After snapping losing streak at UFC 258, what’s next for Kelvin Gastelum?

This past Saturday at UFC 258, Kelvin Gastelum (16-6) was fighting with his back against the wall. The former interim title challenger had lost three fights in a row leading up to UFC 258. Gastelum had a hungry Ian Heinisch (14-4) in front of him, ready to take his spot.

Heinisch has a lot of promise, however, he hasn’t been able to break through against top competition in the UFC. He was hoping to get that done against Kelvin Gastelum. However, Gastelum showed the world on Saturday night that he’s far from done.

From the opening bell, it felt that Kelvin Gastelum was in control on Saturday night. Heinisch was supposed to have the wrestling advantage, but it was actually Kelvin Gastelum who was winning the grappling exchanges.

Heinisch had moments in going for submissions, but nothing was ever close. Gastelum dropped the final round, but with the first two rounds in the bag, it didn’t matter. An emotional Gastelum saw his hand raised for the first time in a few years. So what does the UFC do with him next?

What’s next after UFC 258?

The middleweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Currently, nine of the top 12 UFC middleweights in the world are booked for their next fight. One of those being Gastelum and another being the champion, Israel Adesanya.

The other middleweight who is not booked is an interesting opponent for Gastelum. That opponent would be the third ranked middleweight in the UFC, Jared Cannonier (13-5). Cannonier just suffered his first loss at middleweight back at UFC 254.

Had Cannonier won that fight, he would have earned the next title shot. However, he fell short against Robert Whittaker. Cannonier has been recovering from an injury, but this is the perfect matchup to make.

Cannonier needs a top opponent upon his return, and Gastelum would like to get someone in or around the UFC’s top five. To me, it seems like a perfect matchup for both. However, I would expect Gastelum stays ready in case someone falls out of the upcoming matchups over the next two months.

Should Robert Whittaker be upset with the UFC?

There is not really any doubt as to who is the number one contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division. The top contender in the division is the former champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

Whittaker lost the title to Israel Adesanya (20-0) at UFC 243 in 2019. However, outside of that fight against Adesanya, Whittaker has been perfect in the middleweight division. There’s been nobody who’s been able to defeat him.

Recently, it was announced that the UFC is having Adesanya move up to face Jan Blachowicz (27-8) at UFC 259. Adesanya will be attempting to become a two-division champion by capturing the light heavyweight championship.

The fighter that’s left in limbo in this situation is Robert Whittaker. There is nobody in the middleweight division that is more deserving of a shot at Adesanya than Whittaker. However, the promotion doesn’t believe that he’s ready for a shot at the title.

After UFC 254, Dana White said that Whittaker would be next for Adesanya. The promotion wanted to turn the fight around quick, but with a baby on the way, Whittaker wanted to spend the holidays with his family. That’s when the promotion changed their tune.

Should Whittaker be upset with the UFC?

Dana White said recently that Whittaker needs to fight someone else before he gets his next UFC title shot. In my opinion, this should be incredibly frustrating for the former middleweight champion.

Whittaker’s only loss at middleweight was to Adesanya. Outside of that, he’s been unbeaten since 2014. Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) were both guaranteed title shots if they beat Whittaker in 2020.

However, Whittaker beat both of those contenders. It’s puzzling that the logic from the promotion is that Whittaker needs another win, however, I know that they’ll say it’s because he turned down their timeline for the middleweight title shot.

Yet, Jan Blachowicz had the same issue as Whittaker. Blachowicz just had a baby with his wife before resuming training for their fight in March. I have a strong feeling that Whittaker could have made that timeline work.

Ultimately, I believe the UFC and Adesanya were only interested in the Whittaker fight if it was able to happen quickly. The plan has been for them to move Adesanya up to light heavyweight to further his star power.

However, it’s not fair to the former champion. People have had title shots for much less and champions who have lost have gotten immediate title shots with less of a championship resume. I absolutely believe that Whittaker should be frustrated.

State of the UFC’s middleweight division entering 2021

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.

UFC Matchmaker: Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa

This past weekend at UFC 254, Jared Cannonier (13-5) had his chance to cement his status as the number one contender in the middleweight division. He took on former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in the UFC 254 co-main event.

Cannonier had a couple of bright spots in the fight. He hurt Whittaker early with leg kicks, and wobbled Whittaker in the final minute of the fight. However, outside of those, it was a clear win for the former UFC champion.

