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Tag: armchair matchmaker

Armchair Matchmaker: UFC on FUEL 3 Edition


(Tom Lawlor: The UFC’s undisputed Seven Up champion.) 

Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to drum up a potential list of future opponents for the winners of a given UFC card these days. Not only are most fighters already booked for the promotion’s ever-increasing amount of cards, but the ones selected for title shots are seemingly being drawn out of a hat. Be that as it may, we are going to try and sift through the wreckage of last night’s UFC on FUEL card and determine who the big winners should face next. Enjoy.

Chan Sung Jung: We’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated “The Korean Zombie” heading into yesterday’s fight. But aside from his excellent transitions on the ground, or that amazing takedown reversal to mount he was able to pull off, the thing that impressed us the most about Jung was his tranquility. While Poirier was throwing his best shots at him, Jung remained calm, and worked his way out of every hairy situation like a true pro. He deserves a title shot, and Dana White claims that he is next in line for one. And The Baldfather would never go back on his word. Just ask Anthony Pettis.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 145 Edition


(Thigh sleeve > Muttonchops? I don’t understand this world anymore.) 

By Jack Saladino

After a six week hiatus that threatened to drive UFC fans worldwide into their nearest mental asylum, UFC 145 came back with a fury, providing us with all the sweet KO’s, slick submissions, and classic scraps that we have come to know and love. And now that the storm has passed, we must look to the future for those involved in what was a fantastic night of fights. As always, we’ll take a look at the must-make match-ups for Saturday’s biggest winners, and maybe even a couple of the losers, because they’re people too, we guess.

Let’s get right to it…

Travis Browne- If not for Chad Griggs’ incredible chin, “Hapa” could have just as easily walked away with a Knockout of the Night bonus for that beautiful double flying knee. That being said, Browne was awarded Submission of the Night for only his second career submission victory, and looked like a Jiu-Jitsu whiz while doing so. Browne has steamrolled through most of his opponents, and if the heavyweight division wasn’t so tongue tied at the moment, I would have a long list of potential opponents for the Hawaiian. But Browne has age on his side and would fight tomorrow if you asked him to, so I’m thinking he should step up and fill the vacancy “Bigfoot” Silva left against Roy Nelson. Browne has a month to keep fit and a win over a name like “Big Country” on relatively short notice would ensure his top tier status.

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Armchair Matchmaker — ‘UFC on FUEL 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva’ Edition


(Just call him Jon “Bjönes” Jones. / Photo courtesy of Josh Hedges)

By Jack Saladino

With the UFC’s Swedish debut in the books, it’s time for us to make Joe Silva‘s life easier and suggest the next matchups for a few of the notable fighters coming out of UFC on FUEL: Silva vs. Gustafsson. Read on, and let us know if you agree or disagree with these picks…

Alexander Gustafsson: Rocking Thiago Silva early, Gustafsson was able to pick apart the aggressive Brazilian with an array of uber-accurate strikes to coast his way to a UD victory, and cement his position as a top-tier light-heavyweight. Can you say title eliminator? Gustafsson vs. Dan Henderson sounds good to me. I know Dan is waiting for his guaranteed title shot, but Jon Jones and Rashad Evans both have a history of post-fight injuries, and to assume that the winner will be healthy after their title fight might be unrealistic. So unless Hendo doesn’t mind a year-long break to challenge the title-holder, a battle against the Mauler could be the next best thing.

Thiago Silva: Silva’s suspension gave him a year off to think about what he’s done and rehab a plethora of injuries that have kept him performing at less than 100%. Judging by his performance on Saturday, his comeback still has a long way to go. Though Silva could use a fight against a UFC newcomer to rebound in the 205-pound division, I’d give him a good dose of reality and slate him against Phil Davis, who’s coming off his own loss to Rashad Evans. Two big, well-known scrappers with a lot to lose — promoting this one should be a no-brainer.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 143 Edition


(Apparently after this loss, Max Holloway decided to change his nickname from “Lil’ Evil” to “Blessed,” likely because taking Jens Pulver’s nickname REALLY lets opponents know where your weakness lies.) 

