Derek Brunson shined this weekend towards Darren Until, however regardless of Brunson’s unbelievable run and dominant end over a reliable contender, a middleweight title shot towards champion Israel Adesanya will not be coming as rapidly as Brunson hopes. Does Brunson take one other struggle or is he prepared to attend? Somebody who’s more likely to get a title shot subsequent, Dustin Poirier, may make his final stroll to the Octagon on the evening of that title struggle — even when he wins.
Additionally, Dana White’s Contender Collection might be completely different in 2021, might we see main change within the final result of the present this season? And simply how huge a menace Alexandre Pantoja is to Brandon Moreno in the event that they had been to satisfy once more? Do not be stunned if issues go completely different this time.
Marc Raimondi, Brett Okamoto, Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi put together you to anticipate the sudden. Here is what you must know.
Do not be stunned if … Brunson has to struggle once more earlier than title shot
Raimondi: Derek Brunson has executed greater than sufficient to earn a title shot within the UFC’s middleweight division. He has gained 5 straight, and he actually put a stamp on issues Saturday afternoon with a third-round submission victory over a preferred fighter in Darren Until.
Few have the résumé of Brunson, who has fought nearly all the very best fighters at 185 kilos during the last 9 years, together with champion Israel Adesanya, present prime contender Robert Whittaker, legend Anderson Silva, stalwart Yoel Romero and extra. Brunson misplaced these bouts, however at 37 years previous he’s in his prime proper now — and deserving of that recognition within the type of an opportunity on the belt.
Nevertheless, there is a stable shot that timing goes to be Brunson’s enemy on this state of affairs. Adesanya is more likely to defend towards Whittaker, the person who Adesanya took the belt from in 2019, in early 2021. At minimal, that is 4 months away. Add in time to get better for the winner of that struggle, and if Brunson waits round — which he mentioned he was prepared to do — that might put his title shot someday nearer to the midway level of 2022.
That is a very long time from now. And there is one other issue: Jared Cannonier. Two weeks in the past, Cannonier appeared sturdy in beating Kelvin Gastelum, and he has gained 4 of his final 5. Brunson could be on a barely higher run, nevertheless it’s shut sufficient. Cannonier is definitely within the title dialog, too. In a state of affairs like this, it looks as if probably the most logical reply is to simply have Brunson and Cannonier struggle it out. Possibly put that struggle on the Adesanya vs. Whittaker undercard. If one thing goes improper with Adesanya or Whittaker, Brunson or Cannonier can step in. And even when not, the 2 winners might be on the identical timeline and might face off in a mini-tournament ultimate.
Brunson clearly desires the title shot and is prepared to attend till subsequent spring to get it. I perceive that perspective. He is nearer to 40 now than he’s 30. His window of alternative throughout his peak years will not be open without end. However with the way in which the schedule works out now, it certain appears like Brunson must lengthen his spectacular profitable streak to 6 straight to get his second shot on the UFC middleweight championship.
Do not be stunned if… Dustin Poirier retires if he wins a UFC championship
Okamoto: I made a decision to go daring right here. If Poirier had been to dethrone Charles Oliveira (that struggle may occur in December, nevertheless it’s not official), what if he had been to stroll away? He’d be the second light-weight champion to take action — in his prime — within the final two years. For the file, I am not predicting this may occur, I am solely saying, do not be stunned if it does.
The one factor that has eluded Poirier over his 12-year skilled profession is an undisputed title. It is the one field he has left to test. He is described how necessary that’s to him in a number of interviews. If he had been to lastly get it executed in his subsequent struggle … would he be all that motivated to stay round and defend it towards Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler, Beneil Dariush or Islam Makhachev?
Actually, I am not too certain. After all, there are additionally two potential fights on the market for Poirier wherein titles aren’t the central focus: Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. The paychecks for these fights can be robust to stroll away from, however is it potential Poirier would depart them on the desk if he is completed every part he wished in his profession? I feel it is totally potential.
