Despite months of concern about his overall health, Holloway looked better than ever in a featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega. And Shevchenko breezed through a 125-pound title fight against one of the top female fighters in the world, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
What's next for Holloway, Shevchenko and the other standouts of UFC 231? Here's my take.
Max Holloway, featherweight champion
Result: Defeated Ortega via fourth-round TKO
Next: Tony Ferguson, for the interim lightweight title
Holloway's performance was nothing short of sublime and it alleviates some concern about his cut to 145 pounds. Do I believe Holloway can continue to make this weight? Yes, I do. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's his best option.
As of now, we still don't know when lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be available. His disciplinary situation with the Nevada commission from the UFC 229 brawl is still playing out. This is one case in which creating an interim title in the meantime would be perfectly defensible.
Let Holloway hang on to his featherweight title while he takes a crack at an interim 155-pound title against Ferguson. That's an insanely good matchup featuring two men I consider to be top 10 pound-for-pound. And if Holloway wins, maybe he elects to stay up. There are good fights for him at 145, but frankly, there are better ones at 155 -- and even though he has said the weight cut is no problem, I wouldn't mind if he never does it again.
Brian Ortega, featherweight
Result: Lost to Holloway via fourth-round TKO
Next: Chan Sung Jung
First and foremost, heal up. And then, in early spring, have this fight headline a UFC Fight Night or feature it prominently on a pay-per-view main card.
Jung was literally one second away from beating Yair Rodriguez last month, before getting caught on the losing side of one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history. Both of these guys are fan favorites and difficult to put away. Despite coming off losses, they're both still highly ranked.
Makes sense competitively and it's a clear fight of the night candidate on paper. Do it.
Valentina Shevchenko, flyweight champion
Result: Defeated Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision
Next: Jessica Eye
Looking at the UFC's current roster of 125-pound women, the reality is that Shevchenko is probably no worse than a 5-to-1 betting favorite over every one of them. That's not disparaging any of the women in that weight class; that's just how far ahead of the pack Shevchenko is.
To be clear, Shevchenko versus Eye is not going to get the world talking. Everyone will count Eye out -- this writer included. But that's kind of Eye's thing right now. She has embraced that overlooked-underdog role. She's feisty about it. And not to mention, she has earned it. She just beat Katlyn Chookagian, who was near the front of the flyweight line, and has won three in a row. This won't be Shevchenko's biggest title defense, but it should be her first.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk, flyweight
Result: Lost to Shevchenko via unanimous decision
Next: Tatiana Suarez
Look, there's no sugarcoating this. Jedrzejczyk is in a tough spot. She has only lost three times her entire career, but they happen to have been in three of her last four fights. She lost to the strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas, twice, and now the flyweight champ (along with three previous Muay Thai fights).
In a perfect world, Jedrzejczyk would stay at flyweight. She's healthier there. Happier. She has talked about how the cut to 115 affects her mood, her ability to recover -- everything, really. That alone is a strong argument for her to stay put.
But she's committed to going back down and if she's going to do it, the earlier the better. That cut is likely only going to get harder as she gets older. Suarez is the hot prospect-turned-title-contender of that division. There aren't many women calling her out at the moment. It's the fastest track back to a 115-pound title fight for Jedrzejczyk and the ultimate test for Suarez at this stage in her career.
Gunnar Nelson, welterweight
Nelson's entire philosophy on fighting revolves around finishing opponents, and good lord, was that ever on display at UFC 231. The elbow, choke sequence on Oliveira was not for the faint of heart.
Edwards has never been finished in his career, and he's on a six-fight win streak. The UFC is headed to London in March, and it's a pretty safe bet you'll see Edwards, who fights out of England, on that card. I will be surprised if we see anything other than this matchup for both guys.
Renato Moicano, featherweight
Result: No fight
Next: Jose Aldo
Kind of a wild-card addition to this episode of "What's Next." Moicano was the backup plan for the UFC 231 main event (in case anything happened to Holloway or Ortega) -- and that actually didn't work out too well, because he missed weight.
I said this when Moicano knocked out Cub Swanson in August, and I'll say it again: His next fight should be against Aldo. It feels like Moicano is the new, young contender, but Aldo is only two years older.
I don't know how eager Aldo would be to take this fight -- and he has earned the right to be picky -- but if his goal is to still fight for the featherweight championship, this is the kind of fight he might need to take.