Last night, we got big announcement for the light heavyweight division. At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) will be defending his light heavyweight crown against the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).
It’s a massive fight with huge implications for the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. 2020 has been a very fascinating year at 205 pounds. When the year started, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) was getting ready to defend his title against Dominick Reyes (12-2).
The fight took place at UFC 247. Reyes pushed Jones to the absolute limit and many believed that he won that fight. However, all three judges awarded Jones the decision and Jones walked away with his title.
Shortly after that, Jan Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson who was looked at as the next top contender. Jones was in attendance and the two men did a little talking through the cage. It appeared that would be the next title fight.
However, Jones decided to vacate his UFC light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title. When Jones vacated, the promotion booked Blachowicz against Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253.
Dominick Reyes was an uncrowned champion in the eyes of many in the MMA community after his fight with Jones. However, his uncrowned reign didn’t last long because Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.
UFC’s light heavyweight division in 2021
As mentioned, we already have the first title fight booked for UFC 259. Now, depending on who wins that fight, there are different fights that could be booked. If Blachowicz retains his title, Glover Teixeira (32-7) will be next.
The 41 year old Teixeira is riding a five-fight winning streak. He had an incredible 2020 where he finished former title challengers Anthony Smith (34-16) and Thiago Santos (21-8). However, he’s being passed over for Adesanya at this time.
The UFC has said that he’s the next contender, but the promotion is always about booking the biggest fights. While it’s not fair to Teixeira, his fight against Blachowicz is no where near as big as Adesanya moving up.
If Adesanya wins at UFC 259, I don’t see Teixeira getting the next shot. The reason is that I think the UFC will do everything they can to book the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones should Adesanya capture the light heavyweight title.
Jones is intent on becoming heavyweight champion over the summer. Imagine a fall blockbuster that pairs the two-division champion, Adesanya, against the new heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
That is the current status at the very top of the division. The contender I have my eyes on as we enter 2021 is Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years and he made his debut with the promotion at UFC 251.
He’s a very entertaining fighter and he put Volkan Oezdemir to sleep when they fought. He fights Dominick Reyes in February in a pivotal matchup for the division. 2021 is going to be interesting year for the light heavyweights.
I honestly don’t know what path the division is going to go down. The paths are vastly different depending on who wins at UFC 259 between Blachowicz and Adesanya.