What is Next for the UFC Light Heavyweight Division?

The UFC has gained a new king at light heavyweight. . Jiri Prochazka dethroned the veteran Glover Teixeira with a thrilling 5th round submission victory at UFC 275 in Singapore. With the arrival of the new champion, the light heavyweight landscape has been greatly shifted. . 

The UFC Light Heavyweight Division has Changed-Here is How

A Rematch between Prochazka and Teixeira

This on paper makes a lot of sense. The two had a very close fight which before the finish had been going in Teixeira’s favor according to the judges scorecards. Of course, that does not matter as he was caught in a submission by Prochazka with 28 seconds left in the fight. Still, it tells a story that the fight was not a one sided beatdown of a new young king putting down the old has been. Instead some may say that Teixeira is looking more impressive now than he has ever looked before. The fight was thrilling and had spectators on the edge of their seats (and sofas) for the entire bout. It was easily a fight of the year contender and is in fact my favorite light heavyweight title fight ever. A rematch could be easily justified as the first fight was so competitive and fans would undoubtedly want to see the two square off for a second time. If a rematch were to happen though, it would have to be sooner rather than later. At 42, 43 in a few months time, Teixeira is not getting any younger and while he has seemed to only get better with age, it is highly unlikely that the veteran will continue to be able to hang with the best of the best in the division as he enters his mid 40s. He probably has only one fight left in him, possibly two at maximum before he wishes himself to call it a day on an illustrious career. 

If Teixeira did win a rematch then of course there would be a highly desirable trilogy fight on the cards against Prochazka, yet it is equally likely that he may decide to ride off into the sunset finishing his career as the UFC champion avenging his most recent loss. If this did indeed happen, the UFC would be left in an awkward position of having a belt vacated and the possible winners of said belt, more than likely to be Prochazka and Blachowics, both being beaten by Teixeira which may dull the impact of their title reigns. Similar to how initially Daniel Cormier faced vocal criticism from fans and many viewed him as a ‘fake’ champion after winning the belt when Jon Jones was stripped. 

Title Shot for Blachowicz

Even though the vast majority of fans would love to see a rematch between Prochazka and Teixeira, one man who definitely would not be interested in that match up is former champ Jan Blachowicz. Since being dethroned by Teixeira in October of last year, Blachowicz has fought once against the highly competitive Aleksandar Rakic. Despite the majority of fans viewing Blachowicz as winning the fight throughout the nature of the finish (a freak injury to the knee of Rakic) prevented Blachowicz from picking up as much momentum as a win normally would have done. In an interaction between Prochazka and Blachowicz after the former’s title win, Prochazka could be seen blowing a kiss to the former champ, telling him “I love you”. Prochazka would later tell the press in a post fight press conference how Blachowicz had been acting “aggressive” and it certainly seems that Blachowicz would be keen to set up a championship bout between the pair. He has come out on several occasions stating how he is next in line and interestingly also highlighted the scale and magnitude that this fight would generate in Europe. Indeed, it is easy to imagine a scenario where the UFC put on a show somewhere in central Europe, this would be the ideal fight to have headline the card and would draw spectators from throughout the continent unquestionably. This could end up being a key reason as to why the UFC decides to grant Blachowicz the title shot next.

Ankalaev vs Smith

Another massive fight in the light heavyweight division that is coming up is Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith. While the title currently seems to revolve around Prochazka, Teixeira and Blachowicz, either Blachowicz or Teixeira (providing he does not retire) are going to be left without a title shot which naturally begs the question, who will they fight next. The answer is of course the winner of Ankalaev vs Smith.  With the long term injury to Aleksandar Rakic, this fight has become even more important as the two men are undoubtedly the top dogs of the division outside of the three champs battling it out at the pinnacle of the weight class. A win for either man in this fight will propel them to a fight against whoever does not next fight Prochazka, and if one man’s performance is dominant or impressive enough they may be able to skip the queue entirely. One thing is certain though, with both fighters being at least 10 years younger than Teixeira however wins this fight will be primed and ready to fill the gap in the title picture left behind upon Teixeira’s retirement. For whoever wins this fight, a number one contenders match is the absolute minimum that they will receive and could possibly put either man into the title picture.

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