This is the third instalment of ‘UFC Monthly Matchmaker’. With a number of big fights this past month we have a lot to choose from. November’s feature will include Dan Hooker, Niko Price, Kron Gracie, Maycee Barber and Chris Weidman.
Auckland’s Own, Dan Hooker
Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker increased his winning streak to two in a row at UFC 243, winning six of his last seven, with five finishes. His only loss has been at the hands of top 10 lightweight, Edson Barboza. In Australia, Hooker was able to dominate former title challenger, Al Iaquinta. Who should be next for Hooker? Unfortunately for him, Hooker is in one of the most stacked divisions in the promotion. Ranked #7, Hooker needs to look up the rankings and despite calling out Dustin Poirier, a closer ranked opponent seems more appropriate.
A fun fight to make for Hooker would be to face #6 lightweight Paul Felder. Both men competed at UFC 243, with Felder defeating Barboza via split decision. What would likely be a stand-up war, both men always come to fight. The winner of this bout would certainly catapult themselves into the top five of the division. Felder is 5-0 at lightweight in his last five fights, defeating some of the best names at 155lbs. This fight makes sense in the trajectory of both men’s careers and would allow for the winner to progress higher in the rankings and cement their name amongst the divisions elite.
The Always Exciting, Niko Price
Niko Price is one of the most exciting welterweights the UFC have on their roster. With an impressive six finish victories in six UFC wins, Price is certainly one to tune in and watch. He also holds an impressive four performance of the night bonuses to his name. Two knockouts of note for Price are over Randy Brown and most recently against James Vick. The unorthodox Price knocked out Brown with hammer fists from the bottom and brutally knocked out Vick with an upkick and strikes. Having never gone to a decision in his 10 UFC fights, Price always excites fans.
Who else at welterweight always comes to fight, is never in a boring fight? None other than ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry. Unfortunately, it looks as though Perry is booked against Geoff Neal, so a fun fight could be Price fighting Michael Chiesa. Chiesa is 1-0 at 170lbs having moved up this year. Price would hold the advantage on the feet and Chiesa on the ground. The winner of this one could easily break into the top 15 of the division, especially if there is a finish.
Kron Gracie suffered his first loss at UFC on ESPN+ 19 at the hands of veteran Cub Swanson. Gracie had only five professional fights when he faced 37 fight veteran Swanson and it showed. Gracie certainly showed improvements in his stand-up, but we all know his game. He’s an elite Jiu-Jitsu specialist and wasn’t able to utilise this against Swanson, leading to his downfall.
Gracie, a member of ‘The Scrap Pack’, needs to go back to the drawing board and look to build his career slower. Although Swanson was on a losing streak, his experience was too much. A more appropriate next fight for ‘Ice Cream’ would be to face a fellow up and comer. Daniel Teymur is a strong striker and will look to keep the fight standing. This would provide the classic, striker vs grappler match-up. Teymur is currently 1-3 in the UFC, with two finish loses by submission.
If the UFC grant Gracie a grappler, they could match him against Team Kaobon prospect Mike Grundy. Grundy is a freestyle wrestler with heavy hands, who we last saw in London in March. With his grappling heavy style, it could play into Gracie’s hands well.
‘The Future’ Maycee Barber
Who should Barber face next? Not Paige Van-Zant.
Barber clearly thinks that a fight with PVZ would help build her profile, but the fight doesn’t make sense. Barber is 8-0 with seven finishes and is ranked #10 at flyweight. Van-Zant has been suffering with injuries and has only competed twice since 2016, going 1-1. She is ranked #15 in the UFC and although she has a ‘big name’, it isn’t the fight Barber should be chasing.
‘The Future’ should be looking up the rankings at flyweight. #7 Andrea Lee is currently without a fight and is coming off a loss at UFC 242. Lee went 3-0 at flyweight before dropping a split decision to Joanna Calderwood. Both Barber and Lee are LFA alumni and it would provide an entertaining match-up were they to meet.
Barber could also be matched against former title challenger Liz Carmouche. Although we suggested that Calderwood should face Carmouche next, the UFC may give the fight to Barber. This would certainly elevate Barber’s profile as a win over the respected Carmouche would catapult her into the top 5 of the division.
Former UFC Champion, Chris Weidman
The former middleweight champion, Chris Weidman has fallen on hard times as of late. Capturing the belt off the GOAT, Anderson Silva, Weidman went on to defend the belt three times. His decline started at UFC 194 when he faced Luke Rockhold. Weidman threw a spinning heel kick, was taken down and dominated from there on out. Eventually losing by TKO, Weidman suffered his first professional MMA loss. He then, unfortunately, went on to hold a record of 1-5 in his last six bouts, including the Rockhold fight. More importantly, however, all of these loses came via knockout, most of them in devastating fashion. Even in the fight that he won against Kelvin Gastelum, he was dropped heavily and almost finished at the end of the first round. There is no denying that Weidman never backs down from a challenge and has only ever faced the best the sport has to offer since entering the UFC. Since 2013, the ‘All American’ has faced six former champions, a TUF winner and an Olympic silver medalist.
Who is next up for Weidman? The UFC must do him a favour and provide a more reasonable match-up. Assuming he stays at light-heavyweight, he should be matched up with either Misha Cirkunov or Ovince St Preux. Both of these men are fringe top 10 guys and well respected in the division. Both are coming off impressive submission victories and a win over either man would provide a good measure as to where Weidman fits in in the division. If he was to again suffer a knockout loss, it may be time to hang up the gloves. No one wants to see one of the ‘good guys’ of the sport suffer unnecessarily.
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