The UFC have announced two blockbuster middleweight main events for this summer as they begin to plan the third quarter of 2021.
With the division on the move next month when Israel Adesanya defends his title against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263, the company are looking towards the next contenders by pairing up four of the top six ranked fighters together.
It was revealed recently that the UFC are potentially looking at making a return to London in August, and it seems like that could be headlined by the returning Darren Till as he will fight Derek Brunson on August 14th pending medical clearance.
Till was supposed to face off against Vettori himself last month to determine the number one contender for Adesanya’s title, but the Briton broke his collarbone in training a little over a week out from the fight and was forced to withdraw.
Vettori went on to beat Kevin Holland in a short-notice fight and earn himself a title shot off the performance. Brunson however continued his fine run of wins by beating Holland himself just two weeks prior to ‘Trailblazer’ getting beaten by the Italian.
Brunson made it four wins in a row, after losing to Adesanya back in 2018 by beating Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch before a main event win against highly rated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan got him back in the conversation among contenders.
The following week on August 21st, the UFC will welcome back Paulo Costa to the octagon when he takes on hard hitting Jared Cannonier in the main event.
Costa hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the second round of his title fight with Adesanya at UFC 253 in October, after withdrawing from a scheduled bout with Robert Whittaker in April with flu-like symptoms attributed to COVID-19.
Cannonier himself hasn’t been in the cage since UFC 254 when he fought Whittaker, being nullified to a complete halt as he saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end in the co-main event.
It will no doubt be an absolute banger of a fight, with both men having genuine one-punch knockout power to rely on while Costa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt too.
With Whittaker guaranteed the next title shot after Adesanya vs Vettori 2, these fights will go a long way to establishing the contender after that. The most impressive winner is likely to get the nod early next year, in a division that is shaping up beautifully with new contenders constantly emerging to fight the top dogs that are already established.
There is always the wildcard option of Kamaru Usman moving up to middleweight should Vettori or Whittaker be able to dethrone Adesanya, with the current welterweight champion admitting that a move up a weight-class could become an option should his fellow African no longer be the man holding the belt.