UFC Nashville was a strange one. Some fights had action, others didn’t. Some fighters really over-performed, some under-performed. There were a lot of competitive scraps that didn’t really set fighters up for big, obvious next fights. Does Cub Swanson really get a title fight off a win over Artem Lobov? What does the UFC do with John Dodson off a pretty lackluster win? I’ll do my best to give them a hand in figuring it out.
As always, to determine matchups, I’ll be using the classic Silva/Shelby style of yore. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured fighters against one another. If you want to take your own crack at it, leave a comment below starting with “Even ‘The Korean Superboy’ managed to rock him. Imagine if I connect. I’m being dead serious here — I hope they’re able to wake him back up.” And I’ll pick one winner out of the comment section. Joining me today is BE reader GopnikBezElektrichestva. And on that note, lets get to the fight bookings!
Hello BloodyElbowites, it’s GopnikBezElektrichestva, or more legally known as Laurence. I have watched MMA since Bellator 130, watched UFC since UFC 179, and have watched every UFC event religiously from there on out. This, coupled with my lengthy sessions of playing World of Mixed Martial Arts 3, has made me overqualified to decide the futures and life expectancies of the below list of mixed martial artists. Mercifully, some of these paragraphs were written before I had yet to defile myself.
Laurence - Well, that ended up just about how everyone desired, if not expected. We witnessed a card conclude in an excessively violent manner, Cub Swanson had a tough, crowd pleasing fight, and Artem Lobov can now one day tell his grandchildren how he went the distance with a man that has a postcard tattooed on his chest. As for what follows, the winner of Frankie Edgar/Yair Rodriguez seems mighty attractive as a potential title eliminator. With a rematch with Edgar, Swanson chances to exact vengeance on the man that potentially robbed a couple years of his career. Now…if Rodriguez finds the combination and fortune to pass by the former lightweight champion, then we, my friends, have ourselves a firefight not seen since Doc Holliday winked at Billy Clanton.
Zane - If Yair beats Frankie Edgar (and I’m not expecting him to) then Yair/Swanson would be fire. But I don’t otherwise want to see Swanson/Edgar 2. It’s too bad Pettis is headed back to lightweight because that’d be a great fight too. There’s also unfortunately a rumor that the UFC is booking Lamas vs. Korean Zombie which takes the other two big fights for Swanson off the table if it gets made. All this could set Swanson up for a fight with Brian Ortega, or just leave him waiting around for a potential title shot/top contender fight to open up. I want Swanson/Chan Sung, but I’ll settle for Ortega if that’s what it has to be.
Laurence - Statewide man of mystery Al Iaquinta once suplexed a kangaroo and put Jaws in a camel clutch without facing charges for animal cruelty. Now after the Xie family made him humble by demanding their historic Nassau County suburban mansion be remodeled into something so ugly it could be a modern art masterpiece before a sale can be made, Raging Al has returned to put the lightweight division on notice with his virtuoso violent victory over Diego Sanchez. A fight with Gilbert Melendez was once on the table, but with Melendez’s 3 losses in a row and a suspension to boot, perhaps it is time for him to look toward Michael Johnson in his jump to the upper echelon of 155. Or, perhaps there is one more fan favorite for Iaquinta to battle in Jim Miller, to solidify his status as a top heel.
Zane - With both Miller and Johnson coming off losses, I don’t think those fights get made, as much as I’d like to see them. A bout with Charles Oliveira would be a ton of fun, but Oliveira is talking about going back to 145. Edson Barboza is coming off a huge win and needs something to do while the lightweight belt is on hold, but that may be jumping in too deep off this win for Iaquinta. If Evan Dunham is en route to fighting again, I’d love to see that fight. At the end of the day, however, the fight i really want is Al Iaquinta vs. Joe Duffy.
Laurence - Despite his attempts to convince us otherwise, Diego Sanchez can only be demon-spawn. Likely of the Kitsune-persuasion, given his knack for seducing the ringside judges. As for what is next, well, Gilbert Melendez has three losses in a row and a suspension for suspicious metabolites for the kicker. He could use an unranked opponent to shake off that ring rust. WME require an opponent with enough name value to justify a bout with Melendez’s albatross of a contract. And, their last match was a FOTN. If Melendez is simply too much for Diego coming off a loss, then Diego Sanchez/Paul Felder.
Zane - Assuming Sanchez will never retire until he can not physically walk to the cage, I think the UFC needs to be done putting him in with dudes that can crack. He can still grapple and scramble and there are plenty of fighters who could give him that fight. I’d be pretty happy with Reza Madadi facing Sanchez in Madadi’s retirement fight. Or maybe a bout with Mitch Clarke.
OVINCE ST. PREUX
Laurence - OSP needed that win like Al Gore needed a personality. I am of the belief that had he lost to de Lima, missed weight and all, we would have seen him in Bellator for his next fight (given that he is apparently in contract negotiations, we might see that happen anyway). St. Preux now has a reprieve, and this is where I suggest a drastic course of action, and have St. Preux move up to Heavyweight, at least for a couple of fights, where his superior speed and counter-striking can wreck disaster on the lower half of the division. Since St. Preux has made no indication of a move, then OSP/Tyson Pedro is the fight to make. Let’s see if St. Preux can get a few wins in a row before another stab at the elite of 205.