Whittaker almost finished Cannonier early on in the third round with a headkick. The loss was the first loss for Cannonier since he dropped down to the middleweight division. Cannonier had been called out by UFC champion, Israel Adesanya, before the loss.

Now that Cannonier has suffered the loss, it’s back to the drawing board for the Killa Gorilla. In looking around at the rest of the middleweight division, I think there is a clear next step for the UFC. I think that the promotion should book Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa (13-1).

Will the UFC make it happen?

This is the fight that just makes too much sense. Costa is coming off of a title loss to Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that loss, he was looked at as arguably the most terrifying contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Cannonier just fought the former champion when he carried in a similar reputation. Both men lost in their big opportunities. The quickest way to have one of them re-establish their credibility in the division is to have one fight the other.

This would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC to make. The promotion is likely going to book the Adesanya – Whittaker rematch, and they could put this fight as the co-main event. The winner would re-establish themselves as the top contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Should the UFC book Adesanya – Whittaker 2?

After Israel Adesanya defeated Paulo Costa at UFC 253, he made it clear on who he had his eyes on. In the middleweight division, he openly told Jared Cannonier that if he destroyed Robert Whittaker, he would get the next UFC title shot.

Those two men faced off yesterday at UFC 254. The former champion, Whittaker, was trying to get back to the title after losing it to Adesanya last year. Cannonier had been a destroyer at middleweight and he was also looking to challenge Adesanya.

Cannonier did have moments yesterday, but in the end, it was all Robert Whittaker. To me, Robert Whittaker proved he was the class of the division yesterday outside of Israel Adesanya. Whittaker clearly won the fight from the opening bell to the closing bell at UFC 254.

Cannonier did have his moments, but Whittaker’s speed and accuracy flustered him all night. Whittaker even was seconds away from finishing the fight in the third round. With the win yesterday, Whittaker cemented himself as the top contender in the middleweight division.

Adesanya hasn’t seemed interested in a rematch with Whittaker. This year he had his eyes on new blood like Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. However, Whittaker has taken both of those contenders out to show the world he’s ready for another UFC title shot.

What should the UFC do?

I still think that the UFC should try to make the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones. It’s the biggest fight they could make at the moment, however, it appears that the promotion is heading in a different direction as of right now.

Dana White said yesterday after UFC 254 that Whittaker would be getting the next shot. Outside of the loss to Adesanya, Whittaker has never lost in the middleweight division. In fact, before Adesanya took over, many thought Whittaker would control the division for years to come.

Whittaker didn’t seem to fight like himself when the two fought at UFC 243. He fought to Adesanya’s strengths and got picked apart for it. The Whittaker we’ve seen in 2020 looks like a guy who could give Adesanya a real challenge.

Adesanya said he wanted to get back into the cage quickly while Whittaker wants to take some time given the fact that his wife is about to have a baby. Maybe the UFC tries to get a fight for Adesanya at light heavyweight in the mean time. However, Whittaker is clearly next for the middleweight crown.

Robert Whittaker defeats Jared Cannonier at UFC 254

In the co-main event of UFC 254, there was a contest between the top two contenders in the middleweight division. Former world champion, Robert Whittaker (21-5), took on Jared Cannonier (13-4). Both were looking to establish themselves as the top contender.

Cannonier was a focus heading into this one after UFC champion, Israel Adesanya, called him out. If Cannonier was to defeat Whittaker, he would get the next shot. Bobby Knuckles was looking for his second straight victory after dropping the title to Adesanya at UFC 243.

Fight Recap

As the co-main event of UFC 254 got underway, Cannonier opened with a massive leg kick. Cannonier looked extremely composed and patient to start. Whittaker was light on his feet looking for his openings. Cannonier dropped Whittaker with a leg kick in the opening minute.

Whittaker kept looking for shots up top, but nothing was landing. Cannonier continued to smash leg kicks as the first continued. Whittaker stung Cannonier with a straight right and really started to find his rhythm as the first round continued.

Whittaker’s speed was really bothering Cannonier as the first round ended. The former UFC champion opened the second round with a couple of crisp counters. Cannonier seemed to be a step behind Whittaker in the second round.

Cannonier started throwing leg kicks again, however, Whittaker was still doing good work up top. Both men were doing damage, but they had very different strategies. Damage was being added to Cannonier’s head while Whittaker’s legs were getting beat up.

Whittaker shot in for a takedown and briefly landed in with a minute left. Cannonier got right back up and started picking up the pace in the final minute. However, Whittaker was able to land a clean 1-2 just before the round came to a close.

