The Monday After: UFC 254
Wow, just wow. I think that sums up the climax of UFC 254 perfectly. Not only did Khabib Nurmagomedov retain his Lightweight championship in dominant fashion, but he also announced that he was done with fighting, Wow. Say what you will about athletes, or sports in general, but that may have been the most emotional moment in the promotions history.
I suppose this is the part where we have to thank Khabib for always being a true to himself. Every word, every emotion, every bit of Khabib is authentic, and that's what makes this retirement feel a lot like MIchael Jordan's back in '93. This guy has so much more to give, but the thrill of the fight just isn't the same without his father. Something a lot of us can relate to.
So cheers to Khabib for giving us a great career filled with so many memorable and entertaining moments.
Now where the hell does 155 go from here? One name comes to mind, Conor McGregor. YEAH I SAID IT, and I can feel the eye rolls as I type this out. But with Khabib out of the way, it's Conor's division once again. Even though it's not concrete just yet, McGregor and Poirier looks as though it could be for the championship, and to be honest, it's a smart move.
It should also be said that it could simply be a title eliminator and the winner gets Gaethje for the belt. I think that's a lot less likely, but it is an option. However, with Conor trying to get a big fight with Pacquiao, maybe the UFC has wised up when it comes to his antics. Business is definitely better with McGregor in the picture, but it is also a lot less predictable.
Whether it's McGregor vs Poirier, McGregor vs Gaethje, Gaethje vs Poirier, or even Tony vs Chandler, there are a ton of options for the UFC, regardless of the route they choose.
With so much going happening in the main event of the show it's a little easy to forget the performance put on by Robert Whittaker. Coming into the fight, Cannonier was being heralded as the divisions most powerful striker (which may be true), but Whittaker was able to neutralize the former Heavyweights power with some slick combinations and heady footwork.
With the win, Bobbie Knuckles has lined himself up for a rematch with Adesanya. Now, whether or not that rematch will excite the masses remains doubtful, but with wins over Till and now Cannonier, Whittaker has earned it. However, will that fight interest Adesanya enough to stay at 185? Or will a certain legacy fight against a man by the name of Bones intrigue him more?
Selfishly speaking, I'd love to see Adesanya vs Jones happen sooner than later, and with all the beef between the two the iron is certainly hot enough to be struck. But, we all know how Izzy feels about the importance of cleaning out the division and going after records, so it's entirely possible this fight never happens. We got robbed of Ferguson and Khabib, I'd hate to think we miss out on this one too.
Other highlights of the card include the electric debut of Phil Hawes, Lauren Murphy staking claim to a shot at the 125 strap, Mogomed Ankalaev officially ending his feud with Ion Cutebala, and of course the incredible fight between Nathaniel Wood and Casey Kenney. For a card that was rather top heavy, it certainly had a lot of great moments.
The UFC's next event features Anderson Silva headlining alongside Uriah Hall. Silva has said that this will be his final fight so there should be some extra eyes tuned in to witness history. Two legends in one week, crazy. On a high note, the card also sees the return of the King! Bobby Green. Green takes on Thiago Moises in what could see Green finally break into the top-15.
Look out for my break down of that card in the coming days!