Armchair Matchmaker

UFC Fight Night 168 Post-Fight Matchmaker

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This weekend’s UFC event brought an action-packed night of fights in Auckland, New Zealand. As the UFC Fight Night 168 post-fight analysis begins, here is a look at who the five main card winners should face next.

UFC Fight Night 168 Post-Fight Matchmaker

Brad Riddell vs. Don Madge

Brad Riddell picked up a hard-fought split-decision win over Magomed Mustafaev. He has now won his first two fights in the UFC and is quickly moving up the division’s ladder. Don Madge is another fighter who is 2-0 in the UFC and looking to build momentum towards contendership. A fight between Madge and Riddell would be an exciting matchup and sets up the winner for bigger future fights.

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Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Serghei Spivac-Marcin Tybura winner

It was a slugfest while it lasted, but in the end Marcos Rogerio de Lima quickly dispatched “The Combat Wombat” Ben Sosoli by knockout. After an up-and-down light heavyweight tenure, de Lima is now 2-1 at heavyweight. He will now look to work his way into the rankings in his next fight. Two other fighters looking to do that is “The Polar Bear” Serghei Spivac, who submitted highly-touted Tai Tuivasa in his last fight, and longtime contender Marcin Tybura. Tybura and Spivac are facing each other on next week’s card in Norfolk, Virginia. The winner of that fight should be paired with de Lima to determine who can quickly move up a heavyweight division that is always in need of contenders.

Yan Xiaonan vs. Marina Rodriguez-Claudia Gadelha winner

It’s been a tough stretch for Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who was utterly dismantled and outclassed by Yan Xiaonan for her fourth straight loss. Nonetheless, Xiaonan looked impressive and will likely get a top-ten opponent next. Based off of the current UFC rankings, most fighters ahead of Kowalkiewicz are unavailable for a variety of reasons. If Xiaonan is looking to progress up the rankings, she may have to wait for things to play out. If she does, she should look to face the winner of the upcoming fight between Marina Rodriguez and Claudia Gadelha.

Jimmy Crute vs. Ion Cutelaba-Magomed Ankalaev winner

Jimmy Crute made quick work of Michal Oleksiejczuk, locking up a first-round kimura submission. Crute has looked impressive in every UFC outing minus his loss in September to Misha Cirkunov. Nonetheless, Crute should be close to entering the light heavyweight rankings. Two fighters in similar positions are Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev.  They are facing each other on next week’s card. The winner of this fight should then fight Crute in what could give the light heavyweight division a new name to watch out for.

Dan Hooker vs. Kevin Lee-Charles Oliveira winner

In the night’s main event, the hometown favourite, Dan Hooker eked out a split-decision victory over Paul Felder. While Hooker asked for a fight with Justin Gaethje, that just does not seem like a fight that the UFC would make at the moment. A more reasonable matchup would be with the winner of the UFC Fight Night 170 headliner between Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira. The winner of the main event in Brasilia would get a chance to work their way back up towards the upper echelon of the division while giving Hooker another opportunity to prove that he deserves to be regarded with the division’s elite and potentially earn a fight with “The Highlight.”

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Nate Freeman is from Birmingham, AL, and has been an MMA fan since 2013 after buying UFC Undisputed 2009 for $2 from a second-hand electronics store.

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