What is Going on at Middleweight?
Featured Image Credit: BBC/Getty Images
Going into UFC 234, everything was shaping up nicely for the immediate future of the division. The champion was going to defend his belt with the #1 contender fight being the co-main. It was all going to plan. Then BAM, there was a hernia and collapsed bowel, Gastelum parading a belt around, unimpressvie outing in the now main event, and a long line of killers waiting behind them. So, the question remains, what is next for the 185 lb. division?
For one, my heart goes out to Robert Whittaker. I truly believe he would have still gone into that cage had doctors not rushed him into EMERGENCY SURGERY, risking his life in the process. He’s the champion and one of the baddest guys on the planet, so I hope for a speedy recovery. He has not had it easy with injuries, and hopefully after he comes back, he can remain healthy and be the champion everyone wants him to be. There are calls for him to be stripped, however. I do not agree, UNLESS he won’t be ready come International Fight Week in July. If he still doesn’t have a definitive timetable for his return, stripping him may be the move and then promise a title shot upon his return.
A major supporter of stripping Whittaker is Israel Adesanya, who seems to have decided that he now wants to fight for the belt, and not an interim one (can’t blame him there ie: Colby Covington). On Ariel Helwani’s show, he said he wants to fight Kelvin for the real belt and Whittaker can challenge him for it when he returns to the sport. Either way, Adesanya has said his next fight is for the undisputed UFC Middleweight championship. While he certainly has a point and I believe that he is more likely to get it than Kelvin Gastelum, Gastelum WAS supposed to fight Whittaker and even made weight for the title fight. So, if Whittaker is back relatively soon, the UFC has a tough decision on its hands.
Before moving onto the rest of the division, let’s discuss Kelvin’s antics. The man comes into fight week with what appears to be ringworm and/or a staph infection, which come from bacteria, primarily sweaty mats for combat sports athletes. These infections, even if he is cleared to fight, are highly contagious and can affect athletic performance. Look at Kevin Lee vs. Tony Ferguson. He had staph and gassed out in the second round after a strong start against “El Cucuy.” Then, after Whittaker pulls out, he gets Henry Cejudo’s belt and parades himself around like he’s the champion, saying Whittaker can challenge HIM for HIS belt, which isn’t even his belt. EL. OH. EL. He caught a LOT of twitter heat, including the above Conor McGregor one where he is called a “worm” by The Notorious One. Needless to say, Kelvin looked silly, needs to wash his mats, and may or may not get a shot at the title next, as Whittaker-Adesanya sells a LOT more than Whittaker-Gastelum.
Now, the rest of the division. There is killer after killer at Middleweight. Going down the rankings, you’ve got Yoel “I Look Like A Jacked 20-Year Old Even Though I’m 40” Romero, Luke Rockhold (who may be going to 205), Jacare Souza, Chris Weidman, Paulo Costa, as well as dangerous guys like Jared Cannonier and Brad Tavares. Yoel and Paulo Costa are rumored to meet at UFC Miami in April. Jacare is then left without a clear fight, as he knocked the soul out of Chris Weidman this past November. The same Chris Weidman that called Israel Adesanya overrated. The same Chris Weidman that has only won once since beating a post-TRT Vitor. That Chris Weidman. As you can see, he has little to no room to talk about ANYBODY being overrated. This division of assassins is now in a bit of a limbo as it waits on how the title picture gets sorted out, as the winner of a Yoel-Borrachinha fight is about as close as it gets for a #1 contender, but there’s two #1 contenders above them currently. Oh, and Anderson Silva wants to fight Nick Diaz again in Brazil. What happens? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is a lot of sorting out to do on the UFC’s part and that us fans are going to be in for a treat at 185 for a long time.
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