Matchmaking the Light Heavyweight Division

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UFC 303 saw the dominant light heavyweight champion, Alex Pereira retain his title in devastating fashion with a second-round head kick knockout over former champion, Jiri Prochazka.

Of course, we now have ask the question.. What’s next? AndyHickeyMMA on X (formerly Twitter) analyzed the form of fighters ranked at light heavyweight.

We’ll use this to determine who should fight who at 205lbs.

Matchmaking the Light Heavyweight Division

Alex Pereira vs Magomed Ankalaev

The champion, Alex Pereira’s next defence has to be Magomed Ankalev. The Russian has been undefeated since his debut and arguably won his vacant title bout against Jan Blachowicz. He’s an interesting stylistic match-up for Poatan as Ankalaev prefers to strike with his opponents, however, is more than capable of taking the fight to the ground.

Of course, there’s an argument that based on his fights against the current top five (no wins and a single draw) that he doesn’t deserve the shot. With that being said, there isn’t really another option.

Jamahal Hill vs Carlos Ulberg

This was booked for UFC 303, however, both men had to withdraw from the fight due to injury. This is an extremely fan-friendly fight as both men prefer the stand-up game and have one-punch knockout power.

Jamahal Hill is the former champion and UFC 300 headliner, however, did lose his last fight to Pereira in stunning fashion. Carlos Ulberg, on the other hand, has won his last six, including finishing his last five. On top of that, he has four first round knockouts, including a 12 second knockout last time out.

Despite the discrepancy in their rankings (Hill at #3 and Ulberg at #11), the form of both men makes this one make sense.

Khalil Rountree vs Nikita Krylov

Khalil Rountree has seen somewhat of a career revival as of late. Having dropped a disappointing decision to Marcin Prachnio in 2021, Rountree has won five straight, which has seen him notch four finishes and three performance of the night bonuses. His last was his most emphatic when he brutalised former title challenger, Anthony Smith to a third-round TKO.

Krylov is the nearly man of the division. Having done reasonably well in his first UFC stint going 6-3, his second stint has seen him go 5-4, however, this includes a three-fight winning run and has seen him rise to #6 in the division.

A fight between Krylov and Rountree is a mixture of styles, where Krylov will look to take the American down, whereas Rountree will look to keep it standing. The winner of this one would crack the top five and knock on the door of the title talk.

Jiri Prochazka vs Jan Blachowicz

Both of these men have proven not to be championship-level. Yes, they’re both former champions, however, father time waits for no one and unfortunately for both men, they both hold losses (in Prochazka’s case, two) to the champion. It’s time for Prochazka to sit out for a while and fully let his wounds heal. He’s suffered two knockout losses in seven months and in between that, went to war with Aleksandar Rakic where he took a lot of damage. This is off the back of coming off major shoulder surgery.

For Blachowicz, he’s without a convincing win since 2021. He beat Rakic due to an injury, drew with Ankalaev and lost to Pereira. He too has had to have surgery which has kept him out for a prolonged period of time. Let both men get healthy and stick them in a main event somewhere in Europe.

Aleksandar Rakic vs Volkan Oezdemir 2

Rakic and Volkan Oezdemir first met in 2019 when No Time came away with a split decision victory over three rounds. Since then, Rakic has gone 2-2 and Oezdemir 3-3. With that being said, Rakic is 0-2 in his last two with Oezdemir going 2-0, both in the first round.

Despite the discrepancy in their rankings, their history and form make this one a logical match-up. Book it, again, somewhere in Europe.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.