This past Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 286, we saw an absolute war in the lightweight division. Former interim champion Justin Gaethje (24-4) was looking to stop the surging top contender Rafael Fiziev (12-2).
When the fight got started, it was clear that Gaethje was going to have an issue with one aspect of Fiziev’s game. The speed was a big factor in the first couple of rounds. Nevertheless, Gaethje was focused on delivering his own damage and did so almost immediately with crippling leg kick.
Still, Fiziev got the better of things in the opening round. The second round was incredibly close with both men having big moments. I could easily see the argument for either man winning that round. Personally, I scored it for the former interim champion.
In the third round, Gaethje really pulled away. After getting stunned in the opening seconds by Fiziev, Gaethje took control with a power jab and big combinations. He kept finding a home for his uppercut and he made Fiziev’s face look like a bloody mess. In the end, Gaethje scored a majority decision win at UFC 286.
Who is next after UFC 286?
After this win, there’s only one fight that makes sense for Justin Gaethje. That fight is the rematch with fellow former interim champ Dustin Poirier (29-7). Poirier has been in an interesting spot where he hasn’t had a clear next opponent following his win over Michael Chandler.
He wanted a title shot, but it didn’t appear that the UFC were thinking along the same lines. At this point, the title shot appears to be guaranteed to the winner of the May fight between Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush. Both would be well-deserving of a title shot.
Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier are virtually in the same spot. They are both coming off wins against top contenders. Prior to that, they both lost fights to Charles Oliveira for the title. These two also had an absolute war just a few years ago. The writing is on the wall for the UFC to make this rematch happen.