Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with UFC 218

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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 the UFC 218.

 

Max Holloway: Frankie Edgar

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I wrote in this week’s Great Debate, prior to the main event of UFC 218, that Jose Aldo Jr is a legend, but Max Holloway will become a legend. I am even more confident in that bold statement now. He put on a legendary performance. The way Holloway swarmed Aldo was amazing. To be able to sustain that type of pace was incredible. The scariest is part of Holloway’s game is that he is only 25. He is on a tremendous 12 fight winning streak and he might not have even reached his prime yet.

Frankie Edgar is the obvious pick for the next challenger to Holloway’s diadem. The two was originally scheduled to face each other in Saturday’s main event until Edgar broke his orbital bone While I think Holloway would enter the fight as a massive favorite over the former lightweight champion, Edgar has proven in the past the ability to overcome insurmountable odds (See his first two fights with BJ Penn).

 

Jose Aldo Jr: Winner of Ricardo Lamas and Josh Emmett

After wars with Frankie Edgar, and Chad Mendes, being knocked out by Conor McGregor, and beatdown down twice by Max Holloway, it’s really hard to figure out how much more damage the 31 former featherweight champion can take. I thought about putting Aldo in matches at lightweight (I think it would be a good move), but I think he still owes Ricardo Lamas a rematch. The two were originally scheduled to fight later this month at UFC on Fox 26, but Aldo was promoted to a title fight against Max Holloway.

Josh Emmett replaced Aldo and will fight Lamas. He is a wrestle-boxer out of Team Alpha Male. If he pulls off the upset over Lamas, he would deserve a shot at Aldo. Aldo has a long history against wrestle-boxers (Brown, Faber, Mendes, Edgar etc) and Team Alpha Male fights (Faber, Mendes). I would be down to see Aldo face another one.

 

Francis Ngannou: Stipe Miocic

Francis Ngannou is the scariest man alive. I don’t remember a heavyweight that was this intimidating in all of combat sports since a prime Mike Tyson. Ngannou is still new to MMA and learning on the fly.  However, he passed the biggest test of his career with flying colors. He faced one of the top guys in the division in Alistair Overeem and delivered one of the worst knockouts in MMA history. He cemented his case as the clear-cut contender to the heavyweight belt and title of “World’s Baddest Man”.

MMA is a star-driven sports. With Brock Lesnar and likely Ronda Rousey retired, the Diaz brothers not wanting to fight anybody, Jon Jones suspended again, and Conor McGregor living like a rock star, the UFC is in dire need of a new star. A heavyweight with record-breaking knockout power sounds like a potential star to me.  Is Francis Ngannou ready for Stipe Miocic? It’s extremely hard to pick out his flaws with so little cage time. However, the UFC needs a star and a heavyweight champion could be a star. Miocic vs Ngannou for the title is the move to make.

 

Alistair Overeem: Alexander Volkov

With 18 years as a professional fighter, and 59 career fights and 11 losses by TKO/KO.  I think Overeem should call it a career. However like he said in a recent interview, he enjoys fighting and doesn’t want to stop. Overeem is still a big name in the sport and has the skills to beat some of the toughest guys in the division. He should be used as a measuring stick to see if a fighter is ready for a title fight. Alexander Volkov is 6’7″ and a perfect 3-0 in the UFC. He has quickly climbed the ranks of the UFC. Put him up against Overeem to see if he is ready to make the big jump to the UFC.

Henry Cejudo: Winner of Jussier Formiga and Ben Nguyen

UFC President, Dana White said that TJ Dillashaw will fight Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight title next. If it isn’t true, then Olympic wrestling champion, Henry Cejudo should get another crack at Mighty Mouse. Cejudo is improving in each fight. He displayed serious standup in his fight against Wison Reis. He followed it up in his fight against Sergio Pettis by reminding everyone that he at one time was considered the best wrestler in the entire world. So if Cejudo doesn’t get the next title shot, he should be put in a #1 contender matchup against the winner of Jussier Formiga vs Ben Nguyen. The winner of that matchup fights for the title.

 

Sergio Pettis: Ray Borg

Before everyone writes off Sergio Pettis, let’s remember that he is only 24 years old. Instantly everyone is saying he can’t wrestle. Sergio Pettis can wrestle, he simply can’t stuff takedowns from an Olympic champion in Henry Cejudo. Pettis is a well-rounded fighter. He should fight another wrestler just not an Olympic champion. Like Pettis, Ray Borg is coming off a loss. Match them up and see, which fighter can get back on the winning ways.

Eddie Alvarez: Dustin Poirier

Just when everyone was writing off Eddie Alvarez, he pulls off one of the biggest wins of his career (winning title was clearly his biggest win). Alvarez showed legendary heart and resilience. Justin Gaethje turned his left leg into roast beef and literally broke his face. However, like Eddie Alvarez said, “don’t bring the dog out of him”.Alvarez showed he is the king of violence. He and Dustin Poirier still have unsettled business due to their No-Contest. I want to see them two in a war.

 

Justin Gaethje: James Vick

The previously unbeaten Justin Gaethje has been asking for his equal and Eddie Alvarez showed he is more than his equal. Though Gaethje lost his perfect record on Saturday, I doubt he lost a fan. We knew that he would eventually lose a fight due to his reckless and ultimately insane fighting style. The bit down on your mouthpiece and swing for the fences isn’t always going to work, but it will always win over the crowd. James Vick has been asking for a big name and always has gone to great length to bash Gaethje’s name. Vick is also a fighter that invites a slugfest. Gaethje vs Vick is pure violence.

 

Tecia Torres: Winner of Carla Esparza vs Cynthia Calvillo

With a win over current UFC strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas (some think she beat her again in their rematch), you could make a very compelling argument that Tecia Torres should get the first crack at Rose Namajunas. However, I think Jessica Andrade and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is ahead of her in the pecking order. I would like to see this top talent face the winner of former champion Carla Esparza and Cynthia Calvillo. Both of those girls are looking to throw their names in the hot for a title shot. The winner of Torres vs Esparza/Calvillo winner would take a giant step towards getting their wish granted.

Michelle Waterson: Aleksandra Albu

Michelle Waterson is a talented fighter with beauty. However, she has lost her last 2 fights. Let’s see if she can rebound by beating the undefeated and also very good looking Aleksandra Albu next.

 

Prelims:

  • Paul Felder: Al Iaquinta
  • Charles Oliveira: Michel Prazeres
  • Yancy Medeiros: Li Jingliang
  • Alex Oliveira: Peter Sobotta
  • David Teymur: Gregor Gillespie
  • Drakkar Klose: Drew Dober
  • Felice Herrig: Livia Renato Souza
  • Cortney Casey: Poliana Botelho
  • Amanda Bobby Cooper: Nadia Kassem
  • Angela Magana: Cut From the UFC
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan: Sabah Homasi
  • Sabah Homasi: Abdul Razak Alhassan
  • Dominick Reyes: Devin Clark
  • Jeremy Kimball: Mike Rodriguez
  • Justin Willis: Tai Tuivasa
  • Allen Crowder: Azunna Anyanwu

 

 

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