Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Curtis Blaydes, UFC on ESPN+ 24’s other key winners?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Junior Dos Santos after UFC on ESPN+ 24 loss?)

After every event, fans wonder who the winners will be matched up with next.

And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on ESPN+ 24’s most noteworthy winning fighters.

Those winners include Curtis Blaydes (13-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), who defeated Junior Dos Santos (21-7 MMA, 15-6 UFC) by second-round TKO in the main event at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., as well as Michael Chiesa (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Arnold Allen (16-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and Sara McMann (12-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC).

* * * *

Sara McMann

Should fight: Raquel Pennington

Why they should fight: Former title challenger and Olympic silver medalist McMann returned from a two-year hiatus and ended her 35-month winless skid in a dominant effort against Lina Lansberg.

As is the case with many who meet McMann, the wrestling was no match and led to a lopsided result. Given McMann’s name value and achievements, that’s all she needs to move on an upward trajectory in the thin UFC women’s bantamweight division.

Inconsistency has been an issue for McMann, but perhaps this is her time to gain momentum and possibly get a rematch with champion Amanda Nunes, who beat her in 2015. McMann will need to take out at least one more top contender before that happens, though, and Pennington (10-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC), who is coming off a loss to Holly Holm at UFC 246, is someone always willing to take on a challenge.

Arnold Allen

Should fight: Josh Emmett

Why they should fight: The strong start to Allen’s UFC tenure continued when he joined the shortlist of featherweights to start 7-0 in the octagon with a solid decision win over a veteran opponent in Nik Lentz.

Allen’s past two wins against Lentz and Gilbert Melendez shows he knows how to handle experienced opponents who have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. It’s what he should be doing as a highly regarded 25-year-old prospect, but now he needs a different type of challenge.

He was originally scheduled to fight Emmett (15-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) on the card, but it fell apart when Emmett withdrew due to injury. That was the top 10 opponent Allen deserved given his streak, and considering how he handled Lentz, it’s more than clear he deserves that type of opportunity.

Michael Chiesa

Should fight: Winner of Gilbert Burns vs Demian Maia at UFC on ESPN+ 28

Why they should fight: Chiesa earned the most significant win of his welterweight run, and perhaps his UFC career overall, when he outworked former UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos to a unanimous decision. It wasn’t the prettiest of fights, but Chiesa is now 3-0 since bumping up from lightweight 13 months ago.

Chiesa made a solid callout of Colby Covington after his win, but for some reason that fight feels unlikely for him. He deservingly wants someone in the top five, but it remains to be seen how the top of the division will be booked in the coming months. Chiesa isn’t far off from being in that mix, though.

The matchup that would best suit him would be the winner of the March 14 contest in Brazil between Burns (17-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and Maia (28-9 MMA, 22-9 UFC). If Maia wins, he would be on a four-fight streak and the type of highly ranked, established name Chiesa is looking for. Should Burns turn it in his favor, he would be much in the same position of Chiesa as someone who shot up the rankings by beating someone much higher. A pairing between them would see one of them take the next step.

Curtis Blaydes

Should fight:Alexander Volkov

Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Blaydes should fight Volkov (31-7 MMA, 5-1 UFC) next after his main event victory.