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UFC Phoenix - Rodriguez vs. Penn fights to make

Another UFC event in the books means that it’s time for another fantastic series of fight bookings!

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Rodriguez vs Penn Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Phoenix was not the easiest event to get hyped for and, at times, not the easiest event to watch. That makes it kind of a hard event to jump off from for a series of new fights. Still, that’s why this is a job for professionals... Oh, and also you! The readers. I’ll be making all the best, most fun, and coolest fights I can for all the fighters from this last weekend’s UFC card.

As always, I’ll be trying my hand at the classic Silva/Shelby (now Shelby/Maynard) method: Pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured fighters against one another. If you want a crack at joining me for the next UFC event, just start a comment below with “I'm going to go to the death. I'm going to try to kill you and I'm not joking about this.” I’ll pick on winner from the comments below. This week it’s BE reader Brian Lynch:

So I’m Brian, I’m Irish, my background in martial arts is in Muay Thai and, much more recently, BJJ. I have a couple amateur fights behind me and I’m a white belt in BJJ. Outside of MMA, I’m a big fan of Arsenal and the Houston Rockets. My twitter handle is @lyncbrinMT if you fancy telling me how crap my picks were.


Brian - Well that was easy. I don’t think we learned anything new though. Rodriguez is a dynamic kicker, who has a complete disregard for the bones in his lower extremities, with potentially suspect boxing skills. This win shouldn’t do much for his standings in the rankings, maybe bump him up a place or two, as BJ put up little to no resistance, but it has earned him the right to test himself against a higher level of competition and I think that means Cub Swanson. Cub is coming off a win over another prospect in Do Ho Choi and would provide a stern test for the emerging featherweight. Cub Swanson vs Yair Rodriguez.

Zane - Cub Swanson would make for a hell of a good test fight for Yair, especially as Cub just showed his ability to bully through a lethal outside striker for 15 minutes in his punishing bout against Dooho Choi. I would be 100% behind giving Yair that push, even if it’s a big step forward. If the UFC wants to take a slightly smaller step but with a still high potential for fun violence, I’d be totally down for Yair vs. Jeremy Stephens. Stephens also has trouble closing range on fighters with good footwork, but is notable for his toughness and great punching power. It’d be a good step for Yair just to fight a top 10 guy in his prime. If neither of those fights work, then Yair should take on the winner of Chan Sung Jung vs. Dennis Bermudez. Either of those would be bananas action fights for Yair.


Brian - Wow, that was ugly. BJ still has some chin on him though; those head kicks in the first were brutal. BJ says he loves to fight and that’s why he came back, but if that really is the case there are plenty of places he could get those fights that aren't under the bright lights of the UFC. Any lower weight professional fighter doing a training camp would be delighted to have a high level veteran in BJ to go hard rounds against, and we all could be spared the pain of watching young studs trying to make their name off of BJ’s legacy. Take this horse to the glue factory.

Zane - Not a fun idea to pick a next fight for Penn, but if he wants to keep fighting I have the feeling the UFC would get him another fight. A fight against Clay Guida would be his best option at 145. If Penn is interested in a return to 155, then a rematch with Diego Sanchez is right there waiting for him. Still I’ll say Penn vs. Guida.


Brian - The experienced veteran has been alternating wins and losses now for the last few years, and this “controversial” win continues that pattern. Joe is definitely on the down swing of his career, but he has a place in the UFC as long as he wants it. With a recognizable name and a fun, action style he is always good filler on a card. I think a fight against Kevin Lee would make an exciting wrestle/grappling bout, and provide a good test for the up and coming prospect. Joe Lauzon vs Kevin Lee.

Zane - It’s really too bad James Kruase and Erik Koch are both injured, because either of them would make a great bout for Lauzon. Lee isn’t bad either, but I like to see Lauzon against other longtime vets battling for an edge at the top of the lightweight division. To wit, I’m offering up Francisco Trinaldo. Trinaldo has slowly rounded himself into a strong power kickboxer with a decent wrestle-grappling game. But at 38, time isn’t on his side. He’s putting together fun action fights and Lauzon would provide a great scrap to further establish him as a top 10 guy. Otherwise, a bout with Leonardo Santos would also be decent.


