It’s time to play matchmaker again and have a look at some potential fights for the winners and losers of UFC 209: Woodley vs Thompson 2. If you have any fights you’d like to see, tweet us at @mma_banter
Woodley certainly didn’t do enough to eradicate the doubts over the last fight between he and Thompson, nor did he do anything to justify the self proclamations that he is the greatest Welterweight of all time. I had Thompson up 48-47 and find it very difficult to give the last round a 10-8, as one of the judges did. Thirty seconds of dominance to close out the round should not be enough to for a three-point turn around. I still have a lot of respect for Woodley as both a fighter and a champion. He seems like a genuinely good dude, and he does have an exceptional skill set – he just hasn’t fired on all cylinders since he’s been champion. That could be the pressure or the fact that his only title defenses have been against one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC, and of all time. Either way it is now time to find out. Despite the controversy here there is NO WAY that this fight is getting run back for a third time, at least in the near future. Had Damian Maia not already been booked, that would be the obvious choice. The fact that they actually booked and announced a Maia fight so close to this one absolutely blows my mind. If they would have waited a week or two, this fight would have been over and you can announce Maia as the next contender. He earned it, he deserves it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UFC back track and grant him that now, but if the Damian Maia vs Jorge Masvidal fight does go ahead, the winner should rightfully get Woodley. MATCH-UP: Winner of Damian Maia vs Jorge Masvidal
On one hand I sincerely feel for Thompson. He was very unlucky to not get the decision here. On the other, it is kind of his own fault. Even though I and many others agree he won this fight, it really was clutching at straws giving a round to either fighter. He was barely more productive than Woodley. If he had gone out there and pissed in the wind, he may have walked away that day as the champion. He damn well had the skill set to do it, particularly with Woodley’s strategy. Regardless this loss doesn’t really do him much harm in terms of relevancy. His next fight should still be the biggest possible fight, behind a title shot. Three names come to mind straight way – Robbie Lawler, Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. Robbie Lawler hasn’t fought since losing the belt and that would be a huge fight. As tough as Lawler is though, with his natural decline in speed and power, I can’t see him lasting long if Thompson shows up and turns it on. Nick Diaz is definitely a fight I’d love to see. He has the bravado to try to walk Thompson down. It’s hard to pull the trigger on this one though, when the future of Diaz is still so cloudy. Will he return at 170, 185.. we just don’t know yet. The final name left on the hit list is Carlos Condit. He is up there with Thompson as the most damaging and creative striker in the UFC. Pitting these two together would be a purists dream. It would be something special. Condit is still very relevant in the division, only one fight removed from a title fight against Lawler, in which many thought he won. This fight would have the potential to be a fight for the ages, with enough spinning attacks to send any fan dizzy. MATCH-UP: Carlos Condit
I’ll shoot this one from the hip to start with and declare that I actually thought Teymur lost this fight 29-28. Whilst it was incredibly close, and I’d be happy with it going either way by that score, unanimous 30-27’s absolutely blows my mind. In saying that, what an exciting fight we had here. Both guys threw down with everything they had and you can’t ask for much more than that. I think they both dramatically improved their stock in this fight and should both be challenging the top guys in the future. Teymur really did show that he is an elite level striker in this division. I think he can make some dramatic waves at 155, but I would like to see him pitted against one more exceptional striker before he launches himself at the top guys. Paul Felder is one of those guys that has been there abouts for a while now. His only losses are from really exceptional guys entrenched in the rankings. Felder himself could very much make a run in the near future and if his last performance is anything to go by, his striking is looking as elite and damaging as ever. Watching Teymur and Felder throw down will be one hell of an entertaining experience. It’s test for both fighters with their eyes on the ranked opponents immediately after. MATCH-UP: Paul Felder
The Aussie father, Old Man Dan Kelly, has done it again. This was by far the biggest victory of his career and one that many didn’t see coming. Everything he does looks awkward and messy, but it seems to be effective. Whilst the Olympic Judoka pedigree has always been there, in his last two fights he has been a more effective striker, out-pointing Chris Camozzi and now Rashad Evans, two notable strikers. He’s a grafter that likes to get down and dirty and do whatever it takes to get the best of a fight. Whilst Rashad was no doubt disappointing and a shadow of the legend and ex-UFC champion, you can’t take away the fact that Dan Kelly looks better and better, every time he steps into the octagon. Whilst it may be hard to envision him making a title run, he has damn sure earned the opportunity for some big fights to give it a shot. First stop is another aging veteran, Tim Boetsch. Firmly entrenched at the base of the rankings and coming off a loss to Middleweight contender Jacare, Boetsch is ripe for the opportunity. It should be an entertaining fight with a contrast in the power of Boetsch with both his striking and grappling and Kelly’s clinical Judo and scrappy striking. MATCH-UP: Tim Boetsch
