Now, if I had the best job in the world…
Alexander Gustafsson – Gus has been promised and deserves a crack at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira, even if Jones is continually trying to distance himself from such a match.
Don’t be scared, homie.
Michael Johnson – His win over Melvin Guillard advances him to 3-0 but most of the fighters ranked ahead if him are either booked, in dispute with the company (Nate Diaz) or on the long term injured list (TJ Grant.)
Ross Pearson has tentatively called Johnson out, but a timetable for his return has not yet been confirmed.
Any of these three would be good fights but for expedience sake, I’d throw Johnson back in as soon as possible against Abel Trulljo, fresh off his concussive win over Jamie Varner.
Brad Pickett – there is a big call for Pickett to get the next title shot at Demetrious Johnson which makes sense as he is one of the bigger names at Flyweight and has a win over the champion from their days at 135lbs.
However despite my unabashed fandom for Brad, I’m minded to think Ali Baguatinov has earned the shot (and him vs. Mighty Mouse would be a great headliner for UFC Istanbul later in the year) and Pickett could do with a 2-0 streak at 125lbs.
So, a summer bout against original opponent Ian McCall or fellow victor Louis Gaudinot would make a lot of sense for Brad, should he not get the title shot.
Gunnar Nelson – Gunni has earned a crack at a bigger name and with much of the division booked up, I’d like to see him in with Mike Pyle, which is a solid PPV main card bout and a true test of Gunni’s top ten credentials.
Ilir Latifi – a confident disposal of Cyrille Diabate earns Latifi and upgrade of opponent with someone like Rafael Cavalcante, James te Huna or even Ryan Bader all good opponents, depending on when & where Latifi is next booked to fight.
Luke Barnatt – undefeated and on a streak of knockout wins, Barnatt is rising up the rankings and deserves a bout against a name contender to see if he’s top ten class. There are plenty if options with Gegard Mousasi, Francis Carmont and Tim Boetsch all suitable opponents depending if Barnatt is next fighting in Europe or the US.
Claudio Henrique da Silva – A contentious decision win doesn’t do you too many favours in the UFC (especially when Dana tweets that he thinks it’s the wrong call) and I think da Silva might well be compelled to travel again rather than getting a home fight in. Brazil with European middleweights Magnus Cedenblad or Krzysztof Jotko being good opponents for the upcoming cards in Sweden or Berlin.
Igor Araujo – a good display against Danny Mitchell could earn Araujo a fight with Nico Musoke in Sweden or a home bout in Brazil, maybe against someone like Stephen Thompson or Brandon Thatch.
Louis Gaudinot – subbing Phil Harris in the first round is no mean feat and Gaudinot is again a top ten contender at Flyweight. I wouldn’t mind seeing him face Brad Pickett or Ali Baguatinov next, getting the spare of whoever doesn’t get the title shot. Failing that, welcoming Vaughan Lee to flyweight would likely be a fun fight.
Jimi Manuwa – to his credit Manuwa hung with the #2 light heavyweight in the world before Gustafsson went through the gears and his entertaining style will keep him in featured match territory. A match against the loser of Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson could give him the chance to immediately reinsert himself into top ten contention or a less challenging bout against James te Huna or Vinny Magalhaes could be used to possibly rehabilitate his aura.
Melvin Guillard – a tepid performance after a lot of trash talk does you no favours and Guillard finds himself on a 2-5, 1 NC run since having his big win streak was snapped by Joe Lauzon in 2011. If he wasn’t usually good value for entertainment, he’d likely be looking at being cut. At best, he’s looking at a bout against Gleison Tibau or Piotr Hallman in Brazil or Berlin.
Neil Seery – a creditable performance against a top fighter, combined with his Irishness should earn Seery a featured bout on the summer’s Dublin card with Phil Harris being the close option or a match against John Lineker being almost guaranteed fireworks.
Omari Akhmedov – getting subbed by Gunnar Nelson is little to be ashamed of but Akhmedov’s previously impressive record is in need of a buffing. Perhaps a return to Middleweight to face Mats Nilsson or Brad Scott could be an ideal or sticking at 170lbs someone like Bobby Voelker or Mike Rhodes would be a fair bout.
Cyrille Diabate – Cyrille has retired, so won’t be looking for another match.
Mats Nilsson – the Swede showed some quality against Barnatt, but it was always going to be a tough ask to counter his reach and take the fight to a grappling place. Nilsson should get another go round, possibly on home soil in Sweden. I’d actually really like to see Mats against someone like Tom Watson or even Brad Scott.
Brad Scott – the fact that Dana White thinks you won your fight is a good sign and Scott should get a decent match next time out. I’ve already suggested Mats Nilsson, but the likes of Stanislav Nedkov or Alessio Sakara are more than possible.
Danny Mitchell – Mitchell was game as ever but was beaten on the ground by Araujo and the laughable striking display towards the end of the fight won’t have helped. Mitchell could easily be fighting for his place on the roster next time out. A fight against Pascal Krauss on the Berlin card could work for both men and should be a fun fight.
Phil Harris – A 1-3 run in the UFC isn’t a good thing for job security but the shallow nature of the Flyweight division could well give Harris another chance. A featured bout against Neil Seery in Dublin could be plausible or a bout against anyone from Iliarde Santos to Richie Vaculik in Brazil or Australia could be on the cards. I doubt Billy will care, so long as he gets another chance.
Alexander Gustafsson def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 1:18
Michael Johnson def. Melvin Guillard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Brad Pickett def. Neil Seery via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Gunnar Nelson def. Omari Akhmedov via submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 4:36
Ilir Latifi def. Cyrille Diabate def. submission (neck crank) – Round 1, 3:02
Luke Barnatt def. Mats Nilsson def. TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:24
Claudio Henrique da Silva def. Brad Scott def. unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Igor Araujo def. Danny Mitchell def. unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Louis Gaudinot def. Phil Harris def. submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 1:13