Aside from bitterly dividing fans on what exactly constitutes a fight, UFC 143 left us with a lot of unanswered questions. Should Carlos Condit consider a nickname change?* Will Dustin Poirier get the next shot at Jose Aldo?** Is Nick Diaz really calling it quits?*** Though only time will truly calm our concerns, we’re going to make some bold predictions for Saturday’s winners and losers nonetheless, because that’s how we do things ’round here. Check out our matchmaking picks below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Nick Diaz: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Nick Diaz is that, despite his intellectual shortcomings, he maintains an ability to instill fear into whomever he fights. His cardio, striking attack, and Jiu Jitsu are second to none and just plain SCARY, but it is the man’s confidence, his willingness to relentlessly pursue and trade with anyone, that breaks even the strongest of competitors. Going into a fight with Diaz, you know you aren’t going to submit him, and you know it’s damn near impossible to knock the SOB out, so what the fuck are you supposed to do?

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC on Fox 2 Edition


(Little did Eric Wisely know just how quickly a game of Twister could spiral out of control when he spun “left foot blue.”) 

Simply put, Saturday’s second UFC on Fox event saw its fair share of ups and downs. Chris Weidman was able to score the biggest win of his career over Demian Maia on just 11 days notice (which leads us to believe that the Vegas bookies knew something about Maia the rest of the world didn’t), and both Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen managed to punch their tickets to a title shot against the men they despise the most. And though the future is set for two contenders, the fates of many still remain unsure. That’s why we are here to right the ship that misplaced NFL theme music and Jon Jones’ “commentary” threatened to sink. So join us as we determine the best match-ups for last weekend’s biggest winners and losers.

Phil Davis: Although he started off strong (or at least held his own) in the striking department in the early going, the championship rounds saw Davis overwhelmed by “Suga’s” speed and stamina, content to throw weak, pawing jabs that were anything but wonderful. My older brother, who is by no means a huge MMA fan, summed it up best when he said, “What does he expect to accomplish with that kind of offense?” Davis undoubtedly has a bright future ahead, but needs to round out his game a little more before he takes on a top contender like Evans again. Matching him up against the resurgent Stephan Bonnar, or, depending on how he fares against Rampage Jackson, Ryan Bader would make sense. Forrest Griffin is also a big light heavyweight coming off a loss, so that could make for a great fight as well.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 141 Edition


(Come on, Fitch wasn’t out. He was just resting his arms.)

On Friday night, Alistair Overeem successfully gut-shotted his way to a title shot against reigning UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos — and his larger-than-life opponent Brock Lesnar will likely never set foot inside of an Octagon again. But the fates of the other winners and losers from UFC 141 are still up in the air. So let’s put on our Joe Silva skin-suit and see if we can make some thoughtful matchmaking suggestions for these guys, shall we?

Nate Diaz: As ferocious as he looked against Donald Cerrone, part of me thinks that Nate is going to get rudely decisioned as soon as he goes back to facing wrestlers; guys like Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, and Gray Maynard have already proved that putting Diaz on his back is his kryptonite. But I don’t want to see that happen, at least not right away. Next month’s UFC 144 event provides two compelling options for Nate’s next opponent — either the winner of the Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon scrap, or Ben Henderson if he loses his title challenge to Frankie Edgar. Either matchup would give Diaz an ideal dance partner for another guaranteed Fight of the Night.

Donald Cerrone: Not to steal the thunder from Diaz’s masterful performance, but Cerrone looked like shit on Friday. Sorry, it needed to be said. The highly technical fight-finisher that we’ve come to know and love was M.I.A., replaced by an outgunned cowpoke who was as sloppy as he was tentative. Cerrone needs a rebound fight to find his mojo again. Setting him up against fast-rising Ultimate Fighter 13 winner Tony Ferguson would be a great test for both fighters. Either Cowboy gets back on track against a solid opponent, or Ferguson continues to prove that he’s more than just a TUF-guy.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 140 Edition


(Chan Sung Jung strikes Mark Hominick with the ferocity of someone who has just discovered Canadian beef in his bulgogi. / Photo via Cagewriter)

No matter how much Dan Henderson begs, Jon Jones‘s next opponent will be the winner of Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis. Other than that, the fates of UFC 140‘s winners and losers are currently floating in limbo. But if we know matchmaking as well as we think we do, you might be seeing a few of these fights announced in the near future…

Frank Mir: His arm-snapping win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was exactly what Frank needed to pull him out of his career holding pattern. Pundits are already chattering about a trilogy match with Brock Lesnar, in case there’s some truth to those ugly rumors about Alistair Overeem getting pulled from UFC 141. Let’s hope that’s not the case. Instead, we’ll set up a hypothetical booking between Mir and former champ Cain Velasquez, whose title reign and undefeated record were abruptly smashed at UFC on FOX 1. There’s always the chance that Mir would get overwhelmed by Velasquez’s power — see Mir vs. Carwin, Mir vs. Lesnar 2 — but his jiu-jitsu prowess and dangerous hands could make Frank vs. Cain a thriller.

