UFC Houston was in the books and it gave fans a couple of big, big storylines for the future. Chan Sung Jung, the “Korean Zombie”, made a splash that has the UFC talking a return to Korea, and Jessica Andrade set herself up to be the next challenger for Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Add in a ton of upsets and some fun finishes and a lot of fighters came out of this card with some momentum.
As always, I’ll be doing the tough work of fantasy fight booking in line with the UFC’s classic matchmaking approach. Winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured fighters against one another. But, just to keep it fresh, I have a guest fight booker here. This week it’s BE reader OnTheButton. If you want to join in for next week, leave a comment below starting with “You should have trusted Dallas Winston’s dissection.” I’ll pick one winner from the comments below to join in. Now, lets get to the matchmaking!
Hello everybody, my names Daniel and I'm a long time reader and lurker with minimal posts. Been an MMA fan for nigh on 10 years now and have always wanted to do something like this. Thanks for the opportunity Zane! Quick shoutout to all my family at Tarneit boxing in hoppers crossing, Melbourne, Australia where I train and study under a great mentor Dave Hegarty. We have some exciting pros and the gym is full of Australian belts and amateur accomplishments. But our most exciting and 'on the cusp' is Omari Kimweri. Omari' story is absolutely one that needs to be heard. There is a mini vice doco about his life and how he came to be an Australian originally from Tanzania, it wouldn't be the worst way to spend ten minutes. Omari earned a shot at the WBC world title against Thai Chayaphon Moonsri but has been consistently denied and overlooked for his shot at the title for lesser ranked fighters. Some combination of politics and protection keep him from this fight, and spreading the word is the least I can do.
Daniel - With the swing of one uppercut we now have a 'new' top 5 contender. Rusty start against Bermudez. Wobbled earlier in the fight the zombie clawed his way back and it's good to have a fighter like him back. I see no other way to go for Zombie then a fight with Cub Swanson off three nice looking wins. Two vets vying for contention and a step up the ladder possibly into to a number one contenders match and what will, in all probability, be an absolute war.
Zane - Yeah, that Cub Swanson fight is just sweet sweet music to my ears right now. Especially coming off a big win over Dooho Choi, it feels like there’s no better time for a battle between two guys that should have fought ages ago. If the UFC can’t make Zombie vs. Swanson happen, then the best secondary option may be Yair Rodriguez. But, I’d much rather see the Swanson fight first. Chan Sung Jung vs. Cub Swanson in Korea.
Daniel - Tough loss for Bermudez and it sends him tumbling down the ranking s with losses to all of his better competition. In my eyes you should take a step back in competition but for fun purposes I'm going to say loser vs loser and say Dooho Choi.
Zane - DooHo Choi does need more tests against guys who can pressure him with lots of aggression, but given Bermudez’s defensive problems I’m not sure that it’d be the best booking for him going forward. Instead, I’d like to see him take on another featherweight who seems to be perpetually stuck at the borders of the elite. Dennis Bermudez vs. Charles Oliveira. Of course, Oliveira missed weight so badly last time that he may be a lightweight now, if not out of the UFC. So, if that fight can’t get made I’d be up for a winner/loser fight against Andre Fili.
Daniel - She's in a weird spot as she seems to have lost to a lot of the people in front of her and is the definition of a true vet of women's mma. I still cannot possibly ever see her being a contender and she would be better used as a prospect tester/gatekeeper as forward; but I think you honestly should go with a returning Jessica Aguilar as that matchup instantly makes Herrig a fringe-ish contender (her last shot) or it throws JAGs name straight back into the mix herself.
Zane - She called out Michelle Waterson after her fight, which while I like it, I’d actually rather see Waterson vs Torres as Daniel mentioned below. So, in that case, I’m going to say Herrig should take on Juliana Lima in a battle of gate-keeping vets. The JAG fight is also a solid option, as long as Aguilar is ready to go, and I’d really like to see Herrig against Maryna Moroz when Moroz returns from injury. But Herrig/Lima feels like the easiest fight to make.
Daniel - Tough loss for Grasso to a more experienced competitor in Herrig. Definitely not disgraced in her performance but Maybe this will end up good for her career arc and teach her some valuable lessons in the cage and she will reach her full potential. Which means a slower progression and the warranted step back in competition to a forgotten Amanda Cooper sounds about right
Zane - If nothing else, Grasso has a ton of options coming off a loss at 115. She could take on Seohee Ham, or Cortney Casey, or as Daniel suggests, ABC. I think I’d lean toward Cortney Casey. She’s got the size and aggression to cause Grasso problems in some of the same ways Herrig did, but without the clean technical game. It’d be a good step back while still being a strong test to shore up her game. Alexa Grasso vs. Cortney Casey is the fight I’d like to see.
