UFC 227 might not have delivered the numbers or have looked strong on paper, but the card sure performed. All the action took place last Saturday, August 4th from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Two title fight rematches topped off the pay-per-view portion, seeing UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw finish former champion Cody Garbrandt for the second time in the night’s main event. Dillashaw had captured the belt back in November of 2017 over Garbrandt, beginning his second career reign as the 135-pound king.
The co-main event became one to never forget, seeing Henry Cejudo edged out a split decision title victory over long-time UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Despite many people believing Johnson should have had his hand raised, their battle earned “Fight of the Night” honors becoming one of the greatest flyweight fights in MMA history.
With a few days now gone by, it is now time to play UFC matchmaker. All of the following top five fights to make below are provided with a card suggestion with a remaining event in 2017. Likely, some of these fighters will want or need to wait until next year for a fight.
We saw numerous fighters put on impressive performances Saturday night. What are the top five fights to make after UFC 227? Let’s take a look.
5. Thiago Santos (18-6) vs. Tom Breese (11-1)
A finish did not materialize for Thiago Santos, but an impressive and entertaining unanimous decision victory over debutant Kevin Holland did result. The Brazilian rode a four-fight finishing streak dating back to February of 2017 before losing to David Branch in his outing before Holland back in April.
It is always an exciting night when Santos steps into the cage. He can’t seem to find his way into the Top 10 of the middleweight division, but he hovers right outside quite frequently. A pairing with England’s own Tom Breese, another finishing artist coming off a technical knockout victory over Dan Kelly in May, would potentially guarantee us with a finish or “Fight of the Night” recipient.
Card Suggestion: Main card of UFC Fight Night 140 (November 17th from Estadio Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
4. Alex Perez (21-4) vs. Ben Nguyen (16-7)
We have a new serious threat at flyweight on our hands. Alex Perez made quick work of Jose Torres with a first-round TKO on Saturday night. He became the first and only man to defeat Torres who was undefeated in both amateur and professional competition beforehand. Perez built up an impressive resume before his current 3-0 run in the UFC, racking up ten wins for Tachi Palace Fights throughout his career and holding their flyweight title.
When glancing throughout the 125-pound roster, the first name that stood out to me was Ben Nguyen. He had suffered a loss in his last UFC outing to Jussier Formiga in February, now sitting with a 4-2 UFC flyweight record. This fight suggestion between Perez and Nguyen is without a doubt my favorite on this top five list. Two scrappy fighters who always display great scrambles and submission abilities; this one needs to happen.
Card Suggestion: Opening main card fight of UFC Fight Night 142 (December 2nd from the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, Australia)
3. Renato Moicano (13-1) vs. Chad Mendes (18-4)
Renato Moicano sure made a statement over the weekend wasting no time at all in hunting for a stoppage. His first-round rear-naked choke over Cub Swanson added a sixth submission victory to his thirteen total MMA wins. Despite Moicano showing success on the feet against fighters like Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, Calvin Kattar, and his only career loss to Brian Ortega, he is still searching for his first career knockout.
After a lengthy USADA suspension, Chad Mendes made a successful UFC return last month stopping Myles Jury by TKO in the first round. A good performance was crucial as he had suffered two consecutive losses prior to the suspension. With the win, Mendes moved up to the #5 featherweight position with Moicano sitting one spot above in #4. Having the two fight would give us not only a great fight, but a possible title contender emerge.
Card Suggestion: PPV portion of UFC 232 (December 29th from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada)
2. TJ Dillashaw (16-3) vs. Marlon Moraes (21-5, 1 NC)
There is not much to add here. TJ Dillashaw defended his bantamweight championship for the first time with another stoppage victory over Cody Garbrandt. I wanted to chat here mostly about the three possible options for Dillashaw: Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao, and Marlon Moraes. This is a weird situation for all, as you could make a case for any to contend for the belt next.
I did not go with Cruz, despite being the more promotable fighter out of the three. He did defeat Dillashaw a couple years ago; however, he is coming off a title loss to Garbrandt, who has just lost twice to Dillashaw. Also, Assuncao and Moraes have each won four fights since Cruz’s last octagon appearance. I think activity outweighs anything else here. He is my third option to fight Dillashaw.
I also did not go with Assuncao. A fight between the two would close out the trilogy, as the two have already battled twice each having a victory over the other. However, the majority at MMADecisions scored the first fight in favor of Dillashaw (10 out of 13 media outlets and currently 66.7% of fans). Their second fight in July of 2016 saw Dillashaw earn a dominant and fairly one-sided decision. Assuncao is my second option, but a close one, to fight Dillashaw next.
I went Moraes for a few reasons listed below.
—–1. He is a new face to fight Dillashaw.
—–2. He sits 16-1 in his last 17 fights, with his only loss being a questionable loss to Assuncao (where 16 out of 17 media outlets and currently 79.5% of fans scored that fight for Moraes at MMADecisions).
—–3. His last two victories were stoppages in under 70 seconds over current #5-ranked Jimmie Rivera, who rode a 20-fight win streak before the loss, and #8-ranked Aljamain Sterling. Assuncao’s last two victories were over a #11-ranked Rob Font and an unranked Matthew Lopez.
I don’t want to prolong this conversation. In summary: I am fine with anything, but I personally prefer Dillashaw vs. Moraes.
Card Suggestion: PPV main event of UFC 232 (December 29th from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada)
1. Henry Cejudo (13-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (27-3)
What a fight between Henry Cejudo and Demetrious Johnson. I shared on Twitter the other day that, in my personal opinion, this second rematch we witnessed was one of the greatest technical showcases in UFC history. Both have incredible, diverse skill sets that continue to improve day in and day out. Unfortunately, the judge’s decision for Cejudo did not come without debate from media and fans. The scoring between he and Johnson is essentially split as to who won when looking at MMADecisions.
Cejudo wants to fight TJ Dillashaw next, but there is no fighter alive more deserving of a rematch than Mighty Mouse. The man who defeated practically every fighter that posed a threat for the flyweight title, including a first-round TKO over Cejudo himself in April of 2016. The man who rode a 13-fight win streak with seven finishes, not having a loss since October of 2011. The man who broke the UFC record (once held by Anderson Silva) for the most consecutive title defenses with eleven. The man many consider as the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. We need the trilogy.
Card Suggestion: Main event of UFC on Fox 31 (December 15th from the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Other fights to make after UFC Fight Night 133:
JJ Aldrich vs. Alexa Grasso
Pedro Munhoz vs. Aljamain Sterling / Cody Stamann winner
Ricky Simon vs. Marlon Vera
Ricardo Ramos vs. Matthew Lopez
Sheymon Moraes vs. Calvin Kattar
Zhang Weili vs. Jessica Aguilar
Cody Garbrandt vs. John Lineker
Cub Swanson vs. Gabriel Benitez
Polyana Viana vs. Chan Mi Jeon
Kevin Holland vs. John Phillips
Brett Johns vs. Frankie Saenz
Montel Jackson vs. Damian Stasiak
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Johnny Eduardo
Matt Sayles vs. Austin Arnett
Jose Torres vs. Elias Garcia
Danielle Taylor: sign with Invicta FC
Wuliji Buren: released
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