As the dust settles on what was another successful UFC event, fans are left wondering exactly what is next for the winners of the 282 card. UFC 282 was originally set to feature the rematch between Jiří Procházka and the former champ, Glover Teixeira. While time is of the essence for the 43-year-old Teixeira, this card delivered on all fronts except for adding some solidarity to the light heavyweight division. To try to make more sense of what's to come in the wake of the most recent pay-per-view event, we'll play matchmaker! Here are the matches to make for the UFC 282 main card winners.
Ilia Topuria vs Giga Chikadze
Banger alert! Ilia Topuria and Giga Chikadze just makes too much sense right now. Topuria has shown time and time again that he's the real deal. It was easy to forget that Topuria comes from a grappling background, what with his penchant of knocking the heads off of his opponents. However, he got to lean on his grappling savvy and got the submission win over Bryce Mitchell, who is no slouch in the submission department himself.
Topuria made it abundantly clear that he had the advantage on the feet. He hit Mitchell with shots that would've put most to sleep. Prior to this, he visited the lightweight division and knocked out Jai Herbert, who has won 75% of his wins by KO/TKO. What we're seeing is the 25-year-old making tremendous strides with each performance.
A great challenge to really test the Georgian is Giga Chikadze! Chikadze is a striking standout that has taken some time off following his first UFC defeat. This loss came at the hands(and elbows) of Calvin Katter. Bar this loss, Giga has looked phenomenal in the UFC. Though rumors of Chikadze vs the Korean zombie leaked, there's been nothing doing in terms of making that bout official.
Topuria deserves a boost up in the rankings, and we think that Chikadze would pose a great test for the 25-year-old. Also, that fight is bound to be fireworks, so the fans win too. A battle of the Georgians? Count us in.
Dricus Du Plessis vs Derek Brunson
War of the dudes that out-wrestled Darren Till? Brunson and Du Plessis beat the Till in very similar fashion. Both scored a takedown and almost immediately secured mount position, and both happened after being in some hot water on the feet. Du Plessis advances to 4-0 inside the UFC and has put himself in the peripherals of the middleweight title picture.
Derek Brunson seems to be in the perfect spot for this fight. After dying his hair, “blonde Brunson” became a bit of a mythical fighter. He handed Edmen Shahbazyan his first loss, he gave Kevin Holland a 25 minute wrestling seminar, and he defeated the aforementioned Darren Till.
Brunson was one win away from a title shot but fell short to Jarred Cannonier. With Brunson's track record of defeating prospects, and Du Plessis's trajectory for the top of the division, this fight will be very telling, on top of being an interesting clash!
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Bryan Barberena
You're welcome for even putting the idea of this fight on your head. Turn the TV off if you don't like exciting fights, but if you're into watching two athletes throwing some heat, try not to blink should this hypothetical fight come to fruition. Bryan Barberena has been the unsung hero of some of the UFC's most entertaining fights. See him taking on Vicente Luque, Robbie Lawler, and Matt Brown to name a few.
Someone who shares the common denominator of “exciting as heck” is Ponzinibbio. He went to war with a late-replacement, Alex Morono. Morono came ready to scrap and was winning the fight, but Ponzinibbio is ready for war until the final bell. A third round TKO for the Argentine has put him back in the win column.
Barberena is coming off of a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos just last week, but he was campaigning to take this fight after the news of Lawler pulling out made headlines. It's also worth noting that ‘Bam Bam' finished Lawler earlier in the year. Why not reward Ponzinibbio with the guy who beat his original opponent? Plus, talk about a striker's delight.
Paddy Pimblett vs Clay Guida
After a controversial unanimous decision win over Jared Gordon, the UFC is in a bit of an odd situation in terms of directing the Paddy hype train. Gordon proved to be a much tougher than most expected, Pimblett included. However, the UFC 282 judges kicked control time to the curb when scoring that night's event.
— UFC (@ufc) December 11, 2022
Is Pimblett good? Yes, great even. But, maybe not top 15 great yet. The UFC should, and probably will, give Paddy someone that will be willing to grapple, is susceptible to submission threats, and someone who isn't the cleanest striker. Enter MMA legend, Clay Guida. ‘The Carpenter' is 3-2 in his last 5, with one of those losses being a very controversial one to Mark O. Madsen.
This fight really favors both Pimblett and Guida. Pimblett could really show out against some who's lost half of his fights by submission. Opposite him, Guida deserves a big name. Further, this is a winnable fight for him too, given his wrestling chops.
Jan Błachowicz vs Magomed Ankalaev 2
UFC 282, from it's conception to fight day, has done nothing but add uncertainty to the light heavyweight division. The champ pulled out, Teixeira didn't get his rematch, and to cap things off, the fight for a vacant title ended in a draw. Though not many people are clamoring for a rematch between Błachowicz and Ankalaev, it's only right.
Dana White announced that Glover Teixeira will be fighting Jamahal Hill for the vacant belt(we feel for you, Anthony Smith). Another factor in all of this is that the man who vacated the belt, Jiří Procházka, suffered from a really bad shoulder injury. Like, really bad. He'll be out for another one or two title fights type bad. Hence him forfeiting the title.
Błachowicz and Ankalaev should run it back, the winner will fight whoever comes out on top in the Hill and Teixeira bout, and then Procházka gets an immediate crack at whoever wins this bracket-type situation we've got going on here. And there you have it, the light heavyweight title picture planned out for 2023. That is, until something unforeseen happens, because it is MMA after all.