Who should the UFC 259 losers on the main card fight next? With an incredible set of prelims and three title fights, UFC 259 was one of the best events in the company’s history. Here are my thoughts on what the future may hold for the five fighters who lost on the main card on Saturday.
UFC 259 Losers
In an uneventful fight, Aleksander Rakic did enough to secure the win against Thiago Santos. At this stage in his career, Santos’s knees are extremely damaged as he was not able to utilize his kicks effectively. Santos has now lost three consecutive fights, including bouts against Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. It’s entirely possible that if Santos loses his next fight, his tenure in the UFC could be coming to an end.
Third-ranked Dominick Reyes and fifth-ranked Jiri Prochazka are set to headline the UFC event on May 1st. A match against the loser of that fight could be a reasonable opponent for him. However, the guy who I’m picking to be Santos’ next opponent is the seventh-ranked Magomed Ankalaev. Ankalaev is a potential title contender down the road, who is on a six-fight win streak, most recently defeating Nikita Krylov. Santos will have to play gatekeeper in his next fight, and Ankalaev would be a great matchup.
Prior to Michael Chandler entering the Lightweight rankings, Drew Dober had been the 15th ranked fighter. However, after he got dominated by Islam Makhachev, his next fight will almost surely be against an unranked opponent.
One logical opponent is Rafael Fiziev. Fiziev is one of the best prospects in the division, and 3-1 in the UFC, most recently defeating Renato Moicano at UFC 256. Fiziev has insanely quick hands with knockout power, making him an intriguing matchup for Dober.
However, the pick I’m going with to face Drew Dober next is Jordan Leavitt. Leavitt made a statement in his UFC debut, knocking out Matt Wiman by a slam, merely 22 seconds into the fight. Leavitt, at 8-0, with a 75% finish rate, is an extremely intriguing prospect and would present a great striker versus grappler fight. Regardless, Dober will likely have to play gatekeeper in his next fight.
Petr Yan‘s next fight will be for the Bantamweight championship no matter what and likely a rematch against Aljamain Sterling. The only question now is when. It’s unclear with medical suspensions when both guys will be healthy enough to compete again. UFC 262 on May 12th currently does not have a championship lined up. However, both guys, especially Aljo, took a lot of damage on Saturday, and it seems unlikely they would both be ready by May.
Considering the nature of how the fight ended, there will certainly be a lot of hype for the rematch in a now-fueled rivalry. More than likely, this fight will warrant the main event slot. Deiveson Figueirido and Brandon Moreno are set for their rematch in June. More than likely, Conor McGregor will have a trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier this summer as well, possibly in July. Therefore, either an August or September date is likely when Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling will have their rematch.
It was a quick night at the office for the GOAT of women’s MMA as Megan Anderson lost early in round one by an armbar. In case it was not already clear, there is a considerable gap between Amanda Nunes and the rest of the Featherweight division.
The issue with the Featherweight division is that there are very few women even on the UFC roster. As long as Nunes is champion, the division will survive, but Anderson does not have a clear path back to contention. Danyelle Wolf will make her UFC debut against Felicia Spencer on May 22nd. It’s possible that if Wolf wins, Anderson will get matched up with her next. It’s unlikely Anderson would get a rematch with Felicia Spencer, who defeated her in 2019.
Anderson’s only other option would be in a scenario where someone in the bantamweight division moves up in weight. Contenders Aspen Ladd and Ketlen Vieira have each struggled to make weight in recent memory. If one of them moves up, that would be a logical matchup. However, it may be a while before Anderson gets her next fight.
Israel Adesanya lost against Jan Blachowicz, and with it, lost his undefeated record and a potential fight against Jon Jones. While Izzy shouldn’t lose any respect, Saturday proved he has weaknesses that had not been exposed before, specifically in his wrestling. In the immediate future, Adesanya’s next move is to move down to his natural weight class in Middleweight, where he remains champion.
Fourth-ranked Darren Till and fifth-ranked Marvin Vettori are fighting on April 10th. A week later, Robert Whitaker and Paulo Costa are fighting in the main event on April 17th. Of those four, Till is the only guy who Izzy has not beaten. However, Till is likely still multiple wins away from getting a chance for the Middleweight belt. Adesanya may take a long time off before his next bout in hopes that Till or Jared Cannonier can get back in the win column. Or, Izzy can take a rematch against the winner of the Whitaker Costa fight.
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