UFC 236 was a night to remember for fighters and fans alike.
In two of the most spectacular title fights in recent memory, Israel Adesanya and Dustin Poirier became interim champions and will likely now face Robert Whittaker and Khabib Nurmagomedov respectively for a chance to become unified champions. It seems obvious that the UFC’s rankings will have changed a great deal following the Atlanta card and there have been a number of significant changes in some of the UFC’s most competitive divisions as well as one new pound-for-pound entry.
Israel Adesanya’s performance at UFC 236 confirmed what many fans had already believed – ‘The Last Stylebender’ is a star. Since making his promotional debut just 14 months ago, the former Glory Kickboxing Champion is 6-0. With five post-fight bonuses and after his stunning performance last Saturday, he has climbed up to #1 in the middleweight rankings. This places him above perennial contenders Yoel Romero, Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, moving up four places. Adesanya will now almost inevitably face Robert Whittaker to unify the middleweight title. Victory against ‘The Reaper’ will not only cement his status one of the UFC’s greatest breakthrough athletes but will also likely see him enter the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Alexandre Pantoja’s emphatic finish of Wilson Reis at UFC 236 has seen him move up to #3 in the UFC flyweight division. Since losing to Dustin Ortiz at UFC 220 – who has since departed from the UFC – Pantoja has recovered well and is now on a three-fight winning streak. With Henry Cejudo challenging for the bantamweight title and Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga slated to compete for the #1 contender status, it is likely Pantoja will face Deiveson Figueiredo in a battle of Brazilians. Figueiredo most recently lost his undefeated status against Formiga and will certainly be looking to get his quest for UFC gold back on track.
While Henry Cejudo did not compete at UFC 236, Dustin Poirier’s victory over Max Holloway allowed the former Olympic gold medalist to overtake the Hawaiian in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings. Cejudo, who defeated UFC great Demetrious Johnson via split decision to become flyweight champion, has defended his belt once against T.J. Dillashaw, the disgraced former bantamweight champion. He now sits at #4 pound-for-pound, behind Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormer and victory in his upcoming bout against Marlon Moraes for the UFC bantamweight title may see him leapfrog one, or more, of these men.
Nate Diaz has not fought since UFC 202 in 2016. Despite this, he has remained in the UFC’s lightweight rankings since then. However, following Anthony Pettis’ surprising entry into the 155-pound division’s rankings at #9, fighters including Gregor Gillespie, Alexander Hernandez and Diaz have all fallen. Diaz now finds himself at #15 below Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira and after UFC Saint Petersburg this weekend, Diaz may find himself outside of the divisions top 15. This is because the upcoming Fight Night card features streaking lightweight Islam Makhachev; should Makhachev continue his impressive winning streak, he may enter the rankings at the expense of the former TUF winner.
As one fighter enters the pound-for-pound rankings, another must exit. Valentina Shevchenko was previously ranked #15 and now finds herself as the only unified champion outside of the pound-for-pound rankings. Shevchenko, who defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk to become flyweight champion, will next compete at UFC 238 in Chicago against Jessica Eye and will be hoping that a victory will be enough to regain her place, likely ahead of Cris Cyborg who currently occupies the #15 spot.
Dustin Poirier entered his UFC 236 bout against Max Holloway as a +200 underdog. Many thought that while the fight would be spectacular, Holloway would pull away in the later rounds against the tough American Top Team fighter, as he did in his most recent bout against Brian Ortega. In fact, Poirier was outstanding throughout, with the judges unanimously only scoring the third round in Holloway’s favour. This victory has not only allowed Poirier to overtake both Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson as the lightweight divisions #1 contender, but also has led to ‘The Diamond’s’ debut entry in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, above former adversary Conor McGregor and below Kamaru Usman, the UFC’s newest champion. Poirier will now likely have the chance to do the unthinkable and defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight unification bout, where victory will make Poirier perhaps the greatest underdog mixed-martial-arts has ever seen.
Prior to UFC Philadelphia, Jack Hermansson had fought seven times in the UFC, with each and every bout proving to be must-watch entertainment. Six of these bouts had finished inside the distance with four of them ending inside the first round. At UFC Philadelphia, Hermansson faced formed WSOF double-champ David Branch and in the quickest finish of his UFC career, ‘The Joker’ stunned fans and stopped Branch via guillotine choke in just 49 seconds. After the bout, Hermansson told Jon Anik that “In a year I’m going to be the one with the belt wrapped around my waist” and after being slated to face Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza at UFC on ESPN 3 (replacing Yoel Romero), this lofty ambition does not seem out of the Swede’s reach.
Student and sports fan in England with a passion for the sweet science of MMA