Jamahal Hill is the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion, but the shadow of Jiri Prochazka looms over him. There are many worthwhile fights to consider in the aftermath of UFC 283, including Hill vs. Prochazka.
Hill was something of an unproven commodity when he was abruptly inserted into the title picture at 205 pounds. Hill’s worthiness cannot be denied following a thrashing of Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday night. If Prochazka is on track with his injury recovery, the two could be on a collision course this summer.
The conclusion of a one-of-a-kind quadrilogy between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo breathes new life into two divisions. Moreno defeated Figueiredo to claim the series, clearing the way for new challengers. Figueiredo announced plans to move to the bantamweight division and has populated the multiverse with many new matchups as consequence.
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Let’s take a look at the best fights to make in the aftermath of UFC 283.
Light heavyweight division
UFC light heavyweight championship — Jamahal Hill (c) vs. Jiri Prochazka: Hill showed a lot of growth in an absolutely dominant performance against Teixeira. Hill fended off more than a dozen of Teixeira’s takedowns, managed his stamina through five rounds and beat the former champion to a pulp. Hill is now the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion, but many will view his time on the throne as a seat warmer for the division’s true king. Prochazka relinquished the title in December due to injury and hopes to return around June. The UFC may decide to book Hill in a title fight before Prochazka is healed, but the division is short on contenders. Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz appear to have fallen out of favor with UFC president Dana White after their snoozer last month. Meanwhile, Aleksandar Rakic and Anthony Smith need more high-profile wins. It’s best to wait for Hill vs. Prochazka.
UFC flyweight championship — Brandon Moreno (c) vs. Alexandre Pantoja 2: It took four fights, but Moreno can finally put Figueiredo in the rearview mirror and look ahead to new challenges. Ironically, Moreno’s future is a ghost from his past. Pantoja is currently ranked No. 2 in the division with consecutive wins over Alex Perez, Brandon Royval and Manel Kape. The two previously fought in 2018 with Pantoja picking up a lopsided unanimous decision. Moreno was released by the UFC after that fight and returned to kickstart a run that led him to his first world title. Pantoja also defeated Moreno via submission in an exhibition bout on “The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions.” Both fighters have evolved tremendously. It’s a relatively fresh matchup for the division and has a built-in story of revenge for the reigning champ.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. loser of Cory Sandhagen vs. Marlon Vera: Figueiredo was such a dominant force at flyweight that he should face a top 15 opponent upon his arrival to the bantamweight division. The top end of the division is healthy enough that it doesn’t need Figueiredo immediately in the title mix. February’s Fight Night headliner between Sandhagen and Vera could produce the perfect first challenge for Figueiredo at 135 pounds. Whoever loses the fight can either bounce back with a win over Figueiredo or serve as a launching pad for the former flyweight champion. It also strikes the right balance of name value and competition. Plus, both should produce fireworks.
Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammad: Burns passionately called out Colby Covington after defeating Neil Magny, but I don’t think the UFC will give it to him. The promotion should push for a fight between Covington and Khamzat Chimaev as soon as possible. Chimaev is ready for the UFC welterweight title but must show that he can make championship weight after grossly missing weight in a nixed fight with Nate Diaz. Muhammad and Burns are ranked No. 4 and No. 5 in the welterweight division, respectively. Muhammad is firing on all cylinders after stopping Sean Brady and deserves a top-five opponent. Muhammad is an appropriate acceleration of difficulty for Burns after running through Magny following losses to Kamaru Usman and Chimaev. Burns and Muhammad are fantastic wrestlers who aren’t afraid to trade shots and it could make for a fun fight.