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Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with UFC 217 Fighters

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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; it is me stating that if I was in control of the UFC matchmaking how I would match these fighters next. I will give my matchups for all the fighters of UFC 217.

Usually, before the fights even happen, I brainstorm for potential matchups. This event ruined all of my plans because I went 0-3 in my predictions for the championship fights.

 

Georges St. Pierre: Robert Whittaker

You can debate if Georges St. Pierre cemented his spot as the Greatest MMA Fighter of All-Time. I ain’t gonna have that conversation anymore. To me he is. Two weight class champion, most wins in UFC history, most title wins in UFC history and has avenged every loss in his career.

So what should we do with him next? I would love to see how he would match up with the current welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. However, St. Pierre has stated that he is contractually obligated to defend his new title. UFC President, Dana White has already said that interim middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker is the first challenger to St. Pierre.

I am not crazy about St. Pierre facing some of the monsters in the middleweight division. My brain says Whittaker is an awful matchup for the Canadian legend, but my heart says, you can’t doubt him anymore.

Imagine the press conference with both of these guys trying to see who can be nicer than the other.

 

Michael Bisping: Luke Rockhold

I thought that Michael Bisping should have retired after losing his title to Georges St. Pierre on Saturday. What else does this man have to do? He has won and defended a UFC title and is a no-brainer for the UFC Hall of Fame.

I originally thought about matching him with Yoel Romero. I think the back and forth of these two at press conferences would be fun to watch. Bisping swearing at the Cuban wrestler while Romero responds by telling Bisping that he loves him and calling him “boy”. However, Romero is a physical freak and I would be really scared for the Bisping’s wellbeing in retirement after facing Romero.

I thought about a matchup with Anderson Silva. Let Bisping try to prove that his win over the longtime middleweight king wasn’t a fluke. However, I think it is likely that Silva loses to Gastelum, which would really take away from Silva’s stock.

How about we have Bisping face his old rival, Luke Rockhold. The two former middleweight champions have wins over each other and have been bickering with each other for years.  Time to finish the trilogy.

 

TJ Dillashaw: Demetrious Johnson for Flyweight Title

What a sensational performance by TJ Dillashaw. He showed some real grit. Dillashaw faced his bitter rival, who was coached by those that coached him. He was hurt badly by Garbrandt and somehow found a way to dig deep and pull out the knockout before. Dillashaw is showing mass improvements in each fight and took the perfect opportunity to call out the pound for pound king, Demetrious Johnson.

You have to remember that this article is what I would do. This article is not what I think the UFC will do. Demetrious Johnson has called for big fights, what bigger opportunity would he get than having a champion move down to his weight class to try to take the belt. I would prefer Johnson moving up to face Dillashaw but would settle with a matchup at flyweight.

Just for the record, I expect Dillashaw to defend his title against the winner of Dominick Cruz and Jimmie Rivera. But we can still dream.

 

Cody Garbrandt: John Lineker

I truly believe that Garbrandt will capture the title again. He was controlling the fight and landing some really big shots on Dillashaw. He made a mistake an paid for it. I think the best matchup next would be for him to face John Lineker. I would love to see these two power punches winging hooks and body shots at each other until only one bantamweight is standing.

 

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Rose Namajunas: Jessica Andrade

I am still shocked! If someone predicted that Rose Namajunas would beat Joanna Jedrzejczky, I would have told them they were wrong. If someone predicted that Rose Namajunas would stop Joanna Jedrzejczky by in the first round, I would call them crazy. If someone predicted that Rose Namajuans would knock Joanna Jedrzejczky in the first round, I would have driven them to the Mental Institute.

Jessica Andrade is the no-brainer next challenger in my eyes. She is a pressure fighter that physicality can’t be matched. She beat Claudia Gadelha worst than anybody to date. Andrade deserves another shot at the title.

 

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Winner of Tecia Torres / Michelle Waterson

So much for breaking Ronda Rousey’s streak. So much for moving up to flyweight and holding two titles simultaneously. So much for retiring undefeated. Jedrzejczyk said she had a surprise for everyone after the fight. Rose Namajunas had a surprise during the fight.

I know many people are calling for an immediate rematch. If anybody has ever deserved one, it would be Jedrzejczyk. I would make her rebuild her stock. The winner of Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson makes sense to me. Both are fighters that haven’t had a chance at the title or a chance at Jedrzejczyk. They would earn a shot at the title by beating their foe and then Jedrzejczyk.

 

Stephen Thompson: Colby Covington

With all the talk about the three title fights, nobody is talking about Stephen Thompson easily beating Jorge Masvidal. Thompson was too elusive for Masvidal. He easily slipped and slide by each of Masvidal’s shots and landed at will.

Thompson might be the nicest person alive (no disrespect to Robert Whittaker). He is the ultimate “good guy”. I say we match him up with the ultimate villain, Colby Covington. It is an interesting stylistic matchup for each. Could Covington take Thompson down, or would Thompson stuff the takedown and light Covington up on the feet.

Good vs Evil sound right to me.

 

Jorge Masvidal: Winner of Santiago Ponzinibbio / Mike Perry

I know I am gonna killed for this, everyone wants to see Darren Till face Mike Perry. I just can’t stop thinking that it would be a step down for Till after beating Donald Cerrone. Simple put, I would much rather see Till face an even higher ranked fighter next. Plus I think Ponzinibbio might ruin the matchmaker’s plans anyways.

Masvidal is on a two-fight skid, but still a top 10 fighter with a rock solid chin. I would love to see one of the two power punchers in Ponzinibbio or Perry try to be only the second fighter in history to knock out Masvidal in 46 professional fighters.

Plus imagine Perry vs Masvidal backstage exchanges on an Embedded series (Though again, I think Ponzinibbio beats Perry). Must watch TV.

 

Paulo “Borrachinha” Costa: Lyoto Machida

Paulo”Borrachinha” Costa picked up the biggest win of his career when he knocked out the former welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks. He got a chance at some spotlight by being featured on such a big Pay Per View card. The UFC is almost forced to feed the undefeated Brazilian another big name. I would match him up with former Light Heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in a co-main event of a UFC Fight Night card.

 

Johny Hendricks: Brad Scott

Johny Hendricks days of contention are a thing of the past, especially by being an undersized middleweight. His name is meant to bring some exposure to younger prospects like Paulo Borrachinha. However, he needs to win once in a while to trick the masses into thinking he is still relevant. Let’s see if he can beat a middling talent like Brad Scott. If he lost to Scott, send him packing.

Prelims:

  • James Vick: Loser of Anthony Pettis vs Dustin Poirier
  • Joseph Duffy: Winner of Joe Lauzon vs Clay Guida
  • Mark Godbeer: Walt Harris
  • Walt Harris: Mark Godbeer
  • Ovince St. Preaux: Ilir Latifi
  • Corey Anderson: Patrick Cummins
  • Randy Brown: Jonathan Meunier
  • Mickey Gall: Andrew Holbrook at 155 lbs.
  • Curtis Blaydes: Derrick Lewis
  • Aleksei Oleinik: Winner of Andrei Arlovski vs Junior Albini
  • Ricardo Ramos: Jose Quinones
  • Aiemann Zahabi: Russell Doane

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