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 Fight Night 106: Fortaleza
Kelvin Gastelum: Anderson Silva
After back to back wins in the middleweight division, Gastelum is starting to create more buzz than he did in the welterweight division. He called for a fight against the living legend, Anderson Silva at UFC 212. I like this idea. With Georges St. Pierre skipping the waiting line and fighting Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title sometime later this year, the division is logged jammed. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is facing Robert Whittaker and Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi facing each other, that leaves Silva, Yoel Romero, and Luke Rockhold without a fight. Romero likely isn’t interested in Gastelum due to the fact that was gonna be next for Michael Bisping and probable looks at Gastelum as a big step back. Rockhold is injured and there is no time table for his return yet. So let’s see how Gastelum does against a very big middleweight in Silva. Plus, a matchup with Gastelum and Silva would make for a nice co-main event to Jose Aldo Jr vs Max Holloway at UFC 212.
Vitor Belfort: Tim Boetsch
Normally I would say a fighter like Belfort should retire after getting smashed in four straight fights. However, Belfort has only one fight left in his contract and stats that he plans to retire after that fight. Being that he has been part of the UFC for 20 years now (Yes, I know there was breaks when he was in other organizations), he deserves a swan song like Urijah Faber got. Place Belfort on the UFC 212 card in his home country and let him attempt to beat a guy that he actually has a shot at beating. Tim Boetsch has been around for awhile and is a fair fight for Belfort. He isn’t a walkover, but he also isn’t a top ranked guy like Gastelum. Let Belfort face the Barbarian and then let him hang it up.
Maurico “Shogun” Rua: Ilir Latifi
Would you believe me if I told you that Shogun Rua is on a three fight winning streak in the UFC? Yep, I am surprised too. Shogun has a lot of miles on him but he looked pretty good Saturday Night. His counter striking was very good. He also used a variety of strikes to keep Gian Villante guessing. He was patient and also showed that he still has some power. That said, Shogun was still rocked a few times from Villante. Let’s matchup Shogun with a good fighter, but not a top talent. Let’s see how he would do against Ilir Latifi. Latifi has some serious power and decent takedowns. If Shogun can take shots from Latifi, then I will believe in his chin more.
Giant Villante: Steve Bosse
Let’s face it, Villante will never be a true contender for a title, however he is very entertaining. His all offense, no defense style creates fun matchups. So I figured let’s match him up with someone with a similar style. Steve Bosse likes to throw bombs, while getting tagged himself. Let these two guys throw leather until only one is left standing.
Edson Barboza: Khabib Nurmagomedov
I love watching Edson Barboza fight. His speed, athleticism and precision striking is a work of art. Barboza has three decisive wins in a row over good fighters in Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez, and Beneil Dariush. Khabib Nurmagomedov should be his next opponent. Nurmagomedov blew his chances of getting a title show when he failed to make weight against Tony Ferguson, but a win against Edson Barboza will help stake his claim for a second shot. I think this is such an intriguing matchup. Barboza’s speed and deadly accuracy on the feet versus Nurmagomedov’s pressure and grinding takedowns. Let’s see who would win.
Beneil Dariush: Justin Gaethje
I feel bad for Dariush. He stood toe for toe with Edson Barboza and was winning. He stayed true to his game plan and was doing everything perfect, when suddenly that changed with one flying knee. Instead of picking up the biggest win of his career, he now is on Edson Barboza’s highlight reel forever. Even though Dariush lost, he still impressed me. I want to see him take on Justin Gaethje. Gaethje is the undefeated WSOF lightweight champion. He is currently a free agent, and many expect him to be picked up by the UFC. Gaethje is a high volume fighter that throws hard but also mixes in fast takedowns. Many people have Gaethje ranked in their top 10 (We have him in our honorable mention) without stepping into the octagon yet. Let’s see which of these two fighters are a true top 10 lightweight.
Ray Borg: Joseph Benavidez
After losing to Justin Scoggins, it appeared that Borg was going to be a failed prospect. However, Borg has put together back to back impressive wins, including a decision win on Saturday over Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva, a top 5 ranked opponent. Borg is only 23 years, but will not be planted in the top 10 in the UFC flyweight division. At that young age, we should expect to see big improvements between each fight. With Wilson Reis getting the next shot at champion, Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez is left without a foe. Borg is calling for a title show against the winner of Johnson vs Reis, let’s see if he can get over the huge obstacle of Benavidez first. Match Borg up against the greatest flyweight of All-Time not named Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez.
Jussier “Formiga” da Silva: Winner of Dustin Ortiz vs Brandon Moreno
Formiga was so close to beating Borg. It appeared that he was gonna win the third round and secure the victory over Borg, but in the last two minutes Borg got the reverse and landed several shots from the top position that stole him the round, and the fight. Though Formiga lost, he is still a staple in the UFC flyweight rankings. Match him up against the winner of Dustin Ortiz vs Brandon Moreno. Both guys are exciting young prospects that look to make a case for a title fight. If the winner of their matchup could also beat Formiga, a title shot will be well deserved.
Bether Correia/ Marion Reneau: Rematch Each Other:
I hate draws. Have them fight again so we get a winner
Alex Oliveira: Tom Breese / Oluwale Bamgbose Winner
I thought Oliveira was gonna lose to Tim Means rather easily. Before their first fight, I picked Means to win. After seeing their first fight, I felt very confident that Means would win. I was clearly wrong. Cowboy Oliveira put on the best performance of his career. He was able to out grapple the large Means and display a nice ground game. Tom Breese and Oluwale Bamgbose fight each other next weekend, and both have showed moments of promise. Let’s see if Cowboy can pick up another big win over a good opponent.
Tim Means: Niko Price
I am very disappointed in Tim Means performance. I thought Means was a tough matchup for Alex Oliveira, but Oliveira beat him easily. Means is a a well rounded fighter. He has good length, good ground skills, and a mean clinch game. He is a tough out for anybody. Let’s see how Niko Price would do against Means. Price is undefeated and is a perfect 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppages, while taking both fights on short notice. Let’s see if Price is the real deal and can beat a veteran like Means.