The UFC has come and gone from London, England, and what a show they put on for the fans at UFC 286. We saw Leon Edwards retain his welterweight title against his arch-nemesis Kamaru Usman in the last final installment of their trilogy. Now it is looking like Edwards will have his hands full with all of the elite contenders chomping at the bit to get their hands on him. Even with as great as the main event was, it was the co-main event that stole the show between Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev. These two had an all-out war and fought tooth and nail to the bitter end.
Rafael Fiziev talks about the “beautiful” bloody picture of himself 🩸 #TheMMAHour
▶️ https://t.co/sF6Kymnxa9 pic.twitter.com/Utd7OlPEcB
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 22, 2023
When it comes to closely contested fights there's always going to be some controversy when it comes to the scorecards. Most of the viewers gave round 1 to Fiziev, which seemed to be the clearest round of them all but one judge Clemens Werner gave that to Gaethje. Then came an even more controversial scorecard when Paul Sutherland (who made some questionable decisions prior) gave Gaethje a 10-8 round 3.
It wasn't a decision that Fiziev ultimately was displeased with, but it was one that makes you scratch your head when you dig deeper into the scorecards. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic fight that could arguably go down as the fight of the year and one that will be remembered forever.
Rafael Fiziev Taking Time Off
Rafael Fiziev went on The MMA Hour and spoke with journalist Ariel Helwani and stated that he would return to action in 5-6 months. Via Jed I. Goodman:
Rafael Fiziev says he would like to return in 5 or 6 months. #TheMMAHour
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) March 22, 2023
He deserves to take as much time off as he needs after that type of war that he was just in with Gaethje. There's just something about fighting Gaethje that just takes time off your career because you know going in that it will be the hardest fight of your career. Even in that loss, Fiziev showed that he can hang with the top of the division which should open up more opportunities for him in his next fight.
Who Should he Fight Next?
Now that this fight is in the books and Rafael Fiziev will be taking some much-needed time off, we can take a look at who could potentially be next for him. Seeing as he lost to Gaethje, the chances of him getting another top-5 fight is slim so we'd have to take a look at who's just behind him in the rankings.
Mateusz Gamrot would be the first logical choice whos coming off of a hard-fought win against Jalin Turner his last time out. This fight could put either fighter inside the top-5 if Michael Chandler somehow loses to Conor McGregor later this year.
Then you have Arman Tsarukyan who's been chomping at the bit to get a higher-ranked opponent to help catapult him into title contention. Tsarukyan is the only one in the lightweight division that really has given the champ Islam Makhachev a run for his money.
The last choice of the bunch would be a fight with Jalin Turner. We know that Turner lost his last fight against Gamrot but that didn't come without a ton of controversy. Some believe that he would deserve this fight more than Gamrot does at this time.
Whoever they choose to throw at Fiziev when he is ready will have a very hard task ahead of them and it is a fight that the fans are going to be excited about one way or another.