Where the UFC’s Middleweight Division Stands Following UFC 221
After having some time to digest what went on down under Saturday night, the state of the UFC’s middleweight division is quite exciting. As we all know, the middleweight interim title was supposed to be granted to the winner of UFC 221’s main event between Yoel Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Luke Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC). Unfortunately, for Romero, after starching Rockhold with an overhand left in the third round, he was not crowned the interim champ after he failed to make weight for the first time in his career. Many people think that this may deny him a second shot at current champ Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), but others strongly disagree.
Starting off with who is getting the next title shot, it is clear that Romero should get the nod. With only one loss coming in the UFC, especially with it coming to the current champ, makes this fight even more intriguing. The 40-year-old Cuban has shown deserving of a crack at the title, especially after stepping into a UFC 221 main event on short notice, and knocking out a former champion in Rockhold. Romero was said to have hurt his shin in the bout against Rockhold, and it is known that Whittaker has had some serious health issues as of late, but once both fighters are at 100%, this is the fight to make for the undisputed middleweight title.
Aside from Romero, UFC 221 really shaped up the middleweight division quite nicely in my opinion. The only question mark remaining would be the status of the main event loser, Luke Rockhold. He said during fight week that he is sure to move up to light-heavyweight, especially since the light heavyweight champ and teammate, Daniel Cormier, is moving up to heavyweight to fight champion Stipe Miocic. Rockhold seemed to have a tough weight cut, and even though he was the one to make weight in this bout, it’s rare a fighter talks about moving up a weight class without having struggles making their original fighting weight.
To round out the top five, it’s a must to pair up former middleweight champ Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and Jacare Souza (25-5 1 NC MMA, 8-2 UFC). Both fighters are coming off strong wins, and have yet to face each other in this strong 185lb. division. This fight clears up the division even more, as two top-five guys show who is more worthy for a title shot in the near future.
Not a contender yet, but it’s hard not to discuss kickboxing phenom Israel Adesanya (12-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC). This was his UFC debut, and it just looked like another walk in the park. This man has twelve victories, with every single one coming from a TKO/KO, with none of those victories lasting more than two rounds. This man puts on a show, and as he showed after his bout, he can talk the talk as well. Expect the UFC to give Adesanya the Francis Ngannou-treatment and make this man the next star in the UFC. Get this man back into the Octagon.