Chan Sung JungIn four fights under the Zuffa banner, Chan Sung Jung has given us a Fight of the Decade candidate and 2011′s greatest submission, and has now tied the (official) record for fastest UFC knockout; I just wanted you to take a moment and appreciate that. Smashing a recent featherweight title contender in Mark Hominick shoots the Korean Zombie way up the 145-pound ladder. He hasn’t earned a title shot yet, but he’s knocking at the door. Give him the loser of the Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes title fight next month in Rio and see if he can turn in another brilliant performance.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 132 Edition

Urijah Faber Dominick Cruz UFC 132
(We know, Urijah. Sometimes we spend an entire hour working on a blog post, and our browser decides to crash just as we’re finishing it up, and when we go back into the CMS the post has completely vanished and we’re struck with that feeling of pure disappointment and frustration, knowing that we have to do it all over again. So, yeah, we can totally relate. / Photo courtesy of MMAFighting)

UFC 132 was as bizarre as it was thrilling. Now that we’ve wrapped our heads around it for the most part, it’s time to look ahead and see if we can think up some future matchups for Saturday’s notable winners and losers. Let us know how you feel in the comments section — and hey, happy 4th of July!

Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber: Immediate rubber match. It’s not the most essential of immediate rematches, but the fight was close enough to warrant it, and there’s really no bantamweight contender right now who deserves it more than Faber. Brian Bowles thinks he’s the guy, but I can’t forget that two fights ago he was beaten up by Dominick Cruz worse than anybody’s been beaten up by Dominick Cruz, ever.

The other name being thrown around in the aftermath of UFC 132 is Demetrious Johnson, who’s coming off decision wins over Miguel Torres and Kid Yamamoto. Impressive? Of course. Still, Johnson has never been on the main card of a UFC event, and promoting him as a headliner could be a tough sell. Give Mighty Mouse one more fight to establish himself — or hurry up and create that long-rumored flyweight division so the diminutive Johnson can dominate there.

Chris Leben: There’s no limit to the brawling abilities of a sugar-free Cat Smasher. Leben vs. Wandy was a bit of a stunt-fight, and now that Leben has emerged victorious, he should return to a more conventional contender track. The first name that comes to mind is Mark Munoz, who’s riding a three-fight win streak, most recently outpointing Demian Maia last month at UFC 131 — although Vitor Belfort could also be a great matchup for Leben, as long as the Phenom can get past Yoshihiro Akiyama next month in Philadelphia.

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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 130 Edition

Roy Nelson Frank Mir
(Meanwhile in Roy’s stomach, a dozen undigested cheeseburgers cried for mercy. Photo courtesy of UFC.com)

Look, I was all for sweeping UFC 130 under the rug and never mentioning it again, but since ReX has shamed me into doing this, it’s time to look back at Saturday’s big winners (and big, big losers) and see if we can devise some future matchups for these guys that will actually produce interesting fights. Make it happen, tiny atheist.

Quinton Jackson: Dana White seems dead-set on giving Rampage a title shot if his hand is healthy enough to accept it. Ugh, terrible. Why the UFC isn’t interested in promoting the hottest rivalry in the sport is anybody’s guess. (And don’t give me that bullshit about “timing”; it’s more likely related to White’s personal feelings about Rashad Evans.) In a perfect world, Rampage sits out for a few months and faces the winner of Shogun vs. Forrest at UFC 134 in Rio. With losses to both on his record, I don’t think motivation would be an issue.

Matt Hamill: Sure, on paper Hamill was coming into the fight against Rampage with a five-fight win streak — but considering that the most impressive victory in that streak (by far!) was his knockout of Mark Munoz, you have to wonder where the Hammer really sits in the light-heavyweight pecking order. My first thought was that Hamill should face the resurgent Vladimir Matyushenko next — but Vlad already has a date in August. So give him the winner of Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado at this Saturday’s TUF 13 Finale. Either Hamill rebounds, or a rising prospect gets a big-name notch on their belt. Seems win-win to me.

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Armchair Matchmaker: ‘Diaz vs. Daley’ (vs. the UFC) Fantasy Edition

Gilbert Melendez Tatsuya Kawajiri Strikeforce diaz daley
(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.

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