After his big win at UFC Vegas 22, what’s next for Derek Brunson?

Derek Brunson

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 22, Derek Brunson (22-7) was once again tasked with taking on a promotional hype train. This time, the hype train was that of Kevin Holland (21-6). Holland was on the shortlist for male fighter of the year in 2020 after going 5-0.

Derek Brunson has been with the UFC for a very long time. He’s also been one of the more consistent fighters at middleweight over the last several years. Brunson has only lost to the very best that middleweight has to offer.

When a contender defeats Derek Brunson, they are well on their way to either being a UFC champion or challenging for a title. Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero are the best examples.

However, since Brunson seems to lose to the elite of the elite at middleweight, the UFC has unofficially given him this gate keeper status. Last August, Brunson took on Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan was supposed to be the next big thing, but Brunson finished him.

As a reward, the UFC gave Brunson the next hype train in Kevin Holland. Holland’s precision striking looked like it was going to be an issue for Brunson. At times on Saturday night, it was. However, at the end of the day, Brunson went out and grinded out a dominant decision and once again derailed a hype train.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 22?

Now that Brunson has derailed two consecutive hype trains, what will the UFC give him next? In his post-fight interview, Brunson made a callout and it’s actually one that makes a lot of sense in my opinion.

Brunson used his moment in the spotlight to challenge Paulo Costa (13-1). Costa recently had to pull out of his upcoming main event against Robert Whittaker due to an illness. At the moment, there’s not a timetable for his return.

However, if he’s able to return in the summer, the UFC should set this fight up. Costa is coming off of a title fight loss and Brunson is on a winning streak. Costa wants to get back on track and Brunson wants to prove he can challenge for the title. To me, it’s the perfect matchup to setup.

UFC: Kelvin Gastelum steps in to face Robert Whittaker on April 17th

Earlier today, we learned that the UFC‘s main event on April 17th had lost one of it’s headliners. Paulo Costa (13-1) came down with the flu and as a result he couldn’t train for his upcoming main event slot against Robert Whittaker (22-5).

As a result, Costa had to pull out of the fight. The UFC was thinking about potentially moving the fight back, but with the uncertainty of Costa’s condition, they decided to move on to try and find a replacement.

Former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum (16-6, 1 NC) immediately volunteered. Gastelum just defeated Ian Heinisch back at UFC 258 and after the win, he said he’d stay ready in order to step in for one of the upcoming middleweight main events.

Sure enough, Costa fell out and a replacement was needed. The UFC contacted Gastelum and the sides came to an agreement. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this evening that the promotion had finalized the deal for Gastelum to step in.

UFC title fight we never saw

Many will remember that this isn’t the first time the UFC has paired these two against each other. Originally, these two were supposed to fight in Australia back in 2019 with the UFC middleweight title on the line.

The day of the fight, Whittaker had to pull out of the fight. Whittaker had to have emergency surgery and was on the sidelines for a while. Gastelum ended up fighting Israel Adesanya for the interim title and came up short.

Adesanya of course would then go on to defeat Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title. We never got to see these two compete for the UFC title. However, now we are going to see them compete in a UFC main event. Whoever wins this matchup is going to put themselves in a great position to be the next challenger.

UFC: Paulo Costa is ill and has pulled out of the Robert Whittaker fight

One of the more anticipated UFC main events in the next month is off. Paulo Costa (13-1) has come down with the flu and he has pulled out of his main event against former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

The news of Costa withdrawing has been confirmed after AG.Fight initially reported that the fight could be in trouble. Costa has come down with the flu. The flu has him to the point where he cannot properly train for the main event slot.

The matchup was set to take place on April 17th. This is one of many fights in the UFC‘s middleweight division over the next month that is being looked at as a potential title eliminator considering these are the top two guys in the division.

For Costa, this fight was supposed to be a chance for redemption. Costa got his title shot at UFC 253 and fell completely flat against Israel Adesanya (20-1). The fight was completely dominated by Stylebender. Costa has blamed a night of drinking wine for his poor performance at UFC 253.

Tough break for the former UFC champion

As of now the UFC is currently talking about pushing this fight back to either May 1st or May 8th if Costa can be ready. If not, there is also talk about potentially seeking out a different opponent for Whittaker, although, the promotion would like to keep these two paired.

You have to really feel for Robert Whittaker. Whittaker was dominant in his run to the middleweight title and has only lost once at 185 pounds. After he lost his UFC title, he’s gone on to defeat the top two contenders who Israel Adesanya was interested in facing.

In reality, Whittaker deserves a rematch with Adesanya, but the UFC hasn’t given that to him. Instead, he is being forced to fight another top contender to earn that shot. This will be a situation to monitor over the coming days.

Paulo Costa blames wine and lack of sleep for UFC 253 loss

We are a few months removed from UFC 253. That night, the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0), took on the previously unbeaten challenger, Paulo Costa (13-1). The fight was one of the more anticipated matchups of 2020.

