Israel Adesanya put on a striking clinic against Marvin Vettori this past weekend at UFC 263 to retain his middleweight title in a largely one-sided unanimous decision victory.
Vettori had little success with his takedown attempts, as Adesanya didn’t allow the Italian to hold him down the same way Jan Blachowicz did in the fourth and fifth rounds at UFC 259. On the feet, ‘The Last Stylebender’ chewed up the Italian’s lead leg throughout their five-round main event to clearly earn the win on all three judges’ scorecards.
In the co-main event, Brandon Moreno ran through Deiveson Figueiredo to become the new flyweight king. The Mexican dominated the fight from the word go and earned a third-round rear naked choke submission victory.
In the third five round fight at UFC 263, Leon Edwards earned a largely one-sided unanimous decision victory over Nate Diaz. However, the Brit did survive a late scare, when the Stockton native badly rocked him in the fifth round.
With UFC 263 in the books, we take a look at what could be next for the top six fighters on the card.
Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker was originally offered the UFC 263 main event after his most recent victory against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24, but needed more time to heal and prepare for the fight, making way for Vettori.
He’s been guaranteed the next title shot however, by both Adesanya and Dana White. With three consecutive wins, there’s no one more deserving than ‘The Reaper’, who is itching to avenge his UFC 243 loss to the reigning champion. The former champion has previously said that he has a few surprises up his sleeve for the rematch.
Marvin Vettori vs Paulo Costa
In a post-fight interview, Vettori called out Paulo Costa for a potential title eliminator. The fight makes a lot of sense because both fighters sit inside the top three in the UFC middleweight rankings, and are both are coming off losses to Adesanya in their respective title fights.
Vettori vs Costa is also an intriguing stylistic matchup, as both fighters are aggressive and love to impose their will on their opponents.
Brandon Moreno vs Askar Askarov
Although Figueiredo called for an immediate trilogy in his post-fight interview, it’s likely that he will need one or two wins to earn another title shot, considering how one-sided his defeat was.
The rightful number one contender right now at flyweight is Askar Askarov, who’s on a three-fight win streak since his draw with the newly-crowned champion. The Dagestani, who most recently beat Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259, is the number two ranked flyweight contender, and deserves to fight for the title more than anyone else in the division.
Deiveson Figuiredo vs Alexandre Pantoja
With Figueiredo needing at least one big win to earn a shot at reclaiming the title, and given that he’s currently the number one ranked guy, he should fight Pantoja, who’s ranked number three.
‘The Cannibal’ scored a unanimous decision victory in his most recent fight against Manel Kape at UFC Vegas 18. It’s a matchup that makes a lot of sense and could be a great potential title eliminator.
Leon Edwards vs Gilbert Burns/Stephen Thompson
While Edwards is demanding a title shot, and he makes a very strong case for it, Dana White has repeatedly said that Colby Covington will be the next in line to challenge Kamaru Usman.
This leaves Edwards in a tough spot once again. He can either choose to fight someone ranked way below him again, or wait for the winner of Gilbert Burns vs Stephen Thompson, which takes place next month at UFC 264. The latter is a better option for the Brit.
Nate Diaz vs Loser of Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor
Nate Diaz is one of the biggest stars in the UFC, and he shouldn’t settle for a lesser name, especially when there’s a massive fight coming up next month between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264.
Regardless of the outcome of the fight, it would a be win-win for Diaz. If McGregor suffers a second straight defeat, a big money trilogy fight with his arch-rival would make the most sense, but a fight with Poirier would also make a lot of sense, in case ‘The Diamond’ fails to get his hand raised on the night.
Who do you think Israel Adesanya, Marvin Vettori, Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno, Leon Edwards, and Nate Diaz should fight next?