The following two months are going to have a drastic affect on what occurs within the UFC’s middleweight division in 2022.
Proper now, Israel Adesanya (21-1) stays the undisputed king of the division, and sustaining that spot is the one objective he has within the foreseeable future. Adesanya had plans to take over the sunshine heavyweight division as effectively and ultimately going through Jon Jones in a superfight, however these plans have been cooled considerably when he misplaced to 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz in March.
Adesanya’s subsequent problem can be a rematch towards former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, however that combat shouldn’t be anticipated to happen till early subsequent yr. What occurs past that? Effectively, that is what the following two months will determine.
A big domino fell two weeks in the past when Jared Cannonier defeated Kelvin Gastelum to bolster his case for a UFC title shot. The following domino will fall on Saturday afternoon when Darren Till (18-3-1) meets Derek Brunson (22-7) in the primary occasion of a matinee UFC Battle Night time in Las Vegas.
Until, of Liverpool, England, is among the hottest figures within the sport, and a possible championship combat between him and Adesanya can be an enormous draw for the UFC. Even though Until is simply 1-1 as a middleweight — and simply 1-Three in his final 4 fights — there’s a very actual probability his subsequent combat may very well be for a title if he wins this weekend and Adesanya wins his subsequent bout.
The final domino to fall can be a five-round matchup between Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori on Oct. 23. Each Costa and Vettori are coming off losses to Adesanya of their most up-to-date bouts, so so long as Adesanya stays on the high, they’re going to probably want a number of wins to earn a rematch. However the winner of their combat can be a key piece in figuring out the instant panorama of 185.
After all, the UFC might look to e book one other marquee middleweight combat between now and the tip of the yr, however personally, I do not see it taking place. We’ll have an excellent concept of what this division seems to be like by the tip of this weekend, and a really, very good concept by the tip of Oct. 23.
So 2022 will probably kick off with that essential title rematch between Adesanya and Whittaker. And the desk will already be set for no matter is subsequent based mostly on what occurs right here in 2021.
Saturday’s matinee UFC Battle Night time is on ESPN+, with the primary card at Four p.m. ET and the prelims at 1:30 p.m.
By the numbers
7: Knockouts within the UFC by Brunson, tying him with Michael Bisping, Chris Leben and Yoel Romero for the second most in middleweight division historical past, one behind leaders Anderson Silva, Uriah Hall and Thiago Santos.
10: Knockouts by Until in his profession. Solely two have are available his 10 fights since he joined the UFC as a welterweight in 2015, and none since he moved to middleweight in 2019.
16: Takedowns by Brunson throughout his present four-fight profitable streak. Previous to that, in his first 14 journeys contained in the Octagon, he had a complete of 13 takedowns.
89: Proportion of UFC combat time Until has spent on his ft.
6: Consecutive fights wherein Brunson (+150) has been a betting underdog. He has gained the final 4 and is 6-Three general as an underdog within the UFC. Until (-175), in the meantime, has misplaced three of his final 4 fights and was the betting favourite in two of these fights.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Info and UFC Stats
5 vs. 5
Derek Brunson’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Kevin Holland (UD, March 20, 2021; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Edmen Shahbazyan (TKO3, Aug. 1, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Ian Heinisch (UD, Aug. 17, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Elias Theodorou (UD, Could 4, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Israel Adesanya (TKO1, Nov. 3, 2018)
Darren Until’s most up-to-date outcomes
Loss: Robert Whittaker (UD, July 26, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Kelvin Gastelum (SD, Nov. 2, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Jorge Masvidal (KO2, March 16, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Tyron Woodley (Sub2, Sept. 8, 2018)
Win: Stephen Thompson (UD, Could 27, 2018)
And the winner is …
“I will say this: Until is rather a lot faster than we give him credit score for — simply his pure, instinctive pace,” mentioned MMA coach and UFC broadcaster Din Thomas. “He is obtained faster palms and ft than you assume he does. His reflexes are quicker than you assume, though he would not transfer rather a lot. However I do not assume he will be fast sufficient to cease Brunson. I believe Brunson is rather a lot stronger than what folks assume. His takedowns are higher than folks give him credit score for. I believe Brunson will take Darren Until down and he would possibly even end him.”
Try how Thomas and different consultants break down the main event and predict a winner.
How you can watch the fights
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There’s additionally FightCenter, which gives reside updates for each UFC card.
Saturday’s combat card
ESPN+, Four p.m. ET
Middleweight: Derek Brunson vs. Darren Till
Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall vs. Serghei Spivac
Welterweight: Alex Morono vs. David Zawada
Gentle heavyweight: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.
Light-weight: Paddy Pimblett vs. Luigi Vendramini
ESPN+, 1:30 p.m. ET
Girls’s flyweight: Molly McCann vs. Ji Yeon Kim
Males’s bantamweight: Jack Shore vs. Liudvik Sholinian
Males’s featherweight: Julian Erosa vs. Charles Jourdain
Middleweight: Dalcha Lungiambula vs. Marc-André Barriault
Males’s bantamweight: Jonathan Martinez vs. Marcelo Rojo
4 extra issues to know (from ESPN Stats & Info)
1. Within the co-main occasion, Tom Aspinall and Serghei Spivac each put three-fight profitable streaks on the road. The winner can have the fourth-longest UFC streak at heavyweight, behind Ciryl Gane (7), Francis Ngannou (5) and Marcin Tybura (5). All three of Aspinall’s wins throughout this run have featured a end; if will get a fourth straight, he would path solely Ngannou (5) for longest lively end streak.
2. Alex Morono can be in search of his ninth UFC win when he faces David Zawada. Since Morono’s 2016 debut, solely 4 welterweights have extra wins: Vicente Luque (13), Kamaru Usman (12), Belal Muhammad (10) and Leon Edwards (9).
3. After signing with the UFC in March, former Cage Warriors featherweight champion Paddy Pimblett makes his Octagon debut in a light-weight bout with Luigi Vendramini. Pimblett is 16-Three and a winner of his final two bouts.
4. Jack Shore is the one undefeated fighter on the cardboard, at 14-0, and he’s an nearly 5-to-1 betting favourite towards Liudvik Sholinian. The debuting Sholinian misplaced within the semifinals of The Final Fighter to eventual Season 29 champion Ricky Turcios. If Shore will get his hand raised, he’ll tie Movsar Evloev for the most effective report amongst fighters on the UFC roster.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this combat preview.