All the best, most interesting, and unashamedly coolest fights the UFC should book following their latest event in Mexico City.
For all the concerns about altitude in Mexcio City, it seems more like there was something in the water. Most specifically something in the water that gave all the away fighters instant fight ending super powers. While Alexa Grasso and Alejandro Perez squeaked out decision wins, Martin Bravo, Hector Sandoval, Henry Briones, and Alvaro Herrera all got finished in the opening minutes of the fight. That leaves a bunch of fighters coming off highlight stoppage wins in need of a step up in competition.
To figure out just what should come next, I’ll be employing the classic Silva/Shelby fight booking model: matching winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent against one another. If you’d like to join me for the picking fights for the next event, leave a comment below starting, “I’ll actually start to discuss a bit what happened Tuesday, he whimpers like a girl when he gets ripped to body.” I’ll pick one winner from the responses.
This time around BE reader ‘RedKing19’ (aka Dylan Glenn) returns to lend his matchmaking prowess to UFC Fight Night 114.
Dylan – After getting off to a rough start against the touted-prospect Moreno, Sergio Pettis stormed back with a decisive and entertaining victory. Although he now sits at 7-2 inside the Octagon and is ranked 6th, I think he is still one big victory away from a meeting with “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson. Seeing how all the top 5 ranked flyweights are booked apart from Benavidez, this decision is a tough one to make. I am going to pair him up with Benavidez when he returns from injury. I think it’s a huge step-up in competition, but if it goes his way, a title shot is all but guaranteed.
Zane – I’m of two serious minds about this Joe-B fight. On the one hand, with Joe-B injured and no real desire to see Joe-B vs. ‘Mighty Mouse’ 3, I don’t like sitting a potential contender just to fight him. On the flip side, Pettis hasn’t really sold himself as a title contender so much as he is just a good technical fighter, so maybe the Benavidez fight is reasonable. Either way, Joe-B’s knee injury tears it for me. Match Pettis with either Henry Cejudo or Jussier Formiga depending on who wins their next fight. I’d love Pettis vs. Cejudo and think Cejudo is the most interesting potential repeat title challenger, so that’s what I’m pushing for.
Dylan – Moreno’s momentum at 125 has been derailed, for now. Although Moreno has now lost, he did so to a potential title challenger in the near future. He also put up a good fight. Seeing as how Moreno is still very young, he could very well end up at the top end of the division one day. This defeat will only make him stronger in my opinion, and he has a lot to learn from it. Next, is a fight with Tim Elliott. He is still a top 10 opponent and would prove a good challenge for the young up-and-comer.
Zane – I want to say this is a “pump the brakes” moment for Moreno. A chance to take a real step back and just get more cage time, slow things down a little. But the truth of flyweight is, there aren’t many opportunities to step back. He’s already beat Ryan Benoit and once you start going below that, there’s not much point, especially among the fighters coming off a loss. Brandon Moreno vs. Tim Elliott is an excellent fight, so might as well book it while it’s there.
Dylan – Grasso is back in the win column after losing to Herrig in her last fight. Although the fight was close, the decision was correct. Alexa is still young and could provide a fresh new top 10 talent for the strawweight division soon if the wins keep coming. Another surging strawweight is fellow 2-1 (in the UFC) Danielle Taylor. She is also coming off a closely contested decision over Jessica Penne and this fight between strikers has the makings of a fun matchup.
Zane – Grasso has a ton of options coming off this win. Markos has staked a claim to being a very solid mid-division talent, and Grasso showed real improvement in winning this fight (even if controversially). The question is, does she take a step forward or a step back from that. A bout against Carla Esparza or Cynthia Calvillo would be a chance to prove herself against another tough wrestler. While Danielle Taylor and Viviane Pereira represent more raw, highly athletic talents. Despite her young age, Grasso has plenty of experience at this point. So, I say throw her in with Carla Esparza and see if she can pick up a big name win.
Dylan – Riding on the heels of the most important victory of her career over Carla Esparza, Randa Markos failed to take the split decision over Grasso. However, I like Markos as a gatekeeper of sorts in the strawweight division filled with tons of young talent. She is still a top 10 115 pounder, which does mean she will more than likely get at least a top 15 ranked fighter next. I say go with a fight against Maryna Moroz. A fight between two women who need a win badly to stay in the mix at 115.
Zane – I still want to see an official bout between Felice Herrig and Randa Markos, but with Herrig’s recent success, this doesn’t feel like the right time. Fights with Joanne Calderwood, Maryna Moroz, Jessica Aguilar, Juliana Lima, and Justine Kish all make sense to me now. Of those, I think Lima makes for the most interesting style clash, even if she doesn’t have the ranking of Calderwood or Moroz. Lima vs. Markos is the fight I’d like to see.
Dylan – An impressive and message sending TKO victory for Niko Price has surely put the welterweight division on notice. Now 2-0 with a called back victory, Price has cemented himself as a legitimate threat to keep a watch on for the future. His combination of speed and power make him a scary fighter. Not to mention stopping a big step-up in Alan Jouban. I like a fight with Yancy Medeiros next. He has been successful thus far since moving to 170 (amid some controversy). This is another tough fight for Price that could solidify him as a real force to be reckoned with.
