Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker for UFC 206 and UFC Fight Night 102 Main Card Winners
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 UFC 206 and the UFC Fight Night 102 winners with their next opponents.
UFC Fight Night 102:
Derrick Lewis: Francis Ngannou
These are two of the biggest up and comers (if you can say that at their ages) in the heavyweight division. Both guys are slowly making their way towards title contention. So let’s separate them. Let’s see who is the true contender. Lewis has won 5 fights in a row, with 4 stoppages. Ngannou is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, and has steamrolled all of his opponents. I want to see Lewis power and aggression against Ngannou’s speed and athleticism. This would be a fun matchup.
Corey Anderson: Glover Texeira
I don’t count the Shogun lose against him. Most people scored that fight for Anderson. I didn’t get the call out of the winner of Cirkunov vs Krylov (Cirkunov won). Both fighters were ranked lower than Anderson in the UFC ranking. I think the UFC should see if Anderson is ready to make a run at the title. Anderson has greatly improved his striking. He has always had good footwork, and has top notch wrestling. Anderson needs better competition than Sean O’Connell. Glover Texeira is a well rounded. Has serious power in his hands and a dangerous ground game. The UFC Light Heavyweight division desperately needs a new contender. A win over Texeira would put Anderson as a top contender.
Gian Villante: Patrick Cummings
This was the original fight that was scheduled for Friday night, until Patrick Cumming had to withdraw with a staph infection. This matchup still makes a lot of sense. Both Villante and Cummings came into the UFC with a lot of potential, but neither fighter has lived up to the potential. Villante is a well rounded fighter that hits hard, and has good wrestling. His biggest issue has been his willingness to fight his opponents fight. He also has been very hittable as we seen Friday. Cummings is an elite wrestler that also gets hit a lot. Perhaps a matchup between these two could finally help the winner live up to their potential.
UFC 206 winners:
Max Holloway: Jose Aldo Jr
So this is obviously the easiest one to pick. Holloway is a fantastic talent that has so much potential. At 25 years old the sky is the limit for him. Holloway throws combinations and keeps his opponents at the end of his punches. His accuracy is unmatched, and his power is developing, and will get even better as he reaches his prime years. Jose Aldo Jr is a challenge for anybody. He showed against Frankie Edgar that his speed is still unmatched. Leg kicks are his best weapon, and could be an issue for Holloway. Anthony Pettis best moments in the fight on Saturday was his kicks. The UFC will never get the buzz back in the featherweight division unless Conor McGregor returns, but this is the next best thing. 9 fight winning streak versus an All-Time legend to unify the belts.
Donald Cerrone: Robbie Lawler
These guys were schedule to fight each other at UFC 205, until Lawler had to withdraw. When the fight was announced, MMA fans were so excited. Is there a better matchup then these two? Both guys love to fight. Both guys are willing to brawl. Both guys throw with violent intentions. Both guys are fan favorites. Both guys have speed and power in both hands. Both guys mix in kicks well, and use them as true weapons. Both guys have underrated ground games. Lawler has a nice wrestling game, while Cerrone has a great submission game. Cerrone looks great at welterweight, and is now 4-0 in the division. If Cerrone could get past the former UFC welterweight champion in Lawler, we could see the Cowboy in another title fight.
Cub Swanson: Ricardo Lamas
If you are reading this and haven’t seen Swanson’s win against Dooho Choi, stop reading this and go watch that fight. It might be fight of the year, and possible the greatest MMA fight ever. Yes, I went there, it was that good. Swanson is in a tough position. He has fought all the guys in the division that are ranked above him. So I am gonna match him against Ricardo Lamas. I understand that they fought in 2011. But Swanson has fought 11 times since then, going 9-2. So let’s see it again. Both guys have fought in such legendary fun fights. The winner of the matchup might be in the running for one last title run.
Kelvin Gastelum: Vitor Belfort
I don’t care if Gastelum is talking about moving back down to welterweight. The UFC needs to tell Gastelum that he is stuck at middleweight. I understand that he will get outmuscled like he did in the first round against Tim Kennedy. However, he looks faster at middleweight, and his cardio isn’t sucked out at middleweight. He needs to look at the recent success of guys like Donald Cerrone and Anthony Johnson and understand that moving up in weight can be a good thing. That said, match him up against Vitor Belfort. I don’t think Gastelum has done enough at middleweight yet to get a top 10 opponent, however Gastelum needs a big name. Belfort is the biggest name outside of the top 10. Let’s see them fight,
Emil Weber Meek: Nordine Taleb
There is so many reasons to like Meek. First, he knocked out Rousimar Palhares. Many MMA fans have been hoping that would happen for years. Second, he was forced to trim his beard to fight in the UFC. I don’t agree with the ruling, but I am glad that he did it so we could see a fight. Third, he beat a really tough Jordan Mein in his UFC debut. Mein is not your normal opponent at for a UFC debut. Meek is from Sweden, so I expect him to be placed on a future card in Europe. Nordine Taleb is a fighter from France, that is currently 4-1 in the UFC, who recently knocked out Erick Silva. This fight makes sense on a European card.