UFC 236: What Next For The Losers?
By Claudia Peterson
UFC 236 on ESPN+ is now in the books. The main card included great fighters at various levels of their careers, and two wars at the top of the card.
Here are some thoughts on what should be next for the losers of UFC 236.
It is a rather strange thing to see Holloway on the losers column. Blessed’s 13 fight win streak was snapped by none other than Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight championship. This was a competitive back and forth striking match, with both fighters landing an almost equal amount of strikes. However, Max was unable to get the better of the exchanges, and going up a weight class did not prove to be better for him. The lack of power at the higher weight was telling. Holloway made a great attempt to become a simultaneous two division champion, but he can still accomplish a lot at featherweight, and should defend his title next. A good next title defense would be Alexander Volkanovski if he beats Jose Aldo or Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Had Kelvin Gastelum won the interim middleweight championship on Saturday April 13th 2019 (or last night), it would have happened on the same day as when he won the Ultimate Fighter season 17 against Uriah Hall six years ago. Gastelum had everything going for him heading into this fight against the hottest contender, now interim champion, Israel Adesanya. Gastelum kept his composure all week, and showed patience throughout his fight.
For a fighter who gives up size and reach in this division, Gastelum has performed excellent as a middleweight. Although it was unclear whether Gastelum could stop Adesanya, he proved to have been Adesanya’s toughest test to date, rocking him a number of times and displaying excellent striking. Adesanya however, was just a bit faster than Gastelum, and managed to be able to stay in safe distance and was able to take the shots well.
Gastelum was winning the first couple of rounds, but his cardio began to fail him in the alter rounds, and he began losing the fight at that point. Gastelum started getting rocked and their was in real danger of being finished a number of times. Gastelum was close to winning this fight but it was not his night.
Though this is a setback that can put him at least 12 months away from another opportunity at a title shot, at 27 years old, Gastelum still has a lot of time to fight for gold again, and if he works on his weight management, he could do so at welterweight or a stay at middleweight. Either way, the future will still be bright for the Ultimate Fighter season 17 winner. It would be great to see Gastelum go back down to welterweight and fight the winner of Tyron Woodley vs Robbie Lawler. Fighting Woodley would give him an opportunity to avenge the loss of their first meeting back in 2015, or face a new challenge in the explosive Robbie Lawler.
Eryk Anders suffered his third straight loss, a unanimous decision against Khalil Roundtree. He is now 4-3 in his UFC run, and has gone back and forth between middleweight and light heavyweight. This was a one-sided striking match that left Anders without answers. Anders was not only outstruck, but absorbed devastating leg kicks and was knocked down multiple times. Anders would do well to consider which division he wants to focus on, but going back down to middleweight would not be a bad idea, and then he needs to focus on his game plans. A good next matchup for Anders at middleweight would be Tim Boetsch.
Jouban ended up on the losing side of a split decision against newcomer Dwight Grant. This was Alan Jouban’s first fight in 14 months, a KO of Ben Saunders, which earned him fight of the night. He has been inactive since, due to injury. It would serve Alan Jouban well to stay active, and should fight in the next three months. A fight with Alex Garcia would serve him well.
Ovince Saint Preux:
12th ranked OSP came in with all the confidence in the world for his rematch against unranked Nikita Krylov, who is currently in his second stint in the UFC. In their first meeting, OSP submitted Krylov with his famous von flue choke.
This time, both fighters were well matched against each other, both coming off loses and yet true veterans of the sport, with over 20 wins each. Although Krylov is vulnerable to submissions, he submitted OSP in the second round via rear naked choke, and avenged the loss of their first meeting.
OSP had some good moments in the first round, but Krylov was able to get out danger each time OSP attempted to hold him down. OSP made the mistake of gassing out later in the first, and was unable to regain momentum in the second, and tapped at 2:30 minutes.
OSP has now lost three of his last four fights, and has not shown much improvement. OSP is still an important fighter in the division, but needs more consistency.
He has fought most of the guys on the light heavyweight roster already, but one person he has not fought is Volkan Oezdemir. OSP could fight the loser of Oezdemir vs Latiffi, giving him an opportunity at a new challenger in Oezdemir or the opportunity to avenge his loss against Latiffi.