The first pay-per-view of March for the UFC was loaded from top to bottom with three title fights and loaded prelims. Jan Błachowicz left no doubt about his status as the king of the light heavyweight division with his victory over middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. Amanda Nunes reminded the world that she’s the GOAT for a reason with an emphatic submission over who many thought would be her biggest challenge, Megan Anderson. The bantamweight title picture is now a little convoluted following the disqualification of Petr Yan, leaving his opponent, Aljamain Sterling the new champion. Looking ahead, these are the fights that I think should be made after UFC 259.
Jan Błachowicz vs Glover Teixeira
Going into UFC 259, many people didn’t think Jan Błachowicz would be able to retain his title against the superstar Adesanya. He proved them wrong when he out-struck and grappled Adesanya and won via unanimous decision. What I think should be next for the light heavyweight champion is the fight that many hardcore fans thought should have been made before Adesanya and Błachowicz, Teixeira vs Błachowicz. Glover is a true veteran of the sport, having been in the UFC for nine years now and is currently on a five-fight unbeaten streak. Glover actually weighed in on Friday morning as the alternate for the main event in case something happened to either fighter in the main event. At this point it’s hard to accept anyone else as the number one contender in the division and Błachowicz said last night that he wants to fight Teixeira next.
Amanda Nunes vs Kayla Harrison
I know that this is extremely unlikely anytime soon considering Harrison is currently the champion in PFL but when it comes to featherweight contenders, there are none left in the UFC. There are several women in the bantamweight division that are on the cusp of a title shot, but not in the featherweight division. Harrison is Nunes’ teammate at American Top Team and a two-time Olympic Judo Gold Medalist, and while she is relatively new to MMA, I think in due time she could pose a serious threat to Amanda. Her outstanding grappling heavy style would be an interesting clash against Amanda’s style and while I don’t see this fight happening anytime soon, I would love to see it in the future.
Aljamain Sterling vs Petr Yan 2
The fight that had the most tension on the card was definitely the bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. The fight started out super high paced as Aljo set a high tempo with elbows and knees. Yan eventually matched Sterling’s pace and dropped him at the end of the first round. Sterling eventually began to slow down as Yan began to walk Sterling down and in the fourth round, Yan threw an illegal knee from the clinch while Aljamain was grounded. As a result of this, Sterling was out of it and could no longer continue, leaving Aljamain Sterling the new bantamweight champion via DQ. Sterling is an intense competitor, and I was upset to see him emotional because I know that is the last way that he wanted to win the title. Intentional or not, the knee was illegal, and the rules of the sport need to be enforced, so with that being said I think the only way to resolve this situation is to run the fight back as soon as possible. Both fighters have said they want the rematch and I think this is the best thing for the division.
Islam Makhachev vs Tony Ferguson
Makhachev reminded everyone that he is a serious threat to all lightweights when he dominated and finished the talented Drew Dober. Makhachev stayed true to the style of many Dagestani fighters with intense pressure on the ground and suffocating submissions. Even though Khabib is likely done competing as a mixed martial artist, his teammate Makhachev looked just like him last night which made me happy to see as a fan of their unique grappling style. Speaking of Khabib, the biggest “one that got away” fight of his career was his rivalry with Tony Ferguson. Ferguson and Khabib were scheduled to fight five times; however, every time the fight fell through. Following his victory last night, Makhachev called out his friend’s old rival, Tony Ferguson, and I think this Is the perfect fight to make. Islam deserves a top five opponent and Tony is the best option for him considering every other top five fighter is in the lightweight title picture.
Aleksander Rakic vs the winner of Prochazka vs Reyes
While this fight was not everything I had hoped it to be, a win over Thiago Santos is big for a fighter’s resume regardless of how it was done. Aleksander Rakic is at the top of the heap of the light heavyweight division, and I think he’s one victory away from a title shot. While there is no current top five LHW available for him, top contenders Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka are scheduled to fight in early May. I think the winner of this fight vs Rakic would be the ideal title eliminator fight for the division. Before his loss to Jon Jones, Dominick Reyes was an undefeated fighter; his future opponent, Prochazka, is a former Rizin champion and a top prospect of the division.
While some of these fights didn’t go the way I wanted them to, UFC 259 was a fantastic card and I think many of the fighters that competed on Saturday have a very bright future. Thanks for reading and let me know what you thought of the fights last night!
Till next time