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 80, Rose Namajunas put a five-round beatdown on Paige VanZant, ultimately earning a tapout late in the fifth round. Namajunas, who is now 3-1 in the UFC, looked amazing in this fight and proved to everyone that she is an elite strawweight fighter. That she was the underdog in this fight is still shocking, but with all the hype surrounding VanZant, Namajunas flew under the radar. However, she came out way on top in this bout.
Namajunas could very well fight for the belt again, but with champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk fighting Claudia Gadelha next, Namajunas needs another opponent. Looking at the top 15, one of the highest-ranked fighters is Tecia Torres, who defeated UFC newcomer Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger at UFC 194. The two did fight back in Invicta, but a rematch in the UFC makes all the sense in the world after Torres’ win on Saturday night. Regardless of who she fights next, Namajunas deserves to fight on a pay-per-view main card after such a fantastic performance, but Torres would be the ideal choice.
Fight to make: Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres
In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa picked up the biggest win of his career to date with a submission win over Jim Miller. The duo picked up the “Fight of the Night” award for their bout, which was a very entertaining grappling match that culminated in a finish for Chiesa, who moved to an impressive 6-2 inside the Octagon.
Chiesa is still improving, and although he did lose to Joe Lauzon in an upset last year, he’s still on the verge of cracking the top 15. I think a good opponent for him is Adriano Martins, a dangerous, underrated fighter who is looking to crack the top 15 himself. Both fighters are an identical 4-1 in their last five fights and it makes sense to have them square off and find out who the better fighter is. Put it on a UFC on FOX main card.
Fight to make: Michael Chiesa vs. Adriano Martins
Northcutt is only 19, and after seeing what happened to VanZant, needs to be built slowly.
Looking at the lightweight roster, the UFC should match Northcutt up with another relative UFC newcomer, preferably someone who isn’t much of a threat. Andrew Holbrook, another undefeated fighter, is 1-0 in the UFC, but he didn’t look great against Ramsey Nijem in his UFC debut, winning a controversial split decision. Holbrook is about the lowest-ranked lightweight on the roster that I can think of, so he makes sense as Northcutt’s next opponent. The two should fight on the prelims of a UFC on FOX card in the new year.
Fight to make: Sage Northcutt vs. Andrew Holbrook
In a middleweight fight, the underrated Thiago Santos continued to shine, as he upset top-rated prospect Elias Theodorou with a decision win. Santos started off slow and lost the first round, but as the fight went on Theodorou faded and Santos took over, winning the second round and then dominating in the third to improve to a quiet 4-2 inside the Octagon.
For his next fight, let’s see Santos take on veteran Rafael Natal, who is 8-4-1 in the UFC, and like Santos, is currently riding a three-fight win streak. Natal isn’t an elite middleweight, but he’s the perfect gatekeeper to the top 15 of the division, and coming off of a big win over Uriah Hall, he deserves to fight someone on the rise like Santos. This would be a fun Brazilian vs. Brazilian matchup that makes perfect sense to put on the main card of a Brazilian Fight Night event.
Fight to make: Thiago Santos vs. Rafael Natal
preliminary card headliner, Tim Means continued to impress as a welterweight with a blistering second-round KO over John Howard. Means’ striking looked excellent in the first round, as he continually lit up Howard with combinations, and in the second he landed a picture-perfect left hook to knock his foe out, winning a “Performance of the Night” award for his efforts.
Means is now 5-2 as a UFC welterweight and he has finishes in his last three wins, putting him near, or in, the top 15 of the UFC’s 170-pound division. Therefore for his next fight he deserves a step up in competition. I really think Rick Story makes sense whenever he returns from injury. Story is a really tough fight for anyone at welterweight and is always excited in entertaining fights. Coming off of a win over Gunnar Nelson, he should be fighting someone on the rise like Means, and I really like this matchup.
Fight to make: Tim Means vs. Rick Story
UFC Fight Night 80: Namajunas vs. VanZant (formerly UFC Fight Night 80: VanZant vs. Calderwood) took place on December 10, 2015 at Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada.