Fights to Make After UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa

The UFC’s return to Fight Island could not have gone better as we had a fantastic card with many finishes, all capped off with destructive performances by Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz.

Afterwards, we’re stuck asking ourselves… what’s next for the victors? Well I’m here to try to play matchmaker for our main card winners and see what fights could (and should) be on the horizon!

Israel Adesanya vs. Whittaker/Cannonier Winner (MW)

Israel Adesanya finished rival Paulo Costa in the second round after a chess match in the first round that set the usually aggressive Costa into confusion. Adesanya masterfully controlled the distance and utilized a variety of kicks to batter his opponent en route to the knockout. Former champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier are set to collide next month at UFC 254 in what will likely decide the number one contender and will likely set up the next title fight at 185 pounds.

Jan Blachowicz vs. Santos/Texeira Winner (LHW)

Jan Blachowicz became the first Light Heavyweight champion other than DC or Jon Jones in nearly a decade with his demolition of Dominick Reyes. His Legendary Polish Power came through in spades as he outstruck the surging Reyes in both volume and power. He didn’t even need to display his expert ground game, with the massive improvements in his standup and output paying dividends. The thrice-scheduled matchup between Thiago Santos and Glover Texeira loos to set up the next title challenger, as I find it hard to believe that Jon Jones will head back down to 205 and reclaim his title against Jan.

Brandon Royval vs. Jussier Formiga (FLW)

Brandon Royval’s bout against Kai Kara-France was fireworks from the first minute, as both had their successes on the feet and the mat. Kara-France showed off his power, and Royval proved his dangerous striking with his kicks and knees, utilizing his size advantage. His ground game was what did it in the end, securing a guillotine choke in the second round to propel him up the rankings. I like him against Jussier Formiga next, an Octagon veteran who was at the top of the pack before an unsuccessful 2019 run. 

Ketlen Vieira vs. Aspen Ladd (BW)

Ketlen Vieira outworked Sijara Eubanks in a thorough scrap, utilizing both her striking and judo to work over the IBJJF world champ. Vieira rebounded well from her KO loss to Irene Aldana, displaying better head movement and more skilled usage of her jab. Still, she appears to rely heavily upon her height advantages. I would next like to see her face the rising Aspen Ladd, who got back on the winning track over Yana Kunitskaya after her first career defeat.

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Makwan Amirkhani (FTW)

Hakeem Dawodu narrowly secured victory over Zubaira Tukhugov in a tightly contested fight, showing off his May Thai counter-striking and improved takedown defense. “Mean” Hakeem shows clear improvements to his game in each fight and is quickly becoming one to watch at 145 pounds, but likely needs one more win before he will get a shot at the rankings. Makwan Amirkhani is similarly situated just outside the top 15 and either could secure a number with a solid showing in this fireworks matchup.

Fight Island continues next weekend, with a Bantamweight showdown between two strikers in Holly Holm and Irene Aldana, who have both proven their ability to finish fights with one shot.

See you then, Freaks!

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