Josh Emmett (15-2) dummies another featherweight talent, drubbing Mirsad Bektić late in round one! The Team Alpha Male rep cements top-ten status in Sacramento stomping grounds. #UFCSacramento pic.twitter.com/GfnqzsHTW1— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) July 14, 2019
Editor’s Note: The Blueprint series looks at a fighter “in the mix” and finds his or her potential path to a title shot.
Josh Emmett finds himself in striking distance of a title shot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight division. However, the weight class he calls home is stacked. The path is always there for virtually any fighter, but there are obstacles to navigate. This is The Blueprint for Emmett.
Let us start with the bad news:
• Basically, the entire Top 10 -- with the exception of Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega -- at 145 pounds is coming off of a win. However, Aldo and Ortega lost in title fights.
• Alexander Volkanovski has not lost since 2013, and he beat Aldo.
• Yair Rodriguez and Chan Sung Jung have more of a push behind them due to their epic fight with one another and Jung’s recent technical knockout of Renato Carneiro.
• Frankie Edgar has the next shot at the title.
• UFC Fight Night 159 in Mexico City poses some problems.
Consider the path the last four contenders took to their title shot, excluding Conor McGregor and Max Holloway. Not everyone can follow McGregor’s lead, and Holloway defeated everyone he faced, outside of McGregor, in the two years that preceded his interim title fight with Anthony Pettis.
• Ortega: def. Carneiro (submission), def. Cub Swanson (submission), def. Edgar (knockout)
• Chad Mendes: def. Darren Elkins (TKO), def. Clay Guida (TKO), def. Nik Lentz (unanimous decision)
• Ricardo Lamas: def. Swanson (submission), def. Hatsu Hioki (unanimous decision), def. Erik Koch (TKO)
• Chan Sung Jung: def. Leonard Garcia (submission), def. Mark Hominick (KO), def. Dustin Poirier (submission)
All of the fighters listed have fought Swanson at some point. While this is valuable information to take into consideration, this featherweight division has been somewhat random in how it handed out title shots because of its thin nature at its inception. Holloway appears to be in position to provide some consistency, though his chasing championships in other weight classes could change the situation.
Now for the good news:
• Stephens who he lost two straight fights and will face Rodriguez in September.
• Ortega and Jung are rumored to be booked opposite one another at the same event.
• Volkanovski seems to be in a holding pattern while awaiting the Holloway-Edgar winner.
PLAN A: Emmett has to be aware of who has a chair when the music stops. Rodriguez-Stephens was announced for the Mexico City card, and Emmett has to make sure he takes advantage of all available information. He has called out Aldo -- a fight that does not make sense just yet. The best path for Emmett would be to position himself for a shot at Rodriguez, should he defeat Stephens. Rodriguez ranks higher in the 145-pound pecking order and has the sensational win over Jung on his resume. Here is how the dominoes could fall for Emmett in that scenario. If he beats Rodriguez and Ortega beats Jung, it would be easy to connect the dots from Emmett to Ortega. A win over Ortega would position him for a title fight after just two more wins.
PLAN B: The writing appears to be on the wall for an Aldo-Zabit Magomedsharipov fight. Emmett tried to get out in front by calling out Aldo. However, that would not be a good fight for him, not yet at least. A showdown with Magomedsharipov would make more sense, as Emmett could use one more fight before he faces championship contenders. Magomedsharipov is the division’s boogeyman at the moment, and taking him out would give Emmett the credibility and experience he needs to make a run at Aldo.
Emmett’s decision to call out Aldo was understandable. However, there are two approaches to getting a championship fight. It can either be obtained in the fastest way possible, or it can be obtained in the way mostly like to result in a win. Fighting either Rodriguez or Magomedsharipov puts Emmett on the road to the belt and gives him the experience he will need when he gets there.