Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with UFC Norfolk Fighters

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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; 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 UFC 217.

 

Dustin Poirier: Winner of Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

I was never a believer in Dustin Poirier, but he keeps finding ways to win. He sticks to a game plan to beat his opponents.  He pressured Pettis and exposed Pettis terrible takedown defense against him. The quarts of blood on the two fighters helped him excuse Pettis near submissions.

Poirier seems more comfortable at lightweight than he ever did at featherweight. Keep moving him up the ranks until somebody knocks him off.

With Conor McGregor not defending his title, there is a backlog of challengers. Many fighters are gonna have to knock each other off before getting a shot at the title. Poirier asked for the winner of Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. That sounds logical to me. Poirier has unfinished business with Alvarez. The two fought to a No-Contest earlier this year when Alvarez kneed Poirier while he was down. Prior to that, Poirier was having big success against the former champion. If Gaethje wins, that’s great too. Gaethje can’t be in a boring fight.

 

Anthony Pettis: Al Iaquinta

Anthony Pettis is not the same fighter that was beating Benson Henderson for the title. Since being destroyed by Rafael dos Anjos, Pettis has been on a skid. The former champion has lost 5 out of his last 7 fights. Sure, you can make the excuse that a freak rib injury ended the fight, but he was clearly on his way to losing the fight. So claim injuries have ruined Showtime. Some claim he is a victim of the post-USADA era. I won’t speculate, I just don’t see the same guy that was jumping off the side of the cage kicking guys in the head.

Each loss that happens ruins Pettis star power. Cash in on his name while there is something left of it. Put him against “Angry” Al Iaquinta.

 

Matt Brown: Bryan Barberena

I really hope Matt Brown decides to retire. Not many fighters get to hang it up off a brutal knockout over a legend. It is the perfect send-off.

I didn’t spend much time thinking about who he should fight if he decides to keep fighting. Just give him Bryan Barberena.

 

Diego Sanchez: Ben Saunders

Please retire Diego Sanchez! Sanchez will go down in the history books. He was the first Ultimate Fighter winner. He has been in some of the most legendary fights of All-Time. Sanchez also has a once in a lifetime personality. I will always remember those things.

However, his skills aren’t there anymore, and his chin has failed him recently. Sure, Brown landed an extremely hard elbow to the back of the head. But would it have mattered? He was gonna get knocked out eventually anyway.

I doubt Sanchez retires or gets cut by the UFC. I really wish he would just do grappling tournaments, but he won’t. Just give him Ben Saunders next. Why? I have no reason. The first name I thought of.

 

Andrei Arlovski: Curtis Blaydes

I think an Arlovski win says more about Junior Albini than Arlovski. Arlovski is not gonna suddenly return to his heavyweight champion form. He has the worst chin in the entire UFC. Match him against Curtis Blaydes, so Blaydes can get a nice clip in his highlight reel.

 

Junior Albini: Anthony Hamilton vs Adam Wieczorek

What a terrible performance by Junior Albini. This was a guy that broke out with a knockout win over Timothy Johnson. The UFC gave him a big name to help build him up, and he fell flat on his face. He was flat footed and looked very sluggish. He kept looking for one big shot to flatten out Arlovski.

Oh to make matter worst, he was wearing shorts that looked like a diaper. He wasn’t ready for a veteran like Arlovski. I am not giving up on him unless he wears those diapers again. Put him against a low level heavyweight. I would match him up with the winner of Anthony Hamilton vs Adam Wieczorek.

 

Cezar Ferreira: Oskar Piechota

I don’t believe in Cezar Ferreira at all. The former Ultimate Fighter winner is a one-dimensional fighter. He is a slick grappler, but that isn’t enough in today’s game. He is way too hittable. The Brazilian lacks power and had a chin that could fail him in any fight. He also isn’t a powerful wrestler.I don’t see anything special.

