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 on Fox 24.
Demetrious Johnson: Joseph Benavidez
I understand that everyone wants Mighty Mouse to move up to 135 and set up superfights with Cody Garbrandt, Dominic Cruz, and TJ Dillashaw. That said, it ain’t gonna happen yet. Johnson has his heart set on breaking the all time defense records title. He has already wiped out the division, so there really is only two options. Ray Borg and Joseph Benavidez. There are many reasons why I picked Benavidez over Borg. Borg is only on a two fight winning streak and has missed weight in the past. Imagine promoting that Johnson might break the record, only for Borg to miss weight and make it a non-title fight. I understand that Johnson has beaten Benavidez twice already, but Benavidez is ranked #2 in the world and has won 6 fights in a row. You can’t deny him a shot forever. Don’t forget that their first fight was close too. Let’s give Benavidez one last chance to beat Johnson.
Wilson Reis: Henry Cejudo / Sergio Pettis winner
I feel bad for Wilson Reis. He has been in the sport for a long time, and when he finally gets so limelight he gets absolutely embarrassed. The saddest thing is being a BJJ blackbelt and being submitted very easily. After the loss, Reis is still ranked as a top 10 fighter, and could still be a nice test for anybody that is making a title run. With Cejudo and Pettis facing each other next, the winner would take a big leap towards a title shot. I think a win over the other and then a winner of Reis would seal the argument for a title shot.
Rose Namajunas: Joanna Jedzejczyk
This is not calling for a title shot. This is calling for Thug Rose to face Joanna Jedzejczyk next, even if she successfully defends her title vs Jessica Andrade or not. Jedzejczyk has cleared out the division and has beaten everyone in the division with any major significance except Namajunas. I understand it looks bad for Namajunas to get a title shot after being only on a 1 fight winning streak, but Jedzejczyk has already beaten everyone else. If Andrade wins the title, she can defend the title vs the winner of Claudia Gadelha vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz, while Jedrzejczyk and Namajunas square off in a #1 contender’s matchup.
Michelle Waterson: Felice Herrig / Justine Kish winner
Michelle Waterson is a fun action packed fighter, which combined with her good looks makes her promotional gold for the UFC. The UFC would love to have her as a champion, but her performance on Saturday pushed her a few steps back. The UFC loves matching up good looking fighters against each other. Felice Herrig fits that bill. Herrig picked up the best win of her career when she beat Alexa Grasso (another hot girl vs hot girl matchup) and if she can beat the undefeated Justine Kish, she would skyrocket up the rankings. Kish is in a similar position. Being that she still has yet to lose, a win over Herrig would make her stock greatly rise. The winner of Waterson vs Herrig or Kish would be right in the middle of the title hunt.
Robert Whittaker: Yoel Romero
I will admit that I never truly believed that Whittaker was a title contender. After Saturday Night, he showed me that I was dead wrong. He showed that that his striking is top notch, his takedown defense is strong and has good power. The biggest issue now if that the UFC middleweight division is logged game after Dan Henderson and now Georges St. Pierre gets undeserved title fights with Michael Bisping. It is still expected that Bisping and St. Pierre will face sometime this summer, which means bearing no injuries the next person to get a shot at the title wouldn’t get their chance until fall or early winter. So let’s make a true #1 contender match. Let’s see if Whittaker’s speed and accuracy could beat Romero’s athleticism and power.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: Chris Weidman
Jacare is 37, and he suddenly showed his age on Saturday night. Not taking anything away from Robert Whittaker, Jacare looked very slow. With Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Luke Rockhold, and Gegard Mousasi clearly in front of Jacare now for a title shot, it is the perfect time to face off against Chris Weidman. These two guys somehow have never faced each other, and are both looking like a shadow of their old self. One of them could put themselves back in the line for a title shot, and the other one could be looking at retirement.
Renato Moicano: The loser of Cub Swanson / Artem Lobov
I was impressed by Moicano. A guy that is known for his grappling, Moicano showed that he has solid takedowns, nice leg kicks, and fast hands. While some would say he ran from Jeremy Stephens, and I have no issue with that, I believe that he showed that he can stay composed and can stick to a game plan. Being that he was on the main card and just beat a top 10 guy, I think he needs another big named opponent. I don’t think he is ready for a top 5 guy, so why not the loser of Saturday’s main event between Cub Swanson and Artem Lobov. Similar to Stephens, both guys are known for their striking which might be perfect for Moicano.
Jeremy Stephens: Raoni Barcelos
I have always liked Jeremy Stephens and he has had a nice run in the UFC, but let’s face it, he is pretty much just a power puncher at this point in his career. Moicano showed that if you can avoid the power shots from Stephens (easier said than done), you should be able to beat him. Stephens still has a decent size name, and the highlight reel to use as a measuring stick for top prospects. That is why I want to UFC to sign the #1 featherweight prospect in MMA, Raoni Barcelos. Barcelos is very similar to Moicano. He is well rounded with fast, accurate hands and a nice grappling game. Barcelos is 29 years old, so the UFC needs to sign him now, and match him against a guy like Jeremy Stephens now.