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Fights to make after UFC 201

Tyron Woodley

As part of a new post UFC pay per view tradition, So Much Sports will be listing fights they make based on all the results since the previous pay per view. After UFC 200 we went over different fights to make with the big stars, but after that we have three big events to book fights off of. We’re looking at guys from the July 13 Fight Night headlined by John Lineker and Michael McDonald, the July 23 Holly Holm-Valentina Shevchenko fights and of course, UFC 201. Let’s jump right into it.

Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson – UFC Welterweight Championship

Though he went into the fight as a mild underdog, it wasn’t a huge shock that Tyron Woodley beat Robbie Lawler to win the Welterweight Championship. The surprise was how fast he beat him. Woodley knocked ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler out at 2:12 in the first round in the first real exchange of the fight. Lawler has been through wars during his title reign, but Woodley’s devastating right hand came through for him again. Now, it’s Woodley’s time to reign as the best Welterweight in the world and there is no doubt that his first title defense should be against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Woodley may have called out Nick Diaz and George St-Pierre in the post-fight press conference, but Thompson deserves the shot. He really should have been considered for this shot against Lawler. Thompson is on a seven-fight winning streak with victories over very talented fighters. The last two were a first round knockout of former champion Johny ‘Bigg Rigg’ Hendricks and a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Rory MacDonald, who was the last person to beat Woodley. It’s an easy fight to make.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – UFC Strawweight Championship

The all-Polish showdown is another easy fight to make because champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are clearly the two best in the division after Kowalkiewicz’ victory over the very talented Rose Namajunas, that was questionably a split decision when it should have easily been unanimous. The fact that these two are both stars from the same country, undefeated as professionals and have history with an amateur fight, it just makes it easier. Stylistically, they should put on a great fight too.

Tony Ferguson vs. Eddie Alvarez – UFC Lightweight Championship

It’s an interesting debate whether the title shot against Eddie Alvarez should go to the undefeated, but less active Khabib Nurmagomedov, or the much busier Tony Ferguson who is on an eight-fight winning streak. Ferguson should be the guy because he’s putting himself out there more and in more positions to pick up those losses. Of course Lando Vannata surprised him with a very tough fight in his debut, but Ferguson was able to shake it off, look fresh as ever going into the second round and closed out the fight with a choke. That’s championship level stuff.

Wilson Reis vs. Demetrious Johnson – UFC Flyweight Championship

Wilson Reis was supposed to get the shot at UFC 201 but after Demetrious Johnson had to pull out he made a risky decision to take another fight. But by taking that other fight he got to showcase himself and now he’s not just Johnson’s next opponent, he showed off some quick strike ability, speed and power and finished his fight with a nice choke. The UFC can build on that and Reis only more solidified himself as the next challenger.

Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz

Nick Diaz is coming back from his suspension and already training, but at this point he’s not just taking any fight. Diaz is a prize fighter. He wants big fights. What fight can be bigger than one against Robbie Lawler, who 10 years ago was knocked out by Diaz but has since had a tremendous resurgence, was a brutal welterweight champion who went through wars and incredible fights. This could be a co-main event of any pay per view.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena

It was an incredible one-sided victory over former champion Holly Holm that put Muay Thai artists Valentina Shevchenko into the spotlight among the elite bantamweights in the world. For the first time ever, Holm was matched up against a striker with as great a pedigree as her and simply, Shevchenko proved to be the better fighter. In an ideal world Shevchenko drops down to a newly-formed women’s flyweight division and fights Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Pena goes on to fight Amanda Nunes for the title, but the UFC doesn’t seem to be in a rush to create a new division and we have to assume that Rousey will finally make her return and cash in on her promised title shot by the end of the year. That leaves Shevchenko and Pena, both coming off huge victories to meet in a title eliminator.

Holly Holm vs. Jessica Eye

If you really think back, Holly Holm was thrown to the top of the bantamweight rankings way too fast. She was only 2-0 in the UFC before being given a title shot. Both were against fighters on the fringe of being ranked and neither were over whelming victories. But she nearly kicked Ronda Rousey’s head off and shocked the world last November. But since then, he’s lost two fights and in both she’s shown some very good things but also some pretty bad things. Holm needs to fight somebody a bit down in the rankings, maybe two fighters a bit down in the rankings to further work on her complete MMA game while remaining relevant against ranked opponents. Of course, there are no guaranteed victories, but Holm is still a very talented fighter and among the elite, but they have to put her in a decent situation to rebounds and sorry Jessica Eye, no disrespect, but she would be a pretty decent opponent form Holm trying to complete this task and rebuilding herself.

