UFC 276 was an evening of standout performances. Israel Adesanya averted any highly effective strikes that would’ve given Jared Cannonier momentum and gained a unanimous choice victory. Alexander Volkanovski made certain there was no debate after the trilogy battle, pitching a shutout in opposition to Max Holloway to retain the featherweight title. Alex Pereira had no downside knocking out Sean Strickland within the first spherical of their middleweight bout, and Jalin Turner did not even give Brad Riddell an opportunity to get going earlier than submitting him within the first spherical.
The one battle that did not ship included one of many sport’s most-discussed prospects in Sean O’Malley whose bout in opposition to Pedro Munhoz was dominated a no choice after an unintended eye poke.
So who’s up subsequent for the title holders and high contenders? How does the UFC e-book O’Malley shifting ahead? Time to play matchmaker.
Israel Adesanya, middleweight
Who ought to be subsequent: Alex Pereira
Nicely, Adesanya knew his subsequent title protection would come from the battle earlier on the cardboard. And it was an ideal state of affairs, as a result of there can be enchantment both approach.
Both he was going to get the trash-talking Sean Strickland, or the guy who beat him twice in kickboxing in Pereira. Finish of the day, it is Pereira, and Pereira did everybody a stable by not simply beating Strickland, however doing so emphatically.
Adesanya is seeking to be energetic and desires to rack up these title defenses, and this is a wonderful alternative for him (and the game) to see some new blood and have a storyline behind the battle concurrently. Plus, Pereira is clearly very harmful.
Wild card: Winner of Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold on Aug. 20
Simply throwing it on the market as another choice, but it surely’s not a brilliant lifelike one. If Costa have been to knock out Rockhold, he’s within the neighborhood of a title shot, and his first battle in opposition to Adesanya did nicely on the field workplace.
As for Rockhold, it will really feel foolish to present him a title shot off one win over Costa, however Adesanya wants new challenges and Rockhold nonetheless has the shine of being a former champion.
This can be a determined wildcard choose although. Subsequent to no probability that is the battle the UFC makes.
Alexander Volkanovski, featherweight champion
Who ought to be subsequent: Winner of Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez on July 16
Volkanovski desires to maneuver up, and he deserves to. I need to see him get that chance. He could be the very best pound-for-pound fighter on the earth proper now. Give him that light-weight shot.
Nonetheless, timing is every thing on this sport, and I do not assume the timing works in his favor at this second. I do not assume the UFC goes to skip its light-weight title challengers in favor of Volkanovski proper now. I believe the promotion will do it in some unspecified time in the future, however proper now, you have obtained Islam Makhachev deserving of a shot. And as a lot as I hate to say it, you have obtained the champ, Charles Oliveira, calling for Conor McGregor — and I am unable to say with certainty the UFC will not give in to that request.
Volkanovski desires to be energetic, and I do not see him preventing for a light-weight title quickly. So, within the meantime, it is subsequent challenger up, which is the winner of this upcoming battle.
Wild card: Charles Oliveira
All that mentioned, if the UFC does need Volkanovski to leap the road, I am right here for it. It is an excellent battle, Volkanovski vs. Oliveira. And I believe Volkanovski does have a really, very professional probability to win it.
I would like to see this battle subsequent, however in the end I am guessing the UFC goes one other route at 155 in the interim.
Max Holloway, featherweight
Who ought to be subsequent: Justin Gaethje
That is uncharted territory. Holloway simply went 5 rounds with one other man, and he seemed misplaced. When did you ever assume you’d say that about Holloway?
Volkanovski was a category above Holloway, and that is one thing we weren’t certain existed till Saturday. The excellent news is — he’s nonetheless Max Holloway. He is very fashionable, and he’s nonetheless excellent. He is a ‘large battle’ fighter.
A transfer to light-weight feels apparent, the place he’ll have a path to a title that does not exist for him proper now at featherweight. The MMA world would lose its thoughts at an announcement of Gaethje vs. Holloway. It is a matchup battle followers would drool over. And they’re each coming off losses in title fights. This can be a battle that might inject electrical energy into each of their careers.
