UFC Actual or Not: Cannonier one battle away from title; Barboza an ideal opponent for Chikadze

MMA

The way forward for the UFC’s middleweight division appeared a bit hazy past the presumed subsequent title battle — a rematch between champion Israel Adesanya and the person he beat for that title, Robert Whittaker. However on Saturday, Jared Cannonier put himself on the prime of the listing to be the subsequent man up.

The one downside with that designation is that Adesanya and Whittaker aren’t more likely to battle till the winter, on the earliest. Will Cannonier take one other battle, or like another fighters have in recent times, will he play it protected and look ahead to issues to shake out?

Mark O. Madsen is now 10-0 in his professional MMA profession and 3-0 within the UFC after a split-decision win over longtime UFC veteran Clay Guida. Regardless of the tight nature, does his Olympic wrestling background and spotless document benefit elevating Madsen to contender standing within the light-weight division?

Trying forward, Giga Chikadze takes on Edson Barboza in the principle occasion of Saturday’s UFC Battle Night time card on the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Chikadze is 6-0 within the UFC, however he hasn’t but confronted somebody on Barboza’s degree. Is that this the battle that Chikadze wanted to make him a real featherweight contender? Or will Barboza be the one to disrupt Chikadze’s momentum.

Our panel, which options Marc Raimondi, Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi, is right here to interrupt down the largest information of the day on this planet of MMA to separate what’s actual from what’s not.

Jared Cannonier will battle as soon as extra earlier than getting title shot in opposition to Israel Adesanya

Raimondi: Cannonier regarded very spectacular Saturday night time in beating Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous resolution. The truth is, I would even go so far as to say it was amongst Cannonier’s finest profession performances. We all know the form of energy the MMA Lab product brings to the desk. We have seen him put a number of opponents to sleep together with his arms, and his excessive kicks are ultra-dangerous.

However what we noticed from him in Las Vegas this weekend was totally different. Cannonier was measured, poised and calculated. He and coach John Crouch made all the mandatory changes. Cannonier, at age 37, is healthier than he has ever been. Let’s not neglect that he wasn’t a full-time fighter till he signed with the UFC in 2015. He was working for the Federal Aviation Administration earlier than that.

Cannonier beating Gastelum was a shot within the arm for the middleweight division, as a result of he represents a recent challenger for the champion Adesanya, who has known as out Cannonier earlier than. Proper now, a case will be made for Cannonier to get a title shot. He has received 4 of 5 and his solely loss throughout that stretch got here in opposition to former champ Robert Whittaker.

The issue is Whittaker is queued up for a title shot himself. He is the possible subsequent challenger for Adesanya. That rematch — Adesanya beat Whittaker to unify the UFC middleweight titles in October 2019 — will not occur till December or January, on the earliest. And that possible means Cannonier should battle once more until he desires to attend till subsequent spring or later for the chance.

If Cannonier’s postfight interview with Daniel Cormier was any indication, it appears that evidently he’ll battle once more and never wait. He informed Cormier that he was “broke” and would see about competing in opposition to the suitable title earlier than a title shot. Cannonier has fought solely 4 instances up to now three years and has handled accidents, so it stands to motive he would need to keep energetic now. He is additionally nearer to 40 than he’s 30. Time is of the essence. I will say “actual” to this assertion for these causes.

Subsequent month, Darren Till meets Derek Brunson in one other pivotal middleweight contender matchup. Cannonier might very properly tackle the winner of that in a title eliminator, which might make lots of sense. Possibly, if each fighters are wholesome sufficient, they’ll even put that battle on the Adesanya vs. Whittaker card as a backup.

Cannonier will in all probability must get in there once more earlier than taking a crack on the gold. And that is OK. After seeing how polished he regarded in opposition to Gastelum, it may be onerous to guess in opposition to Cannonier transferring ahead.

Is Edson Barboza the problem that Giga Chikadze wants?

Legaspi: Even when this wasn’t the battle Chikadze’s staff wished, I will say it is “actual.” From the start, it was the suitable battle to make for the Georgian striker.

Each of those fighters had excellent wins in Might, and they’re ranked subsequent to one another within the UFC’s featherweight division — Barboza at No. 9 and Chikadze at No. 10. Chikadze made an announcement with a liver kick KO over veteran Cub Swanson, and he aimed excessive in his postfight callout, asking for Yair Rodriguez, who had a battle in opposition to former champion Max Holloway postponed. However Rodriguez knew that Holloway battle was going to be rescheduled, and because it represents the largest non-title battle he might get, going through Chikadze was too dangerous and would not carry a lot of a reward.

Chikadze-Barboza is nice matchmaking. Each are phenomenal on their ft, and their types make for a battle that ought to deliver fireworks. It is unlikely this battle will final the total 25 minutes on Saturday.

Barboza owns a half-dozen spectacular knockouts and represents a step up in competitors from Swanson. He is 6-0 in his profession, however the mixed UFC data for his six opponents so far is 7-11, and three of them confronted Chikadze of their promotional debuts. Irwin Rivera and Jamey Simmons are bantamweights who took the fights at 145 kilos on quick discover.

A win over Barboza would get Chikadze the credit score he is after, and it might make his demand for a top-five opponent onerous to say no to sooner or later. Honestly, whoever wins this one will get an enormous title subsequent.

Mark O. Madsen is a light-weight title contender

Wagenheim: This one is difficult to type out. Madsen’s just-scraping-by efficiency in Saturday night time’s split-decision win over a pushing-40 Clay Guida didn’t precisely scream, “Be careful, champ!” However there have been extenuating circumstances.

Madsen was preventing for the primary time since present process two surgical procedures for a damaged jaw suffered in his most up-to-date battle almost a yr and a half in the past. Then he contracted COVID-19. Then his spouse was recognized with a number of sclerosis. It is cheap to surmise that Madsen was not as totally ready for this battle as he may need been in much less troubling instances.

A lot has been fabricated from the deep Olympic previous of the 36-year-old from Denmark, however what’s notably related is the game through which he competed at three Summer season Video games and earned a 2016 silver medal is Greco-Roman wrestling. That is maybe one of the best base talent set of all martial arts specialties that may be introduced into MMA. It certain labored for Randy Couture and Dan Henderson. And an athlete at Madsen’s highest of excessive ranges has an opportunity in opposition to anybody contained in the Octagon.

However I nonetheless am going to conclude that proclaiming Madsen a title contender is “not actual.” Certain, he is undefeated in MMA. Certain, he has the talents and grit to raise his sport past what he confirmed on Saturday. However to enter the title combine at light-weight, Madsen must be able to hanging with the likes of Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler.

That is a excessive bar to clear, I do know, however I simply do not see Madsen making that leap.

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