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UFC Vegas 6 was riddled with COVID-19 cancellations. Some of the best fights were removed from the card like Merab Dvalishvili and and Taila Santos. But, that doesn’t mean that the card wasn’t worth watching and that there isn’t anything to digest. So, we will do so on today’s edition of Aftermath.
Ilia Topuria Continues the Georgian Occupation at UFC Vegas 16
Next opponent for Ilia Topuria: Herbert Burns, Krone’s Gracie
Georgians are the hot country in the UFC for the 2020 year. With names like Merab Dvalishvili and Giga Chikadze, the country has only lost one fight on the year. UFC Vegas 16 featured two more from Georgia: Roman Dolidze and Ilia Topuria. Both earning wins on the night. But, Topuria was the standout on the night.
One thing I’ve come to realize is how good these Georgians are with limited records. Being one of the best wrestling countries on the international stage, the country is a breeding ground for athletes. Topuria came into the fight with Damon Jackson at only 9-0. Jackson doubled his experience and it didn’t show.
Topuria is a grappler first. With wins via anaconda choke, mounted guillotine, and more, he’s very dangerous on the ground. What people don’t know is how dangerous Ilia Topuria is standing and how much he’s improved. Topuria channeled his inner Mike Tyson and ripped Jackson to the body and mixed things up well.
After derailing the great 2020 Youssef Zalal had going and now beating Damon Jackson, Topuria is ready for a step up in competition. Herbert Burns is my number one choice for Ilia Topuria going forward. He has that pedigree that would be dangerous on the ground but isn’t a slouch standing either. Burns Jiu Jitsu is dangerous, very dangerous. He and Topuria could steal the show on whatever card they are on.
If we’re getting really whacky, Kron Gracie is the guy to fight Topuria. Gracie is a Gracie, and that means more Jiu Jitsu. What I want to see out of Topuria is one of two things, and both Gracie and Burns can show that. I want to see him either make a gameplan adjustment and work on keeping the fight standing or I want to see how he fares against top tier Jiu Jitsu. A win over either of these guys would prove he is ready for the top 15 already.
Marvin Vettori Proves He Belongs
Next opponent for Jack Hermansson: Darren Till, Holland/Jacare winner
I feel for Jack Hermansson. He’s an awesome fighter and has unique challenges for champion Israel Adesanya. But any time he gets anywhere near a title shot, he drops the ball and comes across someone who has his number. Today, Vettori was that guy. Jack Hermansson had nothing for Vettori who showed basic boxing and grappling. That’s not a knock on Vettori, however, he does those things very well.
It’s tough to see where Jack Hermansson can go after UFC Vegas 16. Having lost to both Vettori and Cannonier now, he has no way to go up. But one fight makes complete sense and that’s one that the UFC already honey-dicked us with. That fight is Jack Hermansson versus Darren Till. Till could be a nightmare for Hermansson. The things he struggled with against Vettori, Till does even better. But this will give Hermansson the opportunity to show improvement on his mistakes at UFC Vegas 16.
Second set, another fight we have seen or we’re supposed to see. That is the winner between Kevin Holland and Jacare Souza. Holland stepped in on short notice to face Hermansson before Holland failed his COVID test. But he was rescheduled for UFC 256 and all was right in the world. Jacare got his replacement fight and Hermansson got his. On the other side, Jacare and Hermansson fought early last year. A rematch between the two would make sense from a rankings perspective.
Next opponent for Marvin Vettori: Paulo Costa, Robert Whittaker
For the longest time, Marvin Vettori had a hard time getting a fight because nobody wanted to fight him. He was too good and the guys proposed didn’t want to lose their rankings. Well he had his shot at UFC Vegas 16 and proved himself right. Marvin Vettori dismantled Jack Hermansson and showed he is truly one of the best middleweights in the world. With a win over the fourth ranked Hermansson, Vettori just pole vaulted the entire division and put himself in the mix for a title. But, Vettori needs another win for a shot at avenging his last loss, a split decision against Israel Adesanya in 2018.
Two good fights are out there for Vettori. He called out Paulo Costa and that fight is exciting. Costa got dismantled by Adesanya and is looking for another win. A win over a former title challenger would bolster Vettori’s case for a title shot and with he built in story Vettori and Adesanya have, it’s possible the UFC goes ahead with it, should Adesanya stay at middleweight.
The second option, and one quite different on the stylistic side of things, is Robert Whittaker. Whittaker doesn’t bum rush people like Costa does and would be a tough out for Vettori. Whittaker is very good, don’t let his loss to Izzy fool you. He is smart and tactful, making him a nightmare for anyone in the ring with him. Whittaker is durable too but a win over the former champion puts Vettori in the driver’s seat for a title shot.
Aftermath is a mostly weekly section on the UFC cards, analyzing performances, and pontificating what could be next for some of my favorite fighters. Check out the sister series, Beforemath, on Rokfin where we preview the week’s card and give fans an idea what to look for. Beforemath on Rokfin is free to view with an account, which is also free, and comes out every Wednesday.