UFC 195 lit up the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 2. While most of the western world was still nursing New Year’s hangovers or reconsidering ill-fated resolutions, Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit put on their own fireworks display inside the octagon. When the smoke cleared, Lawler remained champion, but Condit could still stand proud, knowing that he had just put on a career-defining performance.

Beyond the main event, several other fighters put on impressive performances that will lead to bigger fights and tougher competition in their immediate future. Let’s take a look at what’s next for the top performers after UFC 195.

Robbie Lawler

Possible Fights: Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley

Let UFC 195 be a lesson to all of Robbie Lawler’s future opponents: If you want to take out the current welterweight champ, bring baseball bat, brass knuckles, a steel chair, and a bottle of ether, because as Condit learned on Saturday night, a steady five-round barrage of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows simply won’t do the job.

Lawler had already shown a superhuman toughness in his title defense against Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 in July, 2015, and further hammered that fact home during his inspirational, violent, and yes, somewhat controversial win over Condit at UFC 195.  

Over the course of five rounds, Lawler controlled the center of the octagon, showed improved striking defense, and threw heavy leather at Condit’s head and body.  Although the champ landed with less frequency than the challenger, he made up for volume with power and ferocity, bloodying Condit’s face, pushing him to his physical and mental limit, and giving fans one of the single greatest rounds in MMA history.

In the end, the judges favoured Lawler’s power and damage over Condit’s variety and volume, awarding the champ with a split decision win. The court of public opinion has been similarly split by the fight outcome, although a majority of MMA media pundits seem to be leaning in Condit’s favor.  

Regardless of where you fall on the scale, there’s one simple way to clear the air. Let them heal up, then book Lawler-Condit II for UFC 200 in July 2016. Condit deserves it. The fans deserve it. Lawler even called for it during his post-fight interview.

That being said, as excited as everyone should be at the prospect of Lawler-Condit II, there are a couple of problems with the immediate rematch scenario:

1) Condit openly discussed contemplating retirement at the post-fight press conference (Say it ain’t so).

2) Tyron Woodley

Woodley, the athletic wrestler, power puncher, and top five UFC welterweight contender, has been inactive for nearly a year, after a less than memorable – but nonetheless impressive – decision win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 183 in January 2015. He was scheduled to fight former WW champ Johny Hendricks at UFC 193 in October, but the fight was cancelled due to Hendricks’ body shutting down after a botched weight cut. In the wake of the deer meat debacle, Woodley was all but promised a title shot against the winner of Lawler vs Condit. Unfortunately for Woodley, UFC 195’s main event lived up to fans’ expectations like very few fights ever have, and left both fans and media wondering what will happen when Lawler and Condit clash again. If, however, Condit decides to step away from MMA for a while, Woodley is chomping at the bit and has the speed and power to give Lawler a run for his money.

Carlos Condit

Possible Fights: Robbie Lawler, Rory MacDonald

Normally, these What’s Next? pieces focus on the future fight paths of the night’s big winners, but if you have any understanding of MMA, you’ll understand why Condit deserves an honorable mention here. Condit peppered Lawler’s head, body, and legs with diverse and creative strikes over the course of the first four rounds, and threw caution to the wind, going punch for punch with the champ during their fifth round war.

Despite coming out on the losing end of an incredibly close split decision in the main event of UFC 195, Condit’s stock has never been higher. At the post-fight press conference, he was respectful to the champ in defeat, and acknowledged how close the fight truly was. He was also very honest about where his own head is at, stating he may even consider retirement after losing his second bid for UFC gold – the first being a loss to Georges St. Pierre in a title unification bout at UFC 154 in 2012.

After a fight like Lawler-Condit I, it seems impossible to imagine a world where Carlos Condit never steps inside the octagon again. So, instead, let’s imagine a world where he gets an immediate rematch with Lawler.

UFC 195 proved that they are two fighters at the top of their game, and regardless of whether you believe Lawler or Condit won the fight, it’s hard to argue that both deserve the opportunity to lay it on the line one more time.

