Who’s Next? Matching Up UFC 205 Winners with Next Opponents

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

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 guys next. I will give my matchups for all the UFC 205 winners.

Conor McGregor: Khabib Nurmagomedov. I know that just a week ago, I stated that Tony Ferguson should get the next shot at the lightweight title. However, there are two things that I didn’t expect to happen. First, I didn’t expect that McGregor and Nurmagomedov would get into words backstage and get people excited for a possible matchup. Second, I didn’t expect Nurmagomedov to absolutely rag doll Michael Johnson. Nurmagomedov had one of the most one sided fights in history. I scored the first and second round both 10-8, and was on my way to scoring a third round another 10-8, before the Russian put Johnson out of his misery.

Now, McGregor is the king of the UFC. He gets to pick who he wants next. I could see him moving back down to featherweight, in attempting to unite the featherweight belts, and show that his win over Jose Aldo wasn’t a fluke. Obviously, there is a strong argument for Tony Ferguson. His length might be a challenger that the Irishman would want to challenge. Perhaps, McGregor asks to finish the trilogy with Nate Diaz, especially after the second fight was a very close decision. But perhaps, he just keeps trying to grab belts. His coach, John Kavanagh has already talked about a third belt. McGregor has already had heated words with welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. With Conor, you can’t count anything out. Any of the fights, would draw huge Pay Per View buys with McGregor in the headline, buth I think Nurmagomedov should get the first chance.

Tyron Woodley / Stephen Thompson: Fight Each Other Again. I get that Demain Maia has been sensational, and has a strong case for a title shot, but you can’t keep this fight unresolved. Woodley must have a bad taste in his mouth after being announced as the winner, only to be changed to a majority draw. Thompson must also have a bad taste in his mouth, after winning three rounds and being so close to the title. Really no choice but to run it back.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Jessica Andrade: Jedrzejczyk has already defended her title four times now, and has almost entirely cleared out the entire women’s strawweight division. It seems like Jessica Andrade is the only fight that makes sense. Andrade only has two fights in the strawweight divison, but both were absolute destruction wins. First was a knock out victory over the former title contender Jessica Penna, and the second was a submission win over always tough Joanne Calderwood. Many have tried to solve the puzzle of Jedrzejczyk, Andrade deserves next shot at it.

Yoel Romero: Michael Bisping. Yoel Romero is a scary guy. And it appears the UFC wants to tap into the allure of the Cuban and his unhuman power. The UFC had Bisping on camera, and let Bisping and Romero talk to each other. Don’t know if I have seen a more comical moment than Michael Bisping flipping off Romero, while Romero telling Bisping that he loves him. With former champion, Luke Rockhold on the side lines, and Romero recently beating Jacare Souze (though many scored  the fight for Jacare, and Romero violated USADA testing). Romero is now 8-0 in the UFC. He deserves the next crack at the title.

Raquel Pennington: Julianna Pena: Pennington got the biggest win of her career by beating Meisha Tate, and looked better than ever before. With MMA Queen, Ronda Rousey returning and getting the first crack at the bantam weight title shot, that leaves Pennington, Julianna Pena, and Valentins Shevchenko all bidding for the next shot. With both Pennington and Pena having four fight win streak in the UFC, let’s match them up. They were both on the same season of the Ultimate Figher show, but never got to face each other. Perhaps it is the time for them to cross paths, with the #1 contender spot on the line.

Frankie Edgar: Ricardo Lamas: I called this last week, and it still makes sense. Edgar puts the UFC in a tough position. He can’t get a crack at interim title holder, Jose Aldo, because he already lost to him twice. Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis are scheduled to face each other. So the most logical fight is Lamas. He is the highest ranked fighter that isn’t scheduled for a fight or haven’t previously faced Edgar. However, I still hope that Edgar drops down to bantamweight and throws himself into a loaded division with a ton of interesting matchups for him.

Khabib Nurmagomedov: see above

Tim Boetsch: Sam Alvey: Boetsch was once a top 10 ranked middleweight, but those times have cleared past. However after getting back to back knock out wins, Boetsch shows that he still has power to be a tough challenger. Sam Alvey would be a fun fight. Both guys are fan favorites, and both guys have power and willing to exchange in the pocket.

Vicente Luque: Tom Breese. Vicente is currently 4-1 in the UFC with 4 straight wins and 4 stoppages. This fight was his best showing, on his biggest stage yet. Time to step up his competition, and see what we have in the welterweight. Tom Breese is a top prospect from England with a nice 10-1 record. He is 3-1 in the UFC, with his only career lost coming in his last fight, in a very close split decision to Sean Strickland. The winner of Luque and Breese would be someone to watch.

Jim Miller: Evan Dunham. Who would have guessed that Jim Miller would be on a three fight winning streak. He just beat Takanori Gomi, Joe Lauzon, and Thiago Alves. Sure all three guys are past their primes, but that is still nice names to add to your resume. Why not attempt to add another decent name to your resume. Evan Dunham is another good name that Miller hasn’t faced yet.

Liz Carmouche: Ashlee Evans-Smith.  Most people thought Katlyn Chookagain would easily beat Carmouche, but the veteran showed she still was savvy, as she got past the prospect. Ashlee Evans-Smith is another fighter that got people talking. Let’s see if Carmouche can pull another upset.

 

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