Last night, we learned that the UFC‘s middleweight champion is officially moving up in weight for his next fight. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259.
Adesanya is trying to become just the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two belts at the same time. There have been a lot of questions surrounding Adesanya’s future at 185 with him moving up.
The UFC middleweight champion has been very vocal about his desire to potentially fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in 2021. If the UFC makes that fight should Adesanya win the light heavyweight title, the middleweight strap would be on ice.
However, Adesanya has said that he will definitely return to the UFC’s middleweight division no matter what. He stated that 185 is his natural weight class and where he feels the best. This move is to just challenge himself and further his legacy.
In all honesty, the move is actually a good thing for the middleweight division. There are great fights inside the division, however, Adesanya has defeated most of the fighters that sit inside the top ten.
UFC’s middleweight division in 2021
The top contender in the middleweight division is former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5). Whittaker went on an incredible run to grab the middleweight title, but was easily defeated by Adesanya last October.
Since then, Whittaker took out two of the more compelling contenders in the division. He defeated Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) by decision. Both of those fighters were guys Adesanya was interested in fighting.
However, Whittaker turned them away. With the way Adesanya defeated Whittaker last year, the champion isn’t motivated for the rematch at this time. The word is that the UFC is looking to book Whittaker against former title challenger, Paulo Costa (13-1).
Costa was just knocked out by Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that, many thought he was the most dangerous contender in the division. There is preliminary talk about that fight being for an interim title, but that’s far from confirmed.
The two fighters I have my eyes on entering 2021 is Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) and Kevin Holland (21-5). Vettori has busted through in 2021 on the heels of four straight wins to fifth in the middleweight rankings.
The Italian middleweight has already lost to Adesanya, but he lost by split decision. One big win for Vettori in 2021 could make him next in line. Kevin Holland was our breakout fighter of the year in 2020.
Holland has become a star after going 5-0 this year. The entertaining middleweight gets his first main event opportunity against Derek Brunson (21-7) in March. Should he win that, he could be just a win away from a title shot.
If Holland can get a couple of wins, he’s probably the most compelling UFC challenger at 185 for Adesanya. There’s a little beef there already, and the fight’s buildup would be a lot of fun. Should be an interesting year at middleweight.