Do not be stunned if … Contender Collection yields extra UFC contracts this season than ever earlier than
AJ Fletcher knocks out Leonardo Damiani with a flying knee, and UFC president Dana White is amazed by what he simply noticed.
Wagenheim: Now we have just one episode to go on, however what a begin: 5 contracts awarded after simply 4 fights. However it’s not the numbers alone that bode properly for many who’ll be vying for UFC offers in Season 5’s 9 remaining weekly episodes. What additionally stood out in Week 1 was the varieties of performances that caught the attention of the UFC brass.
Two of the contracts went to purveyors of knockouts, and that is a no brainer. However one other fighter was rewarded with a UFC deal after he’d ended his bout by fouling his opponent and being deducted some extent. The 2 different contracts went to each fighters in an in depth bout. That is a brand new one — getting in off a loss. Now, this isn’t to counsel that any of those 5 fighters did not deserve a ticket to the Octagon. All of them fought rather well. It is simply that in previous seasons it took greater than that to get you within the door.
Essentially the most well-known no-deal instance is Brendan Loughnane, who was handed over after an excellent victory in 2019 (and ended up within the PFL, the place he fell one win in need of this 12 months’s $1 million championship struggle). However he’s not alone in displaying off abilities no less than on par with a UFC prelim fighter, solely to be turned away. Over the present’s first 4 seasons, it was largely knockouts and submissions that had been a key to the entrance door. Others did go the space and nonetheless had been chosen for entry, however solely after explosive or dominant performances.
Final 12 months’s Season 4 noticed 37 contracts awarded, greater than another season. Season 5 is off to a terrific begin by way of beating that tempo, though there is a lengthy approach to go. We’re not more likely to see 5 contacts handed out every week, however one thing tells me the doorway examination will stay looser. The previous 18 months have been troublesome for us all, however among the many hardest hit are small, regional MMA promotions which can be the breeding floor for future major-league expertise. With the feeder system not but again up and working at full velocity, the UFC has to seek out its fighters someplace.
Do not be stunned if… Brandon Moreno cruises previous Alexandre Pantoja of their third struggle
Legaspi: Pantoja was proper in his post-fight interview after defeating Brandon Royval on Aug. 21. He claimed that he made Brandon Moreno a greater fighter with each of his victories over the present flyweight champion — in 2016, on The Final Fighter, and once more in Might 2018.
After the dominant efficiency he had over Moreno of their second struggle three years in the past in Chile, Moreno discovered the extent of his weaknesses in boxing.
Not like many Mexican fighters, Moreno discovered success along with his jiu-jitsu and wrestling, which is corresponding to virtually everybody within the division he is confronted since he arrived within the UFC. He proved that by submitting two ranked opponents in his first three fights, proper after being eradicated from The Final Fighter by Pantoja.
However that 2018 struggle was essential. Moreno was minimize from the UFC after that loss, and the 125-pound division as a complete was in jeopardy.
Pantoja pushed Moreno so as to add instruments to his set, and Moreno began constructing his boxing abilities from scratch. Coaching in his native Tijuana with Javier “Drift” Cortez — who was a part of Antonio Margarito’s nook, and labored with amateurs at Erik Morales’ fitness center — modified Brandon’s strategy to the sport and made him a really assured fighter on his toes. He improved his head motion and mixtures, which helped him beat harmful strikers like Kai Kara-France and former champion Deiveson Figueiredo.
Moreno’s confidence has grown as he is constructed his undefeated streak to seven fights because the second Pantoja loss.
Pantoja appeared explosive towards Royval, and he’ll put stress on Moreno, who desires to depart these two losses up to now. If Pantoja will get cleared from a left knee damage to struggle earlier than the tip of the 12 months, he might be a harmful contender. However in terms of enchancment, the present champion appears to be like like a very completely different fighter than the one he dismantled three years in the past.