Armchair Matchmaker

Fights to Make After UFC 249: The Winners

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UFC 249 delivered as many watched to see the first sporting event in almost two months. The card was viewed as one of the best pay per views in recent memory.  One of the best parts of the fight game is that immediately after an event, the speculation begins on what fights are going to be booked next. Let’s play matchmaker. These are the fights to make after UFC 249.

The Undercard Fights to Make

Ryan Spann vs. Nikita Krylov: Ryann Spann is quietly on a 4 fight win streak and is undefeated in his UFC Career. He’s rising through the light heavyweight division. The Fortis MMAproduct has a great opportunity to crack the top 10 with a win against “The Miner”. Krylov is coming off a big win against Johnny Walker back in December.

Bryce Mitchell vs. Ryan Hall: Bryce Mitchell has an unblemished record after a unanimous decision over Charles Rosa. “Thug Nasty” is emerging as a social media favorite and his relentless top game has been overwhelming to opponents. A bout with Ryan Hall should be a priority for Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard.

Vicente Lique vs. Neil Magny: Vicente Luque is 11-3 in the UFC and if you’ve seen the pictures of Mike Perry and Niko Price after their fights with him, you’d understand why. These two were originally scheduled to fight back in 2019, however Magny was unable to proceed due to USADA.

Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez: The “Cookie Monster” is on an impressive 3 fight win streak after her split decision win over Michelle Waterson. Rodriguez had a matchup with Claudia Gadelha, but was cancelled due to Covid-19. This fight could propel the winner into a matchup with someone in the top 5.

Aleksei Oleinik vs. Blagoy Ivanov/Augusto Sakai winnerOleinik is outside of the top 10, but he’s certainly an awful matchup for any top heavyweight. Sakai is 3-0 in the UFC and is on the fringe of breaking the top 10. Blagoy lost a narrow decision against Derrick Lewis, but is looking to bounce back on May 23rd.

Anthony Pettis vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio:  The former Lightweight Champion is now 2-1 since the move to welterweight. The bout with Donald Cerrone was razor thin and could have gone in Cowboy’s favor. If “Showtime” and his camp still believe he has another title run in him, he will need to climb the ladder at 170. Ponzinibbio was on the fast track through the top 10, however injuries have kept him out of action since 2018.

The Main Card

Greg Hardy vs. Sergey Pavlovich: The upside of the “Prince of War” is still very much in the air. The UFC hasn’t slowed down in getting him as much exposure as possible, but they’ve been careful not to step up his competition. It was a short notice fight when he took on Alexander Volkov last November, a full camp with the #14 heavyweight should tell us if Hardy is able to climb the rankings.

Calvin Kattar vs. Yair Rodriguez: Calvin Katter has been on a tear throughout the featherweight division. If his bout with Zabit Magomedsharipov were 5 rounds, it appeared he would have gone on to win. There’s really no wrong answer when it comes to scheduling the top of this division. This fight could determine a future #1 contender at 145.

Francis Ngannou vs. Stipe Miocic/Daniel Cormier winner: Francis Ngannou is the hardest puncher the UFC has ever seen. It was terrifying to see him land that left hook on Jairzinho Rozenstruik. It’s still very unclear whether or not the trilogy is going to happen with Cormier and Miocic. Either way, Ngannou’s next fight will be for heavyweight gold.

Henry Cejudo vs. Petr Yan: To the surprise of many, The “King of Cringe” announced his retirement after finishing Dominick Cruz in the 2nd Round at UFC 249. There has been major speculation that this was just a tactic to reach a new contract with the UFC. If that is the case, Petr Yan is the next man up at 135. Tapology has Yan ranked as the #3 bantamweight in the world. If the Cejudo retirement is in fact accurate, a bout between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight championship is the bout to schedule.

Justin Gaethje vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Justin Gaethje displayed incredible improvement in his technical striking which lead to Herb Dean stopping the bout late in the fifth round. The “Highlight” became the UFC interim lightweight champion with his defeat over Tony Ferguson. The fight to make is a unification bout with “The Eagle”.

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Brandon Joint is a 28 year old graduate of Slippery Rock University. He resides in Willoughby, Ohio with his fiancé and two children.

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