The last couple of weeks have showcased some exciting MMA fights. Plenty of knockouts, submissions and tightly contested decisions have caught the attention of the MMA world. While those who won celebrate and those who lost go back to the drawing board, fans want to know: what’s next? Armchair Matchmaker takes a look at some potential match-ups that should be made in various promotions.
Main Event: Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC interim lightweight championship)
Nurmagomedov dominated Edson Barboza in a unanimous decision at UFC 219 (30-25 x2, 30-24). A Nurmagomedov title fight only makes sense next. With UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor potentially out indefinitely, the next best option is interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov acknowledged that a fight with Ferguson is more likely than one with McGregor. He also wouldn’t leapfrog interim champ Ferguson, so this is the bout that makes perfect sense. It’s time the UFC re-books the fight fans should have got at UFC 209.
Co-Main Event: Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Megan Anderson (UFC featherweight championship)
Justino took a tightly contested unanimous decision over Holly Holm at UFC 219 and made good on her first title defense. She called out Invicta featherweight champion Megan Anderson for her next fight. While Anderson has yet to fight in the UFC, it’s the bout that makes the most sense. It would be a clash of former Invicta featherweight champs, and there are few other options for “Cyborg” in a growing featherweight division.
Marcin Rozalski vs. Michal Andryszak (KSW heavyweight championship)
Rozalski won two upsets in a row in order to became the KSW heavyweight champion. He knocked out former champion Fernando Rodrigues Jr. in 16 seconds. In his first title defense, he should fight Andryszak, who has won six in a row, all by first round finish.
Holly Holm vs. Sara McMann (UFC)
Holm came up short for the UFC featherweight championship again, this time against Justino. That should mean the former UFC bantamweight champ’s future is at the weight class she once ruled. McMann is the only opponent that makes sense to welcome her back. Both are coming off losses, and McMann is one of few bantamweights who aren’t currently booked. It would also be a fresh match-up that offers a very fun stylistic fight in ground vs. stand-up specialist.
Mirko Filipovic vs. Wanderlei Silva III (Rizin)
The third installment between these two legends was supposed to take place last year in Rizin. It makes sense to re-book it now. “Cro Cop” wants to end his career with tough fights against fellow legends. “Cro Cop” vs. Silva would certainly work as a Rizin main event.
Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha (UFC)
Esparza, the first and former UFC strawweight champion, pulled an upset against Cynthia Calvillo on the UFC 219 main card. It was a huge win for Esparza and finally puts her back into the mix at the top of the division. The two were supposed to meet twice at Invicta before Gadelha pulled out of both bouts. The pair also have a history, so there would be some bad blood. Third time’s the charm?
Kleber Koike Erbst vs. Marcin Wrzosek II (KSW vacant featherweight championship)
Koike Erbst defeated Wrzosek for the KSW featherweight belt in May. Wrzosek defeated Roman Szymanski in his last fight. It makes sense to give “The Polish Zombie” a chance to get his belt back. Koike Erbst lost his title in his first defense against Artur Sowinski…except it wasn’t to the opponent, it was to the weight cut. Koike Erbst won the bout, but was forced to vacate due to missing weight. Re-running the first bout between Koike Erbst and Wrzosek makes sense for the Polish promotion.
Neil Magny vs. Jorge Masvidal (UFC)
Magny was impressive at UFC 219 against Carlos Condit, picking up a unanimous decision. He requested another crack at the top-five. Why not oblige? Masvidal may be on a two-fight losing streak, but it would offer a fresh and exciting match-up.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (Rizin)
Ogikubo came up short against Tim Elliott in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter Season 24 flyweight tournament, and was surprisingly not signed to the UFC. Ogikubo has wins over the likes of Alexandre Pantoja (exhibition on TUF) and Danny Martinez. Horiguchi just won the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix. Were he to drop back down to flyweight, a bout with Ogikubo would be one of the most quality scraps Rizin could make.
Ian McCall vs. Manel Kape II (Rizin)
McCall’s return to MMA and Rizin debut just proved that he’s probably the unluckiest fighter. He and Kape were putting on an exciting bout in the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix before McCall was cut by a ring rope. It was an anti-climatic end to what was shaping up to be a fun fight. At least it makes sense to run it back in a few months.
Takanori Gomi vs. Daron Cruickshank (Rizin)
Gomi and Cruickshank have both lost to Yusuke Yachi in each of their last Rizin appearances. Assuming Gomi doesn’t retire, a bout with Cruickshank makes sense. “The Detroit Superstar” picked up a win at KOP 58 and would look to improve his Rizin record to 3-2. Both Cruickshank and Gomi are UFC veterans, and it would make for a flashy performance for the Japanese crowd for however long it lasts.
Dan Hooker vs. Lando Vannata (UFC)
Hooker is 2-0 in the UFC lightweight division after submitting Marc Diakiese in style. Vannata would be an opponent that would allow Hooker a chance to continue climbing the crowded ladder at 155. Conversely, Hooker would make sense for Vannata after he fought to a draw with Bobby Green.
Gabi Garcia vs. Shinobu Kandori (Rizin)
Garcia and Kandori’s fight fell through at Rizin due to Garcia missing weight by over two dozen pounds. However, the two still want to fight each other in 2018. Love it or hate it, fans shouldn’t be surprised to see this re-booked on Rizin’s next card.
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