The fun thing about a card like UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson is that even without a title fights or massive stars, it still puts out a whole lot of fighters with a good deal of momentum behind them. There were a few surprises, a lot of close scraps, and some really brilliant finishes, all of which should make for some great future bookings.
As is the new deal around here: if you want to pitch in with your own fight picks for the next card, just write a comment starting, “You will never get to me, what can't be done I'll do myself.” I’ll pick one lucky winner who I’ll email with a basic outline of the process. I follow the Silva/Shelby model, passed down through the ages, of generally matching winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured fighters against one another. But Y’all can do whatever.
Last time’s winner was MCM, he’s a former fiveouncesofpain.com writer, and as he put it, has been, “following MMA since the Clinton administration, although I didn't become ‘hardcore’ until after 2002.” So with that said, lets get to the fights.
MCM - What can you say. 9 fight win streak and an absolute beat down of the former #1 lightweight in the world. I dare anyone to find a logical reason to say Ferguson doesn’t deserve the next shot at the belt. Sorry Kahib, your fake contracts don’t matter. Sorry Diaz, it doesn’t make a difference if Connor wins the belt. No challenger has ever cemented themselves as firmly at the top of the ladder as
Ugly Tony El Cucuy just did. This one’s easy. Furguson vs winner of Alvarez/McGregor
Zane - Hard for me to argue against the idea of Ferguson fighting the Alvarez vs. McGregor winner since I was pushing that narrative hard after the fights last night. And I’m not going to backslide on that, I still think it’s absolutely the right fight to make. However, you always need a backup plan. If the UFC goes with Khabib, or Nate (just because) then Ferguson should be arguing for the Alvarez/McGregor loser, whoever that may be. And of course, if Johnson beats Khabib, and Ferguson still gets passed over, then Ferguson vs. MJ 2 is a very good fight. Still, gotta go with the Alvarez/McGregor winner first and foremost.
Rafael Dos Anjos:
MCM - Tough break for the former champ. He landed shots on Ferguson that have KO’d lesser men. He didn’t look bad in the fight but as was pointed out throughout the broadcast, the loss of Cordeiro in his corner seemed to have a huge impact as the fight went on. I think RDA is going to need a little time to settle in to not being with Kings anymore. While a fight with the loser of the upcoming battle between Nurmy and Johnson makes sense, I’d rather see RDA fight another big name on a bit of a skid. Gilbert Melendez costs the new owners of the UFC a pretty penny and he hasn’t really lived up to the hype his contract would suggest. I’d like the see him either redeem himself by taking out the former champ or admit that maybe his best days were spent outside the UFC. RDA vs Melendez
Zane - I like this RDA vs. Melendez fight, it was in fact the fight I suggested after RDA lost his title to Alvarez. And considering Melendez’s losing streak, it’s still right there as a sensible option. It also seems like the kind of fight that both guys would be willing to take as it’s reasonably high profile. The only other really sensible matchup is Dustin Poirier, or to wait for the Khabib/Johnson loser. But, if RDA wants to get back in there quick and Melendez is ready, I’ve gotta agree that that’s the best one. Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Gilbert Melendez.
MCM - Hey, did you guys here the one about Diego Sanchez being a legit 2-1 in 2016? Not a joke. After displaying all the technique of the Energizer Bunny for most of the decade, something must have shook loose (or back into place) in him cause he started to remember that he has defense and that he’s a pretty good grappler when he chooses. While beating a debuting prospect like Held doesn’t mean he’s ready for a title run, it does keep the TUF OG around for another fight or two. While I initially thought a fight with another rock’em sock’em robot like Jon Makdessi would be great, I think the new (old?) Diego turns that into a mauling on the ground instead of a stand up battle. So now I’m thinking that if Gray Maynard can pull it off against Ryan Hall in his next fight, I’d like to see these two old boys go at it and see which one keeps their career resurgence going. Diego vs Maynard
Zane - While Maynard vs. Diego has some fun silver-circuit flare to it, there’s a problem in that Maynard seems pretty firmly set at 145 at this point, and considering Diego’s run there, I don’t see him dropping back down. My first reaction then is to suggest booking Diego Sanchez vs. Reza Madadi, unfortunately I’m not sure that the UFC would ship Diego over to Europe for a card, and I’m not sure Madadi can fight in the US. James Krause looks like he may be down to injury for a while, so I think Diego Sanchez’s best opportunity is to fight Thiago Alves, win or lose to Jim Miller. Sanchez vs. Thiago Alves is the fight.
