By Adam Martin
Fight Fixin’ is a fantasy matchmaking article that comes out after every major event and features possible matchups for main card winners and/or losers from the previous event.
In the main event of UFC Fight Night 77, Vitor Belfort knocked out Dan Henderson in the first round for his first victory in nearly two years. Just like their fight in November 2013, Belfort landed a head kick that badly stunned Henderson, and just like last time, the 45-year-old legend who is known for his ability to absorb punishment wasn’t able to survive, as referee Herb Dean waved off the bout, handing Belfort a huge win that should catapult him back into the top of the middleweight ranks.
There are lots of good fights for Belfort, but one I have been fascinated with watching is Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida, and I believe at this point it’s worth booking this fight. These are two Brazilian legends of MMA who always put on fantastic fights, and with both men having recently lost to UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, and with both looking to get back into the title picture, it only makes sense to have them square off to determine who is still a legitimate contender, and who is on the downside of his career. It’s a perfect main event for a UFC on FOX show.
Fight to make: Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida
Cummins isn’t a great fighter, but he’s decent, and beating him the way Teixeira did shows that he’s still a near-elite light heavyweight. For his next fight, Alexander Gustafsson makes a lot of sense as an opponent. Both men are top-five fighters in the 205-pound division, and both are looking for another shot at the belt. I say let them fight, and the winner would be deserving of a title shot, or at least a title eliminator. It would be a great main event for a Fight Night or UFC on FOX card, or a co-main event of a PPV.
Fight to make: Glover Teixeira vs. Alexander Gustafsson
In one of the most exciting fights on the entire card, Thomas Almeida and Anthony Birchak stood in the center of the Octagon and flung leather at each other until Almeida was able to catch Birchak right on the chin and brutally stop him for one of the most spectacular KOs of the year in the UFC. Birchak had some success on the feet early on, but as soon as Almeida was able to rock him, Birchak started to go into autopilot mode, and at that point it was just a matter of time until Almeida crushed him.
Almeida is now 4-0 in the UFC, 20-0 in his MMA career, and he has won 19 of those fights by finish. Only 24 years of age, he’s one of the most exciting fighters in all of the UFC and a top contender at 135 lbs. Really, anyone in the top 10 makes sense for him next, but the one guy who really stands out to me is Bryan Caraway, who is currently without an opponent, unlike most of the other top fighters in the division. I think Almeida vs. Caraway would be a really exciting fight, and it makes sense as the lead-off to a PPV card in early 2016.
Fight to make: Thomas Almeida vs. Bryan Caraway
a lightweight affair, Alex Oliveira knocked out Piotr Hallmann in the third round in what is by far the biggest win of his career to date. After dominating the first round, Oliveira struggled with Hallmann’s top control on the mat in the second round, but as soon as he got some open space he went to work, and he brutally finished Hallmann in one of the most devastating finishes on the entire card.
For his next fight, let’s have Oliveira fight Johnny Case, who picked up a win over Yan Cabral on the undercard. Oliveira is 3-1 in the UFC, while Case is 4-0, and both men are quickly climbing up the 155-pound ladder, so let’s see these two square off against one another and determine who the better man is. This would be a perfect main card bout on a Brazilian Fight Night show.
Fight to make: Alex Oliveira vs. Johnny Case
A lightweight bout featured Rashid Magomedov squaring off against Gilbert Burns in a contest between top-flight prospects, but by the end of 15 minutes, it was clear that Magomedov was the better fighter, as he easily took home a decision win. Magomedov’s striking looked tremendous in this fight, as did his takedown defence, and although he didn’t get the finish it’s still a win that should move him up the lightweight ladder.
I think a good opponent for Magomedov in his next fight is Beneil Dariush, who recently won a controversial split decision over Michael Johnson. Dariush, like Burns, is a ground specialist, but his striking has really improved, and I’m curious to see how he’d fare on the feet against someone like Magomedov. I think this would be a great fight to help sort out the bottom of the top 15 of the lightweight division, and I think it would be great on the main card of a Fight Night event.
Fight to make: Rashid Magomedov vs. Beneil Dariush
UFC Fight Night 77: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 took place on November 7, 2015 at Auditório Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
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