What’s next for Magomed Ankalaev after win at UFC Vegas 50?

Feb 23, 2019; Prague, Czech Republic; Magomed Ankalaev (red gloves) defeats Klidson Abreu (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at 02 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 50, we saw a pivotal matchup in the light heavyweight division. Top light heavyweights Magomed Ankalaev (17-1) and Thiago Santos (22-10) battled it out to try and take a step closer to the title.

Now, heading into UFC Vegas 50, I thought this fight had a potential to be slow. Yes, both men have tremendous striking and power, but both men are also very calculated. When neither is very risky, you risk having a fight that can lean on the boring side.

Unfortunately for UFC fans that’s what happened. Now, we did see some excitement in the middle rounds when Santos dropped Ankalaev. I was really curious to see how Ankalaev would respond.

The next round, Ankalaev became slightly more aggressive and kept Santos at range. Overall, there really weren’t a ton of big moments outside of that at UFC Vegas 50. We mostly saw Ankalaev get the better of exchanges that were few and far between which earned him the unanimous decision win.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?

Let’s be honest, the win at UFC Vegas 50 doesn’t do a great deal for Ankalaev. Sure, it’s another really solid win that solidifies him in the top half of the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but nobody is demanding he fights for the title next.

He really leaves this past weekend in about the same spot that he was in. So, what does the UFC do with him next? To me, there’s a rather obvious choice in terms of next opponents and that’s another former title challenger.

The UFC should absolutely book Anklaev with Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16). Smith has looked sensational in his last three fights and none of them have gone into the second round. He’s made a massive statement showing he’s still at the top of the division.

Lionheart would really give Ankalaev the true test I think he needs. Thiago Santos of a few years ago could’ve done that, but it’s clear he’s not the same guy he used to be. Book Ankalaev and Lionheart and the winner should be looking good for a title shot.