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Rematch? - Nine unanswered questions from UFC 281

Alex Pereira defeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 281
Alex Pereira defeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 281 | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Does Israel Adesanya deserve a rematch and eight more questions from UFC 281


I’m not one of those people who think every champion deserves an immediate rematch after losing their title, but Israel Adesanya deserves a rematch.

Adesanya, who had five successful title defenses to his name before his knockout loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281, was ahead on the scorecards heading into the fifth and final round, plus the setback was his first defeat at middleweight. Further, a rematch between Pereira and Adesanya markets itself and makes the most money for the UFC as the next middleweight title fight.

Who is next for Zhang Weili?

Zhang Weili regained the UFC strawweight title with a submission win over Carla Esparza. The question now becomes what’s next for the champ. The easy thing for the UFC to do would be to book Zhang against Rose Namajunas for the third time, but Namajunas has not fought since she lost an uneventful (read: boring) split decision setback to Carla Esparza in May. So, instead of doing the easy thing, the matchmakers should consider matching Amanda Lemos against Zhang. That puts a new name in the mix outside the trio of Zhang, Namajunas and Esparza and forces Namajunas to get a win before she is back in the conversation.

Is Michael Chandler going to get the Conor McGregor fight?

If Michael Chandler doesn’t get to face Conor McGregor, it won’t be through lack of effort. The former UFC title challenger has been asking for a matchup with the former two-division UFC champ for some time. A submission loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 281 didn’t stop him from once again looking for that fight, even though McGregor is not in the USADA testing pool and will need to go through six months of drug tests when he does put his name back on the USADA list.

Did Renato Moicano cut one the best post-fight promos in UFC history?


Is anyone buying what Ryan Spann was selling?

After his knockout win over former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes, Ryan Spann told UFC commentator Joe Rogan the difference between his past two fights and his previous 26 professional fights — seven of which were with the UFC — was that he trained for those two bouts.

Rogan seemed to take Spann at his word, but are we supposed to believe a man who has been a professional mixed martial artist for more than nine years hadn’t trained for a fight until this year?

Spann doubled down on his claim backstage when speaking to Laura Sanko.

Is Erin Blanchfield a future star?

The only reason the above is posed as a question is because that’s the piece’s premise. Erin Blanchfield is a future star. The fact that she was booked against Molly McCann was an example of terrible matchmaking. Not to denigrate McCann, who had the makings of a star in the UK market, but she is nowhere near the level of fighter that the 23-year-old Blanchfield is.

Blanchfield has all the makings of a future UFC flyweight champion — and again — she is just 23. If the UFC is wise — and the booking of this fight makes me question the wisdom of the promotion’s matchmakers — they would slowly move Blanchfield up the ranks of the 125-pound division. There’s no reason to rush her; doing so will only hurt her development and future upside.

Nevertheless, the UFC has never been in the business of building stars or looking too far forward, so it would be a surprise if the promotion takes its time with Blanchfield and that leads me to the next question.

Why did the UFC matchmakers book Molly McCann against Erin Blanchfield?

The fact that Molly McCann, who hails from Liverpool, England, got a more significant pop from the Madison Square Garden crowd than the New Jersey-born Erin Blanchfield should have told everyone that the promotion had a potential star in McCann. Instead of capitalizing on that potential and building McCann into a draw, the UFC matchmakers put her in a fight where she closed as the largest underdog on the card.

Blanchfield vs. McCann was an example of poor matchmaking. Unless, of course, the UFC booked the fight with the idea of knocking McCann down a few notches.

What happened with those scorecards?

I don’t recall a time when a member of the athletic commission came into the octagon, grabbed the scorecard and seemed to make changes to it before UFC announcer Bruce Buffer could read the results, but that happened at UFC 281. Bloody Elbow reached out to the New York State Athletic Commission regarding that incident, which took place after the Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez fight, but we have not heard back from the commission.

Is it too soon to start believing in Carlos Ulberg?

Carlos Ulberg moved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the UFC with a first-round knockout win over Nicolae Negumereanu at UFC 281. With his victory, the 31-year-old, who trains out of City Kickboxing, picked up back-to-back knockout wins in the UFC.

What I like about how the UFC is handling Ulberg is they are bringing him along slowly and giving him favorable matchups. The former kickboxer is a fantastic offensive striker, but the questions he needs to answer are in the realm of striking defense, takedown defense, cardio and ground work. Which is to say, yes, until he starts facing opponents who put him to the test, it is too soon to get jazzed about Ulberg as a potential contender in the light heavyweight division.

With that being said, fans shouldn’t miss his fights because he fights smart, hits hard and can turn the lights out with one strike.


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