Booking what’s next for UFC Jacksonville Winners, Including Ilia Topuria Fighting For Gold

With UFC Jacksonville 2023 in the rearview, fight fans will be wondering what could come next for the event’s main card winners. Let’s take a look at the best next-fight options for triumphant fighters like Ilia Topuria, Maycee Barber, and David Onama.

Also Read: UFC featherweight rankings: Topuria makes huge jump after UFC Jacksonville dominance

Ilia Topuria – Alexander Volkanovski/Yair Rodriguez winner

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Credit: USA Today Network

Ilia Topuria put on a masterclass against Josh Emmett. A laser jab, well-placed leg kicks, superior defense, and efficient movement awarded him one of the more lopsided decision wins in recent memory. There is no denying what the undefeated Spaniard has to offer the rest of the division.

The dominance Illia Topuria displayed is worthy of cutting whatever line was forming for the next chance to become a champion. Give him the winner of the unification bout between Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez. 

Sure, the winner of Max Holloway and Chan Sung Jung would make sense too, but there’s no reason to not let Topuria make good on his excellent showing on a recent title challenger. The belts will be unified on July 9. 

Maycee Barber – Alexa Grasso/Valentina Shevchenko loser

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Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Maycee Barber looked far more disciplined and ready to realize the potential many saw in her when she first signed with the UFC. In her dominant TKO win over Amanda Ribas at UFC Jacksonville, Barber showcased a greatly improved technical striking game and fight IQ to complement the physical advantages she had over the former strawweight. 

It’s time for a big leap in competition. At the risk of being too ambitious let’s see what Barber would look like against the loser of the upcoming championship rematch between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko. While other names Lauren Murphy and Katlyn Chookigan make more sense in terms of rankings, it would be nice to have fresh blood in the title mix. It would also stop the UFC from burning through a trilogy too quickly if Schevchenko reclaims the belt. 

Also Read: 10 Best MMA fighters of all time – From Fedor Emelianenko to Georges St-Pierre

Even though Grasso and Barber met at UFC 258, there’s been enough growth on both sides to produce a new product. Grasso and “The Bullet” will see one another again in September.

David Onama vs. Lerone Murphy/Joshua Culibao winner

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Credit: USA Today Network

David Onama didn’t want a brawl, but that’s exactly what Gabriel Santos gave him at UFC Jacksonville. Constant pressure and wild strikes kept Onama out of his comfort zone for the majority of the fight. But a well-placed combination in close range turned the tides in his favor resulting in a dramatic second-round knockout.

Despite the memorable win, Onama looked defensively vulnerable and was competing against someone else who has yet to establish themselves in a talent-packed featherweight division. Following up this win with a bout against the winner of Lerone Murphy and Joshua Culibao sounds appropriate. Both Murphy and Culibao have comparable records against similar opposition. They are scheduled to fight at the O2 Arena next month.

Brendan Allen vs. Jack Hermansson

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Credit: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

What Brendan Allen’s win over Bruno Silva lacked in duration, it made up for in violence. The number 13-ranked middleweight was taking a big risk against the unranked Silva. But the first round rear naked choke has preserved his status.

Instead of being the lone fighter with a number next to his name, Allen deserves a chance to numerically elevate. Allen has been vocal about his desire to fight either Dricus De Plesis or Jared Cannonier. However, the uneven matchmaking at the top of the middleweight division would likely prevent either one of those from being a viable option.

Jack Hermansson fits the criteria. The two were previously booked to headline a fight night before “The Joker” withdrew with an injury. If health permits, the UFC should rebook them.

Non-Winner Bonus – Justin Tafa vs. Austen Lane rematch

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Credit: USA Today Network

What a terrible way for a fight to end. Justin Tafa and Austen Lane was a guaranteed banger that could have warmed the hearts of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots fans worldwide, but instead, a horrible fight-ending eye poke provided the perfect platform for questionable decision-making by the officials. 

This fight was far removed from the rankings and is completely irrelevant to the title picture. The intent is to have that obligatory heavyweight slugfest on the card. If Tafa isn’t seriously injured, just pair them again. If Tafa needs an extended period on the shelf, someone like Chris Barnett can fill in.

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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