current champion.
The former strawweight champ is looking to reinvent herself as a flyweight, and her victory over former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian showed that she’s arrived at 125 pounds as an instant contender after finishing her faster than Shevchenko did earlier this year.
Shevchenko’s set to face Jennifer Maia at UFC 255, but thanks to her first-round finish of Chookagian, Andrade may well have blasted her way to the front of the queue to face the winner in 2021.