Post UFC London Matchmaking

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Now, if I had the best job in the world…

The Winners

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.

The Losers

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.

MAIN CARD

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

PRELIMINARY CARD

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

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Booking – Post TUF 18 Finale

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After a fun night of fights, what’s next for the TUF18 Finale competitors.

Nate Diaz

Should fight TJ Grant or Rafael Dos Anjos (with Gilbert Melendez getting the spare).

Nate’s demolition of Maynard and his post fight comments are a statement of intent against the division.  Grant and Dos Anjos are both in the mix, coming off wins and unbooked.

Gray Maynard

Should fight Diego Sanchez

Maynard is in a real slump, down to 1-3 in his last four and the win was less than memorable (against Clay Guida in back-pedalling mode) and from seeming like an unstoppable titan at the start of 2011, Maynard has now been stopped by strikes three times, twice in the first round.

The UFC seems to like him though, so a relatively high profile fight is likely and Diego Sanchez is in a similar boat of being a name fighter but without the strongest recent record.  It seems Maynard needs to rediscover his wrestling as standing and trading isn’t working out for him, so this fight should either lead to Maynard getting back in the win column, or Sanchez doing his usual trick of walking forward and making a fight fun…

Julianna Pena

Should fight Germaine de Randamie

The new TUF champion deserves a higher profile fight than is usual and Randamie offers an intriguing challenge, while not throwing Pena to the wolves (I did consider Rosi Sexton and Sarah Kaufmann as potential opponents) too soon.

Jessica Rakoczy

Should fight Roxanne Modaferri

Rakoczy is likely to get a shot in the UFC despite now having a 1-4 record and who better to get another rack than Modaferri who put on a game performance against the younger/stronger/bigger Raquel Pennington.  I don’t like to say, but this would be a bit of a loser leaves town match…

Chris Holdsworth

Should fight Sergio Pettits

I don’t think TUF winners should always get a smooth ride and a battle of the undefeated streaks between these two RFA alumni would be a damn fine fight and a good feather in the cap for whoever came out on top.

Davey Grant

Should fight Dustin Pague

Two TUF alums, coming off losses.  Stick Davey on the early 2014 London card as a neat piece of undercard action.

Jessamyn Duke

Should fight Raquel Pennington

They had the best fight in the house, are both coming off wins in the finale and who wouldn’t want to see the 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds of what they started in TUF training centre?

Peggy Morgan

Should fight Shayna Baszler

Baszler couldn’t fight on the finale due to injury and coming off her shock loss in the house, doesn’t warrant a bigger fight for her UFC debut.  Following her lacklustre loss to Duke at the finale, Morgan needs a big win and Baszler is still a hell of a scalp to take, if she can.

Akira Corassani

Should fight Robert Whiteford

I get the feeling that Akira will be out for a while, but I’d like to see him on a European card next year and a match against Whiteford in London, Glasgow or Sweden would be good for both men.

Maximo Blanco

Should fight Nobody

Blanco has a history of dubious knees and his effort against Akira yesterday was clearly premeditated and wildly illegal and dangerous.  I’d like to see him suspended for a good chunk of time to see if he learns a lesson.

Failing that, feed him to someone like Darren Elkins.

Tom Niinimaki

Should fight Jeremy Stephens

Niinimaki proved his grappling credentials against jujitsu maestro Yahya, so a bump up the ladder and a different challenge is in order.  ‘Stoneface’ is not afraid of throwing down on the feet (indeed, most thought that would be his plan against Yahya) so a fight with the rejuvenated Stephens should be a barn burner.

Rani Yahya

Should fight Stephen Siler

Two good and entertaining fighters, coming off losses, should be a good fight which gets one or other back into the mix.

Jared Rosholt

Should fight Mike Russow

Rosholt proved the better rounded and more conditioned in his fight against Walt Harris, so why not put him up against a seasoned veteran next time out?

Walt Harris

Should fight Brandon Vera

Harris showed some nice striking but a weak gas tank, so give him a shot against a noted striker.  A win over Vera would rescue his UFC career, but a loss will see him hit the road.

Sean Spencer

Should fight Stephen Thomson

Spencer was impressive last night and a bout against the highly touted ‘Wonderboy’ should be fun and makes a lot of sense.

Drew Dober

Should fight Mike Rio

Dober deserves credit for putting up a fight against a larger, much higher ranked opponent and proved he’s got a serious chin.  A drop to his proper weight class and a prelim match against the likes of Rio will show if he’s got enough to be worth a spot on the roster in the longer term.

Joshua Sampo

Should fight Ian McCall

The highest ranked 125lber outside the UFC before his winning debut last night, Sampo has already called out Ian McCall and I’m totally down with that match.  If Sampo can make weight and beat McCall, he’s right in the mix for a title shot.

Ryan Benoit

Should fight Darrel Montague

Both men now sit on losses in their UFC debuts and an eliminator to avoid the dreaded 0-2 seems to be appropriate.

That’s what I’d do if I was Joe Silva/Sean Shelby, what do you think?