Oskar Piechota is a solid prospect that has many people excited about his future. Maybe fighting Ferreira is too big of a jump in competition, but based on how I feel about Ferreira, I don’t think it is. Match them up and see if I am right.

 

Nate Marquardt: Brendan Allen (From LFA)

Nate Marquardt has been a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter for 18 years. He has been in 56 fights. He was a King of Pancrase and a StrikeForce champion. Marquardt once challenged for the UFC middleweight title. He has accomplished so much in the sport. I said all that to say it is time to walk off into the sunset. “The Great” has lost 9 out of his last 12 fights.

Does anybody want to see Marquardt losing to midlevel talent like Ferreira? If he decides to keep fighting, use his name one last time to build up a young talent. Let him welcome Brandan Allen to UFC (I have been calling for it for a while).

 

Raphael Assuncao: John Lineker

Assuncao had a gameplan to beat Matthew Lopez and he executed it perfectly. He is now 10-1 in the UFC’s bantamweight division, with his only loss coming to current champion, TJ Dillashaw. I credit Assuncao for taking the opportunity and calling for a trilogy fight with Dillashaw. He isn’t gonna get the title shot, but he should get a bigger name than Matthew Lopez. I would match him up with John Lineker. I think that would be a fantastic stylistic matchup. Lineker working the body and head with power hooks, while Assuncao uses his calculated counter punching.

 

Matthew Lopez: Brian Kelleher

Facing Raphael Assuncao was a huge jump up in competition for Lopez, and he wasn’t ready for it. The wrestler that like to throw hard punches, stands heavy on his feet. Assuncao destroyed his legs and eventually put him out. At 30 years old, there is still room for growth. Plus with his wrestling pedigree, he has tons of potential. Brian Kelleher has been calling for a top 15 opponent. Lopez was 13th in the UFC rankings before this fight. Give Kelleher his shot at Lopez.

 

Clay Guida: Joe Duffy

Is Clay Guida having a career resurgence at 35 years old? Since the rugged wrestler moved to Team Alpha Male and back up to the lightweight division, he has back to back impressive wins. Has he found the fountain of youth? I doubt it, but might as well put him in a marquee matchup. Joe Duffy is coming off a disappointing performance against the drastically underrated James Vick. What a fun matchup would be the foot movement and power takedowns of Guida vs the technical boxing game of Duffy. Two fan favorites squaring off is always a good idea to me.

 

Joe Lauzon: The winner of Drakkar Klose and David Teymur

Okay, this will be the last time I say that I will say that a fighter should retire in this article. Lauzon has officially lost 4 out of his last 6 fights. Should be 5 out of 6 with his “bs” win over Marcin Held. The New England fighter always lacked head movement on the feet and a poor gas tank. He was never a power wrestler and his chin is starting to fail due to some legendary fights he has had inside the octagon. He should consider hanging it up. However, I doubt he does, and I don’t think the UFC will cut him. So you might as well use his somewhat big name to build up younger fighter. I would match him with the winner of Drakkar Klose and David Teymur. Both guys are really talented and the winner could use a boost by beating a veteran like Joe Lauzon.

 

Prelims

  • Marlon Moraes: Jimmie Rivera
  • John Dodson: Pedro Munhoz
  • Tatiana Suarez: Syuri Kondo
  • Viviane Pereira: Angela Hill
  • Sage Northcutt: Winner of Damien Brown vs  Frank Camacho
  • Michel Quinones: Cut From the UFC
  • Nina Ansaroff: Maryna Moroz
  • Angela Hill: Viviane Pereira
  • Sean Strickland: Winner of Danny Roberts vs Sheldon Westcott
  • Court McGee: Jessin Ayari
  • Jake Collier: Sean O’Connell
  • Marcel Fortuna: Mike Rodriguez
  • Karl Robinson: Magnus Cedenblad
  • Darren Stewart: Cut From the UFC

 

Follow me at @ShilltheThrill1

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