Daniel - Big upset and a great debut win. Giving him last weeks impressive winner Jordan Johnson seems a logical next step. I liked his win and it doesn't rush Oezdemir. It gives you a matchup of two newly acquired talent who put on sound performances in their respective UFC debuts and will also propel one further up and/or into the already shallow LHW rankings.
Zane - He won huge. So, the question is, do you rush him or do you slow play him. At light heavyweight there’s a distinct need for new blood right now, so I don’t want to just match him at the bottom, but he definitely can’t get punted back into the top 5 right now. Marcos Rogerio de Lima just put a beating on Jeremy Kimball, and still has a pretty limited power game. I think Pezao would be just the right next step for Oezdemir coming off a career changing win.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX:
Daniel - This ones a tough pill to swallow. He looked slow and did nothing more most of the fight and I don't truly know where this takes him as he's been on the downslope lately. 4 losses from him last five fights. I don't know where you go with him, that's why you go with the original matchup and back to Blachowicz. If he can't win that I dare say that might be the end of him as a UFC talent
Zane - OSP is tumbling fast. It may be that at 33 and coming up on 9 years as a pro his speed and reflexes are starting to slip a notch, or it could just be that with enough time on a relatively big stage, fighters are starting to figure him out. Either way, his lack of technical game is getting exposed over and over. He never should have lost this fight, but he did. He could definiely get re-booked with Jan Blachowicz, who looked great in a loss to Alexander Gustafsson, but I’d love to see him fight Ilir Latifi in the battle of powerful dudes with incredibly limited games. Latifi vs. OSP is the fight to make, if the UFC is still in the OSP business.
Daniel - No explanation needed, on an absolute tear since dropping and she's a fireplug at the weight. Her skills have translated better then we could've imagined and if she's got 5 rounds of cardio it's gonna be a barn burner from her and Joanna Champion.
Zane - No questions here. Andrade was the number one contender before she elected to take another bout on her way to a title shot. And she’s even more the top contender now. A fight between her and Jedrzejczyk would be fascinating, to see how Joanna handled someone with that kind of power that wants to engage her so freely in the pocket. Joanna’s been hurt before, but Andrade walks into a lot of shots. Count me in as hyped. Jessica Andrade vs. Joanna Jedrzajczyk needs to happen ASAP.
Daniel - Though she definitely hasn't had a great first and second start in the UFC, she is UFC caliber and I would like to see a change of pace from her usual throw her to the wolves matchups she has been copping. Danielle Taylor seems to be a matchup for mine here.
Zane - If the UFC is still booking Valerie Letourneau, Hill vs. Letourneau would be a good fight. But Letourneau may also be done fighting at 115, as the weight cut appears to be killing her. So, assuming that can’t happen, then the UFC should book Angela Hill vs. Seohee Ham. Ham got absolutely robbed in her fight against Danielle Taylor and should still have a spot on the roster. It’d make for a great action bout between two sound strikers. Otherwise fights between Hill and Calderwood or Penne would be great if the UFC wants to keep throwing her at top ranked vets.
Daniel - Solid performance from Tecia, she absolutely cannot finish a fight to save herself but can match it with most if not all of the division skill wise. I love the sound of a tantalizing matchup between the technically sound Torres and the karate and submission stylings of Michelle Waterson. Book it!
Zane - I love this Michelle Waterson fight idea. It’s a great clash of two really well rounded 115ers. A chance for Waterson to prove she can charge to a title shot and a chance for Torres to continue showing that she can compete with and beat the best. I don’t know that Torres will ever thrill fans enough to be the undisputed no. 1 contender, but there’s a lot to be said for being at the top of the division and winning. The other great option for Torres is Claudia Gadelha. Gadelha has Faber-ed herself a bit, but I see no reason Torres can’t be fighting anyone in the top 5 that needs an opponent.
OTHER BOUTS: Vick vs. Taisumov, Trujillo vs. Dober, Fortuna vs. Christensen, Hamilton vs. Sherman, Blaydes vs. Henrique, Milstead vs. Smolyakov, Skelly vs. Fili, Gruetzemacher vs. Avila, Ramos vs. Lopez, Tanaka vs. Grant, Rawlings vs. Letourneau (at 125), Price vs. Alhassan, Morono vs. Roberts, Rountree vs. Clark, Jolly vs. Stansbury