Brian - That’s two losses in two fights under the UFC banner for the Polish grappling prospect, who many hardcores had been looking forward to see compete in the UFC. It seems he is having trouble adapting his specialized grappling/bjj game and tentative striking to the higher level of competition. This is a tough one, although young, Held has plenty of professional experience, so you would have hoped many of the kinks would have been worked out already i.e. BJJ adapted to high level MMA (when was the last time a leg/knee/ankle lock/hold actually worked in the UFC) and improved striking/stand-up. I think he gets another shot before being released into the MMA wilderness to work on his game and it should be against John Makdessi. John Makdessi vs Marcin Held.

Zane - I’m not sure Makdessi is going to fight again, frankly. He’s been teasing retirement for a while now, and his latest KO loss may have put the stamp on that. There’s an opportunity (if the UFC wants to find the better of their two elite-grapple prospects) to pit him against Jake Matthews, as both are on two-loss streaks. If Held wants a really quick turnaround, a bout against Abel Trujillo would be an interesting fight. Eventually however, I’m going to say Held should fight Jasson Saggo. Saggo is also known for his wrestle/grappling game and improving standup and it’d be a solid litmus test to see if Held can really make a UFC run.


Brian – A filler fight on a filler card from one of the deepest weight classes in the UFC. There are many directions in which we could go with Killa B, I’m feeling kind of leftfield so I think I will throw out a suggestion with a bit of European flavor, and nominate Peter Sobotta. The recently adopted Jamaican, who is in his second run in the UFC, looked really good in his last fight against Nicolas Dalby and I think these two BJJ black belts with decent Muay Thai could put on a fun fight on some televised prelims to whet the appetite for a main course pay-per-view. Ben Saunders vs Peter Sobotta.

Zane - I like this Saunders vs. Sobotta matchup a lot. Both guys have their flaws and their strengths and could make for a really fun fight. I’m going to offer one other fight that I think would be super awesome for Saunders and that’s Erick Silva. Silva is coming off his own improbable win, beating Luan Chagas, and has his own funky mix of striking and grappling. Killa B vs. Erick Silva. UFC, make it happen!


Brian – Moraga has limited options for fresh match-ups using the traditional Joe Silva/Sean Shelby methods. He now has three losses in a row so might be facing the chopping block, but I don’t think we are quite at that stage yet, at flyweight talent is scant. I think Moraga should be matched up against another veteran on a three fight skid, Zach Makovsky, and let them fight for their jobs. John Moraga vs Zach Makovsky.

Zane - It’s hard to plan on booking two 3-loss fighters together without thinking one of them might be cut already. I’m not at all sure Moraga still has a place in the UFC, or Makovsky for that matter. I hope so, because the UFC needs to keep fighters at 125, if for no other reason than to give people someone to fight. Since I’m not sure if Makovsky is going to get another bout, I’ll say the UFC should pit Moraga against Louis Smolka. Smolka has his own two loss skid, and the style matchup seems like it’d make for an especially fun matchup.


Brian – That’s three in a row now for the younger Pettis, he displayed good striking in this while mixing in some wrestling/grappling and throwing up a submission attempt or two to keep Moraga on his toes. He’ll get a bump in the rankings and will probably be setting his sights on those up ahead of him to continue his upward momentum. Dustin Ortiz fits that bill; he’s coming off a win, isn’t booked in a match-up currently and seems to be at the lower end of that second tier coagulating way in the distance behind Mighty Mouse. Dustin Ortiz vs Sergio Pettis.

Zane - It’d be interesting to see if the UFC could make Ortiz vs. Pettis as Ortiz was a longtime training partner of Sergio. If they can, that’s a great fight that makes a lot of sense in the division. If they can’t make that fight, Sergio has a bunch of options. He could fight Brandon Moreno, or Ray Borg, or even Kyoji Horiguchi. But I say give him the fight he asked for. He wants Jussier Formiga, who pulled out of this bout with an injury. If Sergio is willing to wait until Formiga is healthy, then that’s a great bout and gives Formiga a better new fight than anything else he has available.

OTHER BOUTS: McGee vs. Medeiros, Klose vs. D. Brown, Powell vs. McBride, Mendes vs. Font, Saenz vs. Scoggins, Oliynyk vs. Harris, Martin vs. Holbrook, White vs. Tae Hyun, Ansaroff vs. Lima, Sherman vs. Danho, Christensen vs. Bosse, Asker vs. Tuivasa

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