Wild card: Conor McGregor
McGregor is coming again in some unspecified time in the future, proper? What can be his return battle? There are lots of choices, as is at all times the case with McGregor. As Holloway says himself, he is on that checklist. He is at all times on that checklist.
It does not fairly really feel like the right time if I am being sincere, contemplating this loss Holloway is coming from. However that is simply splitting hairs. There is no such thing as a unhealthy time for a battle in opposition to McGregor, and pound-for-pound, I believe this feature for his return would possibly provide as a lot leisure as every other.
Alex Pereira, middleweight
Who ought to be subsequent: Israel Adesanya
The UFC put Pereira on the quick monitor and he made them look sensible for doing so. He is solely been within the UFC for 3 fights, however Strickland was a professional opponent — and Pereira slept him inside one spherical. The historical past he has with Adesanya (two wins in opposition to him in skilled kickboxing) speaks for itself, and will definitely go a great distance when it comes to promoting that battle.
This feels rushed, however is it? Perhaps not. I imply, he did simply knock out Strickland — a professional middleweight contender — and he does have expertise (and favorable expertise) in opposition to the champ. There’s actually no motive not to do that battle subsequent, and all events comprehend it.
Wild card: Winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori on Sept. 3
This might make no sense, but it surely’s the one “wild card” I can provide you with. However the UFC is not going to presumably burn Pereira as a title challenger for Adesanya by reserving him a distinct matchup. I am throwing this in right here as a result of I’ve to have one thing within the occasion, for some motive, Adesanya was unavailable to face Pereira. However everyone knows that is the following battle.
Sean O’Malley, bantamweight
Who ought to be subsequent: Marlon Vera
I imply, that battle in opposition to Munhoz was a drag all the best way round. Nobody might be glad the best way that battle resulted in a no contest. Cannot do something about it now, and I undoubtedly do not assume you attempt to repair the issue by rebooking the battle. We did not get to see it play out totally, however based mostly on what we noticed, I do not see a compelling motive to rebook. Not when you’ve got 1,000,000 choices for O’Malley, that features Chito Vera.
Vera is definitely deserving of a higher-ranked battle, however I do not assume this is able to be a nasty battle for his profession. O’Malley is likely one of the largest fights within the division. I’ve at all times thought we would see a second battle between them in some unspecified time in the future (Vera beat O’Malley the primary time they fought, however O’Malley blames it on a freak damage and does not think about it an actual loss).
I believe the timing is definitely good. They’re each larger than they have been the primary time they met. It is lots of enjoyable and an motion battle.
Wild card: Pedro Munhoz
Look, rebooking that is an possibility. And it does make sense. Why? It is a battle that made sense this weekend, and it nonetheless is smart since we did not get a consequence.
Personally, I would not be tremendous enthusiastic about this getting rebooked, and I doubt I am alone on that. And for that motive, I do not assume it is what the UFC ought to do. But when that is the route they ended up taking, I can perceive it.
Jalin Turner, light-weight
Who ought to be subsequent: Loser of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev on July 9
This sounds bizarre, but it surely’s the best transfer. Turner is on hearth, and Saturday was the very best efficiency of his profession. And I need to match him up with… the loser of this battle? Come once more? As bizarre because it sounds out loud although, it is smart.
Turner deserves a ranked opponent, proper? However there aren’t many apparent choices. Among the largest names on this division are within the high 10, and so they’re eyeballing one another — not Turner. Subsequent week’s principal occasion is a superb battle, and an vital one within the division. The winner can be trying up within the rankings. And the loser can be trying down. I believe whoever loses, ought to be Turner.
Wild card: Mateusz Gamrot
Gamrot will not like this concept. He is obtained his sights on the very high of the division, coming off a win in opposition to Arman Tsarukyan final week. However as large as that win was for Gamrot, I do not know if he’s going to get a high 5 matchup but.
If that is not within the playing cards for him, this is able to be an ideal battle for the division. Once more, not one thing Gamrot is prone to soar at, however for everybody else, it might be an ideal matchup to see booked.