With UFC 263 now in the books, we look forward to 3 fights we want to see after a wild night in Phoenix, Arizona.
Israel Adesanya Vs Robert Whittaker 2
At UFC 263, Israel Adesanya defeated #3 ranked Marvin Vettori in dominant fashion. This win marked the third title defence for “The Last Stylebender”. However, Vettori was not the man who people wanted to see face the Middleweight Champion. In fact, many have looked to Robert Whittaker to be the true #1 contender to his former foe’s title reign.
Since losing his belt to Adesanya in 2019, Whittaker has obtained some big wins against the likes of Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum, all by unanimous decision. Whittaker was offered the fight with Adesanya at UFC 263 before Vettori but, as it came right after his fight with Gastelum, and with only 3 weeks to prepare for his title shot, Whittaker declined that offer as it made no sense for him to rush to fight for the belt.
Now, with Vettori out of the way, and #2 ranked Paulo Costa not having fought since losing to the champ, Whittaker is the clear-cut only option for Adesanya to defend his title against, with Robert Whittaker in firm position as the #1 ranked fighter in the Middleweight division.
Jorge Masvidal Vs Leon Edwards
Leon Edwards both dominated and survived during his fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 263. For 23 minutes of the first-ever “Non-Title 5 round match,” Leon “Rocky” Edwards did not give himself any room for error against Diaz. On his feet and on the mat, Edwards didn’t leave any doubt that he was looking for a clean sweep fight. And then, Diaz rallied on the last 2 minutes of the fight, landing a Stockton slap followed by a 2 piece combo on Edwards that rocked him. Diaz had the right opportunity to put him away right then and there but didn’t capitalize on the opportunity and, instead, let it slip because Diaz taunted Edwards. So, the bell rang and Edwards won via unanimous decision.
With that win, the #3 ranked Leon Edwards extended his unbeaten streak to 10 in a row, the third-longest in UFC Welterweight history. One would think such a streak would warrant a rematch against current champion Kamaru Usman. That, unfortunately, won’t happen for a while as Usman is most likely to fight his own rematch with #1 ranked Colby Covington, barring any negotiations failures. And with #2 Gilbert Burns facing #4 Stephen Thompson, Edwards is in big luck if he wants to continue being active, as he has his rival looking for a dance partner too: enter: #7 ranked Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal.
Masvidal, who is coming off 2 straight losses to the champion, one of them thanks to a devastating straight right-hand knockout, is looking to get back in the title picture, and where better to start than with the man who just defeated one of his past rivals, Nate Diaz, also in dominant fashion, and the man who Masvidal served his now-famous “3 Piece and a Soda” to backstage at UFC London back in March 2019, something that started up the rocket ship to the stars for Jorge Masvidal.
Edwards hasn’t forgotten about that backstage fight with Masvidal and has since then been calling out ‘Gamebred’. Unfortunately for Edwards, Masvidal wasn’t ranked quite high enough at that point in time since, after defeating Till in London that night, Masvidal was then only ranked #4 in the division, and went on the handle his business with Ben Askren in July of 2019 (the now-viral 5-second knockout). He had his money fight with Nate Diaz and won the BMF Title in November of that year. Then the Covid-19 Pandemic hit and Masvidal went on to fight Kamaru Usman in July 2020, a rematch between the two occurring in April of this year. Unsuccessful in both fights, Masvidal, 36, finds himself on a #7 ranking and a ways to go if he ever wants another crack at that title again.
Luckily for him, the plan is simple. Leon Edwards, who is ranked #3, is available. Masvidal, who still has massive star power behind him, could give Edwards his wish and fight him. Edwards gains another huge name on his resume and becomes undisputed #1 contender against the winner of Usman/Covington, should that match happen, or Jorge Masvidal defeats Edwards and moves closer to his title aspirations. The time is now for both men as each has the leverage that the other needs.
Nate Diaz Vs Tony Ferguson
I think we can all agree that this is every MMA fan’s dream fight.
For years, this has always been a fight that has never had any story build up behind it; no interaction between the two; no rankings on the line. This is just a simple dream fight fans have wanted between two men who are virtually identical to each other in the skill sets they bring.
Nate Diaz, as I mentioned earlier, is coming off a loss to Leon Edwards UFC 263, but he did have his bright spot at the end of the fight, which put everyone at the edge of the seats at the chance that Diaz had to put away Edwards and upset the MMA world. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but though Edwards won the fight, Diaz won the night, being the talk of the PPV with that small glimpse of hope he gave the world, showing he’s still right there as a rockstar of a fighter, one with a cult following behind him.
Tony Ferguson isn’t too far behind that star power Diaz generates. Last month at UFC 262 in Houston, Ferguson had the whole crowd at the press conference chanting his name in support of the former Interim Lightweight champion. Though Ferguson went on that night to lose his 3rd consecutive fight, the world mourned with him, just as the world mourned with Diaz this past Saturday, in their respective losses.
Which now begs the question. Is it time to match these two stars together? I believe so. Both men don’t have much left to give in the sport, Ferguson being 37 years old and Diaz being 36.
On paper, these two match up like two clones fighting. Both are from California, Ferguson coming from Orange County, and Nate Diaz repping his 209 of Stockton. Both men have fought in the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions, with Ferguson currently ranked #6 in the lightweight division, and Nate Diaz, who has had his last couple fights at Welterweight. Both possess such a dangerous ground game, with Ferguson being an all-American wrestler and Diaz a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. Both have such a strong stand-up game with their boxing and both have endurance and cardio to the point where neither man are going to get finished by a lack of conditioning; they will both go at it until the end of the bell. And both have huge fanbases, not just in their Latino community, but the MMA world.
Whether it’s Lightweight or Welterweight, this fight would create fireworks, draw ratings and views, and fulfil the appetite of so many fans. UFC—book it!