The second half of 2023 may witness a number of exciting bouts.
Although UFC 290 may not have had the star power that fans have come to anticipate from International Fight Week, it still had one of the best action programmes ever. The activities on Saturday set the stage for the remaining months of 2023.
A thrilling night in Las Vegas was topped off by Alexander Volkanovski bolstering his credentials as the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter. In order to unify the featherweight and interim featherweight belts, Volkanovski defeated a tough Yair Rodriguez. Volkanovski anticipates facing either the intriguing featherweight challenger Ilia Topuria or a potential rematch with UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
Earlier in the evening, Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja produced a flyweight classic, and the UFC has already scheduled its upcoming middleweight championship match.
Let’s examine UFC’s future plans for the second half of the year.
UFC bantamweight championship — Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria: The entrance to Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 was shut just as quickly as it was opened. This Monday, Charles Oliveira, a former lightweight champion, informed TSN that he wouldn’t be able to take on Makhachev at UFC 294 in October. On Saturday, it appeared that Volkanovski had a chance to advance with a victory, but the featherweight champion later revealed that surgery is necessary for an arm injury he suffered in training. Volkanovski’s schedule is unknown, although a three-month turnaround to face another champion is unlikely given the injuries. Here comes Topuria, a promising and new fighter who seems to represent the featherweight division’s future. During his post-fight interview, Volkanovski promised to “squash” Topuria and even engaged in a cage-side fight. A mouthwatering match that the UFC ought to schedule.
Yair Rodriguez vs. Arnold Allen:Rodriguez (No. 1) hasn’t faced many of the opponents listed in the official UFC featherweight Top 10, but none of them seem to be in title contention. Allen (No. 4) is closer than most, particularly since Max Holloway isn’t eligible for the crown after three defeats by Volkanovski. To prove that they are deserving of a shot at the championship, Rodriguez and Allen both need to win. Additionally, it should give the division some time to organise itself.
Alexander Pantoja vs. Brandon Moreno:Israel Adesanya had to defeat Alex Pereira four times throughout the course of two separate sports. The same chance should be given to Moreno. The split decision illustrates how competitive the fight was and how close their contention for Fight of the Year was. The battle was decided by Pantoja’s toughness, strength, and crucial takedowns, but one may argue that Moreno fought with more finesse. Brandon Royval is eager to get the chance to fight Moreno if he decides to take a break from another four-bout series.
UFC middleweight championship — Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus du Plessis: This one should be obvious. Robert Whittaker vs. du Plessis was previously been classified as a title eliminator by UFC President Dana White. Even after du Plessis’ spectacular second-round TKO victory, Adesanya and du Plessis squared off in the ring. The lead-up to UFC 293 in Sydney will be unpleasant, but at least du Plessis is a new, legitimate competitor.
Robert Whittaker vs. Sean Strickland:The decision to book this fight depends on how quickly Whittaker can recover from his TKO defeat. Strickland likes to stay busy and is quite healthy after his fight with Abus Magomedov last week. The issue at middleweight is that Whittaker and Adesanya have largely eliminated the division. Based on his competitive match with Jared Cannonier and the eccentric nature that some fans find endearing, Strickland is probably about to get a run at the crown. The Strickland discovery will serve as a good yardstick for gauging Whittaker’s progress and the significance of du Plessis’ victory. After UFC 291 Paulo Costa or Ikram Aliskerov might be an alternative for Whittaker.