UFC 259 is officially in the books and what an event it was. We had amazing performances throughout the card, from the very first fight in the early prelims all the way to the main event. We witnessed history last night and what better way to discuss the PPV than by matchmaking what’s next for all of the winners.
After a rather underwhelming performance from both of these top contenders, Aleksandar Rakić came out on top in a closely contested unanimous decision. In this fight, we saw very little volume and very little power. Santos looked compromised in the first but he also looked more patient than usual which was interesting to see but maybe not the best thing in a 3 round fight. Aleksander used the clinch effectively and used his reach to his advantage, the bout was contested fully on the feet yet Rakić managed to win his Jiu-Jitsu brown belt which was confusing to many viewers an incredible achievement nonetheless.
So, what’s next? Rakić has really solidified himself as the next in line for the title, after Glover Teixeira of course. The winner of Jan vs Glover should be next for the UFC’s Austrian Ace. He has everything to make whoever he faces next to a compelling matchup, his power and speed match that of the current champ, and although he didn’t show it last night, his wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu are super high level. The highlight showcase of his grappling was against Anthony Smith where he managed to take him down whilst in the over-under position with his back against the cage in the clinch.
As Khabib coined him as the next version of himself, Islam Makhachev really proved himself as a lightweight elite last night with a perfect performance against Drew Dober. Drew survived many submission attempts but ultimately lost after Islam secured the arm-triangle in the third round. Looking at what’s next, Makhachev has 14 opponents to match his strength and will, however, he sees himself facing Tony Ferguson next. The UFC tried to put Tony against Khabib countless times so we could see a similar version to how that fight would play out if that’s what happens next. Islam has said he wants to retire the former interim champion but there are plenty of other matchups for Islam to take, let’s have a look.
The top 15 at lightweight is probably the most elite in all of the UFC but Rafael Dos Anjos has definitely earned his shot against Islam after their initial fight night main event bout fell through. Rafael ended up facing the always tough Paul Felder winning by unanimous decision. Stylistically, this matchup is super fun and probably best before throwing Makhachev in there with the likes of “El Cucuy”. Dos Anjos has an amazing ground game to compete against the Dagestan pressure but there is a high chance we see shades of Khabib if these two get locked in the cage together.
Other fights that we could see before he attempts to “retire” Ferguson; Beneil Dariush is now ranked number 9 after a victory against Diego Ferreira. Dan Hooker who has been in there with current people’s champ Dustin Poirier would also be a good matchup. Both possess incredible power on the feet and a strong submission game on the ground but Rafael is definitely the matchup that makes the most sense and should be what’s next for the surging lightweight contender.
Next up is Jamaican’s own new bantamweight champion of the world. However, the circumstances in which this victory occurred leaves no question for what’s next and this highly anticipated championship match-up must run back. After confusion in the corner of former champ Petr Yan, and the heat of the moment, Yan ignored the ref and the rules after seeing that Aljamain Sterling was down, he still decided to throw an illegal knee which subsequently resulted in Aljamain falling almost unconscious to the ground and unable to recover. After returning to his feet, Sterling had a confused look on his face and after having the belt wrapped around his waist he laid it on the ground and said that this isn’t the way he wants to win a fight, especially a title.
The only problem a rematch cause is what’s next for Cory Sandhagen? Well TJ Dillashaw is scheduled for a return soon. So, who better than the former champ, maybe even as the co-main of the Yan vs Sterling rematch. The bantamweight division is a very exciting one and both champ and number one contender showed why they are the best, with flying knees hurting Petr in the first and then a big right hand dropping Sterling, later on, the ground was the most interesting part of this bout. Sterling has the advantage with the submissions but Yan showed excellent sweeps resulting in “Funkmaster” laying on his back for quite a while. There is no question that the rematch is what’s next for these two warriors.
One word, flawless. How is Amanda Nunes so good and where do we go from here? She stated she definitely wants to fight and even called herself more dangerous since having her daughter. After wiping out all of the featherweights her only real option outside of facing the only person coming off a win that she hasn’t beaten at bantamweight (Aspen Ladd), is the trilogy fight with Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko is the only person to even make the fans believe that “The Lioness” is beatable, at least the modern-day version of her. Amanda could easily retire right now as she has solidified herself as the GOAT and has nothing else to prove, a win over flyweight queen would be the cherry on top to a perfect career.
Jan Blachowicz became the first to beat “The Last Stylebender” in mixed martial arts. I don’t think there is any argument against him finishing his contract against Glover Teixeira if he does come out victorious against the Brazilian veteran. Then we could see him retiring as a man who has seen the lowest of lows and made the adjustments the reach the peak of the mountain. Last night we witnessed two men on the edge of the cliff, Jan knocked Israel Adesanya to the ledge below but not all the way down to the bottom and made sure he wouldn’t be a forgotten champion. Izzy still showed himself to be the highest level of the elite when it comes to striking but the heavy wrestling in the late rounds ultimately was too much for him.
Błachowicz is now a father so after he completes his contract there would be no reason for him to put his health in danger by stepping back in the cage. However, love for this game is always strong which consequently becomes ruthless and unforgiving. Jan is prepared for what’s next and will try once again to show the world why he is the greatest. The only thing that can give Jan a reason to renew his contract after his next challenge? Jon Jones moving down, which is highly unlikely with him being so adamant he is staying at Heavyweight for the rest of his career or the crazy amount of news. Fresh contenders from Kennedy Nzechukwu to Aleksander Rakić are also good matchups for the reigning champion.
These contenders and champions all have shown that success is inevitable for their careers and that whatever comes next they will show strong contention and not back down from any challenge.
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