After running through Bryce Mitchell at UFC 282, what’s next for Ilia Topuria?

Dec 10, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Bryce Mitchell (red gloves) fights Ilia Topuria (blue gloves) during UFC 282 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off the main card of UFC 282 was a battle of unbeaten featherweights who were looking to take a step towards title contention. Ilia Topuria (13-0) was looking to continue his dominant stretch inside the octagon when he took on Bryce Mitchell (15-1).

The game plans for both men were pretty obvious. Mitchell needed to get the fight to the ground while Topuria wanted to keep things standing. In the first round, Topuria completely lit up Mitchell on the feet. Topuria was landing clean hooks and they had a ton of heat on them.

He was swinging a little wild at times, but overall, he was extremely effective. Late in the round, Mitchell was able to get a takedown and had control to end the round. In the second round, it was all Ilia Topuria. He ended up dropping Mitchell and then he actually dominated the grappling exchanges.

He ended up finding his way to an arm-triangle and forced Mitchell to tap. It was a huge statement win and put the UFC’s featherweight division on notice.

What’s next after UFC 282?

This was a huge statement for Ilia Topuria and make no mistake about it, he’s getting close to a title shot. He’s not there just yet, but he’s definitely on the cusp. I would say he’s probably two big wins away from getting a shot at the title.

So, who should the UFC pair him with next? I think someone in the middle of the top ten should be next and then he should face someone at the very top to secure that shot at the title. When looking at the rankings, there are a couple of options.

One option would be Giga Chikadze and I don’t think anyone would complain about watching those two scrap. The UFC could also book him against Movsar Evloev who was supposed to fight Mitchell before Topuria stepped in. That would pair him against another top young contender.

I’ve seen some talk of Arnold Allen, but I want to see Topuria get one more big win around his rankings spot before jumping up to those guys.