Zane - OSP won, but it was anything but pretty. He spent the first round on his heels getting kicked. When he pressed Pezao, Pezao folded up pretty quickly and ended up tapping to a Von Flue choke. Hardly an indication that OSP is back in the elite at LHW, but the elite at LHW isn’t much to write home about. He could face a young gun like Tyson Pedro, but I say he might as well face off against Corey Anderson. Anderson is coming off a bad loss, but has grabbed a high spot in the rankings. OSP feels like the right guy to see if Anderson can bounce back and keep his claim to the relative elite.
Laurence - Let me put some backstory. I am 5 foot, 4 inches. With a few exceptions, whenever I see a fighter with a significant height disadvantage put on a performance as we have seen, I cannot help but smile. And then read brief bio summaries of Yuri Gagarin and James Madison. As for what is next, both Dominick Cruz and Jimmie Rivera are available, and any combination of the three will produce a technical sticking masterpiece. Since Cruz is coming off a painful loss and may wish to recover, let’s do Jimmie Rivera/Jon Dodson.
Zane - Dodson is really spoiled for choice right now at 135. Dominick Cruz, Bryan Caraway, Aljamain Sterling, Thomas Almeida, and Jimmie Rivera are all un-booked at the top and all but Cruz are coming off wins. Even Joe Soto and Rob Font got wins in their last fights and are ranked in the top 15. So, take your pick. Out of all of those, Jimmie Rivera sounds the most fun, so I’m totally down to make that happen, but any of the rest of these fights would work just fine.
Laurence - We now know how far those seafoam green tattoos run, for Eddie Wineland has been thoroughly pantsed. There is no way around it, Wineland fought like an opponent for a Mayweather PPV with less than 1 million buys. I’d imagine he’d prefer his next opponent to be of similar stature and agility. Thomas Almeida provides just that, in addition to an infighting mindset and an approach to defense that is taken as seriously as my neighbors take the smoking ban. Almeida/Wineland for an excessively violent and entertaining duel.
Zane - Well if everyone else is coming off a win, that kinda means there aren’t a lot of guys off a loss for Wineland. A bout with John Lineker would be absolutely bananas, but it may be a bit high profile for Wineland off a less than inspired performance. The Almeida fight works and is really fun, even with Almeida coming off a recent win, but hell, I’m going to say Wineland Lineker just because why not?
Laurence - After winning a robbery, Joe Lauzon lost a somewhat debatable decision (at least to me, though I must admit that this was around the time that I defiled myself with tequila). This shouldn’t take anything away from Stevie Ray, who showed grit, conviction, and bloodlust in that brilliant 3rd round rally. Still too early to throw Braveheart into the piranhas of 155, but a step up the ladder is in order. Rustam Khabilov fills the requirements of being on a winning streak, and being European, which is somehow a requirement to be on a European Fight Pass card.
Zane - Given Ray’s continued problems with chain wrestling, a bout against Rustam Khabilov just feels like it’d be more of an undressing than anything. Ray could face Jim Miller in the “fight every veteran action lightweight” sweepstakes. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Ray fight Nik Lentz, as another action wrestle/grappler prone to gassing hard late. A fight with Rashid Magomedov has slow Rashid points win all over it, so I’m going to take a step sideways and say Stevie Ray vs. Michel Prazeres. Prazeres has looked great lately, has some power takedowns, but lacks great top control, hits hard, and hasn’t been gassing much recently. Seems like just the right fight.
Laurence - Well, that was one peach of a hand…err…elbow. Mike Perry is likely a ranked UFC fighter, with a significant winning streak. Ergo, he should probably be facing another ranked fighter. We already know that Platinum Perry packs a Colt Single Action Army in his right-side holster. Now it’s time to see if he can clinch and grapple with the best of Welterweight. To make this even easier, it seems that he called out Gunner Nelson in his post-fight interview. So, in light of all that, the fight to make for the platinum one is Kamaru Usman/Mike Perry.
Zane - Perry vs. Usman has a lot of sense to it, especially since, for as dominating as Usman can be, he hasn’t been a finisher, and Perry is uber dangerous given enough time and chances. Still, I feel like most of that fight would be Usman putting the grind on Perry. Now a fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio on the other hand? That has action written all over it. Book Ponz vs. Perry, maybe perry vs. LaFlare if Ponz can’t make it.
Laurence - Once regarded by many as a short notice opponent to set up Louis Smolka for a performance bonus and a title shot, the Assassin Baby is now looking at a potential bout with the most dangerous man pound-for-pound today. Let’s do this right though, and set up a title eliminator fight with Ray Borg as either a Fight Night main event or on a major PPV card. Flyweight is a damn good division, and the only way you are going to make more people care about it is if you stop treating its ranked fighters as Fight Pass and FS2 prelim bait.
Zane - Beating Dustin Ortiz is massively legitimizing, in a way that his previous wins just weren’t quite. Ortiz is battle tested in the heart of the flyweight division, and this is the first time in his career he’s been finished. Ray Borg and Tim Elliott are both out there and both coming off wins. Part of me wants to see Borg and Elliott fight one another, but if I’m really thinking about these matchups hard, I think Elliott vs. Moreno makes for the most fun, entertaining fight. Two dynamic, funky strikers, neither of whom want to stay at range, and both of whom love to scramble. I’d watch it all day every day. Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Moreno, book it now.
OTHER BOUTS: Lobov vs. Dias, de Lima vs. Cannonier, Lauzon vs. Trujillo, Leites vs. A. Smith, Alvey vs. Natal, Ortiz vs. Nguyen (off loss), Holtzman vs. F. Silva, Taylor vs. Markos, Penne vs. Clark, Davis vs. Reneau, Dandois vs. Pudilova, Barberena vs. Garcia, Sandoval vs. Bibulatov, Schnell vs. Shelton