The former UFC champ was bouncing looking for the 1-2 to open the final round. A stiff jab from Whittaker opened the striking. Bobby Knuckles landed a massive kick that sent Cannonier spinning. Whittaker followed up looking for the finish.

Cannonier defended well, but Whittaker landed in half guard. Whittaker was able to work his way to the mount position halfway through the round. Cannonier was able to scramble, but Whittaker was able to get his back.

Cannonier was able to fight his way back up to his feet. He looked very hurt when the two men separated. Whittaker continued to hurt Cannonier with jabs, however, Cannonier hurt Whittaker bad in the final minute. Whittaker was able to fight off Cannonier as the fight ended.

Results and next steps after UFC 254

After an entertaining co-main event at UFC 254, the judges gave the fight unanimously to Robert Whittaker (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Outside of getting hurt in the final minute of the fight, it was a brilliant performance from the former champion.

Darren Till and Cannonier were being built up as popular contenders in the UFC‘s middleweight division. Adesanya voiced interest in fighting both, however, Whittaker defeated both of them in 2020. I know Adesanya defeated him last year, but Whittaker deserves another shot.

For Cannonier, he’s not done in the middleweight division. However, tonight showed some areas that he still needs to improve. He was just a step behind most of the night and that allowed Whittaker to pull away and ultimately get the decision victory.

UFC 254 Preview: Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier

The co-main event of UFC 254 features a fantastic matchup in the middleweight division. Former champion, Robert Whittaker (21-5), will be taking on the Killa Gorilla, Jared Cannonier (13-4), for the top contender spot in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

For Whittaker, it’s a pretty quick turn around from his last fight back at UFC Fight Island 3. That night saw Whittaker take on and defeat Darren Till by unanimous decision. It was Whittaker’s first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title.

Bobby Knuckles entered the UFC in the welterweight division, however, his career took off when he moved to middleweight. Whittaker started his middleweight run 9-0 with wins over guys like Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson, and Uriah Hall.

He became the first UFC champion from Australia. However, Whittaker felt himself getting burned out. Then last year at UFC 243, Israel Adesanya knocked Whittaker out. Since then, Whittaker has rededicated himself to the sport and he’s trying to get his belt back.

Jared Cannonier is competing in his third weight class inside the UFC. He entered the promotion as a heavyweight. Then he transitioned to light heavyweight before ultimately moving down to middleweight which is his best weight class.

Since moving to middleweight, Cannonier is 3-0 with three stoppages. He’s finished Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva, and David Branch since dropping down. He’s a terrifying force for the middleweight division and carries a ton of power.

UFC 254 Prediction

Tomorrow’s co-main event is going to be so much fun to watch. It’s going to be extremely entertaining, and I’m very torn on who I see winning at UFC 254. I think if you look at their skillsets overall, I lean towards Bobby Knuckles.

Whittaker’s game overall is fantastic, but his striking is where he shines. However, his chin really does scare me in this contest. Whittaker has been dropped in all four of his last UFC contests. That is something that cannot be ignored especially in this fight.

Cannonier had knockout power at heavyweight. It’s safe to say that he’s brought that knockout power with him down to the UFC‘s middleweight division. I think Whittaker makes sense on paper, but I have a feeling Cannonier is going to land something big tomorrow afternoon.

Prediction: Jared Cannonier by TKO – Round 2

Jared Cannonier is completely focused on his UFC title aspirations

This weekend at UFC 254, The Killa Gorilla Jared Cannonier (13-4) will face the biggest test of his fighting career. He’s going to be standing across the cage from former world champion, Robert Whittaker (21-5). Both men want to earn a crack at the UFC middleweight title.

Cannonier has had an interesting journey to get to this point. When he first broke into the UFC, Cannonier fought at heavyweight. He wasn’t concerned about his diet or nutrition, he just wanted to fight. Cannonier carried knockout power at heavyweight, but he was pretty small.

He then decided to move down to the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. While this division better suited Cannonier, he still wasn’t clicking on all cylinders. His body still didn’t look like it was in peak condition, and his performances reflected that.

That’s when Cannonier decided to drop to his third UFC weight class. The middleweight division, and that is where his career completely turned. Cannonier has looked like a destroyer at middleweight going 3-0 with three knockouts.

Cannonier has been so impressive that UFC champion Israel Adesanya called him out after UFC 253. However, Cannonier made it clear today that he’s not focused on who’s the champion, he just wants a piece of that UFC middleweight title.

