After UFC 302, is Jailton Almeida – Ciryl Gane the fight to make?

MMA: UFC 302-Almedia vs Romanov
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On the prelims of UFC 302, we saw a matchup between ranked heavyweights that was originally supposed to be on the PPV main card. Top heavyweight contender Jailton Almeida (21-3) returned as he took on fellow grappler Alexandr Romanov (17-3).

Almeida came into this fight after losing some steam in his last fight. He had been 6-0 inside the octagon with five finishes heading into 2024 and that earned him a title eliminator against Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is a fellow wrestler but Almeida took him down at will in the first round of their fight in March.

However, in the second round, Almeida got stuck going for a takedown and Blaydes blasted him with elbows. Almeida couldn’t recover and he suffered a TKO loss. He was desperate to get back in the win column so he took this fight against Romanov at UFC 302.

Romanov is a strong grappler so we thought we might get some resistance in the grappling, but we did not. Almeida ran through Romanov in the first round and looked as dominant as ever. He submitted Romanov to make a statement and get back on track.

UFC Paris on deck?

After his win, Almeida made it clear what he wants next. He wants to face former interim UFC champion Ciryl Gane. Gane was originally the target to face Tom Aspinall next month for the interim title, but Gane won’t be fighting until the promotion returns to Paris in September.

As of now, there’s no targeted opponent. I think Almeida is the perfect opponent for Gane. Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic are being targeted to fight in November with the Aspinall – Blaydes winner fighting the winner assuming it’s Jon Jones. If it’s Miocic, I expect Miocic to retire. Hell, Jon Jones might retire as well if he wins.

If Jones wins and keeps fighting, he’ll face the interim champion. If Jones wins or Miocic wins and retires as champion, whoever wins next month will go from being interim champion to undisputed UFC heavyweight champion. In the latter case, a winner between Gane and Almeida would make all the sense in the world as the next challenger for the undisputed title.

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