November 2, 2018

UFC 230: Middleweight Mania Looms At MSG On Saturday Night

By Adam Martin

One of the sport's deepest divisions will have the spotlight on it this weekend at UFC 230, when four middleweight bouts feature on the night's main card. Outside of the main event heavyweight title fight between champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Derrick Lewis, every other fight on the pay-per-view portion of the event is an important fight at 185 lbs. With UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker slated to take on Kelvin Gastelum in early 2019, this card is going to help determine the next title contender for the belt. Suffice it to say that it's "middleweight mania" this weekend.

The most prominent of the four middleweight bouts on the main card is the co-main event, which sees former champion Chris Weidman take on Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in a battle between two of the best fighters in the world at 185 lbs. This bout was originally supposed to be a rematch between Weidman and Luke Rockhold, but the card had a late switch-up and now Sozua steps up in what is arguably a more important fight. Weidman is coming off of a submission win over Gastelum, and was only passed over for the title shot because the UFC doesn't trust him to stay healthy. If he can beat Souza in impressive fashion, he will likely be next in line for a shot at the winner of Whittaker vs. Gastelum. Of course, Jacare doesn't want that to happen. The veteran BJJ wizard is coming off of a close split decision defeat to Gastelum, and if he can beat Weidman he would be right back in the driver's seat for a rematch against either Gastelum or Whittaker.


The Weidman vs. Souza fight is likely going to determine the next middleweight title contender, but don't sleep on the importance of the PPV card's opening bout. Undefeated prospect Israel Adesanya will be taking on Derek Brunson in a bout that could have title implications. Adesanya is 14-0 in MMA, including 3-0 in the UFC, and he just dominated durable veteran Brad Tavares for five rounds in his last fight. The UFC loves this guy, and it's giving him the opportunity of a lifetime with a fight on the big stage in New York City on a huge PPV card. If Adesanya can go out there and knock Brunson out, he might be able to jump ahead of the Weidman vs. Souza winner for a title shot. Brunson is a great test for Adesanya at this point of his career, and it certainly won't be an easy fight, but this looks like a matchup the UFC booked to get its new star a big win, and you know UFC President Dana White and co. would love to push him up the ladder as quickly as possible.

Also on the main card are two additional intriguing middleweight bouts: David Branch vs. Jared Cannonier and Jack Marshman vs. Karl Roberson. Branch is of course the most notable name among these four fighters, but the fact that the UFC put them all on the main card is not a coincidence. The promotion clearly wants to feature the middleweight division highly on this card, and it is making sure there are enough 185-pound fighters to account for injuries or bad weight cuts. The middleweight division has been in a bit of a holding pattern with Whittaker and Gastelum coaching TUF and the champ still needing time to heal up, but the UFC clearly wants the weight class to be set up for the near future.

At UFC 230, eight middleweights will be in action, and when the event is over, we should have a much better idea of what the division looks like. It's nice to see the UFC taking precautions and booking as many middleweights as it can for this card, as we all know it hasn't in the past. But clearly, the UFC sees this weekend's card as a great opportunity to shine a big spotlight on one of the best divisions in the game. After a tough year for the middleweight division with Whittaker being injured, the state of 185 lbs is going to look a lot different come Sunday morning. And that's a good thing.







UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis takes place November 3, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.


Click HERE for more UFC 230 Pre-Fight Analysis



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