Who’s Next? Playing Matchmaker with UFC 212 Fighters
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 the fighters of UFC 212
Max Holloway: Frankie Edgar
How sensational was Max Holloway on Saturday night? The guy is on an 11 fight winning streak and is now the undisputed UFC featherweight champion. All while still only 25 years old. He is long, fights at a high output, has outstanding footwork, and is developing some serious power. He also displayed a granite chin and huge heart after withstanding everything Jose Aldo Jr landed in the first two rounds of the fight.
Frankie Edgar is the easy pick to be the first challenger to Holloway’s belt. The former lightweight champion displayed in his destruction of Yair Rodriguez that he is still one of the best fighters in the game. On paper, it would look like an easy win for Holloway, who at such a young age, might not even have reached his prime yet. However, I would caution people to remember that Edgar has been counted out his entire career and has beaten many people he wasn’t supposed to.
Jose Aldo Jr: Chan Sung Jung
Instead of staying at featherweight, I would like the longtime featherweight champion to move up to lightweight where there are plentiful of intriguing matchups. I am really concerned that the weight cut plus the damage Aldo has received in his matchup with Aldo, his knockout loss to Conor McGregor and even his war with Chad Mendes in their second fight has taken a major toll on the Brazilian. I am also wondering why Aldo would abandon his leg kicks, which are his best weapon.
I think moving to lightweight would be the best move to attempt to prolong his career, but if he insists on staying at featherweight, he should fight Chan Sung Jung. Aldo defended his belt against “The Korean Zombie” at UFC 163. The fight was competitive but came to a sudden stop due to a freak injury to Jung. These two have some unfinished business. Jung is currently injured, but if he can return in a reasonable timeframe, let’s match them up.
Claudia Gadelha: Jessica Andrade
Finding the right opponent for Gadelha is tricky. I believe that she is the perfect candidate to move up to the flyweight division when it is established. Being that she has already lost to champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she shouldn’t expect a title shot soon. So if she remains at strawweight, let’s put her against Jessica Andrade, who also has recently lost to the champion. I want to see them matchup because it is a fun stylistic matchup. Both fighters are known for their ability to overpower their opponents with their power and athleticism. Gadelha does her best work in the clinch and with takedowns, while Andrade is a great pressure fighter that works great in the pocket. Let the two face off and see who can impose their will.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Randa Markos
Kowalkiewicz, the once promising Polish fighter, is now on a two-fight losing streak. These are the only blemish on her record so far. Being that the strawweight division is in such need for contenders, I think the UFC should try to find a more favorable opponent for Kowalkiewicz. Randa Markos is coming off of an upset win over former champion, Carla Esparza. The winner of this matchup would take a step closer to a title shot.
Vitor Belfort: Urijah Hall
Belfort is so confusing. First, he says that the Marquardt matchup was his last fight. Then he says it would only be the last fight in the UFC. Then we hear that he has one fight remaining on his contract, Lastly, he says he wants to fight five more times. I remember Belfort’s debut. I have enjoyed watching his career, but I know long have interested in seeing him fight anymore. Especially if he is going to fight cautiously like he did on Saturday night. However, being that the former Light Heavyweight champion still has a big name, I don’t see the UFC not giving his opponents. What the heck, just let him fight Urijah Hall.
Nate Marquardt: Release From the UFC
I know many people think Marquardt beat Belfort. I scored it 29-28 for Belfort but I have no issue with anybody scoring it for Marquardt. With that said, he still has lost 8 out of his last 11 fights. Marquardt is 38 years old. He has 55 fights in his career and has been a professional for 18 years. I think it is time for him to hang it up. If he won’t call it a career, I think the UFC should simply cut the former King of Pancrase.
Paulo Henrique Costa: Anthony Smith
Borrachinha looked good on Saturday. We already knew that he was a great athlete with some serious power. On Saturday, he showed that he has a good fight IQ as well. The Brazilian showed patience, picking the shots that Oluwale Bamgbose gave him. He showed intelligence by working the body of the tired fighter. Borrachinha is still only 26 years old and should not be rushed. Match him up against Anthony Smith. Smith is a crafty veteran, who uses his length well, and works really well in the clinch. Let’s see how Borrachinha does against somebody with a different skill set.
Oluwale Bamgbose: Hector Lombard
Bamgbose is an explosive athlete that hits hard but has one of the worst gas tanks in all of MMA. He was doing pretty well the first two minutes of his fight against Paulo Borrachinha. Then suddenly it looked like he was fighting underwater. Bamgbose is still fun to watch. Match him against another explosive athlete with big power in Hector Lombard. Let the two throw haymakers at each other and see who remains standing.
Yancy Mederios: Zak Cummings
Mederios is the next sample of a fighter that looks much better moving up to a more natural weight. Since the Hawaiin fighter moved up to welterweight, he looks comfortable and has some nice power. He has asked for a top 10 opponent, but I wouldn’t give him that yet. I would give him Zak Cummings, who is still a step up in competition. Cummings is 6-2 in the UFC welterwight division and also looking a top 10 opponent. Let these two scrap and then the winner can face a top 10 guy.
Erick Silva: Ben Saunders
Yes, I think it was a bit of an early stoppage on Saturday night. However, that doesn’t change that Silva has once again been dropped multiple times in fights. The once highly touted prospect appears to be nothing more than what I call a card filler. Just a body to help complete a card. Let’s stop pretending that he is going to turn a corner and become a world killer. Let’s just match him up with another card filler and let the two fight to remain in the UFC. Ben Saunders seems like the perfect guy for the job.
Rest of the Card:
- Raphael Assuncao: the winner of Jimmie Rivera vs Thomas Almeida
- Marlon Moraes: Eddie Wineland
- Antonio Carlos Jr: David Branch
- Eric Spicely: the loser of Johny Henricks vs Tim Boetsch
- Matthew Lopez: Luke Sanders
- Johnny Eduardo: Davey Grant
- Brian Kelleher: Aiemann Zahabi
- Yuri Alcantara: Raufeon Stots (Brought in from Victory FC)
- Viviane Pereira: Pearl Gonzalez
- Jamie Moyle: Amanda Cooper
- Luan Chagas: Mickey Gall
- Jim Wallhead: Release From the UFC
- Deiveson Alcantara Figueiredo: Jose Torres (Brought in from Titan FC)
- Marco Beltran: Release From the UFC