The third and final version of Fights to Make in a little over a week is here, and some of my work is done for me already. I was all ready to advocate for the main event winner’s next fight being against a top contender, but the UFC just decided to fast-track him to a title shot instead. That’s fine from a business perspective and I understand it, but on the sporting side of things it’s definitely a little weak. It’s not as weak as a couple of middleweights getting a shot at the 205-lb. belt though, so at least there’s that. Anyway, let’s take a look at who most of the UFC Fight Night 28 main card combatants should face off with in their next bout.
Glover Teixeira – According to Dana White, he gets the winner of the UFC 165 bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsso . You know, unless Jones loses a decision and there’s a rematch. Or Dana’s just blowing smoke about light heavyweight # 1 contenders again. In all seriousness though, while I think he should beat someone else before the shot, it does make the most sense for the UFC. Someone new is almost always better than someone the champ has already put away in the eyes of fans, even if he hasn’t 10000% earned it yet.
Ryan Bader – Bader’s firmly entrenched outside the top 10 now, and it’s going to take a lot for him to change that. The UFC might still try to book him against ranked opponents, but I think it’s time for another fight against a 15-20 guy. Rafael Cavalcante and James Te Huna are the two guys that jump out at me. I think I like the Feijao fight better than the JTH fight though.
Ronaldo Souza – He just beat the # 3 contender in the division, and a natural next matchup would be against the winner of the Michael Bisping vs. Mark Munoz bout at UFC Fight Night 30. I’d like to see him fight Vitor Belfort too, but he’s booked at 205 right now and said he won’t return to 185 unless he gets a title shot. So Bisping or Munoz is the only real logical matchup right now, depending on what happens in December between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva.
Yushin Okami – That was probably the worst loss of Okami’s career. He’s only 32, but has a lot of fights under his belt. It seems like there’s only one real top-flight middleweight unbooked that makes sense for a bout with Okami right now, and that’s Luke Rockhold. He could possibly get the loser of the Constantinos Philippou vs. Francis Carmont bout as well.
Joseph Benavidez – I say it’s time to give Joe B. another shot at Demetrious Johnson. There’s no one else lined up at flyweight right now other than maybe John Lineker, and even he didn’t look that great against Jose Maria. Plus he’s booked against Phil Harris next month. Tim Elliott needs another win, and Johnson has already taken out John Dodson and John Moraga. With Team Alpha Male on such a streak, that can help create a storyline for the rematch. And it’ll be a good fight.
Jussier Formiga – He’s now 1-2 in the UFC and falling fast. Louis Gaudinot seems like a natural next opponent for the Brazilian since he just lost badly as well.
Piotr Hallmann – I was pretty impressed with Hallmann, but I don’t think they’re going to rush him into anything just because he beat Trinaldo. A bout with Bobby Green would make some sense, since they’re both 1-0 in the organization and could put on an exciting fight.
Rafael Natal – That was his third straight win, but his fight IQ is still pretty bad in my eyes. He does have a knack for making fights exciting though, mostly because he fights down to the level of his opponent. It’s time for a step up though. If they’re not going to give Brad Tavares a top-20 opponent, give him Sapo and let’s see who comes out on top.
Ali Bagautinov – That was certainly a good way to walk into a thin division. That being said, I’m not sure how they’re going to handle him. They could push him into a fight with someone like Elliott right away, or maybe even Ian McCall. If not though, he might have to face a guy that lost his last fight since pretty much the rest of the division is either booked or coming off a loss.
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