Armchair Matchmaker

UFC on ESPN 14 Post-Fight Matchmaker

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UFC on ESPN 14 brought an end to Fight Island with a bang. The card was one of the largest in the organization’s history and definitely delivered on action. The UFC on ESPN 14 main card featured a lot of great fighters, both young and old. The winners of the main card get matched up with their next opponent in this UFC on ESPN 14 Matchmaker.

UFC on ESPN 14 Post-Fight Matchmaker

Khamzat Chimaev vs. Belal Muhammad

Khamzat Chimaev won his second straight UFC outing in a modern-day organization record ten days. He thoroughly dominated Rhys McKee to win by first-round TKO. His performances have drawn fan comparisons to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov due to their similar relentless and smothering grappling style. Some even believe that he could be ready for a title fight right now. While that may be a bit far-fetched, Chimaev has certainly earned a big step up in competition. That big step up for him should come in the form of Belal Muhammad. “Remember The Name” Muhammad is a solid competitor in the welterweight division, sporting an 8-3 record in the UFC. Much like Chimaev, Muhammad is also a high-pressure grappler who is a tough out on any night. A win for Muhammad derails the Chimaev hype train, while a Chimaev win skyrockets the 26-year-old to the verge of the rankings.

Alex Oliveira vs. Anthony Rocco Martin

Alex Oliveira has rebounded from a three-fight skid with a two-fight win streak, defeating Peter Sobotta by unanimous decision. Ever a fan favorite, “Cowboy” is always in for a fun fight and always on the cusp of the welterweight rankings. He has faced most fighters in the same position, but there is an intriguing name that he has not faced in Anthony Rocco Martin. Martin most recently lost to Neil Magny by unanimous decision to finish out his latest UFC contract. He has yet to re-sign, and just yesterday was hospitalized with a knee infection. He is assumed to eventually re-sign with the organization, though, as he has won five of his last seven bouts. As long as that does eventually happen, and he is able to fully heal from the infection, a fight with Oliveira would be a favorite for Fight of the Night.

Paul Craig vs. Devin Clark

Paul Craig pulled out his patented triangle choke again on Saturday night, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov just over two minutes into the first round. “Bearjew” has now only lost once in his last five fights. After being one second away from likely being cut from the UFC, he now is on the cusp of the light heavyweight rankings. Another fighter that is close to becoming ranked is Devin Clark. “Brown Bear” recently upset Alonzo Menifield by unanimous decision, his second straight win after winning only two of his previous five. A Craig-Clark matchup would feature a fighter that has only won by finish in the UFC in Craig against Clark, who has only won by decision in the UFC. One of these streaks would have to end in a battle between fighters with bear-based nicknames.

Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha/Yan Xiaonan winner

“The Cookie Monster” Carla Esparza once again found a way to win, narrowly defeating Marina Rodriguez by split decision. It is Esparza’s fourth straight win, all coming by decision, with the final three coming outside of the “unanimous” variety. The inaugural UFC strawweight champion is once again climbing the rankings as a result.

She has expressed a desire for a rematch with Claudia Gadelha, to whom she lost by split decision in June 2018. She believes that she beat “Claudinha”, and wants to prove as much. Gadelha, for her part, is on a two-fight win streak. However, she is set to face Yan Xiaonan in September at UFC Fight Night 179. Xiaonan has won each of her five UFC outings and is gunning for a shot at the current strawweight champion and Chinese counterpart Weili Zhang. With the current state of the division, Esparza would serve as a reasonable next step towards contention for both Gadelha and Xiaonan. Esparza, meanwhile, would get the chance to exact revenge or stifle another fast-rising contender, as she has done several times before.

Fabricio Werdum vs. Fedor Emelianenko

Following a lackluster loss to Aleksei Oleinik after a two-year layoff in May, Fabricio Werdum looked much improved and got back to his winning ways by submitting a longtime light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson in his heavyweight debut. The fight was the last fight on Werdum’s UFC contract, and “Vai Cavalo” has made it clear that he does not intend on re-signing. With that in mind, the organization most likely to sign him is Bellator, given his past with current Bellator president Scott Coker. Coker also served as president for Werdum’s prior organization, Strikeforce.

One of Werdum’s signature wins came in Strikeforce when he scored a massive upset submission over Fedor Emelianenko. If he does choose to sign with Bellator, he will find “The Last Emperor” right near the top of the organization’s heavyweight division. Werdum announced his desire to run this fight back, and it is a rematch that makes plenty of sense.

Mauricio Rua vs. Tim Boetsch

Mauricio Rua, better known as “Shogun”, won the final trilogy fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by split decision. Rua won each trilogy fight against “Lil Nog”, and is now unbeaten in his last three fights. Nonetheless, he has not looked overly impressive and is a long way from the fighter he was when he became the UFC light heavyweight champion a decade ago. Rua has taken a lot of damage over the course of his career, including in Saturday night’s grueling battle. He is at the very end of his career, and it would not be a bad decision nor a surprise for him to retire in the near future. If he does want to take another fight, though, it should be a similar fight to his last one.

Tim Boetsch has had an up-and-down career but has fought a ton of high-level opponents both in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. “The Barbarian” is also near the end of his career, and may, in fact, be unofficially retired himself considering that he has not fought since March 2019. However, if he does want to take another fight, he and Rua could face each other in what would be a fun fight in what might be the end to each of their storied careers.

Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier

After a devastating title loss last October, “The Reaper” Robert Whittaker returned to action with a unanimous decision win over fan-favorite Darren Till. With the win, Whittaker is now 10-1 since moving up to the middleweight division in 2014. While he has indicated a desire for a rematch with Adesanya, the champion is booked. Israel Adesanya currently has a date set with Paulo CostaJared Cannonier is currently the likely next person in line to fight for the title following the aforementioned fight. Since moving down to middleweight, Cannonier has been a force to be reckoned with. He has undoubtedly showcased incredible power. However, if he wants to stay active and continue to prove his case for a title shot, a fight with Whittaker would make sense. Meanwhile, Whittaker can further prove that he deserves a rematch with Adesanya with a win over “The Killa Gorilla”.

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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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