Magomed Ankalaev made a huge statement last night as he put away the explosive Johnny Walker in round two. The main event of UFC Vegas 84 saw Ankalaev produce another major knockout and put him one step closer to the title.
Ankalaev resume is unrivaled at 205. Ion Cutelaba, Volkan Oezdemir, Thiago Santos, Anthony Smith and now Walker, it is hard to deny Ankalaev’s case for the title. But here are your options.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Alex Pereira: The ultimate goal
Magomed Ankalaev is ready for a #UFC300 title fight vs. Alex Pereira, and he promises no takedowns.
"He's not going to need (wrestling). I'm going to come out there, I'm going to stand across from him." pic.twitter.com/tupppKAMuP
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) January 14, 2024
The ultimate goal for most fighters is to win a title. Currently ranked number three at 205 with the probability of moving up to number two, Ankalaev could make his case for a title. A fight between Ankalaev and current champion Alex Pereira is tantalizing. Ankalaev certainly deserves it.
Light heavyweight is in a peculiar situation. There has been two champions that were injured and forced to vacate the title. Alex Pereira took on the first, Jiri Prochazka. That won him the title. Jamahal Hill is the second and he beat Pereira’s teammate, Glover Teixeira. Pereira could be on the revenge tour and book that fight instead.
There’s also Israel Adesanya who has a win over Pereira and an intense four fight rivalry across two sports. Pereira and Ankalaev is a great fight but not the super fight the UFC is likely looking for when booking UFC 300. Pereira-Adesanya 3 (or 5) is that marquee matchup. Ankalaev could get passed up for that instead.
Jamahal Hill: One more contender
Jamahal Hill is the other option, though a silly one. Hill deserves a title rematch by the nature of his vacating, the same as Prochazka. But if the UFC books Pereira-Adesanya 3/5 for UFC 300 and he wants to make a comeback sooner, Ankalaev would be game.
Hill is a good striker in his own right and a former champion on his resume would make Magomed Ankalaev undeniable for a title shot. The UFC likes to see challengers and former champs on the docket. Smith, Santos and Oezdemir challenged for a title. Blachowicz was a close fight but a draw. Jamahal Hill could be that former champ that Ankalaev needs to put himself over the top.
Speaking of former champs: Jan Blachowicz
The last option for Magomed Ankalaev is his unfinished business with Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz is a former champion and fought Ankalaev to a split draw with Blachowicz at UFC 282. Ankalaev has always wanted to finish his business when his shenanigans rear their ugly head.
Ion Cutelaba faked being hurt and got the fight called off. That fight was rebooked four times. The illegal knee and no contest on Johnny Walker was responsible for last night’s fight. He’s only missing Blachowicz as a settled score. Maybe it’s time to rebook that one again.
Not only is the score not settled, Blachowicz is a former champ, the same reasoning for a Jamahal Hill booking.
Title shot or not, whatever Ankalaev does next will be a tough mountain. The Dagestani will have to be in his peak shape for a win.