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Digging in: UFC Middleweight Division


 

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: UFC interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker poses for a portrait after his victory over Yoel Romero during the UFC 213 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 8, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Spider once ruled this division with an Iron Fist, defeating legends such as Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin. The man who ended the Spider’s Reign, Chris Weidman is still very much a player in the Middleweight Division, even though he is no longer champion. Overall, the middleweight division is alive and thriving with multiple title contenders, thriving veterans, and prospects.

Champion – Robert Whittaker: What a ride it has been for “The Reaper”. The TUF Smashes winner came into the UFC as a Welterweight and after up and down performances at that weight class, he moved up in weight and never looked back, Going 7-0, and winning the Championship belt in the process, becoming the first fighter from the ANZ to win a Championship. Robert Whittaker’s best performance, in my opinion, came in his fight against Yoel Romero, where he severely hurt his leg in the first round. Whittaker ended up winning the 3rd, 4th and 5th to take a unanimous decision victory. Overall, Whittaker is very well rounded, his best attributes, however, are his power and his take-down defense. His take-down defense might be the best not only in the middleweight division but maybe even the whole UFC, which is truly impressive considering that he does not come from a wrestling background. Robert Whittaker is scheduled to rematch Yoel Romero at UFC 225 in the Main Event and I’m looking forward to this fight greatly.

Contenders:

Yoel Romero: Yoel Romero might be the scariest man in the UFC, Maybe the world, IDK. “The Soldier of God” Yoel Romero is an Olympic Silver Medalist in Freestyle Wrestling and he became one through the tough and competitive Cuban National Team. If you have not heard his stories about his upbringing in Cuba, go check out the Joe Rogan Experience interview, it was incredibly eye-opening to me. Yoel’s Wrestling was pretty much negated by Robert Whittaker, so I believe that the only way that he can take the victory in the rematch is to catch him with a kick or punch and knock him out. Robert has been wobbled in his Derek Brunson fight so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities to get a KO over “Bobby Knuckles”.

Kelvin Gastelum: This guy should most definitely not be on this list as he is a natural Welterweight with a Nutrition Problem. Nonetheless, he is a young, tough and powerful contender who just defeated “Jacare” Souza via a split decision IN BRAZIL. Before that, he Knocked out Michael Bisping within a Round in Shanghai. I believe that Kelvin Gastelum will one day be a champion, However, it will be in either the Welterweight division or in a yet to be made 175 Pound division. Kelvin will likely get a title shot at the winner of Whittaker Vs. Romero 2.

Chris Weidman: The Former Champion has been on the bad side of luck recently. He lost his belt to Luke Rockhold after throwing a stupid spinning back kick, he lost to Yoel Romero via one of the most disgusting KO’s in UFC History, and he lost to Gegard Mousasi via some stupid NYSAC Bullcrap. Now, after defeating Kelvin Gastelum on home soil he is back on the winning track. With one or two more victories, he may get another shot at the title he once held. I feel like a fight against “Jacare” in a main event somewhere will be just what Weidman needs to get back his belt.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: The best Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in the Middleweight Division is still one of the most terrifying fighters on the roster. Souza is a matchup nightmare for everyone in the upper-echelon in the division. He can tap-out anyone outside of the top five in the division within a round. Souza is such a world beater. If Jacare was born in 1984 instead of 1979, I’d think that Souza would have an actual chance at becoming a champion. However, Souza needed to win against Gastelum to get a chance at the belt, Since that didn’t happen, I highly doubt that Souza gets a title shot in the UFC, especially since the two men fighting for the title in June are Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero, two fighters who have defeated Souza.

(Luke Rockhold is most likely moving up to the Light-Heavyweight Division now that his close friend and training partner Daniel Cormier is fighting for the Heavyweight Title)

Other Contenders:

Michael Bisping: Michael Bisping has recently stated that he is most likely retired as there hasn’t been a fight enticing enough to ride into the sunset on. Lyoto Machida recently called out Bisping after his victory over Vitor Belfort. If Bisping is able to get this fight in the UK, I believe it will be enticing enough for him.

Derek Brunson: Brunson always looks like he is going to take the next step up in competition and move into the upper echelon in the division, but then he gets starched in the first round, Once to Robert Whittaker and then again against Jacare. Brunson will be fighting Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC 227 and should be a big test for him due to Carlos’ Jiu-Jitsu prowess.

David Branch: I was skeptical of David Branch’s Skills before he starched Thiago Santos in April. Now, I believe that he is ready for another big test, possibly in the form of Lyoto Machida.

Uriah Hall: I’ve never seen a fighter with the ability to turn it “on” at any point in time and just steal a victory until I saw Uriah Hall. Uriah just had a rather problematic weight cut that landed him in the hospital and if all seems well with him, I believe that he is ready to make another run at Middleweight Greatness, but first, he needs to get through Paulo Costa.

Lyoto Machida: Machida is a legend of the sport and is a former Light-Heavyweight Champion. I hope and pray he faces Michael Bisping in Bisping’s retirement fight because I know they would both bring it. Also, Holy Fuck his KO of Vitor was ridiculous.

Brad Tavares: Tavares has really impressed lately, Especially with his latest victory over Krzysztof Jotko. He has the opportunity to build upon his momentum while also gaining some fans as he takes on Israel Adesanya in the Main Event of the TUF:26 Finale.

Middleweight Prospects:

Paulo Costa: If a battering ram was a human, it would be in the form of Paulo Costa. He is 11-0 with all of his wins coming via finish. I fully expect him to have an incredible fight with Uriah Hall at UFC 226.

Israel Adesanya: Stylebender is the next great thing to come out of the ANZ. A Stout Kickboxer, Adesanya is rounding out his game currently and looks to make a big statement against Brad Tavares in the main event of the TUF:26 finale.

Antonio Carlos Junior: the TUF: Brazil Heavyweight winner coasted to victory by using his incredible Jiu-Jitsu skills. His move to Middleweight was definitely the right move as he is 6-1 (1NC) as a Middleweight with wins over Eric Spicely, Tim Boetsch, and Marvin Vettori.

Elias Theodorou: “The Spartan” should really be nicknamed “the mane” because this man has some of the best hair in the world. He is 12-2 in his career and continues to build upon his repertoire of skills every day. He also is a Ring Boy for Invicta FC and it’s hilarious.

 

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