#UFCFightIsland3 Aftermath: Robert Whittaker’s Statement #mmaTweet
The Fight Island fight series has concluded. From UFC 251 to last weekend’s card, Fight Island delivered four championship bouts and some of the best fights and prospects the UFC has to offer. Let’s dive in on the final card with Aftermath, UFC Fight Island 3 edition.
Let’s slow down on the Khamzat Chimaev hype train
Next opponent for Khamzat Chimaev: Khaos Williams, Nicolas Dalby
I understand that Khamzat Chimaev had had back to back insanely impressive wins in ten days time. People seem to think Chimaev is ready for the top of the division. Let’s not forget, he notched wins over not-UFC-ready John Phillips who was 1-3 in the UFC, and Rhys McKee who made his UFC debut against Chimaev. I get the dominance and short turnaround for Chimaev are appealing. But let’s just pump the brakes a little and let the UFC build him. Think more Sean O’Malley and not Johnny Walker.
Chimaev did look good at UFC Fight Island 3. He instantly threw a feint overhand and shot a takedown and got McKee to the ground. Once there, he unleashed barrage of ground and pound and chokes. He completely dominated McKee.
Now, Chimaev should look at facing a tougher fighter, no offense to Phillips and McKee. He’s a very talented wrestler and has a good skillset for MMA. Many are calling for a top ten match already. But he’s only 8-0 right now and can use a few more fights under his belt before making that deep run. Chimaev said he wants to fight on August 15th making it three fights in a months time. Any fighter of substance will likely not take such a tough fight on three weeks notice. But, let’s assume it happens and he gets a fun fight. Fighter number one is Khaos Williams. Williams won his debut over Alex Morono and looked great in a first round finish. Sitting at 10-1, Williams and Chimaev would be a very good matchup and a tough test for the Swede.
Nicolas Dalby is option number two and is a faster build-em-up for Chimaev. At 18-4-1, Dalby is the most experienced fighter Chimaev would face. Dalby has been in wars and could drag Chimaev in deeper waters to see how he fairs in the cardio department. Dalby lost on the same card as Chimaev-McKee so he’s likely looking for a rebound as well.
Alex Oliveira Looking Fresh
Next opponent for Alex Oliveira: Robbie Lawler, Elizeu Zaleski
Alex Oliveira fought well at UFC Fight Island 3 against a good Peter Sobotta. After a three fight skid, Oliveira has now won two fights straight. In the Sobotta fight, Oliveira was long and used the teep and other kicks to keep Sobotta at bay. His cardio was also fantastic as he usually shows. Oliveira said in our interview that he’s enjoying fighting and is looking to keep on doing so.
Oliveira has been around since 2015 and has had wars with Yancy Medeiros, Mike Perry and more. He’s a glutton for wars and the UFC could capitalize on that. Robbie Lawler is the name for Cowboy. Lawler, the former champion, is only 1-3 since losing his title to Tyron Woodley, dropping his last three. Oliveira and Lawler would give the two veterans a chance to prove themselves in different ways. Lawler, should he win, would begin the career course correction. If Oliveira wins, it is a former champion he’s beaten and could make a case for him to make another title run.
Elizeu Zaleski is another good fight for Alex Oliveira as well. Zaleski lost his last fight at UFC 251 in a somewhat boring fight. But usually, Zaleski brings the heat. He and Oliveira could very well produce an iconic fight for the UFC and would be a crowd-pleaser, should there be a crowd.
Werdum Welcomes Gustafsson to Heavyweight
Next opponent for Fabricio Werdum: Fedor Rematch
Fabricio Werdum wasted no time putting Alexander Gustafsson away at UFC Fight Island 3. In just half a round, Werdum had Gustafsson in an armbar and back in the win column after losing his return to the cage against Alexey Oleinik at UFC 249. Before the fight, Werdum said he planned to leave the UFC as this was the last fight on his contract. Werdum failed a drug test and had a two year suspension and wanted to be released from his contract, to which the UFC did not oblige. Now, Werdum has fought his last fight and is on a win and said he’s likely not to sign back, which opens the doors for greener pastures.
The likely landing spot: Bellator. Bellator has a decent heavyweight division and is home to one of Werdum’s signature wins: Fedor Emelianenko. Werdum famously submitted Fedor in 2010 with Strikeforce. The rematch is the only fight to make right now, especially if Werdum is done in the UFC.
Robert Whittaker’s Statement
Next opponent for Darren Till: Romero/Hall winner, Jack Hermansson
Darren Till took on a tough task at UFC Fight Island 3. Whittaker was coming off of an embarrassing loss to Israel Adesanya and had something to prove. Till started off great in round one with a knockdown and looked like he was in complete control. Then Whittaker found his rhythm and Till got very complacent. Ever since his win over Donald Cerrone, people have seen Till as this knockout machine. Facts show that Till isn’t really that. He’s got two knockouts in the UFC, Cerrone and Wendell Oliveira in 2015. Each of his other four wins have come by decision. Till is a points fighter. His issue is that he becomes too patient at times and doesn’t get enough offense going. In his loss to Whittaker, it cost him the fight.
Now, Till has been set back from his dream and it’s likely people will not be as kind on him and as eager to watch him fight any more. He needs to get that killer instinct he personifies on himself and go out there to finish a fight. Now, firmly behind Whittaker, there is no clear path to the title for Till any longer. Till needs to be tested and show he’s changed his plan of attack. Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall are scheduled to fight and both of those are good fights for Till to show out. Romero is always fun, unless he’s fighting Adesanya, and Hall isn’t scared to bring the heat either.
Jack Hermansson is the second option. Hermansson is coming off of a win against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Island 2. In that Aftermath section, we proposed that the loser of this fight would get Hermansson and the logic still holds here. Hermansson was beat by Jared Cannonier and should have to fight after him for the title.
Next opponent for Robert Whittaker: Paulo Costa, Jared Cannonier
There was a lot of disrespect around Robert Whittaker after he lost the unification fight at UFC 243, myself included. But in his return to the cage, Whittaker looked amazing once again. His time off did him well. He was fast the entire night and aside from the knockdown in the first round, Whittaker fought nearly flawless. He mixed things up against Till and brought heat all night. But, with the knockout from Izzy, a title shot is still out of the question should Adesanya remain champion.
The only way for Whittaker to get a shot at the title next is for Paulo Costa to win convincingly. If the fight is close with Adesanya, Costa will likely have to rematch Adesanya. Should it be a quick first round finish, Whittaker could make his case to fight for the belt again. But, if Costa loses, he could be the next choice for Whittaker regardless. Costa and Whittaker is on a collision course.
If the Costa fight falls through, Jared Cannonier is about ready for action. Cannonier is looking for a claim to a title shot. Since moving to middleweight, Cannonier has beat David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson. Now is time for Cannonier to have a number one contender fight and a fight with the former champion would serve as just that. Should Whittaker win, and win impressively, he would make it more clear that he’s ready to take a shot at the title again.