MCM - Well, I’m sure that was a bit of surprise for Held to see the man that once out grappled a prime Nick Diaz return to the cage. While losing to a 2016 Sanchez isn’t necessarily a great thing, a win wouldn’t have meant that much either. Marcin has said he could make 145lb and he looked quite a bit smaller than a relatively small LW in Diego so maybe that would be best. If he decides to stay at LW, give him a shot against another recent UFC signee in Darrell Horcher. A loss won’t derail either man but a win gives us a better idea of where they stand. Held vs Horcher
Zane - Held has just enough name value to him that I feel like Horcher is just kind of a lose/lose fight. Horcher is both fairly dangerous, and outside a loss to Khabib, completely unknown. I don’t want to see Held just given a showcase (although it wouldn’t be the worst idea) so instead I’m going to say Held should fight Abel Trujillo once Trujillo returns from injury. Trujillo is still dangerous, and on a win streak, with enough recognition to be a strong feather in Held’s cap if he gets the win. Otherwise, I’d like to see him fight Rick Glenn, who also had a bit of name on his way into the UFC and took a tough first loss. But, Held vs. Trujillo is option A for me.
MCM - Man Featherweight is a mess. Lamas did a great job of not being bullied by the larger man but it’s not like the W did anything to improve his standing in the division. He’s ranked 4th with the three guys in front of him booked to fight the three guys below him….mostly. I guess he could sit out and wait to fight the winner of Edgar/Stephens or bank on the mythical return of B.J. Penn. Personally I’d rather see him try to knock the ring rust of our returning friend Chan Sung Jung. The Korean Zombie is done with his military service and he’s hopefully looking to step back in where he left off. If Lamas wins, it’s another feather in his cap on his way back to a title shot. If he loses, well great, we got ourselves another contender in the stacked FW division. Lamas vs KZ
Zane - The idea of seeing Chan Sung Jung jump right back into the cream of the featherweight division troubles me a little. Obviously as a former title challenger, expectations shouldn’t be low, but I’d at least like to see him get his sea legs again before getting thrown into the top of the rankings. Unfortunately, as noted, that does mean that Lamas basically has to wait for a winner to open up or take a fight like Yair Rodriguez or Renan Barao, who are both dangerous but don’t have Lamas’ resume at 145. The Barao fight might actually have some interest, but so far featherweight Barao has yet to show he can compete at the very top of the division. If DooHo Choi beats Cub Swanson, Lamas vs. Choi would be really fun, but I’m gonna go ahead and say the Edgar/Stephens winner is the fight for the UFC to book as Lamas has managed to go a long time without fighting either of them. Ricardo Lamas vs. the Edgar/Stephens winner.
MCM - Deeeaaaathhhh!
Wait…..are we not….we’re……we’re over it?.....OK.
Well even if we’re over the fact that Oliveira came in at the max weight of the division above his, it still remains that this is not his first (or second or third) time he’s missed the 145lb limit. While this was a short notice bout, it’s still a clear cut case of Gastelum so the prescription should be the same. Oliveira needs to move back to LW until he gets his cut/body in order. That said, he’s still a top 10 fighter so you don’t really want to toss him some unranked guy like it’s reward for missing weight. I’d like to see him take on another former top 10 FW in the likes of recently surging Dustin Poirier. Their two careers have danced around each other for years and now seems to be the perfect time to throw ‘em together. Oliveira vs Poirier
Zane - There’s a decent chance Charles Oliveira could get cut after that loss. He’s 1-3 in his last 4 and he missed weight by an entire weight class. Those things won’t make the UFC happy at all. But, as an exciting and relatively elite action fighter in his prime, he’s also the kind of talent that makes for great fight card filler that the UFC may not want to let go. Assuming he stays for another fight then Brian Ortega would be a choice featherweight match. And if he needs to go to lightweight (and he should), then lets do Micheal Chiesa vs. Charles Oliveira.
