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Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with UFC Sao Paulo Fighters

FORT CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 6: Derek Brunson reacts after defeating Brian Houston in their UFC middleweight bout on November 6, 2013 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Derek Brunson

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 Sao Paulo.


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Derek Brunson: Luke Rockhold

I have always thought Derek Brunson was underrated. He is coming off back to back quick knockouts over Daniel Kelly and Lyoto Machida. He lost a terrible decision to Anderson Silva. However if you go even deeper, he almost beat Yoel Romero and had Robert Whittaker hurt really bad.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Brunson actually made a title run. He is a good wrestler with serious power in his hands. I know many people have questioned his fight IQ, myself included. But if he can eliminate some moments of inconsistency, he is a very tough matchup for everyone.

I love when fighters make my job easy by calling for a fight that makes sense. With Georges St. Pierre getting the first crack at the middleweight title and then interim champion, Robert Whittaker getting the 2nd shot, we have a long waiting list. Top contender are gonna have to fight each other and attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. That is why Brunson vs Luke Rockhold makes sense. Have them fight each other with the winner taking a big step towards a title shot.



Lyoto Machida: Thiago Santos

Lyoto Machida is 39 years old, he has lost 4 out of his last five fights including getting destroyed in his last three fights. He hasn’t wanna fight in 3 years. Father time has caught up to the former Light Heavyweight champion. At this point, it is best to use his name to build up younger fighters.

Thiago Santos fits this billing. He is on a three-fight winning streak with all three coming by way of devastating knockout. He is currently ranked in the top 15 in the UFC rankings and with improved takedown defense, he can be serious threat. Let these two Brazilians face off against each other.


Colby Covington: Robbie Lawler / Rafael dos Santos Loser

Love him or hate him, Colby Covington has turned into must watch TV. The young brash wrestler has talked himself into big fights as of recent, and so far, he has delivered. Dana White has already said that the winner of Robbie Lawler vs Rafael dos Anjos will get the next crack at Tyron Woodley. So let’s have Covington fight the loser of that matchup. He already have trashed both of them in interviews (especially the one he did with me). He wants to face both these guys, let half of his wish come true.


Demian Maia: Kamaru Usman / Emil Meek Winner

Wrestlers that can stuff takedowns have become kryptonite for the BJJ master, Demian Maia. As he has gotten older, his gas tank has gotten smaller. With his world class BJJ, he can still catch anybody with a submission. However, on a two-fight losing streak and a guy that the UFC never wanted to push, it seems very unlikely that the Brazilian will get another shot at the title.

I would use Maia similar to how I would use Lyoto Machida. Make him a test for future contenders. The winner of Kamaru Usman and Emil Meek makes sense to me. Usman is viewed as a legit title challenger and Meek loves violence. Let’s see if the winner can get by Maia.


Pedro Munhoz: John Lineker

Pedro Munhoz is a very well rounded fighter that has flown under the radar. He is known for his BJJ, but he has displayed some nice takedowns and good striking in the pocket. His win over Rob Font opened eyes and should get the ATT product a big matchup.

John Lineker works for me. The compacted firecracker that works the body and head better with the best of them would be a great stylistic matchup. The two fighters like pressuring their foe. With them on the same schedule, let’s book it now.


Rob Font: Marlon “Chito” Vera

So let’s have the winners fight and let’s have the losers fight. Both Rob Font and Marlon “Chito” Vera have promise. Both guys are big for the weight class. Font’s bread and butter is having boxing, while Vera uses his kicks and slick grappling. Both fighters are younger enough to rebound from a lost. I would let them figure out who can rebound.


Francisco Trinaldo: Joe Duffy vs James Vick Winner

How is Francisco Trinaldo getting better at 39 than at 29? He has won 8 out of his last 9 fights inside he octagon. However, at his age, he doesn’t have the luxury of waiting around for an opponent. Insert the winner of Joe Duffy vs James Vick. They fight this Saturday, so they would be on the same return schedule as Trinaldo and the winner would be on the cusp of a top 10 ranking.


Jim Miller: Mairbek Taisumov

Somebody has to fight Mairbek Taisumov. Miller is willing to fight anybody.


Thiago Santos: Lyoto Machida

See Lyoto Machida above


Jack Hermansson: Hector Lombard

The hype on Jack Hermansson came crashing down after being easily knocked out by Thiago Silva. He need a “name” that is easy to beat to gain some of that hype back. Hector Lombard is always ready to be that man.


John Lineker: Pedro Munhoz

See Pedro Munhoz above.


Marlon “Chito” Vera: Rob Font

See Rob Font above.


  • Vicente Luque: Tarec Saffiedine
  • Niko Price: Alberto Mina
  • Antonio Carlos Junior: Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Borrachinha Winner
  • Jack Marshman: Brad Scott
  • Elizeau Zaleski dos Santos: Peter Sobotta
  • Max Griffin: Nathan Coy
  • Jared Gordon: Vinc Pichel
  • Hacran Dias: Release From the UFC
  • Deiveson Figueiredo: Hector Sandoval
  • Jarred Brooks: Joseph Morales
  • Marcelo Golm: Azunna Anyanwu
  • Christian Colombo: Release From the UFC

Make sure to follow me at @ShilltheThrill1 to talk fights.

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