This past Saturday in the first UFC event of 2024, the card from The APEX was headlined by a rematch in the light heavyweight division. Top contenders battled it out for a second time as Magomed Ankalaev (19-1-1, 1 NC) took on Johnny Walker (21-8, 1 NC).
Originally, these two fought each other back in October in Abu Dhabi. However, after Walker was hit with an illegal knee in the first round and after a ton of confusion with the ringside doctor, the fight was called off and ruled a No Contest. Originally, this was being positioned as a title eliminator.
They ran things back on Saturday night and this time, it ended emphatically. After some back-and-forth through the first round and a half, Ankalaev blasted Walker with a massive right hand that sat Walker down. When Walker bounced off the canvas he went directly into another right hand which stopped the fight giving Ankalaev the huge win at UFC Vegas 84.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 84?
Magomed Ankalaev had a vacant title shot against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 282 just a little over a year ago. Ankalaev had won nine straight fights to earn that opportunity and had a ton of momentum behind him. Then, him and Blachowicz fought to a draw. Following that was the No Contest with Walker and all momentum seemed halted.
Ankalaev needed an emphatic win on Saturday night and that’s exactly what he got. He knocked Walker out and it’s clear that he should be on the short list for the next shot at Alex Pereira. The UFC light heavyweight champion is being positioned for a fight at UFC 300 in April.
Jamahal Hill who had to vacate the title due to injury is the logical next opponent, however, if he cannot fight by April, I think the promotion will move forward with Pereira on the card. Ankalaev makes the most sense and he said he would accept that opportunity. After this last performance, I think you’ll see Ankalaev fighting for a title next.