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UFC Brooklyn: Dillashaw vs. Cejudo - Fights to make

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All the best, most interesting, and unquestionably coolest fights the UFC needs to book following their latest event in Brooklyn, NY.

The UFC’s first foray into their new ESPN platform was both good and weird. On the one hand, the card offered a lot of exciting fights, finishes, and meaningful matchups. On the other hand, Henry Cejudo’s win over TJ Dillashaw was as marked in its dominance as it was enigmatic. Fans know little more about how a fight between the two men could go, beyond that fact that Cejudo can apparently blast Dillashaw faster than any other opponent he’s faced before.

So, are fans in for another superfight? Is Donald Cerrone going to make a run at 155? And what does Joe-B get for all his trouble, outside of a pat on the back?

To answer all these questions – and many more – I’ll be using the classic Silva/Shelby fight-booking model of years past. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent against one another. If you’d like to take your own shot at making some fantasy bouts, drop a comment below starting with “Life in general is way tougher than this.” I’ll pick one winner from the responses to join me next time.

This week’s winner is BE reader Jeremy Croston:

Hey everyone, I’m Jeremy, a financial guy who specializes in international operations. In my free time, I’m a dad to a two year old going on sixteen and I moonlight as a sci-fi and fantasy author. I love combat sports and thanks to Zane for having me here today! My fight selection style is simple — does it make sense and would it be a fun fight for fans. I hope that comes across here today.

HENRY CEJUDO

Jeremy - I’m not even sure where to go? Is there still a flyweight division? If so then it has to be Benavidez next. Is there no more flyweight division? I say give him a crack at Dillashaw at 135. Hell, technically speaking, he should be a double champ already, but I don’t think that’s how this works. Final answer — Cejudo vs Dillashaw for 135lbs glory.

Zane - My first and foremost assumption is that Cejudo will chase Dillashaw back up to 135 and fight him again. And while there are parts of me that feel that’s terribly unfair, it’s also a fight I want to see again. More, I think than Cejudo or Dillashaw against either of their respective potential top contenders. This was just too fast. I didn’t get the elite MMA fix I needed from a champion vs. champion superfight. For the sake of argument, however - maybe Dillashaw gets injured or something - if Cejudo doesn’t move to bantamweight for a second superfight next, then Benavidez clearly has the best case for a title shot — especially given he has a win over the ‘Messenger’ already in the bag. Cejudo vs. Dillashaw 2 likely takes priority, but Cejudo vs. Benavidez 2 would be just fine.

TJ DILLASHAW

Jeremy - You go to someone else’s neighborhood and get your butt beat, it’s only right for them to get a crack in your neighborhood. Run it back and give Cejudo his shot at #ChampChamp Glory (I feel dirty even saying that). If Cejudo stays at flyweight, the winner of Assuncao/Moraes should be next.

Zane - So as not to repeat myself, I’m likewise going to assume that Cejudo picks up a weird injury or goes on a spiritual quest to find himself or some other nonsense and the rematch doesn’t happen right away. If that’s the case, and with Dominick Cruz injured, then Dillashaw really only has one other fight out there and that’s against the winner of Raphael Assuncao vs. Marlon Moraes 2. The Moraes fight has an air of danger to it, and Assuncao just deserves at least one title shot in his very successful UFC career. All the other contenders are either injured or men that Dillashaw has already beaten (and in the case of John Lineker, both). So, make Dillashaw vs. Cejudo 2 or give the Assuncao vs. Moraes 2 winner their chance at gold.

GREGOR GILLESPIE

Jeremy - Gregor’s been on a nice little tear recently. Looking at the rankings, I think a showdown with Gilbert Burns seems reasonable and would continue his growth in the weight.

Zane - It’s time to give Gillespie a big step up. As big a step as the UFC can reasonably find for him. I wouldn’t even be opposed to a Kevin Lee fight if the UFC can keep Lee at 155 for a bit longer. On the one hand, Lee has been in the game for a couple minutes longer than the ‘Gift’, but on the other hand, Gillespie is already 5 years older. Most likely, however, guys in the top 5 aren’t going to want to face him, which leaves Gregor with the likes of Francisco Trinaldo and Dan Hooker. Trinaldo’s coming off a good strong win, seems like a great time to make that fight. If that won’t work, Gillespie vs. Mairbek Taisumov or Islam Makhachev works just fine. Gillespie vs. Trinaldo feels like the right next fight, both as a bout Gillespie has earned and an opponent who would likely be willing to fight him.

JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ

Jeremy - I feel so bad for him (see above). He should be challenging Cejudo for the belt, but I just don’t see that happening. Again, is the division dead? If not, I say wait for Cejudo to fight Dillashaw at 135 and then get your flyweight title shot. If it is, a move to 135 obviously has to happen. I’m going to assume its not quite dead yet and say Benavidez should wait for his flyweight title shot. Apologies to Formiga, but you’ve lost to Borg, Benavidez, and Cejudo — you’re not the number one contender today.

