Who’s Next? Matchmaking UFC 207 Main Card 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 main card fighters for UFC 207.
Amanda Nunes: Julianna Pena / Valentina Shevchenko winner.
This is an easy pick. Pena is 4-0 in the UFC, and I think a tougher matchup against Nunes than many think (I would still take Nunes). You must avoid her striking, you do that by getting takedowns. You get takedownsby shooting at the legs and not reaching for the clinch, which gets you tagged. Pena’s game is shooting for the takedown and landing shots from on top. Shevchenko has already fought Nunes in a competitive fight. She lost the first two round, but took control of the last round. Nunes gas tank was failing her. The extra two rounds would favor Shevchenko. Plus with Shevchenko’s boxing/kickboxing history, she could match Nunes striking.
Ronda Rousey: Raquel Pennington
I think I am wasting my time writing this. I think Rousey retires, however if she returns, we need to match her up against somebody. There is a few things that she needs to do. First, she needs to find a new team. Edmond Tarverdyan and Glendale Fight Club is not helping her at all. Second, she should find a real boxing coach. Georges St. Pierre has worked with Freddie Roach, why not find a top notch boxing coach. Third, she needs to develop a drop step. This is the shot that wrestlers use to get on the legs. She can use the drop step to get to the legs, or get to the clinch and use her judo. Either way, she can’t just reach for the clinch. This leaves your head up and in striking range while coming in.
I am one of the few that don’t think Rousey is busted. I still think she is a great talent, however doesn’t matchup good against a top striker, until she changes her approach to getting to the clinch. I think Pennington makes sense. Pennington is a well rounded fighter, but not the technical striker that Holm and Nunes are, not does she have 1 punch power. She is currently ranked in the top 10 with a huge win over Meisha Tate. Pennington is a much easier matchup for Rousey. If she returns, match them up.
Cody Garbrandt: TJ Dillashaw
If Dillashaw doesn’t get the next title shot, the UFC is rigged!!! All joking aside, Dillashaw is the obvious pick. Many would argue that Dillashaw never lost to Cruz and still be the champion. He followed it up by beating two top 5 fighters in Rafael Assuncao and John Lineker in back to back wins. Plus the fight is marketable. Garbrandt and Dillashaw both stating they beat each other when they were teammates. Dillashaw and coach Duane Ludwig (former head coach of Garbrandt) vs Garbrandt and Team Alpha Male. Sounds perfect to me.
Dominick Cruz: Marlon Moraes
Okay, so I am cheating here. Cruz is a master at breaking down film, if anybody can figure out how he got beat by Garbrandt it is Cruz. However, I don’t think he should get an immediate rematch. If Dillashaw who lost his belt in an extremely close decision didn’t get an immediate rematch, neither should Cruz. Now I think 135 lbs is wide open for Cruz. John Lineker, Jimmie Rivera, Eddie Wineland would all be good matchups, but why not bring in the hottest free agent there is. Marlon Moraes is the current WSOF champ. He has blazing fast hand speed, good power, and a great ground game. Bring him in. Moraes has won 13 straight fights. Moraes hand speed vs Cruz defense. Let’s do it
John Lineker: Rafael Assuncao
Both guys are ranked in the top 5. Both guys are coming off disappointing loses to TJ Dillashaw. This matchup would sink the loser, but push the winner back into title contention. Assuncao is a cerebral fighter that mixes in technical striking and takedowns. Lineker is a brawler. He is constantly coming forward looking to land a bomb to the body or the head. It would be an interesting matchup of contrasting styles
Dong Hyun Kim: Carlos Condit
Who would have guessed that Dong Hyun Kim would gave 13 wins in the UFC? He does. Now I don’t think he should have lost the decision to Tarec Saffiedine. Kim kept moving forward, but he continually walked into jabs and straight right hands. Saffiedine surprisingly won the clinch game, and landed some of his own takedowns. I think the judges were tricked by the fact that Kim was moving forward. Let’s match him up with Carlos Condit. They fought over 5 years ago, with Condit getting a highlight reel knockout. Kim has won 8 UFC fights since then, while only losing to current champion Tyron Woodley and top contender, Demain Maia. If Kim could pull the upset over Condit, he would finally put himself in serious title contention talk. If Condit can pull off another pretty knockout, he would be back in the title hunt.
Tarec Saffiedine: Matt Brown
Saffiedine came in the UFC with a lot of hype due to being the Strikeforce champion, however his experience has not gone as planned, he stands at 2-3. Matt Brown is also a welterweight that has fallen on hard times being he has lost 5 of his last 6 fights. The matchup would pit these two guys, who each like to battle on the feet. Saffiedine has a very technical counter striking style. He is good at slipping punches and using kicks to the body and legs. Brown is a pressure striker that has long range and nice power. However the best part of Brown’s game is his killer instinct and his ability to work in the clinch. Let’s match them up.
Ray Borg: Zach Makovsky
Borg has never missed weight before, so I am gonna give him a pass and believe his excuse of not doing the early weign-ins before. Borg picked up the biggest win of his career over Louis Smolka, however it was a perfect matchup for him. Borg has nice takedowns and a very slick submission game. Smolka’s issue has been his ability to keep the fight on his feet and use his range. Unfortunately for Borg, there isn’t many flyweights on his current level that struggles in the wrestling department, where Borg can excel. Zach Makovsky is a good wrestler, but coming off 3 straight losses. I think a matchup between these two would be interesting. Let’s see if Borg can find a way to get past someone with a strong takedown defense. Perhaps we would get some fun scrambles like Makovsky had in his last fight with Dustin Ortiz.
Louis Smolka: Chris Kelades
Smolka was a young fighter that had a lot of buzz about him after winning four straight wins including the destruction of Ben Nguyen. However after back to back loses to Brandon Moreno and Ray Borg, people are starting to doubt his potential. Match him up against Chris Kelades. Kelades is the level of a fighter that Smolka could beat, but not be a cake walk. This would show if we should still believe in Smolka or move on.