All the best, most interesting, and without a doubt coolest fights the UFC can book following their most recent fight card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
UFC 212 is in the books and once again the UFC has a new featherweight champion. Jose Aldo had a nearly un-broken 7-year run as the top fighter at 145 lbs in the world. Conor McGregor played spoiler, briefly, but Max Holloway seems to have put a much more definitive stamp on the end of that run. So what’s next for the new king? What’s next for Claudia Gadelha? What’s next for Vitor Belfort?
To answer these questions, I’m diving into the classic Silva/Shelby school of UFC matchmaking. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent against one another. If you want to take your shot at creating matchups along side me, leave a comment below starting, “This is what kings do. Kings go to other kings’ villages and they take over.” I’ll pick a winner out of the respondents below. This week’s winner is Timqwe, otherwise known as “Tim.” So, lets get to the fight booking…
Hello Bloody Elbow, I’m Tim, a 22 year old Communication student from the Netherlands. I used to kickbox myself but am now on the sidelines with a knee injury. Since this card was at 7 in the morning for me, I hope whatever I write down below makes sense to you all.
Tim – This was a changing of the guard if I’ve ever seen one. I got the feeling Max will rule this division for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of people calling for an Edgar match, but if I’m honest, I’m not that intrigued by a two-time challenger challenging again. I was going to say Korean Zombie if he beat Lamas, but since he’s injured, I’m going to say Cub Swanson. Max easily beat him the last time, but I can’t deny his current win-streak.
Zane – There really are only two title contenders right now: Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson. And Edgar has a win over Swanson and hasn’t faced Holloway yet. That pretty much puts Edgar right at the front of the line. It’s probably about the last title bout the UFC is interested in making, but it’s the one they’ve got. If Edgar can’t take the fight for whatever reason, Swanson is fine, but we saw that fight and I doubt it looks different a second time around. And of course, Holloway’s win is also bad for Ricardo Lamas who just lost to the Hawaiian as well. KZ can’t recover from injury quickly enough.
Aldo vs Edgar III. I’m not even sure if we will be seeing Aldo return, he never struck me as a guy willing to just be a contender. I don’t think there is anything left at 145 for Aldo, so I’d like him to do the same as Dos Anjos, move up to fight a guy around #10. Dustin Poirier has not much to do now that Alvarez is injured. If he stays at 145, he can fight Lamas again I guess, but my fight to make is Jose Aldo vs Dustin Poirier.
Zane – Cub Swanson loses a clear path to a title shot with Holloway being champ, but this is the perfect time for him to try and get a long awaited revenge. Yeah Aldo just lost and Swanson just won, but if the UFC passes on booking Swanson vs. Aldo II they’re just playing themselves. That’s one of the featherweight fights I want to see most right now. Book it, UFC, Swanson vs. Aldo.
Tim – Gadelha firmly secured her spot as the Frankie Edgar of WSW. That means she probably has to fight Joanna Champion once more, but even Claudia herself doesn’t really seem down with that idea. Unless Namajunas somehow manages to beat Joanna, she’s probably better off sniping off contenders. Torres and Markos are both coming of wins, and I like the Torres matchup more than the Markos one. Gadelha vs Torres it is.
Zane – My first thought was Gadelha vs. Andrade, but man does Gadelha vs. Torres sound like a good idea. Both women coming off wins, and it’s be a big boost to title contention for Torres if she could win. If she can’t, it may be the last link in the chain that Gadelha needs to get herself a second crack at the belt. I’m with Tim on his Gadelha vs. Torres idea.
Tim – Before this fight happened I was going to match up the loser with Andrade, but with the lack of improvement in the ground game of Karolina, I don’t see that fight ending much different. Still the higher-ups seem to like KK (judging by every thumbnail on the UFC YouTube), so she has to fight someone with a recognizable name. Michelle Waterson has such a name.
Zane – I’m not nearly as sold on Andrade’s ground game as a lot of people are. Subbing Calderwood is not really the marker of a BJJ ace. The bigger problem is that Kowalkiewicz is now on a two fight losing streak. Do you really throw her at another top title contender and risk her going 0-3? Michaelle Waterson is a better matchup to that end although frankly I think she’s a more positionally dangerous grappler even if she’s a less powerful fighter. Part of me wants to go with someone like Paige Vanzant, but Waterson is the smarter pick as a win for her would put her closer to being back on the path to title contention. Waterson vs. Kowalkiewicz it is.
