It’s time to play matchmaker again and have a look at some potential fights for the winners and losers of UFC Fight Night Fortaleza: Belfort vs Gastelum. If you have any fights you’d like to see, tweet us at @mma_banter
What a start to his Middleweight career! The way he’s tearing through the division, it baffles me that he is still adamant that he needs to return to Welterweight. After the fight though, he did call out Anderson Silva. It sounds to me as though he wants to continue his UFC Legends, ass-whopping tour and add Silva to the list that already contains Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort. I like it. Silva will be the next tier of name to catapult Gastelum right where he needs to be, if he’s serious about being in title contention. It’s also one hell of a fight. Gastelum has looked incredibly fast and accurate with his boxing, since making the move to Middleweight. Despite slowing down in recent years, Anderson Silva is still Anderson Silva. He’s still a different kind of WOW and a challenge for anyone when it comes to striking and he can still pull out a stunning moment from anywhere. Silva is simply a dangerous human. It’s a great fight all around, for both fighters, for the fans and for the UFC. Make it happen. MATCH-UP: Anderson Silva
It’s been a sad decline for Vitor Belfort in recent years. The saddest part is he still shows glimpses of the beast that tore through everyone in the Middleweight division. The speed and power are still there, but his chin and the conditioning have been letting him down. Regardless, his losses have been to the elite in the division and its definitely time for a step down in class for his next fight. The two guys that really stood out for me were Thiago Santos and Krzysztof Jotko. Santos and Belfort are very similar in their striking approaches. The fight would be absolute fireworks and a near guarantee only one of them is standing by round two. Although it’s a great match up for the fans, I’m not sure its the type of fight Belfort needs for his wellbeing or his career. Jotko despite being incredibly talented, is a little softer in his approach. A fight with Belfort is the test that Jotko deserves, but it’s also a bit of a slower pace and rhythm that Belfort so desperately needs. MATCH-UP: Krzysztof Jotko
Could it really be happening? Shogun Rua making one last run towards the title. As wonderful as that would be, I really don’t think so. In his three fight win strike, he was very lucky in a split decision against Corey Anderson (I had him losing) and Gian Villante despite being a very tough dude with powerful hands, is not top-tier. Regardless Rua has earned his shot at the elite again. The two match-ups that really stand out for me are Jimi Manuwa and Glover Texeira. Both guys are currently matched up, but regardless of their results in those fights, I think Rua’s next fight has to be one of the two. Both are veterans with heavy hands that love to strike. They’ll bring the best out of Rua, whilst also testing him significantly. Leaning towards Manuwa but I really can’t split it. So I’m going to just settle on one or the other, depending on the shape of the division after we see Jimi Manuwa vs Corey Anderson and Alexander Gustafsson vs Glover Texeira. MATCH-UP: Jimi Manuwa or Glover Texeira
What a performance by Edson Barboza. It looked as though Dariush was starting to get the best of the fight, but you can never sleep on Barboza. He epitomizes what it is to be an explosive fighter. Out of nowhere he can finish a fight, and has done time after time. His impressive run in recent fights has him well and truly towards the top of a log jammed division. To really look at the next step for any of the Lightweights, we need to know what is happening at the very top. There are questions surrounding McGregors next fight and what the next steps are for Ferguson and Khabib. Barboza has a recent loss to Ferguson, so it rules out that fight for now. The only fighter that is where Barbozas next fight needs to be, that isn’t booked or with a questionable future, is Nate Diaz. As soon as that fight popped into my head, I was hooked. You’ve got one of the most explosive fighters in the UFC, against one of the toughest, with brilliant boxing and a mouth to match. Sign me up! MATCH-UP: Nate Diaz
The flyweight division is really starting to open up! I mentioned a few months back that I really thought this division was loaded with talent towards the base of the rankings. I really wanted to see those guys given an opportunity and that we may very well see the rankings reverse in a short period of time. Pettis and Borg have both taken opportunities and shot up to the top of division. Guys like Moreno, Smolka and Nguyen are also waiting for their opportunity. The majority of the division is currently booked for fights, which keeps it pretty simple in looking for Borgs next opponent. He deserves a top 10 guy. That pretty much leaves Benavidez and McCall. I don’t like the McCall fight for either of them. McCall needs to be eased back and Borg deserves a legitimate test. Step up Benavidez as the last man standing. MATCH-UP: Joseph Benavidez
Star performer of the Prelims – Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee certainly put a stamp on the division with this performance. He’s been on quite the tear and finally got an opportunity at a big name, ranked opponent. He took it. This victory has him firmly entrenched in the rankings and looking forwards to the top guys. A legitimate next step is a fighter that also fought on this card, Beneil Dariush. Dariush is definitely top-tier and will be looking to prove that again after his loss to Barboza. It’s the perfect fight for the careers of both these guys and the winner will be right in the mix for a top 5 shot. MATCH-UP: Beneil Dariush
Gian Villante vs Tyson Pedro – Villante just hasn’t been able to break that top-tier. Pedro is a huge talent ready for a step up in quality. Villante is that man.
Beneil Dariush vs Kevin Lee – See above Kevin Lee post ^^^
Jussier Formiga vs Ben Nguyen – Most of the top 15 are booked for fights. Formiga will need to try to find his feet. Ben Nguyen a tremendously talented prospect deserving of an opportunity.
Beth Correia vs Marion Reneau – Draw….Not many options in the Women’s Bantamweight division… Run it back.
Francisco Trinaldo vs Rustam Khabilov – Both guys have tremendous potential in the division. Powerful guys with good stand up. Trinaldo fighting to stay relevant, Khabilov with the opportunity.
Sergio Moraes vs Niko Price – Moraes didn’t do enough to jump into the next tier of Welterweights. Price has looked exceptional in his first two fights. Interesting match up.
Davi Ramos vs Bobby Nash – Both guys had debut losses, but did show some potential in their fights. Would love to see them matched together.
Joe Soto vs Thomas Almeida – Almeida still needs a solid test to catapult the hype. Soto deserves the chance to show he can really push in this division. The test that both fighters need.
Rani Yahya vs Iuri Alcantara – Surprised they haven’t fought yet! Good battle to see who deserves to stay relevant in the rankings.
Michel Prazeres vs Alan Patrick – Both exceptional grapplers looking to break into the top tier of the division.
Josh Burkman vs A new promotion – Admitted he will not be fighting again in the UFC but does not want to retire on that fight.
Jeremy Kennedy vs Alex Volkanovski – Considered Ryan Hall here. Would have the confidence to push into the danger zones of Hall, which we’d all love to see. Instead I went with Volkanovski. Tough and Talented Australian dropping from Lightweight. Excellent match up from a style stand point. Both guys pushing for higher honours in the UFC.
Rony Jason vs Alex Caceres – Both guys are floundering in the division with poor recent results. Both still carry a name and exciting styles.
Paulo Borrachinha vs Jack Marshman – Both guys are exceptional brawlers. Set’s up for an exciting fight between two exciting new comers.
Gareth McLellan vs – A new promotion – That will be the end of his time in the UFC.