This past Saturday in the headliner of UFC Jacksonville, we saw a big time matchup in the featherweight division with implications in the title picture. Former interim title challenger Josh Emmett (18-4) was taking on the surging Ilia Topuria (14-0).
Entering the bout, all the money was coming in on the betting lines behind Topuria. However, Josh Emmett has that nuclear power that you can never ignore. Having seen Topuria hurt before inside the octagon, I thought Emmett was going to be able to touch him at some points and make him uncomfortable.
Boy, was I wrong about that one. From the opening bell, Topuria controlled the fight with his crisp striking. Everything was right down the middle for Topuria and he was beating up Emmett from the opening minutes. Emmett did land shots throughout, but nothing landed with much significance.
Topuria dropped Emmett a number of times and turned in an incredibly dominant fourth round which actually earned him an incredibly rare 10-7 on one of the judges scorecards. Now, I didn’t agree with a 10-7, but the round was very dominant.
In the end, Topuria won an incredibly lopsided decision at UFC Jacksonville and made it clear that he belongs inside the top ten at featherweight.
What’s next after UFC Jacksonville?
After the win, Topuria took to the podium at the post-fight press conference and said he wanted to wait for a title shot unless he was given a fight against Max Holloway in Spain. Well, I hate to break it to Topuria, but I really don’t think he’s going to get a title shot next.
I believe the UFC will try to get him to get one more signature win before giving him that title shot. Now, I like where his mind is in terms of who he’d fight if he isn’t given the title shot. I think we should look to the UFC Singapore main event for Topuria’s next fight.
When looking at the rankings around Topuria, guys like Arnold Allen and Brian Ortega are options. However, I think those two are better suited to fight each other. With that, I love the idea of Topuria fighting the winner of Max Holloway – Chan Sung Jung.
While some might roll their eyes at the idea of Topuria fighting Holloway and potentially Holloway taking down another top contender, remember, to be the best you have to be the best. The reality is, outside of the champion, the best is blessed and to get to the UFC title, Topuria might have to go through Max Holloway.