(I’m just saying, it’s a little ironic to wear a ‘Fight for Japan’ patch on your shorts while you’re personally contributing to the agony of Japanese people. Props: MMAFighting.com)
It might be a while before we get to see cross-promotional fights between UFC and Strikeforce talent. But what’s the harm in a little theoretical speculation? For this installment of the Armchair Matchmaker, we decided to pair up Saturday’s winners and losers with the UFC fighters they should face next, if that sort of thing was possible. And even if it’s a completely meaningless exercise, it’s still more interesting than talking about Diaz vs. Woodley and Melendez vs. the winner of Wilcox/Masvidal. (Ugh, reality. So tedious.) Let’s get started…
Nick Diaz: I know Georges St. Pierre is the obvious answer, but then I think about GSP out-wrestling Nick for five rounds and the dream-fight becomes a lot less dreamy. I’d actually be more interested in seeing Diaz try to avenge his 2005 decision loss to Diego Sanchez, another fighter who puts on a thrilling show every time he steps into a cage. Diaz has probably not forgotten his beef with Sanchez, and Diego has actually suggested that the two settle their rivalry as opposing coaches on TUF. Cosigned, homey.
Gilbert Melendez: Without question, the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard 3. Guida/Pettis be damned — El Niño is the real heir apparent in the realm of the 155ers. With the exception of Eddie Alvarez, Melendez has already whooped every other lightweight outside of the UFC who’s worth a damn, and we need to see if his #3 ranking is justified.
Gegard Mousasi: I wouldn’t put him against one of the UFC’s wrestling specialists like Ryan Bader or Phil Davis, because I think Sweet Sassy would get King Mo’d again. (Even an off-peak Keith Jardine was able to put him on his back six times, which led to that unfortunate draw.) With Forrest Griffin picking up momentum thanks to consecutive decision victories over Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin, I’d call Griffin vs. Mousasi a good test for both fighters.
Keith Jardine: Jardine says he’s dropping to middleweight, right? Put him up against Yoshihiro Akiyama, who’s also been struggling as of late. “Sexyama” vs. one of the gnarliest-looking fighters in the world. Put it on a poster, baby!
Shinya Aoki: BJ Penn. Remember when those two were widely considered to be the #1 and #2 lightweights in the world? Times have changed, but it would still be a badass matchup — and the Prodigy is spinning his wheels at welterweight anyway.
Tatsuya Kawajiri, Lyle Beerbohm: Even as a make-believe matchmaker, I’m having a hard time figuring out how these guys would fit in into an already over-crowded UFC lightweight division. But since Takanori Gomi is still hanging around the Octagon, I’d say let him and Kawajiri re-do their classic battle from Pride Bushido 9. As for Beerbohm…Kurt Pellegrino, maybe? Who knows. That’s the best you’re going to get from me right now. If you have any better ideas, please share them.