As he attempts to convert his new silver trophy into a chance at the UFC gold, Justin Gaethje most definitely fits the BMF bill. The events at UFC 291 included Justin Gaethje’s retaliation against Dustin Poirier, Alex Pereira’s triumphant light heavyweight debut, among other things. The battles on Saturday in Salt Lake City opened up a world of intriguing future possibilities.
Gaethje has solidified himself into the conversation for the 2023 Knockout of the Year, even though Gaethje vs. Poirier 2 could not match the Fight of the Year grandeur of their 2018 confrontation. With a head kick KO versus Poirier that stopped the fight instantly, Gaethje channelled welterweight champion Leon Edwards, who had defeated Gaethje’s colleague Kamaru Usman in the same city 11 months previously. Gaethje made it clear that his goal is to compete for the UFC lightweight championship, which will be decided at UFC 294 in October between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira.
Another competitor on the verge of a title shot is Pereira. Pereira made his light heavyweight debut in Salt Lake City, defeating former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz by a razor-thin split decision. Fans of the UFC saw Kevin Holland earn a significant victory as he advances in the organization’s official welterweight rankings, however he hinted he might move back up to middleweight.
Let’s examine the direction UFC is taking in the wake of UFC 291.
UFC lightweight championship — Islam Makhachev-Charles Oliveira winner vs. Justin Gaeethje: I have no doubts that Gaethje merits a third attempt at the UFC lightweight title. Gaethje informed hubnet that he needs time to recover thoroughly from his demanding training camp. That fits well with how long it will take Makhachev and Oliveira to book a rematch following their October rematch at UFC 294. Alexander Volkanovski, the UFC featherweight champion, has requested a rematch with Makhachev, but he ought to concentrate on Ilia Topuria, a worthy opponent in his own weight class. Gaethje’s timing would only be complicated if Oliveira defeated Makhachev and the UFC announced an instant trilogy. In that case, Gaethje wouldn’t have a clear foe until he waited for the trilogy to end. But for the time being, “The Highlight” must go for the gold.
Dustin Poirier vs. Beneil Dariush or Makhachev-Oliveira loser: The matchup I’d like to see most is Poirier vs. Dariush. After being passed over for a title shot, Dariush struggled against Oliveira. The stylistic clash between these two exciting fighters is intriguing, but I don’t think Poirier would agree to the fight. Poirier stated that he has no interest in taking on up-and-comers or prospects during the UFC 291 post-fight press conference. Despite being a highly regarded veteran, Dariush might not have the name recognition to motivate Poirier as his career comes to an end. The third choice is to match Poirier up with the victor of Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2. The first matchup would be thrilling, and the second would be a rematch.
Light heavyweight division
Vacant UFC light heavyweight championship — Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira: For the UFC light heavyweight championship, there is only one match worth staging. Both have dynamic, powerful blows that make them favourites among the diehard following. There is a fascinating promotional component to the bout, but the matchmaking is great enough to sell on quality alone. Glover Teixeira, Pereira’s coach and close friend, was defeated by Prochazka to earn the 205-pound title in the 2022 UFC Fight of the Year. By eliminating Prochazka, Pereira may exact some kind of retribution. Additionally, it features two of the UFC’s newest emerging talents. In contrast to Pereira, who won the UFC middleweight championship in just four appearances, Prochazka won the UFC light heavyweight championship in just his third UFC contest. The worst part is that Prochazka never dropped the crown. He left it in November 2022 due to an injury and is getting ready to return.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Nikita Krylov: Against Pereira, Blachowicz started out well, but his exhaustion caught up to him in rounds two and three. Despite still being a strong light heavyweight, Blachowicz needs to adjust after going 1-2-1 in his previous four fights. With three straight victories, prolific finisher Nikita Krylov is enjoying the greatest stretch of his UFC career. In the official UFC light heavyweight rankings, Krylov is closing in on Blachowicz, therefore Blachowicz needs a break from the fight scene. This battle has the potential to be a compelling battle Night main event or pay-per-view main event at a European event.
Kevin Holland vs. Vicente Luque: Despite the painful weight loss, Holland hinted at returning to middleweight and looked good at welterweight. Holland desired a 170-pound BMF bout on a spiritual level. Fortunately, there are a lot of aggressive welterweight boxers. On August 12, Luque and dos Anjos will be the main event of a UFC Fight Night. Both RDA and Luque consistently set off fireworks, and against the proper foe, RDA can create some serious magic. Although Luque vs. Holland is a delightfully wicked idea, I must admit that the idea of former UFC lightweight champion dos Anjos against former middleweight contender dos Anjos does not excite me.