By Raphael Garcia
UFC on Fox 17 capped off a great 2015 for the UFC. After a number of big events and the emergence of new stars, the promotion is positioned for a giant 2016. But the year didn’t end on a positive note for everyone. Looking back to Saturday’s action, these are the fight suggestions for the men and women who were unable to get a win at UFC on Fox 17.
Donald Cerrone vs. Michael Johnson
Rafael dos Anjos needed only 66 seconds to get his second win over Donald Cerrone and defend his lightweight title for the first time. Cerrone’s performance left much to be desired, with many questioning what is next for him in the division. The same could be said about Michael Johnson, who didn’t perform well at all against Nate Diaz. With both men losing in the fashion that they did, matching them against each other would create a fight that would be valuable for both competitors.
A bout between Cerrone and Johnson has the potential to be a violent standup affair which would feature one of them getting stopped at some point. It would also keep them from getting in the way of any up and coming contenders, which the division is in great need of at this time.
Johnson and Cerrone is best suited for a UFC event on either Fox Sports 1 or the main Fox platform.
Junior dos Santos vs. the loser of Ben Rothwell vs. Josh Barnett
Rothwell and Barnett are scheduled to square off at UFC on Fox 18 on January 30.. They have differing styles which would pose disparate challenges to JDS, as Barnett is one of the best heavyweight grapplers in the sport, while Rothwell is a power puncher through and through.
Junior dos Santos versus either Rothwell or Barnett would be a good bout for the first half of 2016.
Myles Jury vs. Jeremy Stephens
Myles Jury was expected to make a splash in the featherweight division, but Charles Oliveira immediately cut that hype off with a first-round submission victory. Jury is a powerful wrestler who has good grappling abilities, but he’s looked out of place in his last two bouts. Matching him against Jeremy Stephens will position both men to gain a valuable win that will keep the victor within the Top 15 of the division.
Stephens is a heavy hitter who has the power to separate a man from consciousness at any point in a bout. Jury’s skill set is built to negate that fight-ending power, but that doesn’t mean that Stephens would be completely out of this bout.
Stephens vs. Jury is a great preliminary bout for a UFC pay-per-view event sometime during the first quarter of 2016.
Randa Markos vs. Valerie Letourneau
Karolina Kowalkiewicz on Saturday and took a loss that will likely push her out of the Top 15 of the division. She can reclaim a spot on that list if she’s matched against Valerie Letourneau during the first quarter of 2016.
Letourneau is an effective grinder who can slow a fight to a pace that fits her advantage. While she was unable to do so in her title fight at UFC 193 against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she was able to do so against three other women in the Octagon. Markos fights in a very similar way, and while it may not be exciting to watch, it wins fights.
Pitting these two women against each other will allow them to stay active while keeping them away from any surging prospects in the division.
Sarah Kaufman vs. Sara McMann
Sarah Kaufman is a former champion that many often forget about when discussing the people who helped usher in this era of women’s mixed martial arts. She was unable to halt the successful debut of Valentina Shevchenko, but still remains a valuable name in the division, albeit one that is well outside of title contention.
Sara McMann is in a similar position. At one time she was seen as the woman to beat Ronda Rousey. Not only did that fail to happen, but after two straight losses, she’s teetering on mediocrity. A fight against Kaufman would allow her to continue to develop her striking alongside her high-level grappling as she climbs back up the ladder.
Both Kaufman and McMann are in need of wins to remain relevant in this division, and this is the exact fight to help one of them do so.
These fight suggestions for early 2016 will help these individuals get back on the winning track next year. As the UFC continues to make key roster moves, wins are needed in order to ensure that these competitors keep their highly coveted spots in the largest promotion in the world.