18/32 All Time
The UFC promised three events in a week after the cancellation of UFC 249, and while many were skeptical that they could pull it off in a post Coronavirus world, Dana White and the team made it happen! Whole the next UFC Event is still up in the air, here I will share who I think each fighter should scrap with next below:
Rodrigo Nascimento – Chase Sherman
Now, I know on Thursday I said I would like Chase Sherman (15-6 Career, 3-5 UFC) to fight Yorgan De Castro next, but the first fight last night changed things. UFC Newcomer Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0 Career, 1-0) had a spectacular debut win over Don’Tale Mayes – and clearly showed to me that his second fight in the UFC can be against tough competition. Sherman won his fight Wednesday in similar fashion to Nascimento, and coming off those wins it would be a heavyweight firefight sure to be fan friendly.
Don’Tale Mayes – Carlos Felipe
Since his win on the Contender Series to earn a UFC Contract, Don’Tale Mayes (7-4 Career, 0-2 UFC) Has been submitted in both his fights with the organization. I like Mayes, he is a massive, strong heavyweight who always fights rushing forward – but everyone knows that if you want to keep your job in the UFC, you have to win.
My idea is to have Mayes throw down with power punching Brazilian Carlos Felipe (8-0 Career, 0-0 UFC). Felipe has been recently signed from the Shooto Brazil organization, and has yet to make his UFC Debut. This fight works because 1. Felipe has 0 submission victories, so Mayes will have a more comfortable matchup for his fight style and 2. Mayes has a chance prove he should be in the UFC, losing back to back fights to fighters making their debut would likely get a fighter cut – but a win shows he can do big things when his back is against the wall.
Courtney Casey – Roxanne Modafferi
Entering this fight, Courtney Casey (9-7 Career, 5-6 UFC) was 1-3 in her last four fights with all three losses coming by way of close decisions. Casey moved up to 125 lbs last night and looked better than ever with a submission victory. Casey should stick around and make a run at flyweight, facing gritty veteran Roxanne Modaferri (24-16 Career, 3-3 UFC) would be a great test for her. Modaferri is just as proficient of a grappler as Casey, and the matchup would feature two fighters in a very similar career position, both needing to string wins together in streaks to make a contender run.
Maria Romero Borella – Pearl Gonzalez (Invicta FC)
Italian well-rounded veteran Maria Romero Borella (12-8 Career, 2-4 UFC) has lost 4 of her last 5 fights in the octagon and I can see the UFC wanting her to put together some wins outside the UFC before wanting her to return. All women’s organization Invicta FC, which has close ties with the UFC, should welcome Borella with open arms to match her up with Pearl Gonzalez (10-5 Career, 4-2 Invicta FC). Gonzalez has UFC experience, and is 1-1 since her title shot with Invicta. Borella snagging a win over her could put her in immediate contention to fight Invicta champ Vanessa Porto.
Nate Landwehr – Charles Rosa
Now snagging his first win since signing with the UFC from the M-1 Russian Circuit, Tennessee native Nate Landwehr (14-3 Career, 1-1 UFC) carved up Darren Elkins in a 15 minute mauling to earn his keep in the UFC. He has a fun personality and has a fan favorite fighting style. I can see the UFC wanting him to fight fellow up and comers, but I would like to see him in there with Charles Rosa (12-4 Career, 3-4 UFC) next. Rosa has alternated each fight with loss followed by a win, and I would like to see him tested with a tough up and coming striker to see if he can get back in the win column following a loss to Bryce Mitchell. Landwehr can use another veteran notch on his belt as he progresses in his young career.
Darren Elkins – Irwin Rivera
After being bloodied up badly enough to resemble a scene in a Quentin Tarantino movie, veteran Darren Elkins (24-9 Career, 14-8 UFC) has now dropped 4 straight bouts following his 6-fight win streak which was snapped in 2018. Elkins is far from losing his job in the UFC, but the 36 year old with his take damage and rally style may need to start getting out of these wild exchanges with submission wins to preserve his career longevity. Irwin Rivera (who I will discuss shortly) is a UFC newcomer who will engage Elkins but also provide a window for Elkins to do well on the ground.
Giga Chikadze – Zubaira Takhugov
Earning his fifth straight victory and showcasing his flashy style, Giga Chikadze (10-2 Career, 3-0 UFC) put on a kickboxing clinic last night and showed that he clearly is ready take his career to a new level of fighters. The best entry to the hot-streak filled featherweights is Russian slick striker Zubaira Takhugov (19-4-1 Career, 4-1-1 UFC). He has won 10 of his last 12 fights, with a draw and lone loss in close decision to top contender Renato Moicano. A showdown of these two precision strikers would be fascinating, and justify Chikadze earning a world ranking.
