It’s time to play matchmaker again and have a look at some potential fights for the winners and losers of UFC Fight Night: Manuwa vs Anderson. If you have any fights you’d like to see, tweet us at @mma_banter
Watching this warrior and absolute gentleman of a man finish his career, was by far the highlight of the night for me. In a night with some spectacular moments, that definitely says something. It’s incredibly unfortunate that he wasn’t able to get the win, but he still put in a balls to the wall performance and was definitely winning the fight up until the fight ending moment. There’s definitely some room for debate about whether the referee stopped the fight early and had he not, Pickett could have held on for the final minute and walked away a deserved victor. Moot point though, as his career is now over and there will be nothing but positive memories left about this exceptional fighter. A real pioneer of the sport in England, the emotion that overcame the 02 arena during the post fight action was a real testament to his career. He may have left his hat in the Octagon when he stepped out for the final time, but Brad Pickett will forever remain in the hearts, minds and highlight packages, of everyone involved with the UFC, from fan to fighter. Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett, thank you for the memories and the blood you spilt in the name of entertainment. MATCH-UP: Freedom and folklore
Jimi Manuwa is the real deal. I think far too many people dismissed him as middle of the road, after falling to Gustafson and then by knockout to Anthony Johnson. That’s where his losses end though. He has literally only lost to the elite of the elite. Every other opponent that has come his way, he has despatched relatively easily. He’s got the Rumble Johnson power and an ever-improving takedown defence. He’s really running of out options around the top of the division and it’s hard to deny that he’s earnt a title shot. However there are other factors that may deny him that opportunity. If Gustafsson wins his fight with Texeira convincingly, you would be a brave man to try to argue who out of Gustafsson or Manuwa deserves the title shot more. With their new training relationship, we certainly won’t be seeing them fight each other to work that out. The other issue that may get in the way of his title opportunity is the return of Jon Jones. Does he get an immediate shot? Either way I think there are two clear-cut options for Manuwa. He either gets the title shot, or he fights Texeira, regardless of whether he beats or loses to Gustafsson. MATCH-UP: Winner of Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson or Glover Texeira
Gunnar is something special. I remember pre-fight with Damian Maia the general consensus that this was the two best grapplers in not only the division, but the UFC. People genuinely gave him a chance that day. Unfortunately like so many do, he was overwhelmed by the sheer technical brilliance of Maia and was beaten in a dominant decision. From that day it was as though people forgot just how good he was. He slipped into obscurity a little bit, but Gunnar Nelson is definitely elite. The longer he has spent with John Kavanagh, Conor McGregor and the SBG team, the more his confidence has grown. He walks and talks with this genuine Conor-esque swagger now. He’s seen success and it’s definitely rubbing off on him. In terms of moving forward there is no doubt he’s close to getting those top 5 match-ups again. Despite being pegged as a grappler, he truly is very well-rounded. His karate style movement is so light and Machida/Thompson like. He moves in and out with ease and when he see’s an opportunity he strikes both precisely and with brutal power. As witnessed in this fight with Jouban. The combination of patient, powerful striking and his elite grappling is a really scary prospect. There’s a bit of a log jam currently at the top of the Welterweight division but there are three available guys that stand out for me. Donald Cerrone, Neil Magny and Dong Hyum Kim. My head says I should be going for Donald Cerrone and the excitement he brings, but I’m just not feeling that. I don’t think it would end well for Cerrone. Magny and Kim would both be very interesting fights. Neil Magny is the higher ranked guy and the fight that stands out for me. If Gunnar can continue his run and get another win there, he’d be very much in contention to fight the top 5 guys and demand his chance to earn a title shot. MATCH-UP: Neil Magny
I really feel for Jouban. He has been begging for a shot at a ranked guy for a very long time. He finally gets his shot and it’s straight up against a killer, that’s also a bad match-up stylistically for him. Meanwhile the opponent he comprehensively beat, doesn’t just get a ranked opponent coming off the loss, he gets Ellenberger. The guy Jouban has been calling for and a much better match-up for him. An opponent that would fight the fight where Jouban wants it. I think very little should be taken away from Jouuban with this loss. Gunnar Nelson is elite. Jouban should still get a ranked opponent towards the base, or someone just outside of it. Three exciting match-up’s jump out at me immediately. Matt Brown, Alex Oliveira and Tim means. All three guys are sitting around that lower end of the rankings, and all three guys are absolute brawlers with exciting striking. I’m leaning towards Brown, as he is currently ranked 15 and provides Jouban that second chance at snagging a spot in the rankings. He deserves that chance. MATCH-UP: Matt Brown
Corey Anderson vs Tyson Pedro – This was a toss-up between Misha Cirkunov and Tyson Pedro for me. Cirkunov probably deserves to shoot for the upper end of the top 10. Anderson has immense talent but really needs to take a step backwards. Still young and relatively new to the sport, there’s a lot to learn and improve, but he will be a contender one day. At this stage I think a test against the number 15 and talented new comer Pedro makes sense. Pedro deserves the shot. Should be an interesting fight with both guys being high level grapplers. Anderson will have the technical advantage and Pedro the power.
Marlon Vera vs Alejandro Perez – Despite a shaky start to his UFC career, Vera is starting to put runs on the board. This was by far his most impressive performance. Needs another middle of the road fight to really make a statement. Alejandro Perez would provide that challenge. Albert Morales is another option that would make sense.
