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 209.
Tyron Woodley: Demain Maia/Jorge Masvidal winner
First, I want to state that I don’t think Woodley won. I scored it a draw. But Woodley is the current champion. He needs to fight the winner of Demain Main and Jorge Masvidal. I understand the argument against Maia. Many people find him to be boring. I am not one of them. Watching him grapple must have been like watching Picasso paint. Nobody is better than him. I understand he might be a one trick pony, but that trick is pretty damn good. A win over Masvidal would give him 7 in a row, including wins over Carlos Condit, Gunner Nelson, and Neil Magny. Plus, it is an interesting stylistic matchup. Could Maia take down Woodley, who is huge, crazy strong, and the better wrestler, while also avoiding his devastating right hand?
If Masvidal pulls the upset over Maia, he would be on a 4 fight winning streak, with back to back wins over Donald Cerrone and Demain Maia. Plus you have the teammate vs teammate things as Masvidal has been a part of American Top Team for years, while Woodley has trained with American Top Team and Roufasport.
Stephen Thompson: Robbie Lawler
I feel bad for Thompson. He has been so closed to being champion twice. He probable won 6 of the 10 rounds he fought against Woodley and still doesn’t have the title. Thompson is in a tough situation, he fought for the title twice and never got the win. As long as Woodley is champion, he probable won’t get another shot at the title. Similar situation to Joseph Benavidez with Demetrious Johnson. Lawler is the guy I would matchup with Thompson. They are both coming off loses to Woodley and both are ranked in the top 5. It makes sense to see if Thompson’s precision striking does against Lawler’s power.
David Teymur: Gilbert Burns
Teymur was the breakout star of UFC 209. He was a big underdog against Lando Vannata. Many thought that Teymur might be able to hang on the feet with Vannata, but nobody gave him a chance on the ground. However, it was Teymur that was able to get the better on the ground. So let’s see how good he is. Gilbert Burns is a master on the ground. He is 11-2 in his career. Let’s have a classic, striker vs grappler matchup.
Lando Vannata: Takanori Gomi
I don’t know what to think of Vannata. He looked like a title contender after giving Tony Ferguson all that he could handle, while taking the fight against Ferguson on short notice. He followed that up with a fight of the year knockout over crafty veteran, John Makdessi. Then he loses in a match with Teymur and didn’t show much fight IQ. Vannata needs to learn how to conserve his energy, and should initiated more wrestling in his game. I still think Vannata could be a star. So give him a washed up star like Takanori Gomi, who he could easily knock out and gain some buzz back.
Daniel Kelly: Derek Brunson
Plain and simple, Daniel Kelly is a lot better than he gets credit for. There is no way around it anymore, he is a top 15 middleweight. At 39 years old you would expect him to slow down, but he is getting better. He is now 6-1 in the UFC and on a 4 fight winning streak. The Olympic Judokan presses the pace, and has much improved striking. He simple outworks his opponents and gets better as the fight goes on.Former light heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans was a tough stylistic matchup for Kelly, due to his high level wrestling. But Kelly showed that he can win with his striking alone. He wants a ranked opponent. Let’s give him Derek Brunson. Brunson got screwed out of a decision against Anderson Silva. Let’s see if Kelly could pull another upset.
Rashad Evans: Should Retire
The former light heavyweight champion’s time has come. He is 37 years old, hasn’t won a fight in 3.5 years. He lost 3 in a row. He has had a failed attempt in a new weight class and has been denied a license to compete by two other commissions. He looks very slow, and only throws one punch at a time. Evans has made plenty of money (2.6 million accord to Tapology). Evans could turn into a coach at the newly formed Combat Club. If he doesn’t want to coach, he could be an analysis for Fox Sports 1. Hell, if FS1 doesn’t want him, we could find a position for him here.
Cynthia Calvillo: Nina Ansaroff
Calvillo looked fantastic in her debut in the UFC. She looked much better in the standup than her scouting reports said, especially against a boxer in Amanda Cooper. However, it was Calvillo’s ground game that was sensational. The way that she was able to transition from an anaconda choke to taking Cooper’s back was top notch. Calvillo is an attractive woman with some serious skills. We could be looking at a future star. However, I don’t want to rush her to much. She only has 4 fights under her belt. Let’s see this Team Alpha Male prospect face off against Nina Ansaroff, AKA Amanda Nunes girlfriend. Ansaroff is more well rounded than Cooper. Let’s see if Calvillo can take another step towards stardom.
Amanda Cooper: Mackenzie Dern
Cooper is only 1-2 in the UFC, but the Ultimate Fighter runner up is a lot better than her UFC record showed. Her two losses have come to Cynthia Calvillo and Tatiana Suarez, and both those girls are very good. Cooper is a decent striker but lacks pop and needs to improve on the ground. However, this matchup is more about Mackenzie Dern. Dern isn’t in the UFC yet, and only has two fights, but they should pick her up before Bellator does. She greatly needs to improve her striking and wrestling, but her grappling is 2nd to none. Let’s just say that she is the women’s version of Demain Maia. Plus she is very good looking. Let’s get her in the UFC soon.
Alistair Overeem: Cain Velasquez
Overeem was so close to winning the title from Stipe Miocic. He followed up that disappointment with knocking out Mark Hunt, which is a very hard thing to do. It is even more impressive considering Dana White stated that the fight was almost cancelled due to Overeem having to go to the hospital hours before the fight because of illness. Overeem’s biggest weakness is his chin. However it seems like he knows that his is issue. He fights much smarter know. He fights at range and initiates more wrestling in his game. Let’s put Overeem in a #1 contender matchup with former heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez. Vasquez is back to training, and hopefully returning soon. Put these two guys against each other in a #1 contender’s match.
Mark Hunt: Should Retire
The former K-1 kickboxing champion, is 42 years old and just got knocked out. He isn’t ranked in the top 10 anymore. Has lost 3 out of his last 5 fights. 4 out of 6 in his last fights if you count the Brock Lesnar fight as a loss. He is in a legal dispute against the UFC. Do we really want to see Hunt being a gate keeper and fighting guys like Marcin Tybura and Mark Godbear in non-PPV prelim matches? Let’s call it a career.