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 winners of UFC Fight Night 101 with their next opponents.
Robert Whittaker: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Whittaker’s sharp boxing and excellent takedown defense has helped him rattle off 5 straight wins in the middleweight division. With the knock out of Brunson, Whittaker has made a strong argument for a title fight. However the middleweight division is a log jam of fighters waiting for a title shot. Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, and Gegard Mousasi all have strong cases to be the next to fight Michael Bisping for the coveted title. It appears that Romero will be the first one to get a shot at Bisping. Last week, I stated that Mousasi should fight Rockhold, so that leaves Ronald “Jacare” Souza for Whittaker.
Souza would be a very interesting and tough matchup for Whittaker. Whittaker is undersized for the weight class, and Souza is very large. Souza is an experienced veteran of the sport, while Whittaker is the youngest fighter in the top 10. Plus, Souza is well rounded. He has very good speed, and power in his hands. However, it is his ground game that most people are worried about. Souza has a very good double leg takedown, and has elite of elite submission game.
Whittaker hasn’t really been tested on the ground yet. A win over Souza, and Whittaker would probable get a title shot or at least a number 1 contender fight.
Andrew Holbrook: James Vick. Holbrook was the biggest underdog of the entire UFC Fight Night 101 card, when he fought hometown fighter, Jake Mathews. However, Holbrook seized at the opportunity and showed that he was no stepping stone, as he used a grappling based gameplan, en route to a decision. At 30 years old, Holbrook is in his prime. He has an impressive 12-1 record, with a 2-1 UFC record. He needs to take on another promising fighter in his prime. James Vick fits that mold. Vick is 29 years old, with a 9-1 record with a 5-1 UFC record. Vick was on a roll before suffering his first career lost in his last fight to Beneil Dariush.
Vick has many tools that make him a difficult matchup for Holbrook. Vick is a tall rangy fighter, that has deceiving power and is also good in the clinch. He also trains under Llyod Irvin, so he is no slouch in the submission department either. A matchup of these two fighters with their impressive records, makes sense for both.
Omari Akhmedov: Yancy Medeiros Akhmedov is a very well rounded fighter. He has fast hands with good power. He mixes in good takedowns, and a very strong top game. He has strong ground and pound and nice submission game. The two areas that have been major stumbling blocks for the Russian fighter has been his gas tank and a questionable chin. If Akhmedov can fix those two issues (If fixing a weak chin is possible), then you could be looking at a fighter challenging for the top 10 rankings in the welterweight division. Yancy Medeiros is the perfect fighter to tests the flaws in Akhmedov’s game. Medeiros is a very aggressive fighter that fights at a high pace. He mixes up his strikes with punches, kicks, and spinning strikes. He also has displayed good power in his strikes. If Medeiros is taken down, he stays active off his back, throwing up submission attempts, and is also good at scrambling to get back to his feet. Let’s matchup the Russian, with the Hawaiian and see who comes out on top.
Alex Volkanovski: Zubaira Tukhugov. Australian born Volkanovski was the talk of the town Saturday, after his one side thrashing of Yusuke Kasuya. Volkanovski displayed a well rounded game, by landing several strikes on the feet from the pocket, and then landed several takedowns on Kasuya. The most impressive part of the fight, was the relentless strikes from the top position, that eventually ended Kasuya’s night. Volkanovski announced after the fight that he would move down to featherweight. After such an impressive performance, many are excited about Volkanovski. Let’s see if he truly is a contender, and match him up against Zubaira Tukhugov. Tukhugov is a very young Russian fighter (25 years old), with a wealth of experience (22 fights) and a 3-1 UFC record. Tukhugov, a Sambo practitioner, is also well rounded. He has strong mixture of punches and kicks, and nice takedowns. The matchup of these two rising featherweights makes a lot of sense and a fight I would love to see.
Tyson Pedro: Steve Bosse. Pedro is an extremely hyped up prospect coming out of Australia, and he didn’t disappoint with his submission victory over Khalil Rountree. Pedro is currently undefeated, and a talent that has been added to the depleted UFC light heavyweight division. I think a matchup with Steve Bosse would be good to make. Bosse is a lot similar to Rountree. Bosse is a great athlete (former pro hockey player), who has very nice power. Bosse is a brawler that can knock you out with one punch, though his takedown defense is the weakness of the fighter. I hope the UFC slowly builds up Pedro, and doesn’t ruin him by rushing him to fast. I think a matchup with Bosse, would continue to display the strength of Pedro’s ground game, and give him much needed octagon time.
Danielle Taylor: Aisling Daly. I thought Taylor lost to Seo Hee Ham. I am really confused how she got two judges to score wins for her 30-27. She clearly lost the first round. Anyways, she gets the win in the record book, so she is who I am writing about. Taylor is a good athlete, with nice speed and power in her hands. However, her lack of size and her being too tentative is big flaws. In both her UFC fights, she spent most of the fight constantly backing away from Maryna Moroz and Ham. For the fans to watch a fight with Taylor in it, where she is not gonna put you to sleep, you need an opponent to stay in her face. Aisling Daly is a pressure fighter, that does her best work in close striking range, in the clinch, or from top position, where she constantly tries to get the fight. Perhaps Daly’s pressure and willingness to engage in the pocket, will finally lure Taylor into an entertaining fight.