Zane – People want to skew this as a sign that Jouban is fading (and it may be), but it’s still a huge, huge win for Price. One that should get him another difficult matchup and chance to continue proving himself as a powerful finisher at welterweight. He could argue for a fight with Alex Oliveira, which would make for one hell of an action fight. A fight with Medeiros would be interesting as well, and more winnable, but I’m going to say he should fight the super-tough Zak Cummings. If Price can beat him, he’s got a strong claim to being among the welterweight elite.
Dylan – Obviously a disappointing loss for Jouban who now stands at 6-4 in the UFC. A fairly quick TKO loss to Niko Price has caused Jouban to drop two straight stoppages. Jouban is still a solid striker and good clinch worker and is still a top 30-35 guy in the deep welterweight division. Next up for him, I like two options: One is a fight with fellow exciting fighter Erick Silva, who has hit a slump in recent years. Another is a fight with seasoned veteran and TUF winner Court McGee. I think both fights work to get guys back in the win column and could make for decent fights. My overall pick is the Silva fight.
Zane – Erick Silva and Court McGee are strong contenders, no doubt. As is Ryan LaFlare. But the fight I really want, the one I think would be the absolute most fun option is Alan Jouban vs. Matt Brown. It would be an all action war for two dudes who are at their best in fun brawls. It’s an awesome fight to make when both guys are ready to return to the Octagon.
Dylan – Another Sam Alvey fight, another lackluster victory. This time, ‘Smilin’ Sam ground out a victory over another way-past-their-prime veteran in Rashad Evans, who has now dropped two straight split decisions since coming to middleweight. Alvey has a solid record and wins over a couple of noteworthy names, but those names aren’t who they used to be. He could be a top 15 fighter, but lacks the skill to really make it at 185. It was pretty hard to find someone not too good, but not too far down the rankings, for Alvey to fight that he hasn’t already. Ultimately I went with Antonio Carlos Junior. Carlos Junior has put together a decent run at middleweight and the winner could end up cracking the top 15 with a win.
Zane – Alvey is in an odd spot. None of the more experienced un-ranked, un-booked fighters in the division are coming off a win right now. So, his only option is to take on someone ranked, or someone looking to climb into the rankings. Antonio Carlos Jr. Is the latter option, as would be Jack Hermansson, but I say, give him a shot at the top 15 (or at least a shot for a top 15 fighter to build more momentum). Thiago Santos has had trouble really climbing the ranks, and he’s a super dangerous action fighter. Sam Alvey vs. Thiago Santos.
Dylan – Dustin Ortiz with an impressive knockout over Hector Sandoval. Might I add, the fastest in flyweight history at 15 seconds. I’ve always like Ortiz. He fights a fast-paced well-rounded game. Not to mention 3 of his losses have come against the division’s elite. It’s always hard to make fights for flyweights as it seems like everyone has fought everyone at some point. This time around, I like a fight between Ortiz and Ben Nguyen. Both top 15 fighters who could use one big win to burst into the big fights at 125.
Zane – There are really only two sensible options for Ortiz right now: He can fight Ben Nguyen or Alexandre Pantoja. Both are seasoned vets who have shown they have more than meets the eye to offer the division. Nguyen seems like the more difficult matchup, however, and thus the fight I’d prefer to see Ortiz in. He’s not a young prospect on his way to a title shot at this point, and if he gets one it’ll be through the path of winning a lot of tough fights. Ortiz vs. Nguyen it is.
Dylan – Hermansson is now 3-1 with 2 straight knockout victories. He is a solid striker and an exciting developing fighter for 185, which is pretty shallow with prospects. This time, “The Joker” disposed of always tough Brad Scott in a 1st round stoppage. In a years time, Hermansson could be within the top 15 or even top 10. Next for him is a fun fight with Tom Breese when his illness subsides and he’s ready to get back in the Octagon. This could be a very fun fight and would work well as a featured prelim on a European card.
Zane – Unfortunately Breese didn’t just hit some anxiety ahead of his last bout. In the time since, he’s suffered an ACL injury that will probably have him sidelined for a while. All that aside, Antonio Carlos Jr. is the other middleweight making a charge right now. A bout between ‘Shoeface’ and ‘the Joker,’ beyond sounding like a Batman story line, would put the winner in the argument for a spot in the rankings. Otherwise his best bet is to go after a fight with Tim Boetsch. The Antonio Carlos Jr. fight feels more right to me at the moment.
OTHER BOUTS: Bandenay vs. Davis, Bravo vs. M. Quinones, Perez vs. Johns, Soukhamthath vs. Kwan Ho, Scott vs. Meerschaert, Sandoval vs. Benoit, Yahya vs. Font, J.A. Quinonez vs. Vera, Rivas vs. A. Mendes, Morales vs. Figueiredo, Sanchez vs. Mokhtarian, Rinaldi vs. J. Gonzalez