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5 Fights We Have to See After UFC 302

5 Fights We Need to See After UFC 302 0 of 5 Islam Makhachev prepares to face Dustin Poirier Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images Islam Makhachev is still the king of the lightweights, but the once-beaten Russian has some very tough challenges on the horizon. Makhachev was back in action in the main event

5 Fights We Have to See After UFC 302

5 Fights We Have to See After UFC 302

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    Islam Makhachev prepares to face Dustin Poirier

    Islam Makhachev prepares to face Dustin PoirierJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Photographs

    Islam Makhachev remains to be the king of the lightweights, however the once-beaten Russian has some very robust challenges on the horizon.

    Makhachev was again in motion in the primary occasion of Saturday’s UFC 302 in Newark, New Jersey, defending the promotion’s light-weight title in opposition to former interim champ Dustin Poirier. It was imagined to be a simple battle for the champion, however he finally needed to dig deep for the fifth-round submission he used to defend his belt.

    After the win, Makhachev has loads of choices. There are a number of contenders within the light-weight division awaiting a shot at his belt, and in his post-fight interview, he as soon as once more expressed his need to maneuver as much as welterweight in quest of a second title.

    The choices are not any much less plentiful for former middleweight champ Sean Strickland, who defeated Paulo Costa by choice in UFC 302’s five-round co-main occasion. It was Strickland’s first win since a slim title loss to Dricus Du Plessis in January, and it put him proper again into title competition, whether or not he is matched up with the champ or one other prime contender.

    Former welterweight contender Kevin Holland additionally gained huge on the cardboard, breaking Michal Oleksiejczuk’s arm within the first-round of their middleweight bout. The identical was true prime top-10 heavyweight Jailton Almeida, who bounced again from a loss to Curtis Blaydes with a first-round rear-naked choke in opposition to Alexandr Romanov.

    Preserve scrolling for the fights we hope will likely be made for the cardboard’s huge winners.

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Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan

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    Arman Tsarukyan prepares to fight Charles Oliveira

    Arman Tsarukyan prepares to battle Charles OliveiraChris Unger/Zuffa LLC through Getty Photographs

    Dustin Poirier solely acquired his crack at Makhachev as a result of Arman Tsarukyan was unavailable.

    Tsarukyan cemented himself because the No. 1 light-weight contender with a hard-fought choice win over former champion Charles Oliveira on the UFC 300 predominant card in April. Instantly after the actual fact, he was provided a battle with Makhachev at UFC 302, however rightfully turned the chance down, having simply been by way of a 15-minute battle with Oliveira. The chance was then provided to Poirier.

    After his win over Poirier, Makhachev set his sights on a crack on the welterweight title, which is at present the property of England’s Leon Edwards. That is an important battle, and a possibility Makhachev most likely deserves, however he nonetheless has numerous work to do at light-weight — specifically within the type of Tsarukyan.

    Offered Makhachev is wholesome, the UFC ought to pit him in opposition to Tsarukyan within the fall. If he efficiently defends his title in opposition to the Georgian upstart—he is overwhelmed him as soon as earlier than—then it is going to be laborious to disclaim him a crack on the welterweight belt.

Dustin Poirier vs. Alexander Volkanovski

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    Dustin Poirier drips blood in his fight with Islam Makhachev

    Dustin Poirier drips blood in his battle with Islam MakhachevLuke Hales/Getty Photographs

    After dropping to Makhachev at UFC 302, Dustin Poirier recommended he would possibly retire from competitors. If that is what he decides, he can journey off into the sundown along with his head held excessive. Regardless of by no means successful an undisputed title, he looks as if a surefire candidate for the UFC Corridor of Fame.

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    If Poirier decides to maintain competing, nonetheless, there may be seemingly no higher battle for him than a light-weight conflict with former featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.

    Volkanovski, lengthy thought-about the most effective fighters within the sport, is driving a brutal knockout loss to Ilia Topuria, which ended his lengthy reign on the featherweight throne. Since then, he is been adamant he’ll solely settle for a rematch with Topuria, however after UFC 302, he expressed curiosity in a battle with the vanquished Poirier.

    “He thinks he is perhaps retiring, undecided,” Volkanovski stated on his YouTube channel. “Possibly, simply possibly, relying on what I am doing — clearly, I need to battle later within the 12 months, I do not know precisely what’s taking place, I do not need to wait too lengthy both — so if the timing works out, possibly me and Dustin can have a very good battle. I do know he simply desires good fights. Clearly, [we] have numerous respect for one another, and I feel that will be a large battle.

