What’s Next For The Winners at UFC 236?
By Ben Jessop
UFC 236 took place this past weekend and it hosted two of the best title fights anyone can remember in recent memory. The main card was not short of controversial judges’ decision but it seems nowadays you can’t have a UFC event without, what some consider, an illegitimate winner.
The main card began with a light heavyweight bout between Ovince Saint Preux and Nikita Krylov. This was a rematch from their first fight back in March of 2014 where OSP proved his submission skills and tapped Krylov a minute and a half into the first round. Krylov came into this bout looking for redemption and certainly got it, as he defeated OSP with a rear naked choke in the second round.
This is a strong win for Krylov to perhaps break into the top fifteen in the division. With OSP now defeated and sat at #12 it would be good to see Krylov face off against Glover Teixeria who is also coming off of a win against Karl Roberson in January 2019, a win there would surely see Krylov take a well-deserved slot in the top fifteen.
The next fight is where the controversy started, we saw a welterweight clash between Alan Jouban and Dwight Grant. A split decision after three rounds gave Grant the win this time round but many fight fans and fellow fighters thought that Jouban had become the latest in a long list of fighters who have a loss on their record due to ‘judges error’. Jouban was extremely vocal in the post-fight interview and made his thoughts on the decision known.
Despite the controversy, Grant does come out the fight with a win so we need to be looking ahead to see what’s next for him. I think it would be interesting for him to come face to face with Mickey Gall, who has just come off of a loss to UFC veteran Diego Sanchez but is a handy submission specialist so could give Grant a big handful of problems.
Another light heavyweight took place next with Eryk Anders staring down Khalil Rountree. It was another fight that went the distance with Rountree winning via unanimous decision in what some people are calling his most impressive fight of his career.
It would be madness if Rountree’s next opponent isn’t in the top fifteen so I think it would be good to see Rountree come face to face with Mauricio Rua who is coming off a win against Tyson Pedro in December of 2018. Rua is a legend of the promotion and the sport in general and Rountree deserves his opportunity to fight someone of this stature.
Next the title fights begin, our co-main event was Israel ‘Stylebender’ Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum. A fan favourite and nearly impossible to call, the fight was literally anybody’s to take. We saw a five round war between the two in a fight that Dana White described as ‘one of the best he’s ever seen’.
After it was all said and done, Adesanya took the win and in turn the interim middleweight title belt. The next fight for Adesanya has made itself, and it will be an Australian showdown to unify the middleweight title between Adesanya and Robert Whittaker who had to withdraw from his bout with Gastelum due to injury. This will be an incredible fight and by the far the hardest challenge Adesanya has faced. Whittaker has reigned the middleweight division for a long time, we’ll see if Stylebender has the ability to take the crown.
The main event was also for an interim title. We saw Dustin Poirier take on Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title. Another five round war took place with an insane volume of strikes from both sides. Holloway had moved up from 145 to attempt to become the double champ but Poirier’s power showed to be the difference in this fight and Poirier finally had the UFC title put around his waist by the boss Dana White.
Some people, quite rightly, say that Poirier deserves his title more than almost anyone in the lightweight division after a long and successful career he has finally reached the top but there is someone sat at the top of the pile. The seemingly unstoppable Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The fight is already made in the UFC’s eyes to unify the lightweight title. When Khabib is released from his suspension in September, they’ll be looking to make this fight as quickly as possible. It’s by far the most dangerous fight Poirier will have taken part in, but Khabib is the most dangerous man for any lightweight on the roster. We will see if Poirier has the key to finish Khabib that so many before him did not possess and I for one, cannot wait.