By Raphael Garcia
UFC Fight Night 78 was a less than spectacular card following the exciting UFC 193, but it was still a helping of action for fans of MMA south of the US border. Neil Magny and Kelvin Gastelum headlined the event, and a number of Latino athletes fought on the undercard. With the action concluded, these are some fight suggestions for the bigger names that competed during the event:
Neil Magny vs. Stephen Thompson
Neil Magny stepped up in a big way when he took a split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. Even though the UFC’s internal rankings put Gastelum at number 15 at welterweight, he had much more value to the organization, as the people behind the scenes were expecting him to become a star in the future. Magny had something to say about that, however, as he outperformed the Ultimate Fighter winner for three of their hard fought five rounds. Even though many may not agree with the decision, Magny pulled off a major win – perhaps the biggest at this point in his career.
Stephen Thompson is riding a five-fight win streak in the UFC welterweight division. He’s sitting on the card for UFC 195 without a dance partner at this time. While Magny just competed, he’s known for stepping in on late notice, and this would be another opportunity for him to gain a big win and move higher up the rankings.
Magny vs. Thompson would be a strong addition to the main card of UFC 195.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Cub Swanson
Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas was able to control Diego Sanchez for much of their featherweight bout as he rebounded from his defeat to Chad Mendes at UFC Fight Night 63. Unfortunately, that defeat and his loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 169 keep him outside of consideration for another title shot in the near future. To account for that, the UFC should keep him in bouts away from major contenders, but still against viable names. A rematch with Cub Swanson fits that bill perfectly, and would be an exciting affair for both men.
Swanson and Lamas fought back in 2011 on UFC on Fox 1, where Lamas won with an arm-triangle choke in the second round. Swanson is in the midst of a two-fight losing streak, but is still ranked in the Top 10 of the division. Pitting them against each other will create a worthwhile fight for them both while keeping them out of the way of other contenders.
Lamas vs. Swanson would work as a main card bout for a UFC event on Fox in early 2016.
Henry Cejudo vs. Demetrious Johnson
Johnson vs. Cejudo is a title bout that should not be placed at the top of a UFC PPV event. Johnson has struggled in the past when thrown at the top of a UFC card, and the organization should learn from that. Instead, Johnson vs. Cejudo would best work as a Fox main event, especially as the NFL season continues. Johnson has shown that he can carry a show when the League is there to work as a promotional tool; this is an opportunity to replicate that situation with Cejudo as a game opponent for the flyweight champion.
Johnson vs. Cejudo should headline one of the Fox events that are scheduled to occur in the first quarter of 2016.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. the loser of Benson Henderson vs. Jorge Masvidal
Kelvin Gastelum gave fans something to root for in rounds four and five of the main event bout against Magny, and even though he walked away with his second professional loss, he proved that he is a fighter to watch in the welterweight division. It also seems like he’s finally conquered his real problem, which was the fact that he always struggled to make weight. This creates the expectation of future promising performances.
His next opponent should come from the UFC Fight Night 79 main event bout between Benson Henderson and Jorge Masvidal. Both of these men are former lightweights looking to make waves in a new weight class. The loser of this bout would serve as a viable next opponent for Gastelum to hopefully set him on the path towards becoming the star that the organization believed it had found.
Gastelum vs. either Henderson or Masvidal would work as a bout on a UFC Fight Night event based in Mexico.
Jussier da Silva vs. Ian McCall
They fought back in Tachi Palace Fighting in February 2011, where McCall scored a decision win. Since that point they’ve consistently appeared in the Top 10 of this weight class.
Da Silva vs. McCall works best as a main card opener for a card set in Brazil at some point in early 2016.
UFC Fight Night 78 was a strong follow up to UFC 193, even though it didn’t feature a bevy of important names. Some of these individuals were able to walk out of the event with their hands raised and with the momentum to earn bigger fights in the Octagon. Others were not so lucky, and their momentum was stopped. These suggested matchups will keep these fighters active and moving in the right direction at this point in their respective careers.
UFC Fight Night 78: Magny vs. Gastelum (formerly UFC Fight Night 78: Brown vs. Gastelum) took place on November 21, 2015 at Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.