This past Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 286, we saw an absolute war in the lightweight division. Surging top contender Rafael Fiziev (12-2) had his toughest test to date when he took on former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (24-4).
When the fight first started, it looked like the money line was right on. Rafael Fiziev was the betting favorite and he gave Justin Gaethje fits in the first round with his speed. Gaethje did land some good shots, but Fiziev was lighting him up with big combination.
That trend continued into the start of the second round, but Gaethje started settling in. He started landing big uppercuts and he was stinging Fiziev with long jabs down the middle. There were a lot of split scorecards for the second round.
In the third round, Fiziev hurt Gaethje to start the round. However, Gaethje recovered quickly and dominated most of the round. One judge even gave Gaethje a 10-8 in the third. That judge also gave the first two rounds to Fiziev leading his scorecard to be a draw. However, the other two scored the last two rounds for Gaethje giving him the majority decision.
Who is next after UFC 286?
Rafael Fiziev showed that he can hang with the best guys in the world, but he did come up a little short on Saturday night. So, coming off this loss, who should the UFC look at as potential opponents for Fiziev when he makes his octagon return?
There are a couple of names that came to mind. The one that sticks out the most is Mateusz Gamrot. Gamrot just bounced back after his loss to Beneil Dariush with a win over Jalin Turner. Gamrot and Fiziev are right around the same spot and the fight seemingly makes a ton of sense.
Another top contender to watch would be Arman Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan lost head-to-head to Gamrot, but he’s still a top ten contender who could make sense for Fiziev’s next bout.