The UFC has a new superstar and his name is Israel Adesanya. “The Last Stylebender” only needed one-year and eight months to claim the UFC middleweight championship. No doubt about it, the 30-year-old can walk the walk and talk the talk.
UFC 243 wasn’t only a big night for Adesanaya, but it was also a big night for his teammate Dan Hooker. Hooker earned the biggest win of his career by knocking off former lightweight championship contender Al Iaquinta.
Now that the event is behind us let’s see what’s next for the fighters that competed in last Saturday’s main and co-main events.
Israel Adesanya, middleweight
Result: Defeated Robert Whittaker via second-round KO
Next: Paulo Costa
No debate here. The promotion wants this match up and so do both Adesanya and Costa.
Costa is clearly the number one contender. He’s undefeated and worked his way through the ranks. Not to mention that he just defeated Yoel Romero in August.
While Adesanaya is clearing the promotions newest superstar, he should defend his belt against a few top contenders at middleweight before he doing a mega fight.
Robert Whittaker, middleweight
Result: Lost to Israel Adesanya via second-round KO
Next: Winner of Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till
Whittaker claims he’s not going anywhere after the UFC 243 loss and believes he’ll fight for the belt again in another fight or two.
You know who else feels the same way as the former champion? Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum lost his interim middleweight championship fight to Adesanya. If he can get a win next month at UFC 244, a Whittaker and Gastelum fight would be huge. The winner would definitely be in a position to get another crack at a UFC championship, and get to prove that they can beat Adesanya.
Also let’s not forget about Till. He as all the makings of a star. He cut a lot of weight and drained himself out at welterweight. All the sacrifice got him a chance at a UFC championship, but he came up short. His fight next month will be his first at middleweight and a win will put him right in position to get another championship opportunity.
Dan Hooker, lightweight
Result: Defeated Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision
Next: Dustin Poirier
Ask and you shall receive. Hooker asked for Iaquinta. He got that fight and got a win on Saturday at UFC 243.
No he wants Poirier and Poirier has already said he doesn’t want it. While he may not want it now, it’s going to happen.
Poirier is coming a championship loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov last month. He’s going to have to fight someone ranked below him. Hooker is going to jump up a lot of spots in the ranking and he should end up somewhere around number six.
Not only would the fight work in the rankings, but it’ll also be a fun fight for the fans.
Al Iaquinta, lightweight
Result: Lost to Dan Hooker via unanimous decision
Next: Alexander Hernandez
Ouch. This one has to hurt for “Raging Al.” He was up towards the top and now after going 0-2 in 2019 he’s going to have some work to do. Hooker entered the fight ranked 15th. Great win for him, but what a bad loss for Iaquinta.
Next up, should be Hernandez. The two are in the same boat. Both fighters had a chance to make big moves in the division at the start of 2019. Now both find themselves down in the rankings. Both need to make their way back up through the rankings, so let’s see who can get themselves back into the win column.