After UFC Vegas 20 win, what’s next for Magomed Ankalaev?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 20, Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) and Nikita Krylov (27-8) went head-to-head in a pivotal match in the light heavyweight division. The winner of this matchup would only be a win or two away from a UFC title shot.

In the first round, Nikita Krylov was getting the better of the exchanges. Krylov was using his kicks nicely and his clinch control was impressive. All three judges gave the first round to Krylov. However, after round one, the momentum switched.

Magomed Ankalaev came out very aggressive to start the second round. There was a lot of pressure from Ankalaev and he started working his wrestling. Krylov couldn’t get anything going at UFC Vegas 20 once Ankalaev started going downhill.

Neither man did serious damage to the other throughout the fight. It was a tactical affair that was relatively easy to call once the final bell sounded. It was clear that Ankalaev had won the last two rounds with his forward pressure and his wrestling.

When the judges scorecards were read, Ankalaev won 29-28 on all three scorecards. After losing his UFC debut by a last second triangle choke, Magomed Ankalaev has now won six fights in a row at 205 pounds.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 20?

The hype train continues for the light heavyweight from Dagestan. Ankalaev looks to be the kind of contender that can challenge for the light heavyweight title in the next year or so. With that, what should the UFC do with him next?

Considering what is currently on the books, I think a matchup in April would provide the perfect opponent for Ankalaev. At UFC 261 in April, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) will be taking on Jimmy Crute (12-1).

Smith is currently ranked sixth while Crute is ranked 12th in the light heavyweight division. Whoever wins this matchup would be the perfect next opponent for Ankalaev. I belive this is where the promotion will head. Whoever would win the matchup between the winner and Ankalaev might just be one victory away from a UFC title shot.

UFC: Anthony Smith steps in for Johnny Walker and will fight Jimmy Crute

Anthony Smith

It didn’t take long for the UFC to find a new opponent for Jimmy Crute (12-1). Earlier today, we found out that Johnny Walker (18-5) had torn his pectoral muscle and as a result, was out of his UFC 260 bout with Crute. 

Crute posted on his Instagram last night that someone had already agreed to replace Walker. However, the name hadn’t been released yet. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news that it will be Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) who will be stepping in for Walker.

The fight between the two men has been pushed back from it’s original date at UFC 260. Smith and Crute will fight on a UFC Fight Night that is currently scheduled on April 24th. No word on if this fight will be a main event or not at this point.

With Walker getting injured, Jimmy Crute actually lucked out. He’s getting a higher ranked opponent and he’s fighting someone who has challenged for the UFC‘s light heavyweight championship in addition to taking on some of the division’s best.

This fight is really going to tell us a lot about where Jimmy Crute is. Crute suffered his first loss in 2019 against Misha Cirkunov, but has since bounced back and scored two first round finishes in 2020.

Big UFC Light Heavyweight Matchup

Lionheart has had a very up and down couple of years in the UFC. Back in 2019, Smith got his shot against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight championship. Smith had won three fights in a row prior including defeating two former light heavyweight champions.

Lionheart lost to Jones by decision. He bounced back extremely well by submitting Alexander Gustafsson. However, that is where the UFC career of Smith hit a wall. Smith was dominated by both Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic in back-to-back fights in 2020.

After the two lopsided losses, the UFC gave Smith, Devin Clark. Clark was unranked, but had shown a lot of promise. Smith was able to bounce back and submit Clark in the first round and in doing so, he seemed to get his confidence back.

Now, Smith will take on one of the most dangerous and hungry contenders in light heavyweight division. This fight is going to be massive for the light heavyweight division and whoever wins should be looking to the top five for their next fight.

Johnny Walker out of UFC 260 bout with Jimmy Crute

A fun light heavyweight matchup scheduled for UFC 260 has been called off. MMA Fighting confirmed this morning that Johnny Walker (18-5) is out of his upcoming matchup with Jimmy Crute (12-1).

Crute posted on Instagram last night that his opponent (Walker) was ducking him again. However, Walker’s team told MMA Fighting today that Walker tore his pectoral muscle and the injury requires immediate surgery.

The rough timetable for this injury is about six months of recovery. This was expected to be a barnburner between the two top fifteen UFC light heavyweights. Johnny Walker was looking to pickup his second straight win.

A couple of years ago, Walker was one of the hottest prospects in the UFC. He was destroying anyone the promotion put in front of him and he was doing it quickly. However, he then ran into Corey Anderson.

Anderson is one of the best light heavyweights in the world and he was able to stop Walker in the first round. From there, Walker dropped a decision to Nikita Krylov before bouncing back to knock out Ryan Spann. This is just another setback for the UFC‘s Walker.

What’s the UFC’s Plan?

Jimmy Crute is still going to be competing at UFC 260. According to Crute’s original post on Instagram, the promotion has already found him an opponent who has accepted the fight. Apparently, Crute likes this matchup a lot more.

Crute wrote on his Instagram, “I can’t express how excited and grateful I am that a true fighter has decided to step in and fight me. This is a better fight , better name and bigger challenge but I’m ready for it.”

As of now, there is no word on who this mystery opponent is for UFC 260. Although, given the excitement of Crute, you have to imagine it’s someone ranked in the top ten. A name I’d watch out for is Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16).

UFC books Johnny Walker – Jimmy Crute

We have our first UFC match making news of 2021. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was first to report this afternoon that the promotion is finalizing a banger of a matchup at light heavyweight between Johnny Walker (18-5) and Jimmy Crute (12-1).

