UFC 259 has came and went. The most anticipated card of this year delivered in a big way with wild action. Although a lot of that wild action was from earlier in the night, with three title fights, there’s no shortage of storylines from the pay-per-view portion. Let’s take a look at where some of those who didn’t get their hand raised will go next.
Israel Adesanya’s quest to become a champ-champ was thwarted by the late grappling, and distance management of Jan Blachowicz. While his foray into the light heavyweight class wasn’t successful, Style Bender is still the champ at middleweight, which is where he should return. Part of what made this divisional change possible was that a contender was waiting to shake itself out. This gave it some time to happen, but it appears to still need one more fight to do so. Former champion Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa square off next month. The winner of that fight should get their second crack at Adesanya’s middleweight belt.
Israel Adesanya’s Next Fight: Whittaker/Costa Winner
Apart from actually assembling a division for her to be in, the options are fairly limited for Megan Anderson. There’s no way she’s going down to 135lbs and there is virtually nobody at 145lbs for her to fight next. The lone fight booked in the division is Danyelle Wolf vs Felicia Spencer. Seemingly the only option for her is to fight the winner of that in what would probably be a #1 contenders fight. The bottom line is that the UFC need to fish or cut bait here.
Megan Anderson’s Next Fight: Wolf/Spencer Winner
Going into that fateful fourth round, Petr Yan was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards. By all accounts, he was ahead in the fourth leading up to the very illegal knee that ended the fight. That round would have been enough, save a finish by Sterling, for him to take the decision. Given that fact, you have to imagine that they’re going to have to run this one back when the two are healthy. Being that there will be a nice narrative that the UFC can sell, I’d be surprised if they didn’t do just that.
Petr Yan’s Next Fight: Aljamain Sterling
Drew Dober was right on the edge of the top 15 thanks to his three-fight win streak, but looked out of his element again Islam Makhachev. Often lauded for his takedown defense, Dober had no answers for the Russian in that arena. Being as Makhachev may wind up being a title challenger, there is no reason to send Dober too far back in the line after a loss like this. I do think that he needs to prove that his ability to keep his feet in a fight is as-advertised if he is going to fight ranked guys. A great test for that would be Armenian-prospect Arman Tsarukyan. His ten takedowns in his last fight showed just what a problem he could be, and it would be nice to see if that’s the type of problem Dober is capable of solving.
Drew Dober’s Next Fight: Arman Tsarukyan
Thiago Santos has now lost three straight after the dominant streak that led him to the title. In this fight, he not only seemed a little gun-shy, but also a touch too slow for the likes of Rakic, who picked away at him for 15 minutes. While he is certainly capable of hanging with the top of the division, it is time for him to take a bigger step down and build the confidence back up. Magomed Ankalaev would be a good one to test this. His threat of the takedown may not be as scary as Glover Teixeira, his hands not as fast a Rakic. If Santos is going to make a second run, it will have to start with someone of that caliber.
Thaigo Santos’ Next Fight: Magomed Ankalaev