Who’s Next?Playing Matchmaker for UFC Auckland Fighters

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 the fighters of UFC Auckland


Mark Hunt: Winner of Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou

The Super Samoan ruined the plans of the UFC by derailing the hype train of Derrick Lewis. Finding an opponent for Hunt is gonna be tough. It looks like Junior dos Santos will face off with Francis Ngannou at the end of the summer. I think the winner of that matchup should face Hunt. Hunt and dos Santos faced off in May of 2013 with dos Santos getting the win. Both guys are up there in age and have some good and bad moments since. Let the two face off and see who can stall Father Time.

If Ngannou wins (which I think is likely), Hunt gets a chance to stop another hyped up heavyweight. Hunt has not been very happy with the UFC. What would be better revenge than him stopping their heavyweight plans with wins over Hunt and Ngannou?


Derrick Lewis: Winner of Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura

I never believed in the hype of Derrick Lewis. He is very big, pretty athletic, and has huge power, however, he doesn’t have much technique. I don’t believe that he is retiring. So if my instincts are good, we need to find him another foe. Being that the UFC heavyweight division is so shallow right now, Lewis could still be back in the title picture with a win. The former heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura fight this Saturday. If Lewis could beat the former champion or Tybura, he will be back in the mix.


Derek Brunson: Luke Rockhold

Brunson was the easiest pick on Saturday. He is stronger, faster, and a better athlete than Kelly. I don’t think people realize how good Brunson could be. He should have got the decision over Anderson Silva. He also had both Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker hurt in his fights with them. If he could improve on his fight IQ, he could be a serious threat. Former middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold is ready to return from injury. I think Brunson is the perfect test to see of Rockhold is back to form, while also possibly getting some interest back for Brunson.


Dan Kelly: Thales Leites

All good things must come to an end. The great upset streak of Kelly ended at the hands of Derek Brunson. Kelly is 39 years with a heavy bandaged up knee. He doesn’t have much time left. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts. I think Thales Leites would be an interesting stylistic matchup. Leites showed some improved striking in his recent match against Sam Alvey. Let’s see if the Olympics judokan can beat the former middleweight title challenger.


Daniel Hooker: Gregor Gillespie

After moving back and forth between wins and losses at featherweight in his last 6 fights, Hooker’s move to lightweight was successful. At 6’0, Hooker has the perfect size to enjoy lightweight. With his long range, he is gonna give anybody a test. Add in not being drained from a weight cut, he could develop some nice pop. After being in the UFC for years, he needs to be challenged immediately. Match him up against Gregor Gillespie. The undefeated NCAA wrestling champion, Gillespie is displaying power in his hands. The winner of that matchup could be looking at a top 15 ranking soon.


Ross Pearson: Release From the UFC

I always liked Ross Pearson but he is now on a 4 fight losing streak. He has too many miles on the tires. Time for the UFC to move on from the former Ultimate Fighter winner. Hopefully, it is time for Pearson to call it a career too.


Ion Cutelaba: Francimar Barroso

I love Cutelaba. He is big, hits hard, and is intense. He doesn’t seem to want to just beat you up, he wants to end your life. The light heavyweight division is in need of young talent. At only 23 years old, the Moldovan fighter might be the guy. Let’s not rush him yet though. Let him try and beat up another Brazilian. This time make it Francimar Barroso.


Henrique da Silva: Release From the UFC

da Silva has lost three fights in a row. This last one was really bad. Time to move on.


Ben Nguyen: Jussier “Formiga” da Silva

So let me get this straight, Louis Smolka out grapples Nguyen. Then Tim Elliott out grapples Smolka. Then Nguyen out grapples Elliott. Yeah, MMA match doesn’t work.

Nguyen is known for his striking, but on Saturday he showed his well-rounded skills. Now let’s see how Nguyen would do against an even better grappler in Formiga. If Nguyen could win again, we could be looking at a title shot.


Tim Elliott: Jenel Lausa

What an awful showing by Elliott! To make matters worst, he went for a headlock (or a head and arm throw as some call it). Elliott can be a very exciting fighter, but can also be wildly inconsistent. The flyweight division needs to keep as many contenders as possible. Being that Elliott did better against current champion Demetrious Johnson than anybody recently, they need to keep him in the title picture. Give Elliott an easier fight for a rebound. Match him against Jenel Lausa.


Alex Volkanovski: Myles Jury

I am so high on Volkanovski. The former professional Rugby player is fast, strong, and sets a good pace. He throws nice combinations, has power in his hands, and good wrestling. He looks like a top 10 featherweight talent. At 2-0 in the UFC, time to take a big step up in competition. Myles Jury was once a top prospect, that many people thought could be a champion. He went on a little skid but recently returned with a whitewashing of Mike De La Torre. Let these two great talents face each other and see who the man is.


Mizuto Hirota: Kevin Aguilar (Bring in from the LFA)

Hirota will never be a title contender but he is tough as nails and entertaining. Put him in fun fights. Kevin Aguilar is a really nice regional talent. He fights for LFA and has shown well-rounded skills. I would like to see him in the UFC now. Hirota vs Aguilar sounds like fun to me.


Rest of the Card:

  • Vinc Pichel: Joaquim Silva
  • Damien Brown: Andrew Holbrook
  • Luke Jumeau: Max Griffin
  • Dominique Steele: Release From the UFC
  • John Moraga: Magomed Bibulatov
  • Ashkan Mokhtarian: Geane Herrera
  • Zak Ottow: Jiangling Li vs Frank Camacho Winner
  • Kiichi Kunimoto: Release From the UFC
  • JJ Aldrich: Mackenzie Dern (Bring in From LFA)
  • Chan-Mi Jeon: Alex Chambers




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