Zane - If all the stars align, then Benavidez has done everything possible to position himself for another title shot and another fight against Henry Cejudo. Most likely, however, that’s going to remain out of his grasp for the immediate future. And if that’s the case, it becomes a lot more difficult to figure out what the sensible next step for ‘Joe-B Wan’ is. Pettis is up at 135 now (if the Font loss didn’t send him back down), and he’s beat Moraga and Formiga. He could fight Ray Borg, when Borg returns from injury, but Borg hasn’t been in the cage since 2017 and that bout doesn’t have a lot of heat to it. Assuming he can’t get in there with Cejudo again, the right fight is probably against the Figueiredo vs. Formiga winner. It’s been 5 years since he first beat Jussier and Figueiredo is the hottest prospect the division’s got. Benavidez can play title shot gatekeeper to the Formiga/Figueiredo winner, if he has nothing better to do.

PAIGE VANZANT

Jeremy - Good win for Paige (and I feel for Ostovich). From here, I think a match up with fellow winner Joanna Calderwood seems logical. I learned that whole winner versus winner logic right here, on Bloody Elbow!

Zane - Even with 2017-18 spent largely on the sidelines for VanZant she’s still one of flyweight’s most experienced talents at this point. She’s had some rough losses, and even her wins haven’t been exactly dominant. Still, she’s an incredibly tough out and a strong finisher when she gets the opportunity. A fight with an upcoming talent like Mayra Bueno Silva may not be a bad idea or Yanan Wu. It’s either that or run her into another seasoned vet like Lauren Murphy or Roxanne Modafferi and see if she can stay composed enough to get a more notable win. For now, I’ll say Paige VanZant vs. Yanan Wu would probably be a decent matchup, but ‘12 Gauge’’s notoriety may push her into deeper waters.

GLOVER TEIXEIRA

Jeremy - I love Glover Teixeira. Of all the fights that happened last night, this one made me the happiest. At 39, if he called it a career, I’d be happy for him. If he chooses to fight on, which it sounds like he’d like to, then let’s give him what he wants — Shogun. Book it, Zane-o.

Zane - This wasn’t so much a big win for Glover Teixeira as it was a fight he simply had to win to stay relevant. Roberson is dangerous, but nowhere near experienced to hang with a former title contender like Teixeira. And in a division like light heavyweight, any win can be enough to boost a fighter’s stock into another important fight. A fight with Shogun Rua has been out there for years as a bout that “should have been.” With both men coming off strong wins over inexperienced action fighters, this could be the time to make it. Ilir Latifi would be another reasonable choice without dropping out of the rankings or waiting for another fight to happen. Honestly though, that Shogun fight should have happened years ago, and it’s a bout Glover says he wants. Time to make it happen. Glover Teixeira vs. Shogun Rua is the right fight right now at light heavyweight.

DONALD CERRONE

Jeremy - He wants Conor, let’s give him Conor. Hell, it looks like Proper McGregor is down for it, too. If the UFC books this, it’d bring all my dreams come true of not having to relive McGregor and Khabib right now. Maybe they’d even get crazy and book Tony versus Khabib on the same card, just because shenanigans. McGregor vs Cerrone please.

Zane - He says he wants Conor McGregor. Conor McGregor says he’s interested in taking the fight. I don’t think it makes a whole ton of sense for McGregor, but if he’s down, then I’m 100% there to watch it. The only other fight I can see as an immediate idea would be Donald Cerrone vs. Al Iaquinta. That would also be a banger. But, Cowboy vs. McGregor feels like far too good an opportunity to pass up with both men interested. Cerrone vs. McGregor it is.

JOANNE CALDERWOOD

Zane - Technically it doesn’t really feel like this win should rocket Calderwood into a top contender’s bout, especially since Eye really is the only contender for Shevchenko right now. But, if that Shevchenko vs. Eye fight isn’t going to happen, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it. Lipski came in with a lot of hype as a KSW champ, and Calderwood put together the most complete performance of her career to beat her. Assuming that fight doesn’t actually happen, however, I wouldn’t mind seeing Calderwood take on Katlyn Chookagian. or the winner of Alexis Davis vs. Jennifer Maia. Since the more I think about it the more I feel like Chookagian vs. Jedrzejczyk would be a logical fight to book, I’ll say put Calderwood in against the Davis/Maia winner. Two solid veterans with battle tested records that could help boost JoJo to an even bigger fight with another win.

MANNY PACQUIAO

Jeremy - I got pulled away from the UFC event just long enough to see Manny beat on Broner for twelve rounds so I’m tossing this one in. For the love of Blood Red Wolf Supermoons, Manny is old but he keeps on ticking. If One Time Thurman manages to fight more than one time this year, after his tune-up, this makes the most sense in the PBC stable. DO NOT BRING FLOYD BACK, PLEASE. Manny vs Keith for Welterweight Semi-Superiority (Errol has a claim to that, as well).

OTHER BOUTS: Crowder vs. Golm, Hardy vs. Adams, Medeiros vs. White, Ortiz vs. Perez, Ostovich vs. Mueller, Roberson vs. Anders, Hernandez vs. Teymur/Oliveira loser, Lipski vs. Ji Yeon, Menifield vs. Crute/Spann winner, Moreira vs. Walker/Ledet loser, Sandhagen vs. Barcelos, Bautista vs. Day, Edwards vs. Grant, Neal vs. Kunchenko, Muhammad vs. W. Alves, Rencountre vs. Staropoli, Stewart vs. Vendramini