    “In order that’s one thing I might be prepared to do whereas I am ready for that featherweight title, possibly a light-weight battle in opposition to somebody like Dustin Poirier could be nice. You heard it right here first. Possibly we might make one thing occur.”

    If Poirier sticks round, that is the battle to make. It is an ideal alternative for him and Volkanovski to enhance their already unimaginable resumes, and all indicators level to a really thrilling matchup.

Sean Strickland vs. Whittaker-Chimaev Winner

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    Sean Strickland kicks Paulo Costa

    Sean Strickland kicks Paulo CostaJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Photographs

    After his choice win over Paulo Costa within the UFC 302 co-main occasion, Sean Strickland referred to as for an additional crack on the promotion’s middleweight title, which remains to be within the fingers of South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis.

    As a former champ, Strickland arguably deserves that chance, however his win over Costa was a particular snoozer, and all indicators level to the subsequent middleweight title shot going to former champion Israel Adesanya.

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    If Strickland is certainly handed up for a title shot, the apparent battle for him is a conflict with the winner of Robert Whittaker and Khamzat Chimaev’s upcoming showdown. The pair are set to fulfill on June 22. Whittaker, a former champ and the most effective middleweights ever, will likely be seeking to construct on the momentum of his personal choice win over Costa. Chimaev, in the meantime, will likely be seeking to hold his good document intact and earn himself the title shot that has appeared predestined since he joined the UFC in 2020.

    Like Strickland, the winner of the Whittaker-Chimaev battle will likely be effectively deserving of a crack at Du Plessis, however will probably be handed up in favor of Adesanya. As such, it solely is smart to match that winner up with Strickland. That manner, there is a clear-cut No. 1 contender ready for the Du Plessis vs. Adesanya winner.

Kevin Holland vs. Michel Pereira

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    Kevin Holland secures an arm bar submission against Michal Oleksiejczuk

    Kevin Holland secures an arm bar submission in opposition to Michal OleksiejczukJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Photographs

    Kevin Holland made a profitable return to the middleweight division at UFC 302, defeating former mild heavyweight Michal Oleksiejczuk with a bone-breaking armbar in Spherical 1.

    As a ranked welterweight, and some of the well-liked fighters within the UFC proper now, Holland will probably get an enormous alternative in his subsequent middleweight battle. Our decide is a showdown with Brazil’s Michel Pereira.

    The No. 12-ranked Pereira, like Holland, is a former welterweight with a status for wild brawls and highlight-reel finishes. He is driving three-straight stoppage wins since he moved as much as middleweight, which features a first-round submission of Oleksiejczuk, in addition to wins over Andre Petroski and Ihor Potieria.

    Pereira is certainly a couple of rungs forward of Holland on the middleweight ladder, but it surely’s laborious to think about a greater battle for him than the American. It is a Battle of the Night time contender on paper, and the winner could be a win or two away from title competition at worst.

Jailton Almeida vs. Ciryl Gane

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    Jailton Almeida reacts after his submission victory against Alexandr Romanov

    Jailton Almeida reacts after his submission victory in opposition to Alexandr RomanovJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Photographs

    Heading into 2024, Brazilian heavyweight Jailton Almeida seemed like he’d be combating for the division’s title by the tip of the 12 months. The damaging grappler had gained 15 straight fights, together with wins over Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Derrick Lewis, and was generally talked about as a possible opponent for each Tom Aspinall and Jon Jones. Then he bumped into Curtis Blaydes and suffered a second-round TKO loss that absolutely derailed his hype practice.

    On the UFC 302 undercard, Almeida acquired again on observe with a dominant first-round submission over fellow top-15 contender Alexandr Romanov. After that win, he’s as soon as once more one of many prime contenders at heavyweight.

    Our decide for his subsequent battle is former interim champ Ciryl Gane. France’s Gane is driving a lopsided win over Sergei Spivak, which separated him from a loss to Jones. Nevertheless, he is nonetheless a win or two away for an additional shot on the belt.

    A battle with a harmful contender like Almeida could be simply the ticket for the Frenchman. The winner could be effectively positioned for a shot at Aspinall’s interim belt, or Jones’ undisputed title, and it is a enjoyable striker vs. grappler conflict on paper.

    E book it for the UFC’s deliberate September return to Paris. It is an apparent predominant occasion.

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