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UFC on FOX 25: Weidman vs. Gastelum - Fights to Make

All the best, most interesting, and absolutely coolest fights the UFC should book following the promotions latest card in Long Island, NY.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Weidman vs Gastelum Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

UFC on FOX 25 didn’t look like the best card on paper, either before or after the event was over. 8 decisions in 13 bouts doesn’t exactly scream thrill-a-minute. However for those that actually watched the card, it was a pretty fun time. Chris Weidman got back on the horse with his best performance since 2014, Darren Elkins continued his improbable late career surge, and Jimmie Rivera put on a scrap with Thomas Almeida.

But, what’s next?

That’s what I’m here to find out, using the classic Silva/Shelby fight booking method of pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured fighters against one another. If you’d like to take your own crack at doing some fantasy fight picking with me, leave a comment below starting with, “I’m back. What’s up? Stop hiding from the real men. Let’s go, baby. I’m the champ and everyone knows it.” I’ll pick one winner from the responses below to join me for the next fight card.

This week’s winner is BE reader Mike Harrington.

Hey whatsup y'all. Names Mike Harrington, I'm a podcaster from the great state of NY. Check me out on FB at Showbizzpodcast (iTunes is being a real jerk right now). I currently work for the GaS Digital Network, home of everybody’s favorite sound bite factory the Believe You Me podcast and the ever popular Legion of Skanks. If you like Bloody Elbow you'll love our stuff. Of course I've got to include the requisite "my fave fighters sentence" so Ben Rothwell, Brian Barberena, Kelvin Gastelum and Mickey Gall (all real a** dudes). If you want to follow me on twitter catch me @TheChin_ Now onto the picks, let's have some fun with these.

CHRIS WEIDMAN

Mike - Good God King is that Tom Petty's Music?!? He's back, he's back, the All American is back, an he's killin Gastelum to death! What a wild fight that was, with his back against the wall. What to do with a former champion who picked up a ton of heat calling out Bisping? You stall him out of course. Rockhold convinently booked Branch just ahead of this bout, Jacare's out till towards the end of the year and Romero just got manhandled, the fight that makes the most sense is to run back Gegard Mou.... oh wait. Barring a further step back like Derek Brunson or Thales Leites, the pick is to say take some time off an fight the winner of Branch vs Rockhold or wait for Jacare, let's flip a coin... Winner of Branch V. Rockhold.

Zane - It’s really hard to know just what’s going on with the middleweight title picture right now. Obviously Robert Whittaker should have next, but he’s injured for a while. Bisping wants GSP, but the UFC seems less interested in making that fight than ever, and Yoel, Jacare, and Rockhold are all coming off losses. That really does put Weidman in perfect position for a chance at the belt. He even appears to have gotten under Bisping’s skin with his callout. I’d still like to see Weidman win another fight though. If he wants to wait, the Branch/Rockhold winner is good. If he wants to fight tomorrow, give him Jacare or Derek Brunson. Brunson seems most likely to be ready soon. Derek Brunson vs. Chris Weidman.

KELVIN GASTELUM

Mike - I bet Mike Dolce just got a lot cheaper in Kelvin's mind. I love this kid, been winning on him since the opening rounds of TUF (thanks Matty boy) and the fact is he's still a kid at 25 and the new blood of the UFC. This was his first time being finished and it was against a guy who had a nearly 7" reach advantage on him. Time to go home to Welterweight an do it right. A more mature Gastelum is exactly the shot in the arm the top 10 at WW needs. As tasty as the winner or even loser of Cerrone vs Lawler sounds, the fight that makes the most sense is Rafael Dos Anjos and let the climb back up the ladder begin.

Zane - This fight may very well drive Gastelum back down to welterweight, but I don’t really think size was the issue here, so much as it was Gastelum’s lackadasical attitude to defense and expectation that he can always athlete out of a bad spot if he’s put in it. Going down to 170 to fight RDA, Masvidal, Ponzinibbio, or Nelson would be lots of fun, but assuming he stays at 185, book him against Thales Leites. It’s another big middleweight, with a grappling game, but less technical wrestling and a much shallower striking tool kit to challenge him.