It seems like the championship loss to Overeem was just a blip on the radar for his resurgence. Despite a few shady moments where it looked like Hunt may have had him hurt, Overeem was in control for the majority of this fight. His striking is looking very patient and clinical, but the devastating power is still there when he is ready to pull the trigger. Hunt will be having nightmares for weeks about those vicious knees. There are certainly a few ways the UFC could go with Overeem. He’s currently sitting entrenched at the top of the Heavyweight division with a few other guys. With the news about Rothwell being flagged by USADA, the UFC will be looking for a new opponent for Fabricio Werdum. They are yet to fight and that could very much be a fun and relevant fight to make. Despite their years in the UFC, Cain Velasquez and Overeem are also yet to fight. I think it’s a fight everyone has imagined at some stage and would be an absolute beauty to see. Both these fights could potentially be number one contender bouts. I’m all about giving the young guys on a run a shot though, so I’m thinking the way to go is actually Francis Ngannou. Ngannou has been on an absolute tear, with many touting him as the next biggest thing in the Heavyweight division. He’s ready for that top-level opportunity and an opponent like Overeem is the perfect candidate. He has the standing, the name and the elite skill-set to truly test Ngannou. Striking is the strength of Ngannou and what better way to find out just how good he is, then putting him up against arguably the most gifted and prestigious Heavyweight striker of all time. A win here for Overeem would set him up for another shot at the title again too. MATCH-UP: Francis Ngannou
Star performer of the Prelims – Tyson Pedro
What a talent the Aussie Tyson Pedro is! He backed up his ultra impressive debut victory over Khalil Rountree with a dominant knock out victory over a highly talented Paul Craig. Going into this fight it seemed a very even match-up on paper. They have a very similar skill-set and are both undefeated, but it did appear that Craig may have the experience advantage and had faced higher quality opponents in his victories. None of that seemed to matter, as Pedro over-powered his opponent with a significant strength advantage in the clinch and grappling exchanges. Two first round finishes against talented prospects demands a relevant match-up for Pedro. The first fight that jumped out at me was Volken Oezdemir. He is coming off a debut victory over OSP himself, that was a very questionable decision. Regardless, it was a victory on paper and shot him straight into Light Heavyweight relevance in the rankings. The other name that appeals to me in this situation is Ilir Latifi. The Swede has entrenched himself as a gatekeeper of the 205lb division. Incredibly talented and powerful himself with a good solid base, he would definitely provide the comprehensive test that we need to determine just which side of the line between contender and pretender, that Pedro currently sits. Regardless Pedro is incredibly young in both age and career and I have no doubts that he will be a superstar in time. MATCH-UP: Ilir Latifi
Lando Vannata vs Joe Lauzon – Lando was unlucky here. Still an exceptionally talented striker, expected to do big things. Deserves another big fight against a veteran with fight of the night written all over it.
Rashad Evans vs Rafael Natal – Evans needs a significant drop in class to find his feet. Natal was recently ranked, on a slide, should be a favorable style for Evans.
Cynthia Calvillo vs Justine Kish – Kish has been underwhelming and lucky to get both her victories. Calvillo was very impressive with her slick submission victory here. An opportunity for Kish to prove her standing, and a chance for Calvillo to take it. Striker vs Grappler.
Amanda Cooper vs JJ Aldrich – TUF alumni that didn’t get to fight each other on the show. Both losing records early in their UFC career. Interesting match-up.
Mark Hunt vs Derrick Lewis – Lewis called for it after his last fight. Ranked 7 and 8. Both powerful strikers that throw down. Lock it in. If Lewis decides chases higher, Hunt could provide Volkov with a top 10 test or Arlovski could Main Event the New Zealand card.
Marcin Tybura vs Curtis Blaydes – Both guys are on the verge of the rankings. Probably the best of the rest at this stage. Winner gets a shot at a ranked opponent.
Luis Henrique vs Anthony Hamilton – Both huge Heavyweights on a bit of a slide. Give’s one the opportunity to get back on track. Should provide power and a finish.
Darren Elkins vs Dooho Choi – Two tough SOB’s. Ranking relevance. Elkin’s wants it. Make it happen.
Mirsad Bektic vs Chas Kelly – Bektic missed an opportunity to cement himself. Kelly has been banging on the door for one. Similar skill-set and should provide a very interesting fight. Would also take Jason Knight in a heartbeat.
Iuri Alcantara vs Michael McDonald – Alcantara deserves a step up in competition. These guys have very exciting, diverse and eccentric styles. Would be a barn burner.
Luke Sanders vs Augusto Mendes – Sanders was unlucky not to get the win at 209. Looked dominant until the submission. Huge talent, as is Mendes. Keen to see which one is ready to take the next step. Wrestling vs BJJ.
Mark Godbeer vs Walt Harris – Let’s see some hands! Both power punches that like to bang. Looking to separate themselves from the pack.
Daniel spitz vs Justin Willis – Both had disappointing UFC debut’s. Both tough guys. Pit them together to see which one is worth keeping.
Paul Craig vs Saparbek Safarov – Both newcomers coming off losses but have shown some potential. Interesting match-up stylistically, with both being predominantly grappler’s.
Albert Morales vs Ricardo Ramos – Morales was lucky to get the win in a split-decision. Morales and Ramos are both exciting fighters, new to the UFC and looking for a chance to impress.
Andre Soukhamthath vs Kwan ho Kwak – Both exciting fighters with a 0-1 record in the UFC. Would attract fans from South Korea and Laos to the Singapore event.