By Keith Shillan
So we have all done it after a certain fight. We have all made suggestions on who a certain fighter should fight next after a match. This article isn’t me looking into a crystal ball and predicting who the UFC will matchup up next, but it is me stating that if I was in control of the UFC matchmaking, I would match these fighters next. I will give my matchups for all the fighters of UFC Auckland
I normally do a full analysis of the main card fights, but because of the size of the article, I picked the five best matchups from the weekend.
Robert Whittaker: Michael Bisping
My colleague Zak Katine wrote a recap of UFC 213 on Saturday Night and his headline was “A Star is Born”. I think Zak hit the head on the nail with that statement. Robert Whittaker looked sensational on Saturday Night. He displayed insane heart by battling through an injury to beat such a scary opponent like Yoel Romero. Add in he has a strong backing from Australia / New Zealand and the fact that at such a young age, he could be getting better.
Obviously being the Interim champion, Whittaker needs to fight Michael Bisping for the actual title (hopefully the knee injury isn’t too serious). I feel like the matchup is a promotor’s dream. Bisping plays the role of villain perfectly, while the soft spoken humble Whittaker is truly the good guy.
I can’t wait for this matchup to happen.
Yoel Romero: Luke Rockhold
It was a close fight between Romero and Whittaker but that said, I don’t think Romero looked that good. He has the bad habit of compartmentalizing his skills. He decides to wrestle or strike. He doesn’t mold the two together. He has got to find a way to mix both together. He also slowed down very fast. As much hate as Tyron Woodley gets, he has found a way to control his explosiveness to control his energy to win a fight. Romero must do the same.
I still believe Romero has the pure athleticism and strength to be a champion but at 40 years old, his time is running out. He really can’t afford to take a step back. Let’s put him in a #1 contenders match with former champion Luke Rockhold. Rockhold is also a very athletic fighter. Let’s see these two fight to get a chance to fight the winner of Michael Bisping vs Robert Whittaker.
Alistair Overeem: Winner of Stefan Struve vs Alexander Volkov
I know many people will state that Overeem should get the next crack at Stipe Miocic and the title. I think he should have to win another fight. I don’t think he should get a rematch after winning one fight, especially if the win was somewhat controversial. Now the heavyweight division is in shambles. Cain Velasquez is always hurt. Besides possibly Francis N’Gannou, who will need to beat Junior dos Santos, there really isn’t anybody next in line. Let Overeem take on the winner of the two giants between Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov in a number 1 contenders match after N’Gannou gets a shot (if he beats dos Sants like I expect).
*A healthy Cain Velasquez could get a title shot too but we can’t count on a healthy Velasquez.
Fabricio Werdum: Loser of Francis N’Gannou vs Junior dos Santos
Just for the record, I scored the fight a draw. I gave Overeem the first two rounds but I gave Werdum a 10-8 third round. That said, I don’t understand why Werdum went for a takedown when he had Overeem hurt badly and possibly could have knocked him out. The UFC is in a tough situation. There really isn’t many heavyweights for Werdum to face. I expect dos Santos to lose to N’Gannou. Let Werdum get a chance to avenge a previous loss.
Anthony Pettis: Kevin Lee
Let’s hold off the “Anthony Pettis is back” comments. He looked very good and much better at his return to lightweight. As much as the UFC needs a star like Pettis, I am not sold yet. He still has to show to me that he can handle a pressure wrestler. Insert Kevin Lee. Lee is the pressure wrestler that is on a great run. Both him and Pettis have a flashy personality. These two guys think they are great. Let’s see who actually is. The winner of this fight would be directly in the middle of a title shot.
Jim Miller: Leonardo Santos
I like Miller. He has gotten a lot out of him limited athleticism. He usually does this by grinding out his opponent. Miller faced an opponent that has been beaten by a heavy grappling style and for some odd reason, Miller wanted to fight on the outside and trade leg kicks. Miller would have been much smarter to try and fight Pettis like Clay Guida and Eddie Alvarez did.
