The UFC‘s second foray into the Land of Enchantment left fans with much to discuss. From two disqualification wins in a three-fight span, to a scintillating stopping in the high-stakes light heavyweight main event, UFC Fight Night 167 was certainly entertaining. Here is a look at potential matchups for the stars of the night’s main card.
UFC Fight Night 167 Post-Fight Matchmaker
Lando Vannata vs. Stevie Ray
“Groovy” Lando Vannata kicked off UFC Fight Night 167 by utilizing a tactical approach to pick up a decision win over Yancy Medeiros, something that is not necessarily the norm for the Albuquerque-based fighter. An exciting fight to make for him at this point would be with “Braveheart” Stevie Ray. Both fighters have been up and down over the past couple of years, but are each coming off of a win. This would be an excellent opportunity for one of the two fighters to build further momentum in what would likely be an exciting affair.
Ray Borg vs. either John Dodson or Brandon Moreno
Ray Borg‘s toughest opponent as of late has been with the scale. Although he wrestled his way to a win over Rogerio Bontorin, it was overshadowed by his missing the flyweight limit for the fourth time in his career. The former flyweight title challenger could potentially have difficulty moving into contention again because of this risk. If Borg chooses to move to bantamweight, a reasonable opponent would be John Dodson, who also scored a big win over Nathaniel Wood on the preliminary card. Dodson, a longtime flyweight, would serve as an interesting matchup and a good test for Borg in the different division.
If “The Tazmexican Devil” chooses to stay at flyweight, however, he could face “The Babyfaced Assassin” Brandon Moreno. Moreno has shown that he has made great improvements in his second tenure in the UFC, and a fight with Borg could set up the winner for a big opportunity in the future.
Brok Weaver vs. Kazula Vargas II
Brok Weaver‘s much-anticipated UFC debut fell flat of expectations, with him taking an illegal knee from Kazula Vargas and regrettably picking up a disqualification win. Vargas got Weaver down to the canvas and held him there for a good part of the round. Weaver had moments on the feet and threatened a submission, so it would be intriguing to get a do-over for this fight.
Both fighters seemed like they wanted to run it back after the fight was called off, so the fight between the MOWA Choctaw Alabama native and the Mexico-based fighter is a good rematch to make.
Montana De La Rosa vs. Antonina Shevchenko
In what was the first time a husband and wife fought on the same UFC card, Montana De La Rosa emerged victorious by unanimous decision over Mara Romero Borella. Similar to Bellator‘s Emilee and Jason King, who became the first husband and wife to fight on the same night for a major promotion less than a month ago at Bellator 238, the wife was able to pick up the victory while the husband was defeated by KO/TKO (Mark De La Rosa lost to Raulian Paiva by knockout on the first fight of the UFC card, while Jason King was taken out by Raymond Daniels in Bellator).
Montana’s grappling-heavy offence has stifled most opponents so far in the UFC, and she could look to continue to do that against Antonina Shevchenko. Both have only lost once in the UFC, and have contrasting fighting styles. The former Muay Thai champion Shevchenko had issues defending the takedown in her lone loss against Roxanne Modafferi, while De La Rosa struggled to keep up in the striking department against Andrea Lee. The fighter that either imposes their will or improves their weaknesses the best should then look to move closer into contention. This only works if Shevchenko can get past Cynthia Calvillo in April.
Michel Pereira vs. Mike Perry
Michel Pereira was well on his way to victory against Diego Sanchez, picking him apart on the feet and even grabbing a couple of takedowns as well. Unfortunately for him, he illegally kneed Sanchez in the face, leaving Sanchez unable to continue and leaving Pereira with a disqualification loss. This should not be held against Pereira in terms of matchmaking. A fight between him and “Platinum” Mike Perry would be as close to a guaranteed Fight of the Night as possible. The two fan favourites would put on a show and are each on similar career trajectories, and the outcome would likely not affect that for either fighter.
Diego Sanchez vs. Court McGee
Sanchez is a legend of the sport and is always willing to leave a piece of himself in the octagon for the fans. He did so again against Pereira, who was beating him soundly before the illegal knee. The issue, however, is that matchmaking for him is difficult. Every time he seems to be counted out and matched up against a contender set up to defeat him, he comes back to show glimpses of his former self. It is often hard to tell which “Nightmare” we are going to see each time he steps in there. A matchup with Court McGee makes sense at this point. They have both alternated wins and losses for a long time, possess similar well-rounded skillsets and gritty fighting styles, and a matchup of former Ultimate Fighter winners is always a marketable storyline.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Jon Jones
It is crazy how a week can change the landscape of the UFC. This time last week, we were discussing a rematch of Jon Jones‘ most recent fight with Dominick Reyes to be the most logical next step for the champion. However, after Jan Blachowicz‘s highlight-reel knockout of Corey Anderson and subsequent confrontation with Jones, it seems like this is the most likely matchup. Momentum is now on the Polish fighter’s side, as he has gone from the verge of the division’s rankings to the verge of the division’s belt. In the meantime, a fight between Reyes and recovering Thiago Santos would determine the subsequent top contender.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) February 16, 2020