Future UFC champion?

“My journey is to get to the title. Whoever holds the title is going to have that target on his back,” Cannonier told reporters at the UFC 254 media day. Cannonier made it clear that his only goal is to become champion and he’s not focused on whoever he has to fight to get there.

Whittaker is a massive test for Cannonier. The former UFC middleweight champion had a similar story to the beginning of his career. Whittaker started at welterweight, but moved to middleweight because he felt his body would perform better.

He has gone 10-1 in eleven fights at middleweight which includes him capturing the UFC middleweight title. Whittaker is very well-rounded and he poses big problems for Cannonier. Whoever rises above the other on Saturday night will have clearly staked their claim as the number one contender.

UFC: Israel Adesanya’s next fight could come at light heavyweight

The UFC‘s middleweight king could be jumping up in weight for his next contest. Israel Adesanya (20-0) has been talking to his coaches about a potential move up to light heavyweight this year. The middleweight champion is coming off of a dominant win at UFC 253.

Of course, fans would immediately jump to the conclusion that he would be fighting Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones and Adesanya have been going back and forth for a while over social media. Dana White recently said that it’s the fight to make.

However, Adesanya has always been a fighter that has followed the lead and instructions of his coaches. Adesanya’s head coach, Eugene Bareman, was recently interviewed on Submission Radio discussing what is next for the UFC‘s middleweight champion.

The first choice for his next fight is top middleweight contender Jared Cannonier. “If Cannonier didn’t want to turn around and fight, then Israel would definitely fight at 205,” Bareman said. “We’ve already had a little chat about that. He would be perfectly willing to do that. So much is just dependent on those results in the middleweight division”

What’s next in the UFC for Adesanya?

Adesanya has been very vocal about his timeline to fight Jon Jones. He wants to fight the UFC‘s pound for pound king, but he wants to do it on his own time. The UFC‘s middleweight champion and his team seem to be more interested in defending the UFC middleweight title next.

As Bareman, said, if Adesanya can’t defend the title soon, he would move up. However, I’m not convinced that moving up would translate to a Jon Jones fight. Perhaps Adesanya would move up just to test the waters the way Anderson Silva did at light heavyweight.

As Dana White said, the fight to make is Israel Adesanya – Jon Jones. However, I just don’t know if that’s what we are going to get next. Many people have pointed to the fact that the UFC should try to make this the new headliner for UFC 256. 

However, given how Adesanya and his team treats his career, my guess is that they’d want more time to prepare for the challenge that is Jon Jones. While Adesanya mocks Jones constantly, you have to believe he understands the threat of a Jon Jones fight. Adesanya might fight at light heavyweight next, but it still might not be Jon Jones.

UFC: Israel Adesanya wants a quick turnaround

Coming off his domination at UFC 253, you would think Israel Adesanya (20-0) would want to just relax and soak in the victory. However, the middleweight champion already has his eyes set on the next challenge, and he doesn’t want to wait.

The UFC’s middleweight king is ready to fight. He doesn’t want to wait and his team is already talking to the UFC about his next potential fight. Adesanya went into detail on the talks with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani yesterday.

At first, Helwani suggested March or April for Adesanya’s next fight which was met with raised eyebrows from the UFC champ. Adesanya responded saying, “I’m fresh. I want to fight fast. I want to fight this year. We talked about it and I want to fight again this year. I ain’t f–ckin’ around Ariel.”

Next UFC opponent for Adesanya

The next logical step for Adesanya would be defending his UFC title against the winner of Jared Cannonier – Robert Whittaker. Those two fight at UFC 254 and the winner of that fight will be looked at as the clear number one contender in the middleweight division.

Adesanya said that he wanted to fight Cannonier after his victory at UFC 253. Of course, Cannonier has a tough test in front of him in the former UFC middleweight champion, Whittaker. Adesanya knocked Whittaker out in the second round when they fought to capture the title.

If Whittaker were to beat Cannonier, I wonder if Adesanya would want to do the rematch. His first victory over Whittaker at UFC 243 was very dominant. He might not be as interested in a rematch considering the way the first fight went.

Of course, there’s always the potential for the Jon Jones fight. However, I don’t see that fight materializing before the end of the year. In my opinion, the potential Jones – Adesanya fight would probably take place sometime in the middle of 2021.

There are a number of exciting options for the UFC‘s middleweight champion. He could also pull an Anderson Silva and move up to light heavyweight just to try it out. Either way, the last stylebender is planning on another fight in 2020.