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UFC 2021

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

UFC 263 Aftermath: Playing Matchmaker For Main Card Fighters

UFC 2021
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Fights To Make Post UFC 263

What a night this past Saturday was. From top to bottom, UFC 263 delivered in spades. Whether it be Terrance McKinney’s debut with a 7 second KO, Nate Diaz nearly coming back after being dominated for 24 minutes, or the feel-good story of the year in Brandon Moreno. All that is great, but the UFC machine never stops, and Dana White will look to run some of these guys back into fights as soon as possible. Pending any upcoming medical suspensions, let’s play matchmaker and book the entire main card’s next fights.

Paul Craig x Jahamal Hill

Let me just share this, then we can move on.
LOOK AT HIS ARM. Dana White said in his post PPV media session his arm dislocated, it did not break.

Jahamal Hill coming into UFC 263 had heaps of hype around him, and rightfully so. This dude looked incredible on Dana White’s Contenders Series and won a contract with the UFC in the Light Heavyweight Division. An undefeated prospect making his main card PPV debut, how would he fare? Well, we found out. At 30 years old, he still has time to turn this around and improve. Hill can still make some noise at 205lbs, so you book him a showcase, basically. I like a fight with Dustin Jacoby for both men, honestly. Good-looking fighters looking to climb the ranks.

Paul Craig showed out this past Saturday night and deserves a fight to make a name for himself and show he is a true contender. I believe him against Johnny Walker would be a lot of fun, and stylistically would be a great challenge for them both. If we really wanted to get spicy, book Craig versus Magomed Ankalaev. You want to talk about a war? Those two dudes would put on a grappling clinic.

Demian Maia x Belal Muhammad

Short, sweet, and to the point. It’s time for Demian Maia to retire. At 43 years old, he showed Saturday he doesn’t have the speed and athleticism to keep up with these young guys anymore. He put on his social media that he wants to fight Nate Diaz. That ain’t happening. It’s been a hell of a career Maia, but the time has come.

Belal Muhammad, much to the chagrin of fight fans, I thought looked incredible Saturday. His takedown defense was out of this world, and that’s really what we needed to see out of him. As far as the next options go, I really like rebooking him against Leon Edwards. We will get to Edwards later, but I think this fight should happen at some point. But keeping with the theme I will build later with Edwards, Muhammad against Jorge Masvidal would be a step up in name recognition and style of fighter, no matter if I believe Masvidal is garbage. With Gilbert Burns booked against Stephen Thompson, and Michael Chiesa, and Vicente Lique rumored to be booked soon, this is the fight to make.

Leon Edwards x Nate Diaz

Now, to the aforementioned Leon Edwards. Edwards reminded the entire world just how good he is. Dominating Nate Diaz for 24 minutes, then surviving a minute from hell at the end is no easy feat. I am seeing a lot of word going around about him and Jorge Masvidal, but honestly, I don’t want to see that. Masvidal was just crushed twice by a wrestler in Kamaru Usman, and stylistically that doesn’t intrigue me. What does intrigue me is a rematch with the champion Usman. Edwards has waited his turn, and his time is now. If we can’t get Usman, Edwards versus Colby Covington would be absolutely bananas. These are the only two fights to make for Edwards.

Nate Diaz is a curious case. While he showed the world he is a bonafide superstar this past weekend, his inactivity makes it hard to book his fights. So I am going to play a little fantasy booking. If Conor McGregor loses his trilogy bout against Dustin Poirier, I believe you book him in another trilogy fight with Diaz. Both men have something to prove, plus the amount of money that would make would be too hard for anyone involved to pass up. On the flip side, if Poirier loses, I think due to their history, Diaz/Poirier would be incredible as well. It’s all about the money now for Diaz, and whatever will make him the most will be where he goes.

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Deiveson Figueiredo x Brandon Moreno

UFC 263 was not the best performance of Deiveson Figueiredo’s career, but after his slow start in round 1, he looked like he was finally getting a little rhythm, but it was Moreno’s night. Looking at the Flyweight rankings right now, there is not a lot of options out there that really make sense. I would tell Figueiredo he needs to move up to Bantamweight, where he probably belongs. I would love to see him against Rob Font. I think that makes a lot of sense for both guys. Figgy goes against a contender at 135lbs to prove his worth, and Font goes up against another former champion to cement his claim for a title shot. Both divisions are in a weird spot, and I think this would benefit both men.

Brandon Moreno is on top of the world right now after being the lowest-ranked fighter on his season of The Ultimate Fighter, to being cut from the UFC, to now being back with the company and a division champion. Fight fans all over the world are so happy for Moreno. A true showcase at UFC 263. His next fight has to be against Askar Askarov. The number 3 ranked fighter in the division, Askarov is the rightful challenger to his belt. But I would be remiss if I didn’t throw this out there: a fight between Moreno and Henry Cejudo would be the biggest fight in Flyweight History. Just saying.

Marvin Vettori x Israel Adesanya

I never understood the hype around Marvin Vettori. Vettori is someone who racked up wins against nobodies and put together a streak long enough to garner a small amount of recognition. He showed this past Saturday he did not deserve to be in the octagon with Adesanya. But the UFC will book him like a “contender,” and I guess I will do the same. Most of the top 10 are booked out right now, so you can sit Vettori or book him against Paulo Costa. If they decide to wait, a fight with the winner of Derek Brunson/Darren Till makes a lot of sense.

Robert Whittaker. Israel Adesanya. Auckland, New Zealand. I shouldn’t have to say more. A rematch of their encounter in October 2019 where Adesanya won the Undisputed Middleweight Championship from Whittaker. There is no other fight to make. Figure out the money, figure out the venue. Just make this fight happen.

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