Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya face off
Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya face off | Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

We’re back! It’s another down week in the world of MMA and you know what that means: it’s time to answer your questions about the latest happenings in the sport. The UFC just announced a couple of big fights and we’re fresh of UFC 283 so there’s plenty to talk about. Let’s get down to business.

Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2 (4?)

I asked for questions before the UFC’s news so we’re going to take this one as an opportunity to discuss the now scheduled middleweight title rematch (tetralogy?).

First, we all knew this was coming. Yes there were some rumblings about timing and the potential for Robert Whittaker to step in instead, but the UFC was always going to target this fight. Adesanya was a long-reigning champion and his rivalry with Pereira is one of the best promotional storylines the company has at its disposal. Plus, their first fight (in the UFC) was fun. It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

That being said, I still kind of wish this wasn’t happening. I’ve long been on the record as hating immediate title rematches in any scenario. It feels like it cheapens the win for the challenger, essentially saying: ‘You have to do it twice or it doesn’t count,’ and that just rubs me the wrong way. Adesanya lost, make him fight someone else before running it back, that’s how I’ve always felt. Plus, if Adesanya wins the rematch, then they are going to fight again, which means the middleweight belt will be hung up for the better part of two years on one matchup. But alas, I know I’m in the minority here.

Fortunately, my early take on this fight is that we probably can avoid that scenario because I favor Pereira to win once again. In their three fights against each other, Adesanya has proven that he has all the tools necessary to win, and yet he has been unable to do so. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Going into their most recent fight, I suggested that Adesanya would be overly conservative, allowing Pereira to hang around the fight, which is simply too dangerous against a finisher like “Poatan,” and that prediction proved pretty true. Adesanya hurt Pereira early but didn’t press the issue and suffered the consequences later. That appears to be the defining feature of how these two matchup, and barring some changes from Adesanya, changes he has been unwilling to make thus far, the same outcome feels inevitable.

Gilbert Burns vs. Jorge Masvidal

Again, since I asked for questions before the announcement, I’m taking some liberties here to talk about the fights I want to.

Masvidal probably is the biggest return fight for Conor McGregor (though I could see a case for Dustin Poirier) but that’s not going to happen for him because Masvidal is fighting Gilbert Burns. I have two major thoughts about this new fight announcement.

  1. Good for Burns! This is a fight he’s wanted for some time and I had no belief he would get it. Burns doesn’t seem to offer huge upside for Masvidal and it felt like he was instead going to have to face Shavkat Rakhmonov after he knuckle-dusts Geoff Neal later this year. Now he gets a good matchup with a big name, the kind of fight that can propel him into a title shot, depending how the rest of the division shakes out.
  2. Jorge Masvidal remains down to clown. Burns is a really bad fight for Masvidal, and he’s most likely going to get pantsed in there, but Masvidal is still taking it when he definitely didn’t have to. Masvidal could have tried for the McGregor lottery or picked a fight with a more high-upside fighter, but that’s not what happened. “Gamebred” proved he’s still that and if he can pull off an upset, then maybe he will get a shot at Leon Edwards’ title.

Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill

Heading into the fight, I would have assumed that Teixeira wasn’t the same guy anymore, but that pretty clearly wasn’t true. Don’t get me wrong, I assume Teixeira lost something because he’s a few years away from qualifying for an AARP card, but if he was diminished, it didn’t show. That was functionally the same Glover we’ve seen for the last few years, during his career renaissance and his title run, through it all. Jamahal Hill just beat the brakes off him. That’s fully a credit to Hill.

Hill vs. Teixeira

I don’t think it’s fair to say either man gassed. They were both clearly tired, but they were working at a very high rate. That being said, it wasn’t a “great” fight. It was a fight where one man was much better, and the other was impossibly tough, which leads to a lot of violence. It won’t make my Fight of the Year list and it’s not a fight I’ll rewatch often, but it also certainly wasn’t bad.

As for Jon Jones, I doubt he would murder either man. For one, we saw him fight Teixeira and while it was a tremendous performance from Jones, it wasn’t a “murder.” And since then, Teixeira, while older, has gotten much, much better technically. As for Hill, peak Jones likely beats Hill down, but we’re a long way from peak Jones and a man with accurate boxing and good timing, who can also stand up to Jones’ physicality, at the very least has a shot to make “Bones” work, if not beat him outright.

Jamahal Hill, new champion

Honestly, no idea.

Here’s the thing about Hill’s win over Teixeira: it was the best performance of his career by a country mile. Seriously, nothing in any of his other fights made it look like that was something Hill was capable of. This is a dude who less than two years ago got tapped by Paul Craig in the first round, and five months ago repeatedly gave up takedowns to renowned wrestler Thiago Santos. There was absolutely no basis to believe Hill would win every facet of the game against Teixeira. Could he have come out and clobbered him with a big shot? Sure. Everyone thought that was possible. But no one thought this man was going to beat Glover pillar to post like that. There was no reason to think so! And now that he’s done it, it makes it hard to know what Hill is really capable of moving forward.

As I see it, there are two possible outcomes here: Hill leveled up and will be a serious problem moving forward, or Hill had the performance of his life on the biggest stage of his life, but will come back down to Earth. We’ve seen the latter happen before. Remember when Cody Garbrandt styled on Dominick Cruz and we all thought this was the dawning of a new era, and then Garbrandt got slabbed in his next three fights? That could happen for Hill. OR, Hill could just be this guy now, and if that’s the case, Jiri has serious problems. So truly, I don’t know what lies in store here, but I’m fascinated to find out.

The light heavyweight picture

I think the UFC is going to try and wait it out for the Jiri Prochazka fight but I hate that idea, because we don’t have any idea if that’s really viable. Jiri says he thinks he can be back in August and while that would be great, that’s over six months from now. Anything can happen during that time to set him back in his recovery. It’s playing with fire for that to be Plan A.

If I had the keys to the kingdom, I’d make Hill vs. Magomed Ankalaev for late spring, early summer. That’s the two best guys in the division who don’t have a shoulder injury to deal with, and if gives Jiri plenty of time to make sure he’s fully healed and ready to return. Jiri gets the winner. Meanwhile, Jan Blachowicz and Anthony Smith duke it out and Rakic fights the winner for the next title eliminator.

Also, I’ve given Hill crap for some of the things he’s said, and that’s entirely deserved. But I will also give the man props for his response to Jiri, which was definitely funny.

The Ultimate Fighter

Though this flies in the face of what I just wrote, if the UFC insists on doing TUF and insists on trying to make Jiri vs. Jamahal in August, I think the most obvious path forward would be Jiri and Jamahal as coaches. It theoretically allows the UFC to build the brands of Hill and Prochazka, and overlaps nicely with this long delay.

But that’s not what’s going to happen. It’s going to be Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler. That’s as close to a lock as these things get.

Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Send them to me and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s have fun.

Author: Staff

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