Who’s next for Glover Teixeira, Petr Yan and Khamzat Chimaev?
ABU DHABI – UFC 267 has been stacked with some of the biggest names in the sport. Headlining title fights resulted in successes for Glover Teixeira and Petr Yan, 42, who wrapped gold around their waists, but the highlights came earlier on the main card. with Khamzat Chimaev and Islam Makhachev once again proving that they are legitimate contenders. in their respective divisions.
Teixeira beat Jan Blachowicz in the main event, inflicting Blachowicz his first loss since 2019. It was Teixeira’s second attempt for the light heavyweight title, seven years after losing to Jon Jones. The win puts Teixeira in an interesting position to move forward with many emerging talents in the light heavyweight.
Yan started off slow against Cory Sandhagen, but resolved his opponent with a consistent dose of strong boxing in rounds 2-5 in order to secure a unanimous decision victory and take interim gold. The path to bantamweight appears to be clear with Aljaimain Sterling waiting to return.
But what should the UFC do with Shimaev and Makhachev? Is it time to take a big step forward? Let’s see the options:
Light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira defeated Jan Blachowicz by submission in the second round
Who Should Be Next: Jiri Prochazka
What a story. Teixeira is UFC champion for the first time at 42 years old. And his first defense will have to face a serious challenger in Prochazka. You can argue for an immediate rematch for Blachowicz, but personally I don’t see it. As good as Blachowicz has been, he was not on a run that demands an immediate comeback with Teixeira.
Prochazka entered the UFC in 2020 with a hype, and his two performances in the Octagon only fueled that hype even more.
Wild card: Aleksandar Rakic
If anything prevented Prochazka from leading this fight, Rakic would be next in line. The 29-year-old Austrian is a legitimate threat to the title in this division and should be for the foreseeable future, but Prochazka is firmly in front of him for the next title right now.
Interim bantamweight champion Petr Yan defeated Cory Sandhagen by unanimous decision
Petr Yan displays his power on his way to defeat Cory Sandhagen by unanimous decision to win the interim UFC bantamweight title.
Who Should Be Next: Aljamain Sterling
That’s the only answer – and Sterling told me recently that he expects to be healthy enough to unify the belts as early as December. This is not happening, because there is no place in the calendar to put it, but in the first quarter of 2022, let’s do it.
This fight must take place for the division to advance. It’s been in a weird place for a while, frankly. Between the retirement of Henry Cejudo, the victory of Sterling by disqualification, the creation of an interim title, the return of TJ Dillashaw from suspension – this weight class needs clarity and it starts with seeing Sterling again against Yan.
Wild card: TJ Dillashaw
I’ll include this wild card just to include a wild card, but there really is no other direction to go than Sterling vs. Yan. History for one, but also now the fact that we must unify the belts.
Lightweight Islam Makhachev defeated Dan Hooker by submission in the first round
Islam Makhachev continues his dominant run in the UFC lightweight division with a quick submission from Dan Hooker in the first round.
Who Should Be Next: Beneil Dariush
I hate doing this to my man, Dariush. It’s not even that Makhachev represents such a difficult fight. Obviously he does. But Dariush has been such a competitor, he’s been ready to take on fights that others don’t want. At the end of last year, he was supposed to fight Charles Oliveira. The fight did not take place, as Oliveira withdrew. Now Oliveira is the champion and Dariush is still looking for his next big fight.
It’s not really fair to Dariush – he should take this fight – and it’s the obvious fight to do in the division. It’s a very interesting style match. Everyone knows Makhachev grappling. Dariush might have the best skills to negate this, among the best options in the division.
Wild card: Loser of Oliveira against Dustin Poirier on December 11
Makhachev told me about it before the fight as a possible option. The UFC doesn’t need to be in a rush to book their next fight. He can afford to find out what is going on in some of these upcoming clashes. Makhachev against one of the men competing for the lightweight title at the end of the year would make sense.
Welterweight Khamzat Chimaev defeated Li Jingliang by submission in the first round
In the first round, Khamzat Chimaev picks up Li Jingliang from the mat, carries him to the fence, and chats with Dana White.
Who should be next: Kamaru Usman, if Usman retains title against Colby Covington at UFC 268
Doubt me on this one … I don’t care. Chimaev hasn’t fought even a level of competition close to Usman, but that’s part of the plot. This sport leaves itself a leeway when it comes to matchmaking championships. And as much as Leon Edwards or Stephen Thompson deserves more of a title than Chimaev, sometimes in this sport you do the hot fight. And this is it.
Chimaev is special. It is still a mystery in some ways. He’s the most exciting option for Usman, as long as Usman wins Covington’s rematch in New York. And you know what, if Usman is smart (and Usman is very smart) it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he sees the dollar signs here and calls Chimaev himself.
Can you imagine? He stands in Madison Square Garden as the world’s No.1 pound-for-pound fighter – and calls out Chimaev, after what Chimaev just did? Usman loves money. This fight is money. Right now.
Wild card: Vicente Luque
Luque has a claim as the original bogeyman of this division. He’s a scary opponent right now, and he’s proven himself far more than Shimaev. If Chimaev isn’t fighting for a title in his next fight – which to be fair is pretty aggressive – he’s still considering a big fight. That would be admissible.