After a fantastic night of fights, UFC 287 will go down as a historic card as Israel Adesanya reclaimed his throne as the Middleweight champion. He finally defeated his rival Alex Pereira and did it in spectacular fashion. Adesanya knocked Pereira out cold in the second round with a beautiful overhand right with some follow-up shots to solidify the victory.
It seemed like the end was near as Pereira had Adesanya against the cage. A familiar spot in which Pereira defeated Adesanya at UFC 281. This time, the roles switched as Adesanya countered perfectly, ending the night as the Middleweight champion again.
The Middleweight division has questions that need to be answered after UFC 287. Many of the fighters in the division need fights, and we are here to matchmake them. Here are the five fights to make next in the Middleweight division.
The next title fight at 185 lbs should be Israel Adesanya against Khamzat Chimaev. The champ has already wiped the top five of the division and needs new blood. Chimaev is the perfect fighter for this scenario. The permanent move to Middleweight is one every fight fan is eager to see, and the timing couldn't be better. There is an argument to be made to schedule the trilogy between Pereira and Adesanya, but the fact is that Pereira is best to move up to Light Heavyweight. He cuts a lot of weight to make 185 lbs, and he can challenge Jamahal Hill next for the title. So with all that being said, the next title fight should be between "The Last Stylebender" and "Borz."
It's time to reschedule the fight that was scrapped from UFC 284 between Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa. It's the appropriate next step for both fighters, as the winner could be next in line for a title shot. Costa is coming off a great win against Luke Rockhold, and a top-five matchup with Whittaker would continue to make the ball roll in the Middleweight division. Whittaker could wait for a title shot, but staying active is in his best interest after defeating Marvin Vettori. This would be a proper number-one contender fight in the division.
Another top-five matchup that makes the most sense is between Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori. Cannonier is coming off a victory over Sean Strickland and would like to fight someone ahead of him in the rankings. Vettori just won over Roman Dolidze, so it aligns very well with the division and the timeline. The matchup is excellent from a stylistic standpoint, and one fight fans would enjoy. It could become a tremendous main card fight on a big PPV card.
After recently being called out at the UFC 287 post-fight press conference from the champion, Dricus Du Plessis would need a couple of more wins to get that title shot. A significant step forward in that direction is with top contender Sean Strickland. Strickland and Du Plessis are both coming off wins in their previous fights, and the winner could place themselves in title contention. Du Plessis is on a seven-fight winning streak as he recently defeated Derek Brunson. Adesanya already has his sights set on Du Plessis as he awaits that matchup.
After an impressive performance against Chris Curtis, Kelvin Gastelum deserves a fight against a top-ten opponent. The stylistic matchup between Gastelum and Roman Dolidze has all the makings of a great fight. Dolidze must bounce back after losing to Marvin Vettori, so fighting back in the rankings wouldn't be wrong. Gastelum is a former title challenger that would provide Dolidze with the experienced opponent he needs. On the flip side, Dolidze provides a step-up in competition for Gastelum after his win at UFC 287.