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 main card fighters for UFC 210.
Stipe Miocic: Cain Velasquez
With wins over Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Junior dos Santos, there really isn’t many options left for Stipe Miocic. Derrick Lewis still has many holes in his game, and Francis Ngannou still needs some more experience, so it seems like the former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez gets the shot by default. Word is that Velasquez is back in the gym and training. Injuries could always default a Velasquez fight, but if the former champion is close to what we have seen in the past, what a matchup we could have. Both guys have wrestling backgrounds, both are pressure strikers with knockout power. Miocic has the advantage in the one punch power, while Velasquez swarms with volume. Add in both have been dominant champions and we would have one hell of a heavyweight matchup.
Junior dos Santos: Francis Ngannou
I really think Junior dos Santos should consider retirement. Between the two beating by Velasquez, the war with Miocic in their first fight and recent knockouts by Overeem and Miocic, it seems like the former champion has taken too much damage. I doubt he retires, so let’s use his name to build up a future star. I think he would be the perfect test for Francis Ngannou, who has the pure athleticism and power to be a future champion. Let’s see if the Nigerian fighter is ready for the title shot.
Joanna Jedrzejcyzk: Rose Namajunas:
It’s time to ask the question if Jedrzejcyzk is the best women’s fighter ever. She has virtually cleaned out the division with wins over Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha (twice), Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Jessica Andrade, and others. It seems apparent that Rose Namajunas will be the next challenger by virtue of highest ranked fighter yet to be beaten up by Jedrzejcyzk. Namajunas is a fighter that can fight on the outside and has a great submission game to threaten the champion.
Jessica Andrade: Tecia Torres
Andrade has an awful performance but yet will probably gain fans because of the heart that she had shown. She got hit by everything Jedrzejcyzk could dish out. I think Andrade should have used more faints and side by side head movement to attempt to get inside. I still believe that Andrade could get herself back into a title fight. Tecia Torres is a top 10 opponent without a fight. Let’s make it happen.
Demian Maia: Tyron Woodley
I understand that Demian Maia’s style isn’t pleasing to many, but this is still a sport. Some people find running the ball in football boring, but you can still win a championship by running the ball. The Brazilian fighter is 39 years old and has won seven fights in a row. If he doesn’t get it now, I am not sure if he will ever get the shot. I hope Dana White and the UFC keep their word to Maia and give him his deserved shot and doesn’t give it away to someone like Nick Nate or Georges St. Pierre.
Jorge Masvidal: Stephen Thompson
I will admit that I didn’t give Jorge Masvidal much of a shot against Maia. Though I think Maia clearly won the contest, Masvidal showed that he shouldn’t be counted out by anybody. He is a tough test for anybody. I want to see him matched up with a top contender that would be will to stand with Gamebred. Stephen Thompson seems to be the perfect matchup. Let’s see Masvidal’s boxing style vs Thompson’s karate style.
Frankie Edgar: Max Holloway or TJ Dillashaw
Death, taxes, and Frankie Edgar. The New Jersey boy showed that he is still one of the top talents in the division and should never be overlooked. Being that the current champion, Jose Aldo Jr has beaten Edgar twice, he needs Max Holloway to beat the champion Aldo next month to get the title shot. If Holloway wins, it would be a fantastic matchup. If Aldo wins, Edgar needs to be in another marquee matchup. Edgar has been undersized and talked about moving down to bantamweight for a while. There is talk that bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt might have to pull out of his title fight against TJ Dillashaw. Let’s not cancel the fight, let’s match Edgar against Dillashaw for the interim title. I know it is unlikely but remember this is fantasy matchup and I can do what I want. If Aldo wins and Garbrandt doesn’t pull out, give Edgar a fight against Chan Sung Jung.
Yair Rodriguez: Jason Knight
When the veteran Jens Pulver upset the highly touted young BJ Penn at UFC 35, Pulver said in the post fight interview, “sometimes hype just isn’t enough”. I couldn’t stop thinking about that while watching decimate Yair Rodriguez. He simply wasn’t ready for that level yet. Now things worked out well for BJ Penn, I think it can for Rodriguez too. I say we match him up with Jason Knight. Knight has won 4 straight fights in the division and looks better in each contest. His performance against Chas Skelly was fantastic. Let these two young future stars battle and see who should get pushed first.
David Branch: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
It wasn’t the most action-packed win, but the former WSOF two weight class champion Branch picked up the biggest win of his career. Branch has won 11 fights in a row and hasn’t lost in over 5 years. At 36 years of age, he needs a quick path to a title shot. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza should be the next step on that path. Before the Robert Whittaker loss, many thought Jacare might have been the best fighter in the entire division. Let these two ranked aging middleweights clash.
Krzysztof Jotko: Lyota Machida
Everyone is complaining about David Branch turning the fight against Krzysztof Jotko into a boring contest. Jotko is also to blame.He wasn’t pushing the action and wasn’t doing much to get his back off the cage. The Polish fighter is just entering his prime but still have some holes he should work on fixing. Take some time off and then fight the former light heavyweight champion, Lyota Machida, who is eligible to return to action in October. A win over a big name in Machida would bring some buzz back for Jotko.