However, the fight failed to live up to the hype mainly due to the challenger. While Adesanya was brilliant in scoring the knockout win at UFC 253, Costa fought extremely flat. He didn’t land anything significant before Adesanya landed the finishing blows.

It was such an odd performance from Paulo Costa. Prior to that loss, Costa was always known as someone who pushes forward with a ridiculous pace. However, at UFC 253, Costa was stuck on the outside and he didn’t push forward at all.

This left a lot of fans scratching their heads. Costa is currently prepping for his next matchup against Robert Whittaker. Their fight takes place in April and the winner is likely going to get another crack at the UFC middleweight champion.

Costa has broken his silence about his last performance. Over the weekend, Costa took to his YouTube page to talk about the loss. In all honesty, I was a little surprised to hear what he had to say and what he attributes the loss to.

UFC 253 sabotaged by a hangover?

On the UFC 253 loss, Costa said, “I was kind of drunk when I fought, maybe hungover. I couldn’t sleep because of leg cramps. The UFC told us to wake up at 5 in the morning to go to the arena to fight. I hadn’t slept until 2:30.”

“It was my mistake and I don’t blame anyone else, it was something I chose [to do], but, in order to try to sleep, because I had to sleep since I was awake for 24 hours, I had wine, too much wine, a bottle to try to black out. I had a glass and didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all.”

Clearly, it doesn’t sound like the condition were ideal for Costa. However, it’s not like his experience on Fight Island was unique. All of the fighters had to go through the same issues when they were fighting in Abu Dhabi.

Now, maybe there were more factors at play here. Perhaps the nerves of the moment caused Costa to be anxious which prevented him from sleeping. There are a number of question marks, but it was clear that we didn’t see the usual Costa back in September.

When he steps into the cage next, he needs to prove to the UFC and himself that the last fight was a fluke. Costa must show the world that he’s still the Paulo Costa we thought he was if he wants any chance at a rematch with Israel Adesanya.

UFC books headliner between Darren Till and Marvin Vettori

The UFC is making moves with their middleweight division. Last night, we learned that the promotion had finalized a bout between Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker that would headline a Fight Night on April 17th. 

Today, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the UFC has finalized another incredible middleweight matchup. On April 10th, Darren Till (18-3-1) and Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) will headline another Fight Night.

This is going to be a massive seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Darren Till last fought back in July when he took on former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

The fight was extremely close, but Whittaker pulled out a decision. Till was originally supposed to headline a card against Jack Hermansson (21-6) in December, however he ended up injured and the promotion moved to Kevin Holland (21-5).

However, Holland ended up testing positive for COVID and he was pulled from that fight. That is when Marvin Vettori stepped into the picture. Vettori had another fight booked, but stepped up for the UFC and took that fight against Hermansson.

UFC’s Middleweight Division

Marvin Vettori looked sensational in December when he fought Hermansson. In his first UFC headliner, Vettori dropped and hurt Hermansson early on. He went on to dominate the fight for all five rounds.

The win was a massive statement and the fourth straight for Vettori. Vettori now finds himself fourth in the UFC’s middleweight rankings one spot behind Darren Till. However, Vettori has expressed frustrations with being ranked behind Till.

Nevertheless, now the two will get a chance to prove who is the better fighter. As mentioned, this is a huge seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Let us not forget that Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson (21-7) are also headlining a Fight Night on March 20th. 

This stretch from March through April has big implications for the middleweight division. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to challenge for the light heavyweight title, however, upon his return to middleweight, there should be a lot of clarity with all these matchups.

UFC books Robert Whittaker – Paulo Costa

The UFC has finalized a massive fight in their middleweight division this evening. First reported by Sherdog, the promotion has booked a headliner between former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5), and Paulo Costa (13-1).

This UFC main event will take place on April 17th. For the last month or two, this fight was being rumored. The current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0), is moving up to challenge for the light heavyweight championship at UFC 259.

Robert Whittaker was due for a rematch against Adesanya. Whittaker went 2-0 in 2020 and the two guys he beat were supposed to get title shots had they beaten Whittaker. However, Whittaker messed up those plans.

Bobby Knuckles has only lost once in the last six years in the middleweight division. That one loss has come to Israel Adesanya. If there’s anyone that deserves a rematch, it’s Robert Whittaker. However, Dana White recently said that Whittaker would have to fight again before getting that UFC title shot.

Big UFC Middleweight Battle

That is where Borrachinha enters the picture. Paulo Costa is coming off of a loss to Israel Adesanya back at UFC 253. Costa was the unbeaten challenger who many felt would push Adesanya to the limits.

However, Costa had a really tough time getting going against Adesanya. Adesanya brutalized him with leg kicks and shots from the outside. Eventually, the UFC champion caught Costa and put him down for good in the second round.

Costa got right back in the gym after the fight and he’s been making improvements. His team has been calling for a shot at Whittaker with Adesanya moving up for now and they got their wish.

However, originally Costa’s management wanted this fight to be for the interim UFC middleweight title. Dana White said recently that there would be no interim title despite the fact that Adesanya is moving up.

As of now, the UFC’s plan is for Adesanya to face the winner later in the year. Adesanya has made it clear that he plans to return to middleweight after capturing a second title. One of these two killers will be waiting for him upon his return.

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.

What’s next for Mavin Vettori after UFC Vegas 16?

Last night at UFC Vegas 16, Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) took on Jack Hermansson (21-6) in the main event. Vettori was originally scheduled to fight next weekend, but after Kevin Holland fell out of the UFC Vegas 16 main event, Vettori stepped in.

Hermansson entered the cage as the fourth ranked middleweight in the UFC. For Vettori, he was competing in his first main event and it was the first time he was fighting someone when they were ranked inside the top five.

To be honest, I underestimated Marvin Vettori in this one. I figured he would have some moments on the feet, but over the course of five rounds, I figured Hermansson’s grappling and preparation for a five round main event would win out.

However, that is not what happened at UFC Vegas 16. Vettori looked incredibly sharp on the feet last night. He dropped Hermansson in round one and nearly finished the fight. In the second round, he continued to tune Hermansson up on the feet.

While he was doing this, he also did a fantastic job of defending takedowns. I got concerned for Vettori when the fight hit the third round. It seemed that Hermansson was taking over the fight and Vettori was fading.

However, it now appears that Vettori was just trying to take a round off. The fight was a war, but Vettori sealed the deal in the final two rounds of UFC Vegas 16 with piston like straight hands. In the end, Vettori walked away with the decision and the biggest win of his UFC career.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 16?

After the fight was over, Vettori stepped to the microphone for his post-fight interview. It wouldn’t be a Vettori interview if 90% wasn’t censored out. However, he still was able to say what he wanted next in the UFC.

Vettori took the opportunity to call out Paulo Costa (13-1) after UFC Vegas 16. To be honest, going into the fight, I figured Costa would be a good fight for whoever won. With Vettori’s performance and call out, I think it makes even more sense now.

We haven’t seen Costa since his failed attempt to capture the middleweight title at UFC 253. Israel Adesanya completely outclassed the Brazilian that night. Despite that performance, Costa is still one of the best in the world.

Stylistically, it makes for a fantastic matchup. Rankings wise, it will also make for a fantastic matchup. When the rankings come out on Tuesday, I would expect to see Vettori in the top five. A matchup with him and Costa would be pairing two exciting top five fighters against each other.

UFC: Jan Blachowicz calls for fight with Israel Adesanya

Corey Anderson

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion has his eyes set on his next opponent. Last month, Jan Blachowicz became the light heavyweight champion of the world when he knocked out Dominick Reyes to cap off an incredible run at UFC 253.

The UFC‘s Polish Power has stormed through his last four opponents on his way to capturing the title. Later that evening, Israel Adesanya put on arguably the best performance of his career when he retained his middleweight crown against Paulo Costa.

Since then, there hasn’t been a ton of specific talk about what’s next for Adesanya or Blachowicz. Dana White said last week that it made sense for Adesanya to fight Robert Whittaker again for the UFC middleweight championship.

However, Adesanya and his camp don’t seem very interested in the matchup. They are looking for a new challenge and that challenge could come in the form of the UFC light heavyweight champion.

Adesanya’s coach did say that the champion’s next fight could come at light heavyweight. This is something that Blachowicz seems interested in. The light heavyweight champ took to Twitter to callout Adesanya for a fight in March.

Will the UFC make it happen?

This would be such an interesting matchup for the UFC to make. On one hand, it would give them a chance to make Adesanya an even bigger star than he already is. Adesanya as a two-division world champion would blow up.

However, it wouldn’t be an easy fight for Adesanya. On paper, Adesanya should pick apart the light heavyweight champion, Blachowicz. Blachowicz would definitely be the slower fighter, however, his power is not to be ignored.

When he hits guys, they just seem to completely change. Many, including myself, thought he would be outgunned against Dominick Reyes. I thought the fluidity of Reyes would give him issues, but Blachowicz’s power just took over at UFC 253.

If Adesanya were to move up and win the UFC light heavyweight title, it could make the potential Jon Jones fight even bigger. Imagine Jones challenging Adesanya for the light heavyweight championship. Or maybe the two-division champion, Adesanya, would want to fight Jones at heavyweight.

However, I would strongly suggest that nobody overlook Blachowicz if this fight was to happen. Adesanya would be the clear favorite, but Blachowicz has power that can change any fight on a dime.

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.