Fights To Make Following UFC 277
UFC 277 had a lot going on, from bad finishes, to fight of the year candidates, and to a double champ regaining her throne. From top to bottom, this card certainly delivered for fight fans. With this card in the books, it is time we look forward at the main card fighters as I play matchmaker and book their next fights. This is an ongoing series we do here at Vendetta, and if you would like to see what I booked after UFC 276, click here.
Magomed Ankalaev (W) vs. Anthony Smith (L) (Light Heavyweight)
Let’s be honest, this fight was never going to be a close contest. Magomed Ankalaev was always going to dominate Anthony Smith on Saturday, so are we really surprised by the outcome? For Anthony Smith, I believe he would serve the best fighting another rising prospect, just maybe not at the level of Ankalaev. The first fighter that comes to mind is Jim Crute. He was 12-1 as a professional, but has since dropped back-to-back fights. This would give both men the chance to right the ship.
For Magomed Anklalaev, push him right to the top in a title fight against current champ Jiri Prochazka. One might wonder how long Prochazka can reign supreme over the division, and a fight with Ankalaev would certainly put him to the test. There have been talks of a rematch between the champ and Glover Teixeira, but I think fans would want a fresh matchup.
Alexandre Pantoja (W) vs. Alex Perez (L) (Flyweight)
The UFC Flyweight division is a mess right now, which we will get to later. For Alex Perez, this fight makes back to back losses and 3-3 in his last 6. Know who else has dropped their last two fights? Cody Garbrandt. That fight stares at me as the fight to make. Keeps Perez somewhat in the thick of the division, and a win for Garbrandt over a former title contender makes him relevant again. Book it.
I love me some Alexandre Pantoja. The only place for him to go is up. With the top three guys really in limbo, I suppose the next fight for him is to either wait and see how the title picture plays out, or book him against Kai Kara-France. This could be a long waiting game for Pantoja, so letting Kara-France heal up and running that fight would be almost like a title eliminator or sorts.
Sergei Pavlovich (W) vs. Derrick Lewis (L) (Heavyweight)
Yes, it was a bad stoppage. No, I don’t believe the outcome would have been different. Derrick Lewis was outside his zone on Saturday, and it looked that way. Lewis is now 1-3 in his last four, so I don’t believe a real challenger is up next for “The Black Beast”. There are many fighters towards the bottom of the top-15 who are booked for fights, so I think the best bet is to just play the waiting game with Lewis. See if he even wants this anymore, and if he does, book him against the loser of any fight coming up.
I mentioned it in the preview James Herrick and I brought you for UFC 277, but Sergei Pavlovich is a monster. He improves to 16-1 as a professional, and he has all the tools to be a real player in the Heavyweight division. I would like to see Pavlovich fight Curtis Blaydes. It is unfortunate what happened to Tom Aspinall in their fight, and I wouldn’t make Blaydes wait around for a rematch. This would be a real step up in competition for Pavlovich, which I believe is the right choice for where he is at in his career.
Brandon Moreno (W) vs. Kai Kara-France (L) (Interim UFC FLyweight Championship)
Moreno and Kara-France fought for the interim UFC FLyweight Championship, with Moreno winning via a NASTY liver kick that flattened Fara-France. I believe the best fight for Kara-France is the Pantoja fight I mentioned above, so no need to further discuss.
For Brandon Moreno, it is easy: title unification bout with Deiveson Figueiredo. The men have fought three times, splitting it 1-1-1 through three. Fans may not want to see a fourth fight, as usually a trilogy is enough, but this has been a hotly contested trilogy with really no clear winner. This has to be it. No matter how it ends, this is the end of the road for both men against one another.
Amanda Nunes (W) vs. Julianna Pena (L) (UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship)
The main event of UFC 277 was as one-sided as it gets. Should they run it back? Complete the trilogy?
Yes because there is money to be made here. Julianna Pena had a star making performance on Saturday. While she was dominated over 5 rounds, she showed she is tougher than a two-dollar steak and almost repeated in submitting the champ. Pena matches up well, for the most part, against Nunes and I believe a third fight to complete the trilogy would do well monetarily, and cement Pena as an elite talent.
But what happens if the same thing happens again? That’s why I think they could also move off the trilogy and put Nunes back into another familiar foe: Valentina Shevchenko. These ladies have fought twice before. Nunes technically has two wins, but their most recent fight in September 2017 was a razor-thin split decision win for The Lioness. I, for one, would love to see that fight. Now THAT is a money fight.
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