Irwin Rivera – Darren Elkins
I spoke about this matchup earlier, and I really do believe that Irwin Rivera (9-4 Career, 0-1 UFC) is ready in his young career for a veteran like Elkins after only one UFC Fight. One, I think Chikadze is WAY better than people know, and two, his style is similar to Nate Landwehr who beat Elkins with ease. A good test and a possibility for Rivera to make a name for himself beating a known fighter.
Kevin Holland – Karl Roberson
Following his stellar 40 second KO last night, Kevin Holland (17-5 Career, 4-2 UFC) called out Mickey Gall for his next opponent. I don’t like that matchup at all. I know after the win over WWE star CM Punk, Gall became more popular and fighters see him as a gateway to more fame, but a fight with Holland is a bad fit to me. First, Gall is a weight class below, and Holland is already a 6’3 middleweight who cannot possibly make 170 lbs safely. Also, I believe Gall is a talented tough fighter – but in his 5-2 record in the UFC, none of the opponents he has beaten are still in the organization. Holland is a surging middleweight and his opponent should be as well.
My ideal matchup would be a showdown with former pro kickboxer Karl Roberson (9-2 Career, 4-2 UFC). Roberson only has one loss at middleweight, and offers a dynamic striking matchup with Holland. The only problem is that I am not sure if Roberson will continue at middleweight after missing weight last week, but if he insists on staying that’s the one I want.
Anthony Hernandez – Bruno Silva
Picking up his second loss in the UFC, Anthony Hernandez (7-2 (1) Career, 1-2 UFC) looks to be a really talented prospect who has struggled shifting gears to the next level of opposition. I like his fighting style, and believe he is at a similar level of talent with Brazilian knockout artist Bruno Silva (19-6 Career, 0-0 UFC). Silva has been on the shelf since his his signing last year from M-1 dealing with complications with a drug test, and I think a spectacular debut opportunity would be a dogfight with the tough Hernandez.
Miguel Baeza – Bryan Barbarena
Miguel Baeza (9-0 Career, 1-0 UFC) had a show stopping knockout over Matt Brown in his UFC debut, certain to jumpstart his career high up the ranks as he enters the warzone that is the UFC welterweight division. I usually wouldn’t suggest such a massive leap in opponent for a fighterin his second UFC Fight, but dominating a legend like Brown warrants a matchup such as Bryan Barbarena (14-7 Career, 5-5 UFC). Barbarena is 2-4 in his last six, keep in mind that those 4 losses are against extremely high level competition. Beating a prospect can get momentum going in the right direction, or serve as a tremendous showcase for a young talent in Baeza.
Matt Brown – Carlos Condit
Two things I cannot believe are: 1. How legend Matt Brown (22-17 Career, 15-11 UFC) is 39 years old with 39 pro fights still loves to get into slugfests with no hint at retiring and 2. How in his 15 year pro career fighting everyone up the ranks, he never has been matched up with Carlos Condit (30-13 Career, 7-9 UFC). The two sluggers would promise a fight of the night caliber of war, and are both in the twilight of their careers. If both of them choose to keep their careers going, this is for sure a great farewell opportunity.
Song Yadong – Rematch with Cody Stamann
Doing these recaps, one of the trickiest things to account for with these mock matchups is what to do when a fighter wins a judges decision he probably should not have won. I believe the judges made a mistake in awarding Song Yadong (16-4-1 (1) Career, 3-0-1 UFC) the victory last night. So what should they do? Book an immediate rematch? It’s hard to justify him getting a higher ranked opponent, but also strange to punish a fighter who did technically win.
I suggest a rematch with Cody Stamann (18-2-1 Career, 4-1-1 UFC). Yadong and Stamann fought last on December 7th, and fought to a draw after Yadong was deducted a point for an illegal knee. They are both on the cusp of the top 10 at 135 lbs, and giving it another go would establish a clear contender.
Marlon Vera – Rob Font
Leading up to his bout last night, Marlon Vera (15-6-1 Career, 9-5 UFC) was on a five fight win streak, only to be snapped by a split decision I believe he should have won. It was a close fight, and I see no reason matchmakers shouldn’t treat his performance as a win and give him contender Rob Font (17-4 Career, 7-3 UFC). Both fighters are very well rounded with an even blend of knockout and submission victories, and would set up a neatly planned matchup with the Yadong v Stamann winner mentioned above.
Krzysztof Jotko – Antônio “Shoeface” Carlos Junior
After dropping three straight, Krzysztof Jotko (22-4 Career, 9-4 UFC) has now strung together three straight wins, surging in the middleweight division the way people expected when he entered the UFC as an undefeated prospect in 2013. I would like to see him against top Brazilian middleweight Antônio “Shoeface” Carlos Júnior (10-4 (1) Career, 7-4 (1) UFC) in his next showing. Jotko has only been submitted once in his career but hasn’t fought too many fighters who have threatening submissions, so I would like to see how well he handles a top level grappler in Shoeface, to prove he can handle the beastly BJJ practitioners that 185 lbs has to offer.
