UFC Boston is now behind us, and it was a weird event of surprising upsets, strange momentum shifts, and some good old fashioned butt kickings. Dominick Cruz's career was resurrected from the studio booth of the talking dead and Matt Mitrione's UFC career may have been iced by some eye pokes. But that's not what we're here to talk about right now. We're here to talk about the future, not the past. And more particularly, we're here to talk about fights to make.
So, without a lot of further hemming and hawing, here are my fights to make for the main card (and a couple other) fighters from UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz... Oh, and one last note, just because I like trying to be more predictive than experimental, I'm following the basic UFC policy of matching winners with winners and losers with losers.
Dominick Cruz: I'm just going to go ahead and say it. I hate the idea of a Urijah Faber fight. I don't care how good the build up would be, or that Faber's won his last bout. He doesn't look like a championship caliber fighter anymore. I want to see the best fighting the best, not just the most interesting fighting the best. But, I can't really argue for Dillashaw either, since fans are fed up on rematches and he's not a champ anyone loves enough to get one just off fan interest. It looks like Barao is reasserting his interest in going to 145, so that really just leaves Assuncao... At this point, I'd rather see Demetrious Johnson move up and take a second shot at Cruz. That's the best, most interesting fight there and DJ is short on challengers anyhow.
T.J. Dillashaw: On the flip side, I'd now much rather see Dillashaw vs. Faber, but I'm not sure if it's a fight Faber is nearly as interested in without a title on the line. Instead, the fight that makes best sense is Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao doesn't really have the profile to jump straight into the title picture off a long layoff and he has a very suspect win over the former champ already. It's the kind of fight that could rebuild either guy back to the belt quickly, which is exactly what this division needs.
Eddie Alvarez: With RDA already booked up with Conor McGregor, there are three sensible fights sitting in Alvarez's wheelhouse and none of them are easy, favorable matchups. If Khabib is well on the road to recovery, Alvarez could be the man to welcome him back to the cage. Or, if he wants a quick (and potentially more guaranteed healthy) opponent, Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz are both right there, looking for a fight. Honestly though, I'd kinda like to see Diaz and Ferguson square off, because that fight would be totally insane. So, I'm going to say Alvarez vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the fight to make here.
Anthony Pettis: It's time for a step back, not just in terms of competition, but maybe in terms of goals too. On paper, Alvarez really didn't have the chops to beat Pettis (and some are arguing he didn't). But, Alvarez was still able to shut down a lot of Pettis' game for long stretches, despite Showtime knowing exactly what was coming. That's bad news for a guy who has had his sights set firmly on getting back to the lightweight title. Fortunately for him, this division has a couple top lightweights looking for a bout off a loss. Michael Johnson has some of the same potential to swarm Pettis (although he's just a bit worse at that game than Alvarez), but a fight with Edson Barboza would be just too bananas to pass up. Pettis vs. Barboza, book it.
Travis Browne: What to do with Travis Browne right now? That's a tough one. He has already fought a lot of the top, available fighters in his division. And when you consider guys coming off a win, there really aren't a lot of options out there waiting for him on the quick. Assuming that Stipe Miocic gets the next title shot, after Werdum/Velasquez, I think this is just exactly the right time to do a rematch with Alistair Overeem. We've seen it before, but it was awesome, and it feels like it could be a very different fight the second time around.
Matt Mitirone: He could just be gone from the UFC. I won't be surprised if they let him go, and I'm especially unconvinced of Mitrione's return after hearing Dana White put emphasis on Browne's punches over the pair of eye pokes for Mitrione's injuries. It could honestly be how he feels, or it could be the first step in dismissing him as a guy who got beat bloody in his last bout. Still, assuming he stays around and gets more fights, his best matches are either Stefan Struve or Ruslan Magomedov. Although with the kind of time he'll need to heal up, matchmaking him may be generally moot.
Francisco Trinaldo: Slowly but surely, and quiet as a mouse, Francisco Trinaldo has become one of the most experienced and winning-est fighters in the lightweight division. Assuming Nik Lentz vs. BJ Penn doesn't happen. Lentz would be a great next fight for Trinaldo. If it does, however, I say give him Evan Dunham for what would be a really fun lightweight scrap.
Patrick Cote: Cote's late career renaissance has been great to watch (even if it comes at the expense of BE's own Ben Saunders). It seems like he's one of those rare fighters that's been able to turn years and years of experience into actual refined technique, and still has the physical tools to carry it out. I was going to say Hector Lombard, as he's coming off suspension and I thought that'd be a good fight, but he's fighting Neil Magny. Instead, I wouldn't mind seeing Cote against Rick Story. If the UFC has bigger plans for Story, then maybe Ryan LaFlare or Albert Tumenov.
Ilir Latifi: There's one obvious fight staring us all in the face right now and it's Ilir Latifi vs. Nikita Krylov. I mean, it's right there, just begging us to be made. If that doesn't work (it really should), then Gian Villante is the next guy in line that makes sense.
Other Fights: Chris Wade vs. James Vick, Luke Sanders vs. Erik Perez, Paul Felder vs. Abel Trujillo, Rob Font vs. Mitch Gagnon