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 Pittsburgh.
Luke Rockhold: Yoel Romero
Love him or hate him, Luke Rockhold is one of the most talented middleweights in the world. That said, I believe he showed a major flaw in his game. If you pressure him, he lacks the head movement to avoid the boxing exchanges. Michael Bisping put him out with a left hook. David Branch landed a big flurry on him but didn’t have the pop to put him out. However, as Chris Weidman and David Branch can confirm, if Rockhold can get on top of you, you ain’t getting out.
With Georges St. Pierre fighting Michel Bisping, and Robert Whittaker the next in line, Rockhold is going to need to win another fight before getting a title shot. The UFC attempted to put Rockhold against the former Olympic wrestler, Yoel Romero together in the past but things fell through. Now is the perfect time to match them up.
David Branch: Loser of Anderson Silva vs Kelvin Gastelum
The former WSOF two weight champion had a great first round but was unable to put away Luke Rockhold. As a soon to be 36-year-old fighter, it is likely that Branch will never be a true title contender. But the grappler does have some good talent and a tough out for anybody. I wouldn’t use him as a gatekeeper to your challengers. That could backfire. Let him fight against a big name fighter that isn’t in title contention. I think the loser of the matchup with Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum makes sense. Silva is past his prime but a big name and a loss for Gastelum would be two in a row.
Mike Perry: Carlos Condit
Mike Perry is violent and has a cult following, but let’s put things in perspective first. He beat a lightweight that was moving up to welterweight. This undersized fighter was making his UFC debut on two days notice and had one fight in the last two years. This isn’t Perry’s fault of course. He did exactly what he should have done in a lopsided mismatch. But let’s not pretend he beat Jon Jones juiced up on turinabol.
Perry is 4-1 in the UFC with 4 TKO/KOs. He wants a top 10 opponent and a violent fight. Let’s match him up with Carlos Condit. Condit lows somebody that would slug with him. Who is more violent than Carlos Condit? Let’s see if Perry is as ready as his supporters say he is.
Alex Reyes: Darrell Horcher
Alex Reyes was brought in to be a sacrificial lamb to Mike Perry. Now he can get a shot in his actual weight class. I have never seen him before Saturday. However, he was a KOTC champion and had a 13 fight winning streak. I would match him up with Darrell Horcher next. Horcher was once a sacrificial lamb to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Let the lambs battle.
Anthony Smith: Eryk Anders
I have never believed that Anthony Smith would be on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC, but here we are. The career journeyman is on a renaissance. He isn’t a great athlete, but he is some good technique and is extremely tough. I would put him up against Eryk Anders, who is much different than Smith. He doesn’t have the technique but overcomes with his athleticism. I think it would be a great fight for both of them.
Hector Lombard: Retire From MMA
Lombard is 39 years old. He is undersized for the division. He has been suspended for testing positive for steroids. Lombard has lost four fights in a row including being knocked out in three of them. It is time for him to call it a career.
Gregor Gillespie: David Teymur
I am huge on Gregor Gillespie. He is a great athlete. He has elite wrestling. Lastly, he is showing a willingness to stand in the pocket and slug it out. I believe that we could be looking at a future featherweight champion. The only issue is, he is not a featherweight. He is fighting at lightweight and is greatly undersized. I don’t think he will be the next Frankie Edgar, who was an extremely small lightweight that won the title. But let him try. Slowly let Gillespie attempt to move up the rankings. I would match him with David Teymur next.
Jason Gonzalez: Drew Dober
Jason Gonzalez had some good moments in his fight with Gregor Gillespie. He landed a few hard kicks, unloaded a huge uppercut and almost locked on a D’Arce choke. It was a fun fight. I think him vs Dober is the next match to make.
Kamaru Usman: Winner of Donald Cerrone vs Darren Till
Like Gillespie, I think Kamaru Usman is the real deal. He has shown huge improvements in each fight. He has unstoppable takedowns. He has very heavy ground and pound. He now has power in his hands. The most impressive thing of all is how confident he is. He believes he is the best fighter in the world. I have seen guys like Conor McGregor and Max Holloway have the same confidence. I believe the sky is the limit. Time for a top ten opponent. Match him with the winner of Donald Cerrone and Darren Till.
Sergio Moraes: Dong Hyun Kim
Sergio Moraes is a good talent that many people don’t know. He has legit world class BJJ, and fast hands. He was on a 6 fight winning streak. However at 35 years old and coming off a knockout loss, he isn’t gonna fight for the title. Match him against another talented veteran. Dong Hyun Kim makes sense.
Justin Ledet: Winner of Andrei Arlovski vs Junior Albini
Justin Ledet didn’t have the best performance but he is undefeated and 3-0 in the UFC. In a very shallow division, they could use some new blood. Let him get a big step up in competition. Match him with the winner of Andrei Arlovski
Zu Anyanwu: Shamil Abdurahimov
For some reason I like Zu Anyanwu. The man called Zulu must lose weight though. He can’t walk around at 285 lb while standing only 6’1. He needs to get under 240 lbs. Give him one more shot in the UFC. Match him with Shamil Abdurahimov.
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier: Drakkar Klose
- Tony Martin: John Makdessi
- Daniel Spitz: Cyril Asker
- Anthony Hamilton: Cut From the UFC
- Uriah Hall: Vitor Belfort
- Krzysztof Jotko: Tim Boetsch
- Gilbert Burns: Winner of Clay Guida vs Joe Lauzon
- Jason Saggo: Winner of Takanori Gomi vs “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim