Armchair Matchmaker

UFC 253 Post-Fight Matchmaker

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UFC 253 brought a ton of action and was an important history-making event for the UFC. A rare title match between undefeated fighters took place, and a new champion was crowned as well. The UFC 253 Post-Fight Matchmaker picks the next opponents for those fighters, as well as the other main card winners.

UFC 253 Post-Fight Matchmaker

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Dan Ige

After a pretty even first two rounds, “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu came on late to pick up a split decision victory over Zubaira Tuhkugov. He has won his last five after dropping his UFC debut. Now, he looks to face a ranked opponent. A fight that would be a great striking battle would be a matchup with Dan Ige. “50k” Ige dropped a decision to Calvin Kattar in his most recent fight, but is still a tough out any night. He would provide the right test to determine if Dawodu can move up the rankings and further in contention.

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Ketlen Vieira vs. Raquel Pennington

“Fenomeno” Ketlen Vieira got back to her winning ways by defeating Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision. After being knocked out by Irene Aldana last December, Vieira once again looks to be a certifiable contender in the bantamweight division. Her next fight should be against former title challenger Raquel Pennington. “Rocky” has lost three of her last five, including the aforementioned title shot to Amanda Nunes, but is still a top-five contender. A win for each fighter moves them further back onto the right track, and closer to the top of the division’s heap.

Brandon Royval vs. Askar Askarov

It was fun while it lasted, but Brandon Royval withstood a knockdown to score one of his own and pick up a submission win early in the second round over Kai Kara-France. “Raw Dog” Royval has picked up two submission wins in Fight of the Night performances to kick off his UFC career. He is now right in the thick of title discussions in a paper-thin flyweight division. With that considered, he should face Askar Askarov, who is currently ranked third. Askarov is undefeated in his three UFC outings, including his most recent win over Alexandre Pantoja. The winner of this fight would be put in a prime position to contend for the flyweight title at some point next year.

Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira/Thiago Santos winner

For the first time in nearly a decade, the light heavyweight division has a champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel CormierJan Blachowicz flexed his “Polish Power” throughout the course of the fight, eventually ending Dominick Reyes‘s night late into the second round. Just over three years ago, Blachowicz had lost four of five and was on the cusp of release. To say he has improved a lot since then would be an understatement. After the fight, Blachowicz called for a fight with the aforementioned Jones, but that seems unlikely with a probable move to heavyweight looming for the youngest UFC champion ever.

Instead, he should focus his efforts on the November 7 main event between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira. Teixeira has had a late-career resurgence, riding a four-fight win streak and turning 41 in less than a month. “Marreta” Santos, meanwhile, is coming off of a split decision loss in a title fight against Jones after defeating Blachowicz in his previous fight. He is coming off of a significant knee injury, though, and will not have fought in 16 months. Either winner provides an interesting storyline for their likely title shot.

Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier/Robert Whittaker winner

The grudge match between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa ended definitively, with “The Last Stylebender” dominantly taking out “Borrachinha” two minutes into the second round. The win was moved Adesanya to 20-0 in MMA and was his 100th win across all combat sports. He also seemed to call his next shot, which is the winner of the UFC 254 fight between Jared Cannonier and Robert Whittaker. The expectation, at least for Adesanya, is that Cannonier will win and provide a fresh contender for the top of the division. He also made clear, however, that he would not mind facing Whittaker again if he were to win. This seems to be the only viable option at the moment.

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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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