For once back in September, the UFC were rightly praised for their match-making skills.
After arranging for the light heavyweight crown to be claimed by Jan Blachowicz or Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 on Fight Island, the UFC had cleverly arranged for Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira to go to war the following week with many believing it would be a No.1 contender fight.
The fight was delayed twice due to positive COVID-19 tests, one for each fighter, and they will finally meet this weekend at UFC Vegas 13. The stakes have changed now however.
It was revealed this week that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has made the decision to move up to light heavyweight in an attempt to become a double champion, with Dana White confirming that will be Blachowicz’s first title defence.
While it’s obviously hard to deny the reigning middleweight champion a shot at a title in the next division, it seems harsh on two fighters who were unable to fight through no fault of their own.
Both men were preparing for a No.1 contender fight. Santos hasn’t fought for over a year, since his defeat in a light heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones saw him controversially beaten via split decision.
Teixeira last fought against Anthony Smith in May of this year, where he put in a masterful performance to win via TKO in the fifth round. The victory not only put him on course for his first title shot in the UFC, but also extended his winning streak to four.
At 41 years old, Glover is at the end of his career. There is no way of beating around that bush. So to make him wait even longer for a potential fight for the title that he has earned is a bitter pill to swallow.
There is the potential that the fight never comes for him too, even if he beats Santos. With Adesanya’s insistence that he will fight Jon Jones, and even go up to heavyweight if needs be to do it, all the divisions from 185lbs upwards could be on hold in the near future.
As it stands, the fight at UFC Vegas 13 will be a banger. Both guys will come with a solid game plan, heavy hands and a strong ground game should they need it. They will both come forward and it will be a war of attrition for who wants it more on the night.
Santos is 36 himself, so he’s no spring chicken either, but his style means he can go a little longer than Teixeira can into the future. It won’t mean much on the night but it does mean that should ‘Marreta’ get the win he could be willing to wait a little bit longer for a potential shot.
The likes of Aleksandar Rakic, Dominick Reyes and newcomer Jiri Prochazka will all be floating around looking to get into the title scene too and Santos could follow up a win over Teixeira with a fight against one of those to fill the time.
The fight itself will be fun, but fans can’t help but feel bittersweet about the fact that a No.1 contender fight has been downgraded because COVID-19 struck again.