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Who’s Next? Playing Match Maker With UFC Belem Fighters




Lyoto Machida: David Branch


This was a huge win for Machida. There were a lot of people calling for his retirement after his knockout loss to Derek Brunson in October of last year. Understandably so considering that was the third consecutive time he’d been finished in the octagon. A win over an up and coming terror like Eryk Anders should halt that talk for now. I think the matchup that makes the most sense for him after a win over a dangerous up and comer like Eryk Anders is David Branch. Branch was supposed to fight Yoel Romero next but because of an injury to UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, Romero was promoted to a title fight against Luke Rockhold. Now Branch finds himself without an opponent. Considering that he’s coming off of a loss to Rockhold and is just 1-1 since his return to the UFC, I think Romero was a tad highly ranked for him anyway. I think Machida represents a good test to see how Branch stacks up among the upper echelon of this division.


Eryk Anders: Uriah Hall


Anders lost to Lyoto Machida, and that’s okay. He’s still young in the sport and there’s no shame in falling victim to the tricks of a legend like Machida. It was an incredibly close fight and I still love his potential, so I don’t think you give him a nobody. He needs someone who’s going to test him but isn’t elite. Enter Uriah Hall. Hall is a great athlete and a very dangerous striker. With that being said, he’s also 1-3 in his last 4 outings. It’d be a good test for Anders and I believe it would tell us if his potential is real, or if he was just beating up on tomato cans in his first 10 fights.


Valentina Shevchenko: Lauren Murphy


Valentina Shevchenko needed to make a statement and that’s EXACTLY what she did. Shevchenko came into this fight coming off of a loss to bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes. In fact, Nunes is the only woman to best Shevchenko since 2010. The trouble is that Nunes beat her twice. It’s hard to sell a third fight under those circumstances. So Shevchenko made the decision to drop to flyweight. She was the consensus number two Bantamweight on the planet, so a debut like this at flyweight should put her in position for a number one contender bout. I believe the UFC will give Sajara Eubanks the shot that she missed out on, and the next highest ranked contender is Lauren Murphy. Murphy is coming off of a big win over Barb Honchak and would be deserving of a title shot with a win over Shevchenko in my opinion. So that’s the fight. Let these two face off with the winner getting a shot at the title.


Priscilla Cachoeira: Kalindra Faria


Priscilla Cachoeira showed a ton of toughness last night, but let’s call it what it is. She was plain, old-fashioned outclassed by Valentina Shevchenko. She was completely dominated and it’s time for a SIGNIFICANT step down in competition. Match her up against Kalindra Faria. Faria is coming off of a loss to popular veteran Jessica Eye. Both girls are talented, but both are coming off of losses to fighters that they were supposed to lose to. Let’s match them up in a “loser leaves town” fight, with the winner sticking around in the UFC.


Michel Prazeres: Jim Miller


Give this guy an opponent. He’s 7-2 in the UFC and has wins over Gilbert Burns and Josh Burkman. He’s currently on a six-fight winning streak and has only lost to former title challenger Kevin Lee and longtime welterweight contender Paulo Thiago in his career. Neither was able to finish him. He’s 36 years old and isn’t getting any younger. It’s flat out time to see what he’s got. Jim Miller would be a good test for him. The tough veteran isn’t what he used to be, but he’s still tricky and a tough out for anyone at 155. Let’s see what Prazeres has, shall we?


Desmond Green: Jordan Rinaldi


Desmond Green fell to 1-2 in the UFC with his loss in Belem. Sometimes that means the end of someones run in the organization, but the nature of how incredibly close this fight was combined with his victory over Team Alpha Male’s Josh Emmett will likely be enough to keep him around for one more shot. So, the question at hand. Who does he fight next? Well, I would put him in there against Jordan Rinaldi. Rinaldi is coming off of a one-sided loss to up and coming phenom Gregor Gillespie. I think both guys are fun to watch, and both haven’t quite realized their potential in the UFC. So let’s have them fight and see who rises to the occasion.


