Fighters do not always like to think what fights they will be in next after feeling the relief of finishing their last fight. The fight game is neverending, however, and so I list ouf the best outcome for the winners and losers from the UFC event that shook Nashville up.
Ok, bear with me on this one for a bit. I honestly believe that Jake Ellenberger should just throw in the towel and hang up the gloves because I do not see him doing much in this division other than what he did against his opponent this past Saturday. I do not want to pick an opponent for him because I think he’s done. The UFC was going to let him go before he changed their mind by beating Matt Brown in spectacular fashion at UFC 201. But then he was defeated twice in a row after that via KO/TKO. I know how his next fight is going to end but he more than likely won’t listen to my pleas to stop fighting and will take another fight anyways. His next opponent (if he chooses to have one) should be Bryan Barberena. That guy showed why he is force to be reckon with when he beat Sage Northcutt over a year ago. His recent knockout on, the same card that Ellenberger ate the people’s elbow, was beautifully well done. Now all he needs is a win over a veteran under his belt and he will begin to get more challenging matchups. This is the fight to make.
Next opponent: Bryan Barbarena
This was a tricky one to pick because of every fighter in this division and their moms being booked for a fight already. The lone fighter that is available but still at a resonable place on the rankings for Mike Perry is Ryan LaFlare who last fought at UFC 208 where he won a decision victory against Roan Carneiro. If he is down for it, there is a hungry fighter in Mike Perry wuld love to fight in what would be an interesting matchup considering the two fighters’ skill set.
Next opponent: Ryan LaFlare
Joe Lauzon should keep his head up after this decision loss (that I don’t think was deserved). Lauzon needs to find an opponent that will put him back into relevancy. The opponent I’m thinking of here is Will Brooks who has a record of 19 wins and 3 losses. The veteran Lauzon would see himself having the edge due to his years of experience while Brooks would think his better record is an indicator that he is the superior athlete. I would like this fight to happen because it just says fight of the night contender to me.
Next opponent: Will Brooks
Stevie Ray is sure looking for a ranked opponent after beating a veteran in the lightweight division. The lowest and most available option he has right now is Rashid Magomedov who actually fought a weekend before Ray did. This is a sign that these two paths are likely to cross in the near future. And I mean VERY near future.
Next opponent: Rashid Magomedov
Eddie Wineland was clearly outmatched from his much stronger and faster opponent. His best bet is to face off against a lower ranked opponent to build his skillset and technique. Iuri Alcântara is trying to move up and would be a great challenge for Wineland. Both men can look to benefit from this fight.
Next opponent: Iuri Alcântara
Jimmie Rivera was expected to face Bryan Caraway earlier this year but never got to due to his opponent having and undisclosed injury. He turned down a fight with Marlon Vera due to Vera having a lack of rank or relevance in the division. If Rivera is looking for a rank and some relevance in his opponents then Jon Dodson is his man. Dodson would love the oppurtunnity to move up while Rivera must be hungry for a fight since having his last fight in September of last year.
Next opponent: Jimmie Revera
It is pretty embarassing when you come in heavy and still lose the fight. It shows a lack of seriousness and responsibility in MMA. Marcos Rogerio de Lima should look to bounce back by beating another unranked light heavyweight fighter (and making weight). Devin Clark is a perfect opponent for him seeing how Clark has only suffered one loss in his nine pro fights (via knockout). This could be anyone’s fight and I would love to see who wants to move on up in this division more. Who is willing to dig deep to win this contest? Good luck predicting this one.
Next opponent: Devin Clark
If Ovince Saint Preux wants to move up the rankings quickly and easily then he should look for the fight against the man he had already beat in Shogun Rua. However since we are being fair, OSP’s next opponent should honsetly be Corey Anderson who is looking to bounce back from his knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa this past March. It would be a great matchup for both fighters seeing as they are both highly touted as young, skilled talent in the division.
Next opponent: Corey Anderson
I think Father Time has finally caught up to Diego Sanchez. He tries to be more patient with his strikes because brawling usually sees him getting knocked out. His timidness did not help as he still found him self going to sleep due to punches to the cranium. I want him to retire before he takes anymore serious damage but if he wants to fight and continue to get kncoked out that badly then undefeated prospect Gregor Gillespie is fresh and looking for someone to knockout to become more relevent in a very competitive division.
Next opponent: Gregor Gillespie
This was another tricky one due to the fact that a lot of the fighters around Al Iaquinta’s rank are either MIA or injured. The only one available right now is Kevin Lee who Iaquinta has beaten in the past (yet Lee is somehow ahead of Iaquinta in the rankings). Beneil Dariush wouldn’t be a bad pick if he didn’t have a medical suspension due to that vicious flying knee KO he suffered from Edson Barboza. The fight between Iaquinta and Lee that first happened in 2014 needs a do-over that I’m sure both fighters would want. Lee would love to avenge that loss and Iaquinta would love to move up the rankings. That is assuming Iaquinta isn’t more interested in real estate than fighting.
Next opponent: Kevin Lee
Artem Lobov needs to go back to facing unranked guys in the featherweight division. He can start by taking on the undefeated Shane Burgos. Both guys like to throw heavy hands and have a bit of jiu-jitsu experience. Plus knocking off an undefeated guy would put you right back into a fight with another ranked fighter. Burgos would also like to beat a guy who just had a five round main event showdown with a number four ranked fighter.
Next opponent: Shane Burgos
After showing why he deserves another shot at the title, you would assume Cub Swanson would get it after thiss impressive performance. However, being ranked fourth in the division and beating an unranked fighter doesn’t give you a title shot in my opinion. I believe he needs to go again with a former opponent of his in Ricardo Lamas to truly give him the credibility of a title challenger.
Next opponent: Ricardo Lamas