The fight is expected to take place on March 27th. Both of these light heavyweight fighters rank inside the top 12 of the UFC‘s rankings at 205. Both are also two of the more exciting young contenders at light heavyweight.

Johnny Walker will try to make it two in a row when he makes the walk on March 27th. Walker was being looked at as one of the best prospects in the UFC in 2019. The Brazilian stormed onto the UFC scene in 2018.

After being awarded a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Walker made his UFC debut against Khalil Rountree. Walker knocked out Rountree in under two minutes. His next two fights both ended in under a minute.

The UFC moved him up to face Corey Anderson at UFC 244. Walker was the favorite, however, he ended up getting finished in the first round. He then lost a second straight fight to Nikita Krylov back in March. He did bounce back to knockout Ryan Spann in September.

Big UFC matchup at Light Heavyweight

Standing across from Walker will be The Brute, Jimmy Crute. Crute had a great 2020 where he won two fights by first round stoppage. One by submission then one by knockout back in October.

Crute is being looked at as one of the best prospects in the UFC. The Australian light heavyweight contender is just 24 years old. However, he has tremendous skills on the ground and on the feet as he showed in 2020.

This fight will be a big test for Crute. He’s in a very good position because if he doesn’t win, it won’t set him back a ton. However, if he’s able to beat Johnny Walker, he will be vaulted into the top ten with another big fight ahead of him.

This is a very big fight for the UFC’s light heavyweight division. With Jon Jones out of the picture and Israel Adesanya moving up to challenge Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, the division is entering a new day. Undoubtedly, both of these men are big prospects for the future of 205.

2021 UFC Breakthrough Candidates

UFC, Dana White

This past year, the UFC has seen a few fighters come out of no where and become household names. The two names that stick out the most are Kevin Holland (21-5) and Khamzat Chimaev (9-0).

Holland was already with the UFC when the year got started. However, Holland was just 3-2 in his first five fights. He came into 2020 coming off of a submission loss to Brendan Allen, but he showed in 2020 how special he could be.

Holland went a perfect 5-0 in 2020 with four finishes including one over Jacare Souza at UFC 256. Kevin Holland was a very popular pick for fighter of the year and he was our breakout fighter of the year.

Nobody really knew who Khamzat Chimaev was when 2020 started. There was some hype surrounding him in the Middle East, but to the mainstream public, nobody really knew who he was.

Chimaev made his UFC debut on Fight Island in July. He ended up fighting twice in ten days scoring two finishes in extremely dominant fashion. Chimaev followed those performances up with a knockout over Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds in September.

Khamzat Chimaev has gone from unknown to a superstar in just a few months. He was supposed to face Leon Edwards in January, but that fight has been pushed back due to Chimaev’s recovery since coming down with COVID-19.

2021 UFC Breakthrough Prospects

The mixed martial arts world and even the mainstream public knows Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland after 2020. So who are some candidates for breakthrough fighters in the UFC as we enter 2021?

One of the guys I have my eyes on is bantamweight, Jack Shore (13-0). The bantamweight from Wales has fought twice in the UFC and he’s scored two submissions wins. Out of his 13 professional wins, only one has gone to the scorecards.

He last fought back in July on Fight Island. That night, Shore took on Aaron Phillips and he used his superior grappling to dominate the fight. Shore has all the makings for a contender who can breakthrough for the UFC in 2021.

The next guy I have my eyes on is another fighter from Wales. This one is the two-division Cage Warriors champion, Mason Jones (10-0). Jones is scheduled to make his UFC debut on January 20th against Mike Davis (8-2).

There is a lot of hype surrounding Mason Jones. The last two-division Cage Warriors champion to breakthrough in UFC is Conor McGregor. Thus, you can see why a lot of people are interested in this young man.

Jones is just 25 years old, but he is incredibly talented. The UFC is not giving him a layup in his first fight however. Mike Davis is a very tough opponent who’s only two losses have come to Gilbert Burns and Sodiq Yusuff.

Ranked Fighters to Watch

While Jones and Shore are my two prospects that I’m watching, there are a couple of more established fighters I have my eyes on as we enter 2021. One of those fighters being Jimmy Crute (12-1).

The Australian light heavyweight is currently ranked 12th in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He has dynamite in his hands and he’s very good on the ground. He bounced back from his first loss in 2019 to score two first round finishes in 2020.

Crute is just 24 years old and looks incredibly gifted. I would not be shocked to see Crute inching towards the top five once 2021 is over. The other fighter I have my eyes on is Diego Ferreira (17-2).

Okay, I’ll admit it, Ferreira is 35 years old and he’s been with the UFC for a long time. He doesn’t really fit in with the other three fighters I’ve listed so far. However, I have him on this list for a reason.

Ferreira is a guy that seems to get lost when folks talk about the lightweight division. The most exciting division in the sport is incredibly stacked. It’s so stacked that people forget that Ferreira is on a six-fight winning streak in the UFC.

He last fought in January and submitted Anthony Pettis in the second round. Ferreira is taking on Beneil Dariush (19-4-1) in February where he will look to avenge his first career loss. Outside of Dariush, the only man to defeat Ferreira inside the octagon is Dustin Poirier.

These are four fighters that I truly believe can establish themselves in the UFC this year. When I say establish, I mean become household names to not just the MMA world, but the general public. Keep your eyes on these fighters in 2021.