Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with TUF 26 Finale Fighters

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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; it is me stating that if I was in control of the UFC matchmaking how I would match these fighters next. I will give my matchups for all the fighters of the TUF 26 Finale.

 

Nicco Montano: Valentina Shevchenko

Say what you want about the 26th season of the Ultimate Fighter show, but the finale was a great fight. I am not gonna pretend that Nicco Montano is the best 125 lb woman fighter in the world. However, she did show toughness by beating the #1, #2, #3, and #6 seed to win the show. With only 6 professional fights and 28 years old, she will clearly improve her skills. However, being the champion, she won’t have the luxury to hone her skills against lower level talent. The blood is in the water and the sharks are coming. The first shark up is former bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko talked about moving down to this division. If she does, give her a crack at the title

 

Roxanne Modafferi: Winner of Jennifer Maia vs Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (They Fight at Invicta FC 26)

Roxanne Modafferi is hardly a champion level fighter, but I really wanted her to win the title. She is a pioneer of women’s MMA. Her quirky personality doesn’t scream cage fighters. She doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body. She just loves fighting. How great would it have been if she won? The new division needs true contenders. Jennifer Maia is considered by many as the top women’s flyweight in the world (she beat Modafferi in 2016). Agnieszka Niedzwiedz is an undefeated fighter out of Poland. They fight each other at Invicta FC 26. The winner of that matchup would make their case for a UFC title shot. I would match the winner against Modafferi and if the winner beats Modafferi, give her a title shot.

 

Sean O’Malley: Francisco Rivera

Sean O’Malley is the star of the 1st season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series. He has flashy strikes and a big personality. He seems like a star in the making, though the comparisons to Anderson Silva is very premature. Suga flashed some very special striking, though he did show some flaws. He struggled when being pressured, and slowed greatly in the second round due to throwing high energy strikes like spinning backfists. He is undefeated and only 23 years old. The sky is the limit, but hopefully, the UFC doesn’t rush him. Match him in a winnable fight against Francisco Rivera.

 

Terrion Ware: Reginaldo Vieira

Terrion Ware had a good showing against Sean O’Malley though he clearly lost the fight. He is fun to watch, but nothing special. Match him against Reginaldo Vieira next.

 

Lauren Murphy: Winner of Mara Romero Borella vs Katlyn Chookagian 

My name is Lauren!! Okay, maybe I was the only person that thought it was really funny. Lauren Murphy has a really nice backstory. She has a big personality, whether if you like it or not. However, she doesn’t have great talent. She is decent in all facets of MMA, but not great at anything. However, in the extremely shallow new division, you almost have to put her in a meaningful matchup. The winner of Mara Romero Borella and Katlyn Chookagian would be 1 or 2 wins from a title shot. Have Lauren Murphy fight the winner.

 

Barb Honchak: DeAnna Bennett

It’s bad luck for Barb Honchak that the UFC didn’t start a women’s flyweight division in 2014 because she would have likely have been the champion. Honchak was a good technical fighter, but never a super athlete. At age 38, he athletic skills have diminished even more. She can still beat a lot of good fighters due to her intelligence but she will never be a real threat for a title. I think she should fight DeAnna Bennett next, who is a much better fighter than she showed on Friday night against Melinda Fabian. Maybe it was UFC jitters or just a stylist matchup that made her look so bad.

 

Gerald Meerschaerdt: Jack Marshman

What a body kick by Gerald Meerschaerdt. I expect the UFC to re-sign him to a contract. That said, he is a midlevel talent that should be fighting more midlevel talent. Match him against Jack Marshman.

 

Eric Spicely: Cut From the UFC

Eric Spicely is from my hometown, so it hurts me to say the UFC should cut him. Plain and Simple, he doesn’t look like a UFC level fighter to me. His standup game is terrible. He wrestling is mediocre at best. He does have some good grappling, but he isn’t world class. Maybe he focuses on just grappling and does some international tournaments or maybe some combat grappling. Spicely also comes off as somebody that would be a good BJJ coach for fellow fighters.

 

DeAnna Bennett: Barb Honchak

See Above

 

Melinda Fabian: Mackenzie Dern / Kaline Medeiros (They Fight at Invicta FC 26)

I expected to write “cut from the UFC” next to Melinda Fabian’s name in this article before her fight with DeAnna Bennett. Fabian was one of the biggest underdogs on the card and got herself a draw against DeAnna Bennett. If it wasn’t for a fence grab, she would have won a split decision. Fabian was winning the battle on the feet and showed very good and improved takedown defense. I think she should take on the winner of Mackenzie Dern vs Kaline Medeiros. Dern is young in the sport, but many project her to be the next big name in women’s MMA. She has the look and is a BJJ world champion, She said in a recent interview that she hopes to move to the UFC after winning her next fight. Fabian is the exact level of fighter that Dern should debut against, Kaline Medeiros is a journeywoman. I doubt she pulls off the upset against Fabian, but if she does, let her get on a Fight Pass prelim with Fabian.

 

Brett Johns: Winner of Luke Sanders vs Andre Soukhamthath

Brett Johns came into the UFC with tons of fanfare. Many thought he could be the next title challenger coming out of UK. The Welsh fighter has lived up to the hype. After dominating Kwan Ho Kwak and Albert Morales, he was matched up against former title challenger Joe Soto. So thought he would fail the biggest test of his career, instead, he submits him in 30 seconds with a calf slicer! Johns is undefeated, has 3 UFC wins, and is only 25 years old. Due to his age, I wouldn’t give him a ranked fighter next. I would let him fight another young test. Match him with the winner of Luke Sanders and Andre Soukhamthath. I expect Sanders to win that fight. Sanders was projected to be the next big thing at bantamweight. Johns vs Sanders sounds good to me.

 

Joe Soto: Russell Doane

The former title challenger Joe Soto can’t get anything going for him. Since losing his title fight against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 177, he has gone 3-3. He did have a three-fight winning streak going be fighting the undefeated Brett Johns but got embarrassed by being submitted by a calf slicer. This 30 second lost pushes Soto way down the title pecking order. The UFC will always be indebted to Soto for fighting Dillashaw on one day’s notice. To make up for it, feed him a can. Russell Doane is the perfect can.

Prelims:

  • Montana De La Rosa: Winner of Milana Dudieva vs Vanessa Porto  (They fight at Invicta FC 26)
  • Christina Marks: Cuts From the UFC
  • Ryan Janes: Brad Scott
  • Andrew Sanchez: Karl Roberson
  • Rachael Ostovich: Andrea Lee
  • Karine Gevorgyan: Cut From the UFC
  • Shana Dobson: Loser of Jennifer Maia vs Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (They Fight at Invicta FC 26)
  • Ariel Beck: Cut From the UFC
  • Gillian Robertson: Sabino Mazo (Bring In From LFA)
  • Emily Whitmire: Cut From the UFC

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