Matches to Make After UFC 187

DC and bader

Stepping Into Joe Silva’s Shoes

 

Traditionally, the UFC produces one of its four best cards during Memorial Day Weekend. This year’s UFC 187 did not disappoint! Even with the Jon Jones situation and Khabib Nurmagomedov getting injured, the main card in particular served up stellar performances from Joseph Benavidez, Andre Arlovski, Donald Cerrone, Chris Weidman, and Daniel Cormier. Also, Travis Browne, Vitor Belfort, and Anthony Johnson gave us intense moments to cheer or bite our nails for, depending on where you placed your bet.

With champions and contenders populating the fight card, it’s but natural that experts and fight fans began speculating about potential matches for the victors (and losers) moments after the event concluded. So what are the matches that would make sense in the near future?

John Dodson vs. Demetrious Johnson 2

Sidelined by an ACL injury, Dodson knew that he had to show the world that he was ready for another shot at the title. While unable to vanquish his foe in the usual clobber-knocker style we’ve known him for, John fought hard to earn a unanimous decision victory against former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky.

Crediting ring rust for his uninspired showing, Dodson’s lightning fast speed and crisp technique brimmed nonetheless in this fight. “The Magician” is now on a three-fight win streak and is the clear choice to face the champion again.

Dodson Johnson

Two years ago, Dodson gave Demetrious Johnson the fight of his life during their first meeting. Since then, “Mighty Mouse” has practically wiped out his entire division, and Dodson with his dynamite hands is the only foreseeable threat to DJ’s title reign.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Henry Cejudo

Joseph Benavidez’s spot in the flyweight division is a very confusing and frustrating place to be in. He has already lost to the champion twice, but he still beats everyone else in the division. He’s practically a gatekeeper in one of the shallowest divisions in the UFC. Given his peculiar situation, he’ll probably serve as the litmus test for all would-be contenders.

This match makes a lot of sense because it’s obvious the UFC is setting up Henry Cejudo to get a title shot in the near future. As you may know, Henry Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling. And what better way to test that Olympic-level wrestling than to pit him against a beast like Benavidez.

UFC Fight Night - Cejudo v Kimura

For Cejudo, this fight will catapult him to a shot at the title. For Benavidez, it’s his chance to prove that he still belongs in the title conversation, and possibly speed things up towards a third encounter with the most technical UFC champion to date.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Stipe Miocic

Anyone still hating on Andrei Arlovski after the war we just witnessed!? After a dull re-entry to the Octagon against Brendan Schaub, Arlovski has chained together two marvelous performances against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Travis Browne. Arlovski was ranked No. 8 when he knocked out No. 3 “Hapa” Browne, so we expected him to climb up the heavyweight ladder in dramatic fashion. A possible top 5 contender for “The Pitbull” to gnaw on is Croatian Stipe Miocic.

Stipe just beat the hell out of Mark Hunt, putting him in line for a title shot. Since Cain Velasquez is still scheduled to meet interim champ Fabricio Werdum on UFC 188, the UFC may opt to keep Stipe active with a title eliminator against Arlovski. Stylistically, it’s a fairly “safe” match for Stipe, but should Arlovski win, it can lead him to his own version of a Cinderella story.

Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos 2

Everyone wanted to see Donald Cerrone throw it down with Khabib Nurmagomedov. But we all have to move on, and that’s exactly what Cerrone did.

Cowboy moved on to fight John Makdessi and broke John’s jaw with a vicious head kick. Donald’s now on an 8-fight win streak and it only makes sense for him to be next in line for the lightweight title. (It’s not his fault that Nurmy got injured, right?) An interesting storyline is that Cerrone’s last loss came in the hands of dos Anjos himself.

Donald Cerrone Rafael dos Anjos

Chris Weidman vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

A lot of pundits are clamoring for Luke Rockhold over “Jacare” Souza as the next middleweight challenger. Here’s what we think:

The UFC’s middleweight division is packed with Brazilians, something the UFC has been feeding Weidman a steady diet of. Currently the biggest, baddest Brazilian in the middleweight division, Jacare poses a unique threat to Weidman that creates an interesting stylistic match-up.

Both fighters prefer to be top-heavy, but should Weidman gain the upper hand, Jacare’s world-class jiu-jitsu would make things much more interesting on the ground than the beating we saw last Sunday. Jacare is perhaps the most technical ground fighter in the division; and his striking, though not as polished, is steadily getting better.

From a business standpoint, the USA vs. Brazil theme has been a very effective marketing strategy for the UFC, so it wouldn’t hurt to see a prime Weidman go at it with a prime Jacare, and have both the US and Brazil tune in for the battle.

Don’t get us wrong: Rockhold has every right to be fighting for the title next. But given the circumstance, two “All-Americans” fighting for the title just wouldn’t sell as much as a battle between two nations’ champions. Plus, Luke seems to be caught up in his Vitor Belfort revenge plot these days.

Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones 2

*IF* Jon Jones returns, Cormier vs. Jones 2 is absolutely the fight to make.

In DC’s own words, “JON JONES! Get your shit together! I’m waiting for you!” If that doesn’t motivate Jones to clean up his act soon, well, I personally don’t know what else will. (Maybe Greg Jackson’s pep talks? Naw…)

In the first fight, everyone saw Jones beat Cormier fair and square. He did things to Cormier nobody else in the two heaviest divisions has done. But Cormier is the current champ. And their beef is as personal as it gets. Nothing motivates a champion more than someone who has already beaten him.

UFC 165: Jones v Gustafsson

Daniel Cormier vs. Ryan Bader 

*IF* Jon Jones doesn’t come back soon, then Ryan Bader might be the guy the UFC would turn to for DC’s first title defense.

Currently No. 3 in the LHW division, Bader might not be the most exciting fighter, but he has been getting under Cormier’s skin these past few months. Bader has been campaigning for a title shot ever since the UFC chose DC over him to face Anthony Johnson for the title at UFC 187. “Darth” even ruined DC’s post fight presser last night by confronting him and tweeting him before the fight.

The UFC might just go with this match because it has a good storyline. Besides, they were supposed to fight in June anyways.

 

Jeremy Michael Yap is a creative copywriter who has been passionate about MMA since the Tito Ortiz-Lion’s Den rivalry. He could spend days in front of the television watching anything related to MMA. Don’t worry, he won’t forget to eat once in a while. Well…maybe.

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