Rose Namajunas vs. Claudia Gadelha

Despite their recent losses there is no reason to give up on either fighter because both are very talented and clearly among the elite in the strawweight division. There are plenty of fights they could give Namajunas, but with fights already against Carla Esparza and Tecia Torres, Gadelha is the top contender left for her. Namajunas has to pick up a win against one of these top contenders, Gadelha could be an interesting fighter to test her as a legitimate top star in the division at this point considering her losses to Torres, Esparza and now Kowalkiewicz. Or, Gadelha could solidify herself as a title contender should the belt change hands at any point.

Edson Barboza vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Previously the fight to make was Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, but after Edson Barboza mentioned his willingness to fight RDA, that immediately became the fight to make while Numagomedov would have to go for somebody like the winner of the Michael Johnson-Dustin Poirier fight perhaps. Typically, top Brazilian contenders are not willing to fight each other, but if Barboza and RDA are willing to it would be a tremendous fight. Both guys are tremendous strikers with Barboza having one of the most devastating leg kicks around and RDA having a wickedly strong punch and ground-and-pound game. It would be a very interesting fight stylistically and should be another war. With even Barboza saying Tony Ferguson deserves the next shot at Eddie Alvarez, Barboza would be in great position to get the one after should he beat the former champion.

Gilbert Melendez vs. Dustin Poirier-Michael Johnson loser

Gilbert Melendez was rusty against Edson Barboza, but not really all that rusty. He actually looked fairly impressive in the loss considering how much of a beating he withstood from a devastating striker like he did. Most lightweights would have stayed down with their leg destroyed from those leg kicks, but even despite the gutsy effort, Melendez lost and needs to find a potential rebound fight. He’s still a top guy in the division so if Khabib Nurmagomedov got switched to the winner of the Michael-Johnson vs. Dustin Poirier fight, then give Melendez the loser. And since last time Will Brooks was chosen to fight Poirier, he has to switch to a different opponent, which brings us to…

Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliviera vs. Will Brooks

The second Cowboy in the UFC wants to move back down to lightweight and fight a ranked opponent. The guy deserves is. He’s a very willing fighter and his only real notable opponent was a welterweight Donald Cerrone taken on short notice. But he’s the kind of guy who deserves to get a shot to be ranked and maybe Will Brooks will want a ranked opponent, there isn’t too much to throw at him right now since the division is so busy. Instead, he takes on another great striker in Oliviera that should be a pretty good fight to watch.

John Lineker vs. Bryan Caraway

Is there a place in the bantamweight division with a guy like John Lineker? He’s slower than a lot of guys, but that hasn’t been a problem for him during his 9-1 run in the UFC because he’s so powerful. Guys might try to run away from him, but once he gets to the guy he’ll rattle them with his ‘hands of stone.’ Lineker seems like he’s right on the cusp of getting a title shot after knocking out Michael McDonald the No. 5 ranked fighter in the division, and after a somewhat surprising win over Aljamain Sterlin, Bryan Caraway might be a good opponent for him and might prove what’s better: power or speed.

Michael McDonald vs. Aljamain Sterling

Coming off losses, both Michael McDonald and Aljamain Sterling are looking for rebounds and while the guys that beat them could be good opponents for each other, these two could be good opponents for each other too.

Jake Ellenberger vs. Jorge Masvidal

Both UFC veterans went into UFC 201 needing a victory and both got one, now, let one of them build on it and fight to get back in the rankings in the welterweight division. Jake Ellenberger lost six of seven fights heading into his clash with Matt Brown with his UFC career potentially on the line, but he came out and destroyed the No. 9 contender Matt Brown inside two minutes, ending it with a hard liver kick and follow up punches. Masvidal had a pretty overwhelming victory over late fill-in Ross Pearson after his fight against Siyar Bahadurzada fell through, rebounding from back-to-back losses.

Matt Brown vs. Albert Tumenov

Matt Brown got rocked by Jake Ellenberger but that doesn’t mean he’s not still a very good welterweight fighter. Albert Tumenov saw a five-fight winning streak come to the end against Gunnar Nelson back in May, but he is still a pretty talented fighter and rising contender. Coming off his loss recent loss to Ellenberger and four losses in his last fight fights against pretty top competition, Brown can be a nice gatekeeper to the rankings for the young and rising Tumenov.

Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis

Somebody is going to go to sleep if that fight takes place. both Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis are two huge and massively powerful fighters with the ability to end fights quickly. Derrick Lewis is way more experienced with a 7-2 record in the UFC alone that is equal to to the number of pro fights Ngannou has all together. And Lewis’ name was thrown around as a potential opponent for Brock Lesnar before the ‘Beast’s’ potential anti-doping violation, but Ngannou is an interesting athlete who could really impress with a shot like this one.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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