Tim – Belfort was the only fighter I was sure enough he was going to win to pre-write his paragraph. The good news is he won. The bad news is, he isn’t leaving the UFC all of the sudden, despite it even being told during the broadcast. I was going to match him up with Melvin Manhoef (Pride never die!) in either Bellator or Rizin, but if he in stays let’s go all out crazy and do Shogun vs Vitor at 195lbs. That is, unless someone can convince Anderson Silva to fight other Brazilians again.
Zane – Well, Rashad Evans is booked to fight Sam Alvey, so that’s out I guess. I still, still want to see Vitor Belfort vs. Nick Diaz, but I have no idea what Nick’s up to anymore. We could do Vitor vs. Shogun, but I want Shogun to fight Glover, so screw it… Vitor Belfort vs. Hector Lombard. Gotta use Lombard for something, and it’s a fight in his age bracket.
Tim – Yeah, I did not agree with this decision at all. Still, a win is a win, and Assuncao is now probably one win away from a titleshot, once Cody and TJ finally settled that. I think he should fight the winner of Rivera vs Almeida in a #1 contender fight.
Zane – With Garbrandt injured and a number of fresh contenders on the rise, I’d really like to see Assuncao get his shot and Dominick Cruz. Unfortunately, I doubt that’s a fight Cruz would take, but I think it makes more sense for Assuncao than just about anything else. Otherwise, I hesitate to throw more rising contenders at Assuncao. Have him fight John Dodson instead. Dodson is a similarly aligned excellent fighter that just can’t seem to get anyone excited enough to give him a path to the belt. Dodson vs. Assuncao is the fight to make.
Tim – I did not see much of Moraes from before he joined the UFC, but according to fellow BE commentators, that was not nearly what he is capable of. We are in for a treat in that case. He still had a good showing at one of the elite in the division, so I’m not going to give him a soft matchup going forward. Lineker should be returning soon from his broken jaw, and no way that match won’t be fireworks. Lineker vs Moraes for all the violence!
Zane – Oh man, Lineker vs. Moraes just made me have to get up and change my shorts. Still, if Lineker is injured, then I want to find a fight that Moraes can take in a hurry. It could be a bit of a showcase, but it’d also be a great way to get Moraes back on the horse and with a ranking slot. So give Moraes Eddie Wineland. Wineland would get much more the fight he likes than he did against Dodson, and Moraes would get another dude who wants to stand and throw hands with him.
Tim – That was a solid performance by Paulo. The first time one of his fights went past the first round, and so far his cardio hasn’t been a problem. At only 26 year old in an old division, I would like to see him brought up slowly, Rafael Natal has become somewhat of a gatekeeper to the ranked spots now, so I wouldn’t be opposed to Borrachinha against the winner of Natal vs Di Chirico.
Zane – Middleweight has too many bodies in need of fights for me to want Borrachinha to wait for someone else to get a win. I’d love to see him face Jack Hermansson or Brad Scott or Anthony Smith… In fact, that Anthony Smith fight would be the hottest of hot fire. So lets book Anthony Smith vs. Paulo Borrachinha.
ANTONIO CARLOS JR.
Tim – Some people may not agree, but I thought this matchup was loads of fun. I didn’t get to hear his post-fight interview, but I heard something about Dan Kelly? I got little faith in Carlos Jr.’s style working at the highest level, but he deserves a ranked opponent, and the loser of Kelly vs Brunson will do well.
Zane – Carlos Jr. strikes me as the kind of fighter who needs to face as much unranked opposition as possible to really get confident in his complete game before he starts really climbing the mountain. He’s already lost to god-made-man Dan Kelly after all. His win over Spicely was great and a fun fight, but it was also a fight he was made to win. I’ll go with giving him the Brad Scott fight. Scott isn’t the most dangerous finisher out there, but he’s got good takedown defense and makes every bout a tough one. Carlos Jr. needs to prove he can win more of those kinds of fights before he starts getting more dangerous opponents.
OTHER BOUTS: Marquardt vs. Evans or Kelly on a loss, Bamgbose vs. NIcholson, Medeiros vs. Akhmedov, Silva vs. Ellenberger, Spicely vs. M. Guimaraes, Lopez vs. Soto, Eduardo vs. Alcantara, Kelleher vs. Munhoz, Pereira vs. Taylor, Moyle vs. Grasso, Chagas vs. Velickovic, Wallhead vs. Coy, Figueiredo vs. Bibulatov, Beltran vs. Schnell