Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker for UFC 215 Fighters

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 215.

Amanda Nunes: Raquel Pennington

Amanda Nunes won. Was the fight close? Yes. Could you have scored the fight for Valentina Shevchenko? Yes. But Nunes got the decision win (which I agreed with). The fight wasn’t entertaining, but it was competitive. Nunes is the champion and we have to match her up against the next contender.

You think judging that fight was hard? Try finding who should be next to challenge Nunes? Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey are both (likely) retired. Holly Holm has lost 3 out of her last four fights. Sara McMann was just submitted. Cat Zingano is coming off a loss and possibly can’t make 135 lbs anymore. Julianna Pena is coming off a loss.  Ketlen Vieira will just reach the top 10 for the first time. So by process of elimination, Raquel Pennington should get the next title shot.

Pennington is on a four fight winning streak. She dominated Miesha Tate in her last fight. Give her the next shot.

Valentina Shevchenko: The TUF 26 Winner for 125 lb Title.

With a loss to Nunes, Shevchenko is in a very tough spot, She is in the same scenario as Joseph Benavidez, Claudio Gadelha, and perhaps even Stephen Thompson. She has lost to the champion twice (I know Thompson didn’t lose twice). She would need someone to beat Amanda Nunes before she gets another title shot.

With supposedly walking around about 133 lbs, Shevchenko should consider making the move to the new women’s flyweight division. The winner of TUF 26 will be crowned the inaugural women’s flyweight title. The best way for the UFC to bring some credibility to the division is to have a talent like Shevchenko fight in it. Let Shevchenko get the first crack at the new champion.

 

Rafael dos Anjos: Robbie Lawler

Some guys need to make the move up a weight class to prolong a career. Dos Anjos might be one of those guys. Neil Magny isn’t a world beater, but he is a solid veteran that has beaten many title challengers in the past. Only elite fighters can dispatch of Magny as quick as dos Anjos did. There is many that want dos Anjos to get the next shot. Sean Shelby is apparently one of them. The welterweight division is wide open, and nobody is the true #1 contender. I say we put dos Anjos against Robbie Lawler next with the winner getting a shot at the title.

 

Neil Magny: Dong Hyun Kim

Magny is a decent talent but has a major issue with stopping leg kicks. He has had his legs battered before, and dos Anjos dropped him with one kick. Until he fixes this major flaw, I can’t see him ever being more than a gate keeper for title contenders.

I think it is safe to say that he will never fight for the talent, but will roam around the top 10-15 rankings. Dong Hyum Kim is in the same situation. Let’s them fight each other.

 

Henry Cejudo: Ray Borg

Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling but has hardly ever used his wrestling. Many have thought it was a flaw. Maybe it was a game plan. Cejudo has now developed some very impressive striking. He looked tremendous against former title challenger, Wilson Reis. He showed great technique, footwork, speed, athleticism, and power. At only 30 years old, and only 13 career fights, Cejudo is still learning. He is getting better each fight, and might not have reached his peak yet. With World Class wrestling in his background, could Cejudo be the guy to dethrone Demetrious Johnson?

I think Ray Borg should be skipped in line for not fighting Demetrious Johnson on Saturday.  Sergio Pettis should get the next shot. Let Borg and Cejudo fight each other. These two have both missed weight several times. It would be ironic to match them up.

 

Wilson Reis: Brandon Moreno

Reis is on a two fight losing streak. He wasn’t much of a match for either Demetrious Johnson or Henry Cejudo. It is unlikely that he will ever make another run at the title at 32 years old. Use him to build up some experience for younger talent. Reis is a tough obstacle to overcome but if you can get past him, you are a good talent. Brandon Moreno is a nice young talent. Let’s see if he can rebound from a loss to Sergio Pettis, and beat Reis.

 

Ilir Latifi: Glover Teixeira/ Misha Cirkunov Winner

The cult hero Ilir Latifi was too physical for his opponent, Tyson Pedro. He displayed that he can go three full rounds without gassing out. He will always struggle with reach but with big power in his hands and strong wrestling, he could make a title contention run in a shallow light heavyweight division. Let him get a step up in competition and have him face the winner of Glover Teixeira and Misha Cirkunov.

 

Tyson Pedro: Jordan Johnson

Don’t give up on the previously unbeaten Tyson Pedro yet. He is young and inexperienced. He is learning on the job. The loss to Ilir Latifi could just be a bump in the road. In a shallow UFC light heavyweight division, he is still only a short winning streak away from a title shot. I would match him up with Jordan Johnson, who is also young and talented. One of them will show that they are the true contender.

 

Jeremy Stephens: Shane Burgos

Jeremy Stephens has never looked any better than he did on Saturday. He has very powerful leg kicks that he needs to use more. He is also much better when he throws combinations instead of one perfect punch. Put him against the undefeated Shane Burgos, who is a great young talent. I think that would be such a fun fight.

 

Gilbert Melendez: Dennis Siver

Plain and Simple, Melendez is not the fighter that once one the StrikeForce lightweight title. That fighter would have probably worked over Jeremy Stephens. Melendez is not a title contender anymore, but he still has an enormous amount of heart. He is guaranteed to be in a fun fight. Match him against Dennis Sive and watch them throw leather at each other.

 

Prelims:

  • Ketlen Vieira: Marion Reneau
  • Sara McMann: Yana Kunitskaya (Bring In From Invicta)
  • Sarah Moras: Aspen Ladd
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith: Cut From the UFC
  • Rick Glenn: Gray Maynard
  • Gavin Tucker: Enrique Barzola
  • Alex White: Josh Emmett
  • Mitch Clarke: Enjoy Retirement
  • Arjan Bhullar: Gabriel Gonzaga
  • Luis Henrique: Cut From the UFC
  • Kajan Johnson: Jon Tuck
  • Adriano Martins: Vinc Pichel

 

 

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