MCM - This ones got me a little stumped to be honest. I don’t know much about Bravo outside of his UFC fight so let’s go with another fighter I don’t know much about. The other TUF L.A. Lightweight winner who dropped down to 145, Enrique Barzola. Bravo vs Barzola
Zane - Assuming that Bravo drops to 145, then the UFC should pit him against Kyle Bochniak, who took a highly contested win over Enrique Barzola. The UFC does love matching TUF winner against TUF winner, so I can definitely see that Barzola fight happening, I’d just like to see both guys get some room. A bout against the currently injured Jeremy Kennedy would also be a decent idea. If he stays at lightweight, then I’d match him up with Alex Ricci. Ricci is reasonably technical and athletic, but has problems pulling the trigger and doing damage. Should be more opportunity to get Bravo the cage time he needs. Still, Bravo vs. Bochniak is my first choice.
MCM - Another guy stuck in stasis while his division sorts itself out. If I had my druthers, I’d put him and Nate Diaz in the cage in the hopes of seeing an amazing ground battle. But I get the feeling Nate doesn’t consider Beneil a big enough needle mover to book a flight out of Cabo for. So Dariush is going to have to look lower down the rankings for his next fight. Thank fully Francisco Trinaldo isn’t too far behind him. It also doesn’t hurt that both men are 7-1 in their last 8 with their only loss coming to Michael Chiesa. Dariush vs Trinaldo
Zane - This was exactly the kind of win Dariush needed to really firmly reestablish himself as a premium talent in the lightweight division. Magomedov is a technical nightmare, but Dariush proved that he’s honed his skills and aggression well enough to beat the majority of the division if placed in front of him. That bout against Trinaldo is thus pretty damn tasty as Trinaldo has been proving a lot of the same thing. However, I’d really love to see Beneil Dariush take on Mairbek Taisumov (I’d also just love to see Taisumov fight). Taisumov doesn’t have the rankings slot, but he’s definitely got the talent and I think it’d make for an excellent contest. Beneil Dariush vs. Mairbek Taisumov is my fight.
MCM - Grasso looked great under the big lights taking on uber tough Heather Jo Clark. So it’s no surprise that folks will be calling for her to take on ranked fighters right off the bat. The theory is she’s got the looks, the skills and the MMA report card to be a star so why not strike now. While I have no doubt fights against Michelle Waterson or Paige VanZant would not go unnoticed by the larger media, what WMMA needs is more legit fighters not just pretty faces. If Grasso’s skills hold up, she’ll be a star no matter what. What I’d like to see is her take measured steps up the UFC rankings. Jo Clark was a good opener. Next up I’d like to see her take on Felice Herrig. If she can get passed the kickboxing of BE’s favorite Instagramer we can start talking top 10. Grasso vs Herrig
Zane - Women’s strawweight is replete with good young talented fighters right now, of which Grasso has the potential to be one of the best. She didn’t stop Heather Clark, but it didn’t seem like she broke much of a sweat either. While a fight with Herrig is sort of the prototypical next step litmus test for a fighter like Grasso, I wouldn’t mind seeing her in a prospect vs. prospect match with someone like Justine Kish or Alexandra Albu, if either of them can return to competition soon. Really though, I’m going to say Maryna Moroz is the fight to make. It feels a little like “rushing” Grasso, but she’s been fighting longer than Moroz and is only two years younger. And Moroz’s UFC performances have been erratic, to say the least. Grasso could really quickly put her stamp on the division with a win like that and establish herself among a bunch of other young talent that's actually not much older or more experienced. I’m picking Grasso vs. Moroz.
Other Bouts: Puelles vs. Arzamendia, Magomedov vs. Martins, Clark vs. Penne, Perez vs. Yahya, Arantes vs. Saenz, Soto vs. Munhoz/Scoggins winner, Beltran vs. Tanaka, Griffin vs. Chagas, Montano vs. Dalby, Silva de Andrade vs. Quinonez, Briones vs. Grant, Alvey vs. Tavares, Nicholson vs. Askham, Reyes vs. Teymur, Novelli vs. J. Gonzalez, Barzola vs. Rosa