The UFC middleweight division is one of the promotion's most stacked lineups. It always has been. Some of the sport’s greatest legends competed in the 185-lb weight class. Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort are some of the legendary fighters the division has given us. The current crop of middleweights is keeping this division's reputation intact.
Sitting at the top of the food chain is Israel Adesanya. Despite suffering his first MMA loss last month against Jan Blachowicz, the 31-year-old has looked unstoppable at middleweight. Since dominating Robert Whittaker to capture the title, “The Last Stylebender” has defended the title against Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.
The talent below him in the middleweight top-10 is immeasurable and the rising prospects are among the UFC’s best.
The rest of the year is sure to have some more classic matchups in the division. With that said, here are five confirmed or rumored upcoming fights in the UFC middleweight division to watch out for.
#5 Sean Strickland vs. Krzysztof Jotko - UFC on ESPN 23
In a compliment to the depth of the UFC's roster, we tend to see so many exciting names on each card that intriguing matchups become sleeper fights. Sean Strickland vs. Krzysztof Jotko is a prime example.
Both men boast impressive records. Their combined record stands at 44-7. Strickland has only lost to the best. At welterweight, “Tarzan” lost to Santiago Ponzinibbio and the current champion Kamaru Usman. Aside from that, a spinning wheel kick knockout against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is the only other blemish on his impressive record.
After a two-year layoff following a motorcycle accident, Strickland returned to middleweight in 2020, defeating Jack Marshman and the highly-touted Brendan Allen.
Krzysztof Jotko is criminally underrated. Going into 2017, the Pole was 19-1 and on a five-fight winning streak. Defeats to David Branch, Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares stalled Jotko's rise. The 31-year-old has bounced back since then with three wins across 2019 and 2020.
#4 Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hall - UFC 261
It will be a clash of two titans in the middleweight division when Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall fight for the second time at UFC 261. They first fought nearly 11 years ago at Ring of Combat 31, where Weidman beat Hall by TKO.
Originally scheduled for UFC 258, the postponed bout finds its way to a stacked UFC 261 card. This middleweight clash will serve as an exciting prelude to three title fights.
Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman will look to keep his winning momentum going after beating Omari Akhmedov last August. It was his first win since 2017.
After dethroning the legendary Anderson Silva, “The All-American” looked unstoppable. However, a KO loss to Luke Rockhold had an avalanche-like effect on Weidman’s record. The 36-year-old went on to lose four of his next five fights.
Despite going on to finish Anderson Silva in his last fight, Dana White was critical of Hall, describing him as the most “gun-shy” fighter in the promotion. The 36-year-old will look to prove the UFC president wrong on April 24th.
#3 Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan - UFC 262
This is an intriguing matchup.
Edmen Shahbazyan is about as promising a prospect as the UFC has ever had. Shahbazyan headlined the UFC Vegas 5 card last August. It was a serious step-up in competition and the 23-year-old was finished by Derek Brunson. Shahbazyan was deemed a future star before the loss and remained one after it. The part-Armenian fighter is already among the top strikers in the middleweight division.
“The Golden Boy” has the chance to re-enter the winning column at UFC 262 when he faces former-top five middleweight Jack “The Joker” Hermansson.
Jack Hermansson is the sort of opponent fans expected Shahbazyan to face if he beat Brunson. Facing him on a PPV after a convincing defeat shows how highly regarded the American is. Similarly, Hermansson will be looking to bounce back after a loss to Marvin Vettori pushed him a few steps away from title contention.
Alongside Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush, Edmen Shahbazyan and Jack Hermansson will face off at UFC 262.
#2 Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum - UFC on ESPN 22
Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum will make a second attempt at facing each other inside the Octagon. The two were set to main event UFC 234 in February 2019 but Whittaker was forced to withdraw on the day of the fight due to a hernia. On April 17th this year, the pair will finally meet.
Although the original headliner between Whittaker and Paulo Costa was an exciting matchup, this is a worthy replacement.
Since losing the middleweight belt, “The Reaper” has bounced back in the division. Consecutive wins against Darren Till and Jared Cannonier showed why the Australian has been at the top of the division for so long. The 30-year-old will be looking for the win to move a step closer to a rematch with Israel Adesanya.
Meanwhile, Gastelum broke a three-fight losing streak against Ian Heinisch at UFC 258. Defeats to Israel Adesanya, Darren Till and Jack Hermansson had left the 29-year-old sliding down the rankings. Stepping in on short notice, the American will be looking for an upset victory, which will send him back into the top five of the division.
#1 Darren Till vs. Marvin Vettori - UFC on ABC 2
This has all the makings of a classic. England’s Darren Till will take on the highly touted Italian Marvin Vettori in an all-European main event at UFC on ABC 2. This is one of the most exciting fights coming up, period.
Darren Till will be making the walk to the Octagon as a middleweight for the third time when the two meet. “The Gorilla” debuted in the division at UFC 244, picking up a decision win over Gastelum. However, Till dropped a unanimous decision to the division’s former champion Whittaker on Fight Island last year.
Till's opponent Marvin Vettori is riding high after four consecutive wins. Across the last two years, Vettori has defeated Cezar Ferreira, Andrew Sanchez, Karl Roberson and Jack Hermansson. His last win pushed the “The Italian Dream” into the top five of the division.
Till vs. Vettori is the next main event on the UFC’s schedule, which is set to take place on April 10th.