However, if the UFC decides to honor their deal with Woodley by giving him the next shot at WW gold, Condit has another potentially exciting rematch waiting for him in the form of MacDonald.

In June 2010, Condit entered the octagon to face a 20-year-old in MacDonald, in what many thought would be a clear cut, dominating victory for “The Natural Born Killer”. Much to everyone’s surprise, the baby-faced MacDonald brought the fight to Condit, and had him in trouble several times during rounds one and two. Condit entered the third round with a fire lit under his ass and rallied for a TKO finish, handing MacDonald his first professional loss in the process. Since that time, MacDonald in particular has argued for a rematch on several occasions. With both fighters coming off of amazing performances against Lawler, it would be perfect timing for a second date.

Stipe Miocic

Possible Fights: For Dana White’s safety, please book Miocic against the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez

For any rational human being, MMA is a scary sport. The idea of getting punched or kicked in the head, or having a limb ripped off by a trained MMA fighter is a rightfully terrifying prospect. But as scary as that is, sometimes the punching, kicking, and limb-ripping aren’t nearly as terrifying as the testosterone-and-adrenaline fueled emotional outbursts of a fighter after the contest ends.

Case in point: Stipe Miocic. The Ohio native’s boxing is good. Scary good. He put it on display in a five-round beatdown of the iron-chinned Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 65 in May 2015. He proved it again at UFC 195 by lighting Andrei Arlovski up on the feet, dropping him with two hard right hands to the jaw, and finishing him with ground-n-pound at less than a minute into round one of their fight.

You watch Stipe bring other heavyweights to their knees with punches and you think “That’s terrifying”. Then, your eyes go wide as you see Stipe screaming through the cage at Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, every muscle in his body contracted, demanding a title shot. You watch him walk away momentarily, only to stomp back to scream at his bosses one more time. Hell, you start to fear for Joe Rogan’s well-being when Stipe compliments Rogan’s purple shirt during the post-fight interview.

Werdum will defend his title against Cain Velasquez for a second time at UFC 196 on February 6th. Based on the Arlovski TKO and post-fight Hulk-out, all signs point to Miocic being next in line for the winner.

In the meantime, the marketing department at Monster Energy drink better be paying attention, because they just found their new mascot.

Dustin Poirier

Possible Fights: Nate Diaz, Beneil Dariush, Al Iaquinta

On January 2, 2016, one day after celebrating the five year anniversary of his first UFC fight, Dustin Poirier put on one of the most impressive performances of his MMA career against the tough, talented Irish standout, Joe Duffy.  For three rounds on the UFC Fight Pass prelims, Poirier won the stand-up exchanges, scored takedowns at will, and absolutely punished Duffy with punches and elbows on the ground.

It was surprising just how easily “The Diamond” took down Duffy and continually broke his guard control to batter the Irishmen’s face. All credit to Duffy, who stayed active and was actually smiling at Poirier as he was being smashed with elbows, but this was Poirier’s fight through and through.

Poirier has looked impressive in all three of his fights since moving back up to Lightweight in early 2015. With his third straight win in the division coming against the man with the title of “Last fighter to beat Conor McGregor”, Poirier is now in a position to start looking at other notable lightweight names.

As mentioned in the What’s Next – UFC on FOX 17 Edition, Nate Diaz has the boxing skills and ground game to give Poirier an exciting taste of top 10 competition. Although, if Diaz has any say in the matter, he’ll be welcoming McGregor to the Lightweight division later this year.

With Diaz having his eyes on a big payday versus “The Notorious” featherweight champ, Poirier may have to do some MMA math in choosing to pick a fight with either Beneil Dariush or “Raging” Al Iaquinta.  Both fighters have strong wrestling games and have shown improved striking, and much like Poirier are hovering on the border of top 10 competition. A definitive win over either up-and-comer would prove Poirier is ready for the division’s top talent.