Miller will never be a title contender. He is more of a measuring stick now. If you beat Miller, you are someone to watch. I think Leonardo Santos is a smart matchup. He is 5-0-1 in the UFC with a win over Kevin Lee. He also hasn’t lost a fight in 8 years. He is 37 so his time is limited. Let’s push him and see what we got.
Justin Gaethje: Edson Barboza
Who is this man’s equal? That is the question that he wants to know. Gaethje entered the Octagon on Friday Night and based on his reckless, “balls to the wall” style, he gained a massive following. There are some that are calling for an immediate title shot or #1 contender’s fight versus Tony Ferguson. I am not against that, but I would rather him fight Edson Barboza. Gaethje originally asked to fight Barboza on the TUF 25 finale, but Barboza couldn’t because of a shoulder injury. Barboza stated that he is near ready to return. How can you not love this matchup? Gaethje is a coming forward, tough as nails fighter that wants a brawl. Barboza is a technical wizard with unmatched speed and precision. What would fail first, Gaethje’s lack of defense or Barboza’s questionable chin? Man, I want to see this!
Michael Johnson: Michael Chiesa
Johnson fell into the Gaethje hypnotism trap. Johnson was the faster, more technical fighter, with more tools in the trade. He probably could have cruised to a victory if he stayed on the outside, and played matador to the charging Gaethje. But Gaethje sucked him into a firefight, and Johnson paid the price. Let’s match him against Chiesa. Both guys are top 10 ranked fighters coming off a loss. One of them could put the train back on the tracks and the other could have the train fall off the cliff.
Drakkar Klose: Alan Patrick
Klose put on such a great performance on Friday. He showed that perhaps he was the undefeated prospect that everyone should be talking about and not his opponent Marc Diakiese. Klose is a good wrestler with a nice clinch game. He also displayed a very hard kicking game and good cardio. He also showed that he is ready to handle the pressure of a big matchup. Some will criticize him for his post-fight antics, but he made sure you didn’t forget him. Many people became stars by playing the villain. I think he should face Alan Patrick next. Patrick is 14-1 and 4-1 in the UFC. He is the perfect test for a young fighter.
Marc Diakiese: Clay Guida
Don’t jump off the hype train next. All young fighters lose an early one. Matt Hughes lost to Dennis Hallman twice! BJ Penn lost to Jens Pulver. Diakiese still has the talent to be a future champion. Let’s put him against Clay Guida, a decent name on the decline and show that not “all English fighters are bums”.
Rest of the Cards:
- Curtis Blaydes: Marcin Tybura
- Daniel Omielanczuk: Walt Harris
- Rob Font: Bryan Caraway
- Douglas Silva de Andrade: Frankie Saenz
- Alexey Oleinik: Derrick Lewis
- Travis Browne: Cut From the UFC
- Chad Laprise: Alex Morono
- Brian Camozzi: Cut From the UFC
- Thiago Santos: Anthony Smith
- Gerald Meerschaerdt: Andrew Sanchez
- Belal Muhammad: Zak Cummings
- Jordan Mein: Cut From the UFC
- Cody Stamann: Enrique Barzola
- Terrion Ware: Kevin Aguilar (Bring In From LFA)
- Trevin Giles: Brad Scott
- James Bochnovic: CB Dolloway
- Jesse Taylor: Max Griffin
- Dhiego Lima: Jessin Ayari
- Jared Cannonier: Gokhan Saki
- Nick Roehrick: Darren Stewart
- Brad Tavares: Paulo Borrachinha
- Elias Theodorou: Eryk Anders (Bring In From LFA)
- Jordan Johnson: Ion Cutelaba
- Marcel Fortuna: Jeremy Kimball
- Angela Hill: Danielle Taylor
- Ashley Yodor: Jessica Penna
- James Krause: Scott Holtzman
- Tom Gallicchio: Cut From the UFC
- CB Dolloway: James Bochnovic
- Ed Herman: Cut From the UFC
- Tecia Torres: Michelle Waterson
- Julianna Lima: Maryna Moroz
- Gray Maynard: Charles Rosa
- Teruto Ishihara: Michel Quinones