Arnold Allen vs Jeremy Kennedy – By far Allen’s best performance in the UFC. Exceptional talent! Deserves a real test for next fight. I like a fight with Jeremy Kennedy, another incredibly talented young guy. Work out who is the next best Featherweight prospect and move them onto higher honours. Another route could be against a crafty veteran like Rony Jason or Gray Maynard. Hell, even a fight with Ryan Hall sounds like fun to me, as Allen would go right after him like Maynard didn’t.
Makwan Amirkhani vs Alex Caceres – Amirkhani is still an exceptional talent and the loss shouldn’t set him back. Caceres is on a slide but still a name and a test. Both guys have eccentric, exciting styles. Would be a FOTN candidate.
Joseph Duffy vs Marcin Held – Big wraps on Jo Duffy. He goes from strength to strength and in my opinion he’s right up there in the lightweight division. Next fight needs to be a chance to really prove the point that he deserves to be fighting ranked guys. After all this is one of very few fighters that has had success against McGregor. Guys like Jim Miller, Paul Felder, Marcin Held and James Vick really stand out. Even Francisco Trinaldo if the UFC decide he gets a shot at a ranked guy right now. The fight that interests me the most though, is definitely Marcin Held. I think it would be really exciting wherever the fight goes, but a real chance for Duffy to show off his very slick boxing and prove that he’s a legitimate threat in this division. One that is very much ready to make an impressive run.
Reza Madadi vs Nick Lentz – Two veterans that always come to fight. Both needing a bit of a career injection. Definitely up for this fight.
Francimar Barrosa vs Jarred Cannonier – Barrosa just wont go away, winning every time he looks like slipping into obscurity. Cannonier needs to find his feet at Light Heavyweight, after being thrown to the wolves with Texeira as his first opponent. Barrosa is a good place to start.
Darren Stewart vs John Phillips – Stewart has exceptional power and still very much a talent after this close loss. May drop to Middleweight. If not, welcoming Welshman John Phillips to the UFC in a Battle of Britain affair, on a UK card, would be absolute fireworks. Like Stewart, Phillips is a powerful striker that loves to throw hands.
Timothy Johnson vs Travis Browne – Deserves to look above for his next fight. Most obvious opponent there is Travis Brown, who has been on a massive slide and needs a to re-establish himself. The style of match-up doesn’t scream excitement to me, but it gives Johnson an opportunity and Browne a chance to find his feet again and make a statement. Failing that, Alexei Oleinik makes sense.
Daniel Omielanczuk vs Marcin Tybura – Slim pickings finding fights in the Heavyweight division at the moment. Two European fighters yet to match-up and sitting around the bottom of the rankings. Gives one the chance to really consolidate their position there. Perfect fight for one of the three upcoming European events.
Leon Edwards vs Tarec Saffiedine – Edwards deserves his shot. He’s Beaten some quality fighters and been very consistent. He’s a top 15 guy. I like a match-up Saffiedine, who is still sitting pretty despite a strong of losses. Both guys are very well-rounded and would provide a good, fun match-up.
Vicente Luque vs Emil Meek – Luque still in that group hovering just outside the rankings. Would suggest Mike Perry as perfect match-up, with both coming off close losses to top opponents, sitting around the same position just outside the rankings and both big hitters. Alas, the UFC felt Perry deserves a ranked opponent even coming off a loss. Meek has a big following, big potential and would make an interesting fight. Alex Morono or Niko Price other options worth mentioning.
Marc Diakiese vs Abel Trujillo – What a talent. Diakiese is really something special. Powerful, athletic and very well-rounded. Deserves a jump in class for his next opponent and there are so many options that really excite me. Can’t shake the idea of Trujillo. Both are incredible athletes. Would be a really fun fight and should allow Diakiese to show off his best attributes, whilst providing a very tough test to see where he is at. Perfect next step. Also stuck on David Teymur, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Tony Martin, Paul Felder and Magomed Mustafaev. Can we just have them all please? Everything is exciting about Diakiese’s career moving forward.
Teemu Packalen vs Daniel Hooker – Teemu has shown some potential but inconsistent. Hooker is moving up from Featherweight, where he had mixed success. Both rangey guys that are all action. Fun fight!
Brad Scott vs Jack Marshman – Scott has been inconsistent, but has shown flashes of talent. A tough brawler that doesn’t take a backwards step. Sounds very similar to Jack Marshman, who after making a super impressive debut against Magnus Cedenblad was brought back down to earth by Thiago Santos. Another Battle of Britain, England vs Wales affair. I’d see Marsham taking the victory in an absolute brawl, but it provides one of them with the opportunity to separate from the pack.
Scott Aksham vs Alberto Uda – Aksham certainly shows glimpses of talent, but can’t seem to win more than he loses. Sitting around the bottom of the division now, but deserves a chance to prove he deserves to stay in the UFC. Uda 0-2 in his UFC career and about the level of test that Aksham needs, in an attempt to re-establish himself. Other options are Ryan Janes and Keith Berish.
Lina Lansberg vs Jessica Eye – Lansberg wasn’t super impressive but can only look up. Eye is on a slide and looking to find her feet. Winner of Irene Aldana and Katlyn Chookagian also has some appeal.
Lucie Pudilova vs Gina Mazany – Both had debut losses, but have a bit of potential. Also wouldn’t mind Pudilova taking on the loser of Aldana and Chookagian.