Another night of UFC fights is in the books and it was a deep card with a lot of bouts to parse. I'm going to skew things a bit this time and match the most important fights, rather than the main card ones, since half of them were pretty uninspiring. Obviously my matchmaking won't have any real bearing on what the UFC does, but I'm thinking of this as sort of a trial run for after the apocalypse when I'm running my own Thunderdome-esque fight promotion. Gotta hone those essential survival skills.
Just as a quick window into my personal process here, I try and keep a few things in mind when matching up fighters. Most importantly, are they available to fight. Fighters currently injured or already booked usually won't make my list of possible opponents, unless there are just no other good options available. And, since I know it's generally what the UFC likes to do, I'll try and match winners with winners and losers with losers. Basically, even though it's just a fun exercise, I want the results to be as close as can be to what is immediately possible. On that note...
Neil Magny: He'll probably get a bump in the rankings, especially since Thiago Alves and Gunnar Nelson haven't had wins over ranked opponents in forever (or in Nelson's case, ever). That puts him well in line for whatever ranked opponent is coming off a win, or since Magny is who he is, whatever guy the UFC wants him to fight next month. Unfortunately, that doesn't actually leave him with a lot of immediate options. Probably the one that makes the most sense is him fighting Stephen Thompson at UFC 195. If he feels like he needs a break, waiting for Lombard to return would also be fine.
Kelvin Gastelum: I feel like it'd be a little cruel to Erick Silva, but that might be the most sensible fight for Kelvin Gastelum coming off this latest loss. He could also wait for Thiago Alves to return from his latest injury, but given past Thiago Alves injuries that could be a year away. The loser of Henderson vs. Masvidal next week would also be a great fight.
Ricardo Lamas: If Renan Barao can be taken at his word (and not his manager's) and has really moved up to 145, Lamas would be a great first featherweight fight for the former bantamweight champion. Otherwise waiting for either the winner of Jury/Oliveira or Stephens/Holloway (whichever winner doesn't get a shot at the belt) would be Lamas' best move.
Diego Sanchez: He's never fought Dennis Siver. I have no idea how that hasn't happened. Book it.
Henry Cejudo: He won't win it, but it's time for a shot at the champion. The best possible result is that Cejudo can put on a good showing (much like Horiguchi) against DJ and use the loss as inspiration to improve. The GSP vs. Hughes I route, if you will. Maybe he could shock the world and even beat DJ, but what we've seen so far doesn't suggest it.
Jussier Formiga: He's still very definitely a top 5 flyweight and needs to keep getting booked like one. Once McCall's injury is done rehabbing, it'd be the perfect time for a rematch between the two of them. If he doesn't want to wait as long, John Moraga would also make for a great fight.
Erik Perez: Felipe Arantes just jumped into the division with a win. That wouldn't be a bad fight. Or, if the UFC really wants to get Jimmie Rivera moving up the ranks at light speed, Perez would be a great litmus test to see if Rivera was ready to break for the top 15 as quickly as possible.
Taylor Lapilus: Not a huge setback, but a good time to pump the brakes and get Lapilus on a more normal MMA development track. Henry Briones might be a good rebound fight or Leandro Issa if the UFC wants to put him in another striker/grappler matchup.
Alejandro Perez: A big win for Perez that, if everyone is sensible about, shouldn't be used as an excuse to book him way over his head. Jerrod Sanders is coming off his first UFC win. Perez would be a great next fight for Sanders, and Sanders has the kind of power wrestling game to really test Perez's ability to sprawl and brawl.
Andre Fili: Weirdly, Fili has a distinct lack of good booking options right now. When Rony Jason comes back from suspension, that'd be a great fight. Otherwise, I think a fight between Andre Fili and Makwan Amirkhani would be all kinds of fun and a great test for the Finnish fighter to see how fast his star can rise.
Gabriel Benitez: Mark Eddiva has just the right combination of scrappy striking and game well-rounded-ness to be a great fight for Benitez if Eddiva is still in the UFC. Otherwise Benitez could be a good sounding-board fight for Levan Makashvili after Makashvili's setback against Hacran Dias.
Other fights: Montano vs. Anzai, Barzola vs. White, L. Silva vs. Case, Fabinski vs. Andrade, Prazeres vs. Hein