Sharabutdin Magomedov

Shara Bullet's long-awaited UFC debut made a mixed impression. He demonstrated the very striking technique that his many fans admire, applied Bruno Silva very hard several times and won by unanimous decision. But at the same time, he exposed his weaknesses, the existence of which was previously suspected, but not publicly spoken. If in China, Russia and Thailand he was not punished for not the most reliable protection against takedowns, then in the largest MMA promotion on the planet, his weaknesses were fully exploited. And if the local judges had been a little less supportive of him, it could well have cost him the victory. Dana White's words at a press conference, who called on Magomedov to seriously work on this aspect, became another reason to think.

At the same time, it is extremely difficult to predict who will be his next opponent. Success over Bruno Silva will most likely not allow him to immediately break into the top 15 strongest middleweights in the league, therefore, there is no need to count on a meeting with the current stars of the category. The only question is what the representatives of the UFC will want to do - to please the fans and bring Magomedov together with a bright striker like Michel Pereira or to test his wrestling skills again in a fight with the conditional Andre Petroski. The athletes shared the octagon a week earlier and may be ready to re-enter it around the same time as the Russian.

Ikram Aliskerov

Another representative of the middle division clearly deserves a chance to share the cage with a more interesting and eminent vis-à-vis. Ikram Aliskerov easily crushed his first two opponents in the person of Philip Hawes and Worly Alves and now he may well fight with one of the representatives of the UFC rating. This he himself stated after the end of the fight at the tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Indeed, ignoring Aliskerov seems highly unfair. Two consecutive knockout victories over not the weakest opponents are a great reason to test him in a duel with a more eminent fighter. Fortunately, the organizers were ready to provide him with this opportunity before. At UFC 294, he was supposed to fight first Paulo Costa and then Nassourdine Imavov, but in the end he clashed with the declining Alves. However, he did not shy away from the frequent change of opponents and confirmed that the result of his debut battle in the league is not just a coincidence.

Of course, the most interesting option for Aliskerov himself would be a fight with the same Costa, because a victory over the former contender for the belt of 83.9 kg would sharply raise his price and help him join the race for the title. However, it is too unreliable. Over the past two and a half years, fights with his participation have been canceled as many as five times, and at least three times it was his fault. And in March 2022, Luke Rockhold was sure that their duel was also postponed because of the Brazilian. A simple Ikrama is useless, so for now, it is better for him to fight someone else. For example, with the same Imavov or Anthony Hernandez. Although they have often withdrawn from the show lately. Other worthy fighters will have to wait - most of them have plans for the next two or three months.

Magomed Ankalaev

The fight with Johnny Walker was supposed to be a statement of sorts for Magomed Ankalaev. In it, he could both respond to people who criticized him for not the most flamboyant and too cautious style of fighting, and win the status of the first contender for the title. After all, the opponent was more than convenient. The Brazilian has not been in the elite of the light heavyweight category for a long time and has never been famous for a strong chin - four knockout defeats are a vivid confirmation of this.

But the Russian was punished for his intemperance, because there was no point in taking such a risk and punching with a knee in that situation. He dominated the Brazilian and probably would not have allowed him to stay in the cage for five minutes, but he landed a forbidden blow and was punished for it. Yes, the doctor's behavior and his controversial verdict will be discussed for a long time, but this does not negate how imprudent Magomed acted.

And now he is in a difficult situation. On November 11, Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira will determine the name of the new UFC champion in 93 kg. That right is likely to go to former trophy winner Jamal Hill if he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon. According to the most optimistic forecasts, it may return to service in early 2024. And if this happens, then in the spring and summer he will try to return to the throne of the division.

What's in store for Ankalaeva? So far, the most logical thing seems to be a rematch with Walker. At one time, he already had to confirm an extremely controversial victory in the battle with Ion Cutelabe, probably not without a second meeting here. Dana White himself has already announced his intention to "correct this misunderstanding" provoked by the doctor, and the most logical way to do this is to bring the fighters together again in the octagon. And if Johnny is not seriously injured, it may happen in the near future.

Khamzat Chimaev

It is possible that the rematch awaits the native of Chechnya, who represents the UAE. In the first round, Khamzat Chimaev was great and deservedly took it with a score of 10:8, but then again reminded everyone of his problems with endurance. Had it not been for a couple of takedowns, not only would he not have been able to count on a majority decision, but he could well have suffered the first defeat of his career. In the last ten minutes of the fight, Kamaru Usman looked noticeably fresher than his counterpart, and the knockout in his performance did not seem something unrealistic.

On the eve of the fight, there were rumors that his triumphant would get the right to argue with Sean Strickland for the middleweight title. And this would certainly have happened if Chimaev had managed to put the squeeze on Usman and finish in the first round. But now the UFC bosses can change their minds and bring Khamzat and Kamara together again. Fortunately, their rematch is guaranteed to arouse such great interest of the public that it can lead not only a weekly, but also a numbered tournament.

And in this case, many questions will be answered. Is Chimaev really that good? Is he capable of fighting top opponents for 25 minutes instead of five? Isn't it too early to write off Usman? After two defeats, it was difficult not to put an end to the prospects of the 36-year-old Nigerian, and agreeing to fight a native of Chechnya on short notice looked akin to suicide. But he overcame this test with honor and deserved at least one more chance to measure his strength with Khamzat.

Islam Makhachev

Unlike Usman, Alexander Volkanovski clearly does not have the opportunity to try his hand again in the confrontation with Islam Makhachev. By agreeing to replace the injured Charles Oliveira at the show in Abu Dhabi, the Australian risked everything, but lost. And the second time he was beaten by a Russian. And although the next failure can be attributed to a lack of preparation or other circumstances, the defeat by knockout in the first round is clearly not conducive to the trilogy.

Now Volkanovski has only to return to the featherweight division, while great prospects open up before Makhachev. He himself has clearly set his sights on moving up to welterweight and fighting the winner of the battle between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington. But White is clearly against it. At the press conference, he made it clear that Islam still has a lot of unfinished business in the amount of 70.3 kg, and he should think about changing the category no earlier than in a year.

Therefore, when thinking about Makhachev's future trials, it is more logical to limit ourselves to representatives of his division. And here the same Oliveira and Justin Gaethje stand out from the general background. The first deserved a rematch with the Russian with a victory over Beneil Dariush, the second took his place in line after crushing Dustin Poirier. The only question is whether it is worth punishing the Brazilian for missing UFC 294 and raising the American to the first line in the list of contenders? And the answer is likely to be no. After all, it is foolish to blame Charles for the injury that deprived him of the opportunity not only to share the cage with Islam again, but also to compete for the title. White said he felt the same, though he promised to look into it in more detail.