DARREN ELKINS

Mike - Dangerous Darren Elkins is quietly on a 5 fight win streak! Remember when Jeremy Stephens strung a couple big wins together an climbed his way down from Gatekeeper Mountain an got a shot at Frankie Edgar? Well he was only 2-3 in his previous 5 fights at the time. My point is, Elkins has more than earned a shot at moving into the title picture and away from killing prospects momentum. He called out either Cub Swanson or Korean Zombie in his post fight interview. But following 3 brutal wars in the last year I want to give Cub some more time off so Zombie it is.

Zane - As much as I love the idea of Elkins vs. KZ, Chan Sung Jung needs even more time off than Cub Swanson. He blew out his ACL/MCL training for Ricardo Lamas and probably won’t be back until well into next year. The question then becomes, with Cub searching for a title shot, is Elkins the kind of fight he takes. My gut says “no.” It would be a dangerous fight for Swanson with no real upside to it. In that case, match him with the winner of Ortega vs. Moicano to see if one of these rising talents can pick him off and make a real name for themselves in the top 10. Darren Elkins vs. the Ortega/Moicano winner.

DENNIS BERMUDEZ

Mike - I met Bermudez once at UFC 159 (aka the worst card this side of UFC Brooklyn) an it was probably the highlight of the show, been on the bandwagon ever since. So it pains me to admit that with his 2-4 record over his last 6 fights and his 31st birthday looming he may have taken Elkins spot on Gatekeeper Mountain. Even though it breaks the mold of winners vs winners losers vs losers I think Shane Burgos, off a dominant win at last nights card which pushes him to 3-0 in the UFC, is ready for a crack at the top 15 and Bermudez would be an action fight fans wet dream.

Zane - Because this was a questionable loss (and it really was a questionable loss), I’m going to treat it like a win while still giving Bermudez something of a step back. Since he’s an action fighter with a habit for poor in-fight decision making, why not match him up with a guy who has the same reputation. Alex Caceres vs. Dennis Bermudez.

PATRICK CUMMINS

Mike - I think the only thing that makes sense is a Mortal Kombat style mirror match vs Tom Hardy from the movie Bronson. Go google it, I'll wait... Look I've been to his last two fights, trust me I'm not bragging, I legitimately thought he may have died in the first round of both of those contests, but somehow he's developed the Homer Simpson gene and can drag guys into deep water after they foolishly gas themselves out abusing his skull. It's tough for me to move him up the ladder off the win as Ilir Latifi is booked and his loss to OSP (my choice had Villante won) was barely 2 years ago. I'd love to see him take on another one round wonder in Gadzhimurad Antigulov because that guy hits like a tank an I really wanna see if a guy can look worse while getting his hand raised in victory than Cummins did last night.

Zane - I’ve been pushing for Jordan Johnson vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov... but that also means I have no hesitation about loving this fight. Putting Cummins in with someone that just wants to go wrestle him seems like terrific (possibly brain saving) fun. Another good option would be C.B. Dollaway, coming off his recent win over Ed Herman, but I’m not sure if there’s value to the UFC in pushing Dollaway up the LHW ladder. Eventually, I’ll say go with the Antigulov fight, save Johnson/Antigulov for further down the line.

JIMMIE RIVERA

Mike - So what's the deal, are we sure No Love vs TJ is at MSG in November? I've seen a lot of that noise on Twitter but nothing from either camp confirming it. One thing’s been true since Jimmie all but retired Uriah Faber, the man deserves a shot at gold. This was a fun fight and a tough test to keep him busy, but anything short of a title shot and I don't answer the call if I'm him, and that includes you John Liniker. He seems to be content with Cruz if a title fight can't be worked out, and Lord knows I'd throw my own mother at Dom if it means he can't call the fight (insert angry commenters here) but I really think with interim belts being as readily available as they are in the WME generation the fight to make is T.J. Dillashaw for the place holder strap at the worlds most famous arena.

