Because the fifth spherical progressed in Salt Lake Metropolis, the headlines had been already being written. With one minute left in the primary occasion, Kamaru Usman had coasted in his title protection in opposition to Leon Edwards.
Then got here the top kick that shocked the world.
Edwards turned the brand new UFC welterweight champion with the knockout and despatched all these watching right into a frenzy. Now Edwards and Usman every have a win over the opposite, however will a rematch come subsequent?
So what comes subsequent? Let’s check out what fights may very well be booked subsequent.
Leon Edwards, welterweight champion (defeated Kamaru Usman by fifth-round knockout)
Who ought to be subsequent: Kamaru Usman
Edwards himself advised ESPN previous to the combat that he seen this as a “beat him twice” state of affairs. Generally that is simply the case. If you wish to dethrone a dominant champ, it’s important to do it twice. We have seen that play out quite a few instances over the historical past of the game, and that is a kind of circumstances.
Edwards went into UFC 278 believing it was the proper set of circumstances for him to turn into a champion. And now that it has occurred, he needs to be an lively champ. I may see this one getting booked sooner fairly than later, because it’s a kind of circumstances the place everybody ought to be on the identical web page by way of what’s subsequent, however that additionally will rely upon the upcoming schedule.
Wild card: Khamzat Chimaev
Look, we have seen what a significant pressure Chimaev has already changed into. He’s getting alternatives different fighters do not, and I may definitely see a state of affairs wherein he finally ends up getting the subsequent title shot.
Whether or not it’s timing points with establishing a trilogy between Edwards and Usman or Chimaev merely doing one thing so unimaginable in his UFC 279 important occasion in opposition to Nate Diaz subsequent month, it is attainable. However I am nonetheless saying the Usman trilogy is probably.
Kamaru Usman, welterweight (misplaced to Leon Edwards by fifth-round knockout)
Who ought to be subsequent: Leon Edwards
In the end, Usman falls one in need of tying Anderson Silva‘s file of 16 consecutive wins to begin a UFC profession. We’re actually speaking about one of many best runs the UFC has ever seen, so this state of affairs warrants a direct rematch.
As you would possibly learn about me, I am not normally an “quick rematch” sort of man. I believe quick rematches ought to be reserved for the obvious circumstances; in any other case, I like the concept of letting issues simmer and develop. However that is a kind of apparent circumstances. The matchup between these two is now tied 1-1. Usman deserves to be in a title combat once more, instantly. This can be a no-brainer.
If the UFC decides to go one other course with its welterweight title, there really aren’t many fights for Usman that make sense as a result of he already has crushed so many of those guys (twice).
He has by no means fought Muhammad or Brady. The winner of that combat in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will probably be in line for a giant welterweight matchup. I do not suppose the winner of that combat will get a title shot fairly but, although. So, this state of affairs would make sense, however I’ve acquired to confess, the concept of Usman combating one in every of these two simply does not really feel more likely to me.
No disrespect to both of them, however after the whole lot Usman has completed, I simply do not see this state of affairs piquing his curiosity.
Paulo Costa, middleweight (defeated Luke Rockhold by unanimous resolution)
Paulo Costa handily wins his combat vs. Luke Rockhold through unanimous resolution within the co-main occasion of UFC 278.
Who ought to be subsequent: Jared Cannonier
Costa has expressed some doubts about his future with the UFC, saying he’s sad along with his contact and is eager about pursuing skilled boxing. Personally, I hope he continues his MMA profession for years to come back. He went by a tough patch over the previous couple of years, however his expertise is plain.
As of proper now, his subsequent transfer even inside the UFC is not apparent. It is too quickly to speak a couple of rematch with Israel Adesanya. Jared Cannonier is coming off a loss, so this matchup does not make whole sense. However I do not see one other one within the prime of the rankings that makes extra sense than this one.
Wild card: Alex Pereira
If Pereira had been to upset Adesanya of their title combat in November, Costa is likely to be taking a look at a title shot. In fact, Adesanya getting a direct rematch within the occasion of a loss can be seemingly however not assured.
Saturday was evening for Costa. He’s nonetheless well-liked, and he is nonetheless ranked excessive sufficient to warrant a title shot in opposition to Pereira, if that state of affairs had been to play out.
Merab Dvalishvili, bantamweight (defeated Aldo by unanimous resolution)
Dvalishvili is in a bizarre spot however not a nasty spot. His house is bantamweight, however his good buddy and coaching accomplice is the champ (Aljamain Sterling), they usually’re by no means going to combat; Dvalishvili mentioned as a lot after Saturday’s victory. There would possibly come a time when Dvalishvili has to maneuver round in weight, however we’re not there but. He has a number of momentum at 135 kilos, and that is clearly his proper weight class.
He must maintain doing what he has been doing, which is win, and cross that Sterling bridge when he will get there. The winner of Sandhagen-Yadong makes whole sense.
Wild card: Drop to flyweight
He has mentioned he’s open to it. In the end, we’d see it in some unspecified time in the future. And in Dvalishvili’s thoughts, possibly he’ll resolve he’d fairly simply go forward and make that transfer now, acclimate himself to the load class and begin working at a weight he needs to win a title in. However for my part, I do not suppose you make that transfer till you are really compelled to.
Jose Aldo, bantamweight (misplaced to Dvalishvili by unanimous resolution)
Who ought to be subsequent: Dominick Cruz in Brazil
If Cruz, who misplaced to Marlon Vera final weekend, can and needs to do it, that is the combat. Arguably the best featherweight of all time vs. the best bantamweight of all time. One other legend, Frankie Edgar, wish to combat Cruz in his final combat in November, however I believe I want this one.
Another for Aldo in Brazil, in opposition to one other legend.
Wild card: Retire
Aldo mentioned he wished yet another crack at a championship after which win or lose, he’d retire. He advised me previous to Saturday that if he had been to lose, he’d want to take a seat down along with his workforce and resolve what the subsequent step can be. We’ll see what occurs.
If he decides the last word purpose was to retire as a champion and, now that that is gone, there isn’t any motive to proceed, nobody may fault him for it.
Tyson Pedro, gentle heavyweight (defeated Harry Hunsucker by TKO1)
5 years in the past, there was a number of intrigue and expectation round Pedro. Sadly, he got here up quick in some key spots — after which harm sidelined him for 3 years. He is solely fought twice since coming back from harm, however the hype has rapidly constructed again up following back-to-back finishes.
Walker is just a little related. All of the athletic expertise on the planet, however he is stumbled loads in recent times, compiling a 1-4 file in his final 5. Cutelaba hasn’t suffered by any lengthy skid, however he is additionally struggled to essentially string collectively sufficient wins to place himself on the map.
Both manner, each have entertaining kinds and each are main steps up from what Pedro simply fought in Hunsucker.
These are two extra gentle heavyweights who’ve proven a ton of potential, however are usually not with out their faults and losses. Reyes has almost reached the highest (some felt he really beat Jon Jones in a title combat in 2020). He is suffered very powerful knockout losses to Jan Blachowicz and Jiri Prochazka since.
Spann has additionally proven flashes, however continues to be seeking to put collectively a defining run that may lead him to a title. The largest downside with this one is that it is so distant. Pedro had a straightforward evening on Saturday, and I would wish to see him in there sooner fairly than later.