The latest Fight Island event is in the books with UFC 253 living up to expectation and a little bit more.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya made light work of Paulo Costa, while Jan Blachowicz is the new king of the 205lbs division after his impressive stoppage of Dominick Reyes.
Elsewhere, there were standout wins for Brandon Royval, and Hakeem Dawodu, while Ketlen Vieira got back on track in the women’s bantamweight division.
On the undercard, Jake Matthews dominated Diego Sanchez and Ludovit Klein scored a spectacular head-kick knockout over Shane Young.
Here is what could be next for the winners and losers at the top end of the card…
Israel Adesanya def. Paulo Costa via TKO in Round 2 to retain the UFC Middleweight title
The build up to this one had things closer than reality actually showed.
The way in which the Last Stylebender dispatched the supposed number one contender was clinical in the extreme.
‘There are levels to this’ has never been more appropriate.
An anticipated early charge from Costa didn’t materialise, allowing Adesanya to pretty much have his way with the Brazilian for the nine or so minutes this one lasted.
A striking, and movement masterclass that will now see the champ likely take on the winner of Jared Cannonier and Robert Whittaker at UFC 254.
Costa will need a little time back at the drawing board, he is still an elite fighter but needs more rounds under his belt. A bout with Darren Till could be a good place to start.
Jan Blachowicz def Dominick Reyes via TKO in Round 2 to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
At 4-2 following his first six fights in the UFC, few would have predicted Blachowicz’s meteoric rise to stardom.
Eight wins in his last nine, including Sunday’s brutal finish of the much-fancied Reyes have shown his true pedigree, and in particular the missiles he possesses in both hands.
His only defeat in that nine-fight run? Thiago Santos – a man penned to fight Glover Teixeira in November, with the winner of that one likely to get a title shot in the new year.
Reyes may need a little time to recover from what looks like a badly broken nose. Taking on the loser of Santos and Teixeira is an option, as would be a clash with the Austrian big hitter Alexsandar Rakic who himself is looking to get on a run at the top of the 205-lbs division.
Brandon Royval def. Kai Kara-France via submission in Round 2
For a man only one fight into his UFC career before Sunday, Royval’s ninth-ranking in the flyweight division felt a little lofty.
Maybe it isn’t.
He may not have had the best of times on his feet against Kai Kara-France, but his ground game and control was something to take note of.
Self-depreciating in the extreme during the post-fight interview, Royval said he had wanted to call-out someone in the top-5 if he had won in more impressive style.
Regardless, the ‘Raw Dog’s’ next outing will likely be against one of the 125lbs division’s elite.
Fifth-ranked Alexandre Pantoja is coming is coming off a loss to title-shot hunting Askar Askarov and could be the perfect choice.
For Kara-France, all is not lost by any stretch of the imagination. Before the fight it was looking like a couple of wins could have seen him taking a shot at champ Deiveson Figueiredo. Now he will just have to bide his time a little and watch on as others push up the rankings. Getting back on the horse and rebuilding some momentum will be atop the Kiwi’s priority list.