Eryk Anders – Gokhan Saki at Light Heavyweight
Former linebacker at the University of Alabama Eryk Anders (13-5 Career, 5-5 UFC) is clearly a freak athlete who has shown that when he is at peak performance, he is unbelievably difficult to deal with. However, the older he gets – the more it seems that the cut to 185 lbs is hurting his performances. He is 1-2 at middleweight, and in all three performances it looked as if he was unable to keep up the endurance pace as the fights continued. A 195 lbs weight class would be perfect for Anders if it existed, but until then I think we see him at his best at 205. Former kickboxing world champion Gokhan Saki (1-2 Career, 1-1 UFC) is an intriguing fight at 205 for Anders. Saki hasn’t fought in two years and backed out of a fight in March due to injury, but when he returns I would love to see a master kickboxer like Saki take on a fighter with the strength and speed of Anders.
Dan Ige – Shane Burgos
There is no doubt in my mind the UFC will book this fight. After a razor thin decision – rising star Dan Ige (14-2 Career, 6-1 UFC) extends his winning streak to six fights after his loss in his UFC debut in 2017. Ige fought an exciting aggressive fight against a dangerous striker, and is likely 2-3 fights away from a title shot. Shane Burgos (13-1 Career, 6-1 UFC) is in basically the exact same boat. Burgos has won six of his last seven fights, and a win against Ige, in what promises to be an affair chalked full of volume striking, would open up a chance to avenge his only loss to Calvin Kattar en route to a title fight.
Edson Barboza – Cub Swanson
Two takeaways from watching this fight last night in regards to human highlight reel Edson Barboza’s (20-9 Career, 14-9 UFC) featherweight debut: 1. He has no problem making 145 lbs and 2. He doesn’t fade at all late in fights and kept it close with a top contender. I’d like to see him at 145 again, and I’d like to see him against fellow veteran striker Cub Swanson (26-11 Career, 16-10 UFC/WEC). Swanson had a stellar victory over rising superstar Kron Gracie last year, but tore his ACL in a jiu-jitsu match with Jake Shields shortly after, keeping him on the sideline. With Swanson returning later this year, it would be a striking test for Barboza as he tries to become more comfortable at 145 lbs.
Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill – Immediate Rematch
Last night’s co main event between strawweights Claudia Gadelha (18-4 Career, 8-4 UFC) and Angela Hill (12-8 Career, 11-8 UFC) was as close as a fight can be without being a draw in my opinion. I think an argument can be made under the new unified rules of MMA (Which Florida abides by) the first round should have been scored 10-8 for Gadelha – leading to what I would think to be a 28-28 final. That didn’t happen, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t try and do this fight once again.
The only other option on the table that are clear to me – would be to pair Gadelha with Carla Esparza and Hill with Michelle Waterson. Esparza and Waterson fought to a close decision last week, so an alternative for the 4 top fighters at 115 lbs would be to pair up the respective winners and losers, I would just prefer the rematch option.
Alistair Overeem – Rematch with Jairzinho Rozenstruik
MMA veteran Alistair Overeem (46-18 (1) Career, 11-7 UFC) celebrated his 40th birthday with a picture perfect knockout in the main event, keeping him floating near the top 5 of the heavyweight division. To me, it is a clear call – a second go around with Suriname native Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1 Career, 4-1 UFC). The first fight between them was December 7th of last year, where Overeem was on a clear path to victory on the judges scorecards, until he was knocked out with seconds remaining in the final round. Overeem took the fight on last minute notice as well, raising questions about how the fight would go if Overeem has a second chance. With a big win last night and a loss from Rozenstruik last week to Francis Ngannou (who also owns a ko win over Overeem), it makes perfect sense to run this one back later this year.
Walt Harris – Greg Hardy
Before I get into the matchup – I do want to say that I was a tad bit bothered by the constant coverage of Walt Harris’ stepdaughters kidnapping and murder to promote the fight. I’m not saying it’s not worth mentioning, it’s a major piece in the story of a great fighter and great man who is dealing with unspeakable tragedy. But the constant belaboring of the story through the entire evening made it harder to appreciate Overeem’s win, as the energy generated by the broadcast more somber than celebratory.
With that said, Walt Harris (13-8 (1) Career, 7-7 (1) UFC) had a tough fight with a very tough opponent, and still is a ranked fighter in the UFC. I mentioned last week that the UFC should fast track Greg Hardy (6-2 (1) Career, 3-2 (1) UFC) up the ladder and this is the caliber of opponent I think would make sense. For Harris, it is a very popular opponent to get him major broadcast coverage, and a matchup he would certainly be favored in. For Hardy, it would provide the NFL star turned cage fighter an opportunity to knock off a top opponent and thrust himself right into the mix at heavyweight. This could be an ESPN headliner without question, both in terms of promotional and entertainment value.
Three events in one week down. Can’t wait for the UFC to figure out more dates so we can do this again soon.