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Ilia Topuria is officially the MMA superstar of Europe. Now what?

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As promised, Ilia Topuria has now arrived as the new MMA superstar of Europe after capturing the UFC featherweight title.

Before UFC 298, it was pretty much unanimously agreed upon that Ilia Topuria would turn into a massive star overnight should he defeat Alexander Volkanovski. Especially if he were to make it look easy, as he said he would.

“El Matador” said he would finish the champion inside two rounds and did just that, securing the TKO stoppage at 3:32 in the second round to claim the throne and extend his undefeated streak to 15-0.

Since then, the brash Georgian-Spanish fighter has gained over a million new Instagram followers. He collaborated in a post by Real Madrid celebrating his win on the popular soccer club’s IG account with over 150 million followers, a post that has racked up over 2,1 million likes at the moment. He’s also getting massive coverage by mainstream media in Spain and Europe.

 

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Over the weekend, we got probably the biggest tell of what level of superstardom Topuria has already transcended into.

Suited up with his UFC championship belt over his shoulder in proud display, Topuria received a hero’s welcome as he got a big ovation from over 75 000 Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Topuria walked out onto the field, shook hands and took pictures with the players before taking a ceremonial kick-off prior to Real Madrid’s La Liga soccer game against Sevilla on Sunday.

Related: Analysis: Rematch or new blood – What’s next for new champ Ilia Topuria?

Read more: Spanish Prime Minister promises Ilia Topuria citizenship after winning UFC title

Also check out: UFC rankings: Ilia Topuria smashes into the pound-for-pound rankings!

He’s certainly a bit cocky and extremely confident, but Topuria doesn’t really seem to force it at all. He just believes in himself and apparently saw all this coming a mile away, now staying cool, calm and collected while soaking it in and enjoying his victory lap.

The Ilia Topuria era is officially here. And it’s about to get hell of a lot bigger if he can keep this championship run going.

With the UFC possibly targeting a title defense in Spain, the question now is who his next opponent should be.

Alexander Volkanovski is looking for a rematch while No. 2 ranked Max Holloway, another dominant former champ, is booked for a lightweight BMF title fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC 300. Brian Ortega just won against Yair Rodriguez, Movsar Evloev is making some noise all while Topuria himself are targeting Conor McGregor, taking shots at lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and getting called out by bantamweight king Sean O’Malley.

This is all exciting stuff, the featherweight division feels very fresh and it’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds as Topuria starts gearing up for his first title defense, potentially headlining a historic first UFC card in Spain.

Next, I’ll list my personal top five choices for Ilia Topuria’s first title challenger.

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