Zane - It’d be wrong to say this is a pump-the-brakes moment for Rivera here, but it definitely tells me that another good win would be the best idea before title talk. My guess is Cruz waits out Dillashaw/Garbrandt for the next shot at the belt and that leaves John Dodson, Bryan Caraway, and Raphael Assuncao all unbooked and off wins in the top 10. Of those, I’d most like to see Dodson. It could be the hardest fight to win of the three, but it also seems like the most fun. Jimmie Rivera vs. John Dodson.

THOMAS ALMEIDA

Mike - We just saw a barn burner with Almeida vs a tough young Jersey product that saw a lot of success outside of the UFC... so let's run it back. Marlon Moreas you're up.

Zane - Oh man, Thomas Almeida vs. Marlon Moraes is just such a good fight. I’d be happy to see both men take on a Wineland and Eduardo instead, just to see if they can pick up bounce-back wins over veterans. But, when you’ve got the opportunity, take the opportunity. Thomas Almeida vs. Marlon Moraes.

ALEX OLIVEIRA

Mike - What to do with Cowboy? The guy’s headlined a fight night and he just picked up his second performance of the night bonus. Yet despite going 4-0 with three straight finishes (not including the no contest) I still don't trust him. Look there's only two guys I can't stand at WW an those are the guys who wrestle audiences to sleep in Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman so let's flip a coin again. Usman it is, let's pray Olivera can time a shot perfectly and land a starching uppercut or work a crazy submission from the bottom, worst case scenario it won't do too much to move Usman into title contention.

Zane - It’s really unfortunate that the UFC isn’t taking cues from you, because they just booked Usman for a weird bout with Sergio Moraes. Oliveira could have been a much more fun opponent. Given choices in top 15 winners between RDA, Colby Covington, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and Neil Magny, my feeling is that Oliveira vs. Ponzinibbio makes for the most crazy fun and maybe makes a little more sense than my last week’s idea of Ponzinibbio vs. RDA? Covington vs. Oliveira would also be another tough test if the UFC wants to keep making Oliveira prove his counter wrestling.

CHASE SHERMAN

Mike - Good God did the Vanilla Gorilla learn defense outside of wagging his tongue and shaking his head at his opponent? Did he just make it through the third round without looking like he might pass out from heat stroke? This is insanity. I asked Zane if I could jokingly book him against Snow, the white ape from Planet of the Apes and even though he said yes, I can't do it ‘cause he might actually be kinda good now. Assuming Ariel Helwani isn't in the mood to bulk up a hundred or so pounds my pick is for another stand up only fighter with a questionable gas tank in Mark Goodbeer. Just try and tell me that fight isn't good enough to cap the FS1 prelims before a stacked PPV, I dare you.

Zane - Sherman called for Godbeer and it’s a smart, winnable fight for him as a young guy looking to get more cage time and build his record. But, it’s also not exactly an inspiring fight. Part of me says that Abdurakhimov or Milstead might make for more interesting athletic challenges, but given that Sherman has been struggling to find finishing power in the UFC and is still getting hit more than he should, Godbeer is probably the right fight. Chase Sherman vs. Mark Godbeer.

OTHER BOUTS: Villante vs. Herman, Zaleski vs. Muhammad, Good vs. Garcia, Anders vs. T. Smith, Natal vs. Meerschaert, LaFlare vs. Saffiedine, Kennedy vs. Allen, Bochniak vs. Quinones, Vera vs. Doane, Kelleher vs. Sanders, Albini vs. Arlovski???, Johnson vs. Browne, Burgos vs. Jury, Pepey vs. Lobov, Wade vs. Patrick, Perez vs. Holbrook