Timothy Johnson: Travis Browne


This win improved Johnson’s UFC record to 4-3. He is ranked 15 in the division and, although this wasn’t the most impressive performance, got the win over the up and Coming Marcelo Golm. Is he going to be fighting for the title anytime soon? No, but he’s had moments of brilliance. Travis Browne started out looking like a future UFC champion but along the line at some point, something changed. Gone is the impressive up and coming contender that was steamrolling through everyone the UFC had for him. Now we’re left with a 35-year-old heavyweight on a four-fight losing streak with nothing but his old highlights to lean on. So why not? I don’t think that the UFC brass is too concerned with building either man up at this point, so let’s put them in there and see what happens. If nothing else, it’s two hard-hitting heavyweights who are likely willing to stand and trade.


Marcelo Golm: Walt Harris


I’ll make this one short and to the point. Both are aggressive, both are finishers, and both need a win. If that isn’t a recipe for a fun fight, I don’t know what is. Neither fighter is ranked, neither really have that big win on their record, it just makes sense to me. Book it.


Douglas Silva De Andrade: Joe Soto


Douglas Silva De Andrade is 25-2(3-2 in the UFC) and looking pretty solid right now. This win bumped him up to a winning record in the UFC. He’s been inconsistent but shown flashes. What’s the best way to find out if someone is for real? Typically a tough veteran who’s been there and done that. Joe Soto fits that description. Soto faced off against Iuri Alcantara in Belem, losing in just 66 seconds. Now I don’t think this win was enough to earn Silva De Andrade a shot at Alcantara, but Soto will be looking at a step down in competition, and that’s exactly what Douglas Silva De Andrade would represent.


Marlon Vera: Matthew Lopez


Marlon Vera’s loss in Belem dropped his UFC mark to 4-4. He’s had his moments, but inconsistency has plagued him. So how about a match-up against another fighter with a .500 record in the UFC? Enter Matthew Lopez. Lopez is 2-2 in the octagon and is coming off of a knockout loss to perennial contender Raphael Assuncao. With that being said, he does own wins over Johnny Eduardo and Mitch Gagnon, so the skill set is there. I think both guys have a ton of potential. Maybe even enough to break into the top 10 in the next year or two. So why not match them up and see which one could be a contender going forward.


Thiago Santos: Paulo Costa


Thiago Santos won by knockout… again. That’s four in a row for Santos, all via KO. He was ranked number 15 in the official UFC rankings coming into last nights fight with unranked Anthony Smith. Time for a ranked opponent I’d say. How about undefeated contender Paulo Costa? Costa is ranked number 14 by the UFC and is coming off of a TKO victory over former welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks. He holds an 11-0 record(3-0 in the UFC) all via stoppage. Although Santos is 34, a lot of people view him as a potential contender in the future. Costa has made it clear that he’s going to break into the top 10 pretty quickly, so it seems to make sense. Plus there’s also the stylistic match-up. These guys both end fights in violent fashion. Find me a fan of MMA that doesn’t want to see this fight, I dare you. This is the fight to make in my opinion, please make it happen!


Anthony Smith: Daniel Kelly


Anthony Smith dropped to 4-2 in the UFC with his loss to Thiago Santos. Before this loss, he had won three in a row including a knockout of former Bellator champion Hector Lombard. Although he’s been up and down in the promotion, I don’t believe that he should be written off just yet. I still believe that he has the potential to stick around and make some noise in the UFC. I think the perfect fight for him at this point is none other than “dad-bod” himself, Daniel Kelly. Kelly is coming off of consecutive losses to Elias Theodorou and Derek Brunson, but before this little skid he had reeled off 4 straight wins. He holds notable victories over Rashad Evans and Chris Camozzi so he’s no easy fight. Match these guys up and see who gets back on track.












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