Let’s get this out of the way: It wasn’t the best night of fights. In fact, there was only one finish in ten fights. However, there were a few good things to take away from UFC 208. Now I will put on my matchmaking glasses and put together fights I believe should be next for the winners and losers of UFC 208.
Germaine de Randamie vs Megan Anderson
After successfully becoming the first UFC women’s featherweight champion, Muay Thai specialist Germaine de Randamie has cemented herself in the UFC record books. This was a huge win de Randamie, who secured the biggest win of her career despite the controversial strikes after the bell. Now the newly crowned champion should take on Megan Anderson, who just recently won the Invicta interim featherweight title. While Cris Cyborg is likely who many expect will be next for the UFC title it is currently unknown when she will be available after being flagged by USADA for a banned substance. This makes it a perfect time to introduce Megan Anderson to the masses as she brings a strong following and has been chomping at the bit to make her UFC debut.
This would be an exciting battle of two powerful strikers. Megan Anderson is a powerhouse who has recently made a habit of making her opponents unrecognizable with her hands. Anderson has shown rapid improvements in her overall game and is a real threat to the new champ. However, “Iron Lady” Germaine de Randamie is a far more experienced striker. Her Muay Thai credentials are outstanding and she has shown great ability both at range, and on the inside. This would make for a solid second women’s featherweight bout that will likely deliver more action than the surprisingly lackluster UFC 208 main event.
Anderson Silva vs. Kelvin Gastelum/Vitor Belfort
In his first win since 2012, Anderson Silva may not have looked like the Anderson Silva of old, but he did show he can still compete with the young guys in the division. Silva, whose name hovers around the top 3 of every UFC record, looked in control against a timid Brunson leading to a unanimous decision win. Now, as Silva looks to continue his 43-fight career, he should take on the winner of Kelvin Gastelum vs. Vitor Belfort. Both fights would provide an interesting challenge for Anderson Silva. Former welterweight contender.
Kelvin Gastelum isn’t the biggest middleweight but he has shown an uncanny ability to compete with the division’s top fighters, more recently taking out former contender Tim Kennedy in the second round. Age appears to finally be catching up with Vitor Belfort. That said, Belfort still has devastating knockout power and if he can end Gastelum it would be a big first step in getting back into title contention. A fight with Belfort would be an intriguing rematch for Silva, who picked up a highlight reel knockout in their first meeting. Both appear to be declining albeit Silva more gracefully than Belfort. Overall it would be compelling to see how the two look against each other today. Gastelum, on the other hand, would be another young challenge for the widely considered greatest of all time. This would be a big test for Anderson Silva but not bigger than recent fights with light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
Jacare Souza vs. Luke Rockhold
While Souza did make his case for a title shot with a rather easy submission win over top 15 middleweight Tim Boetsch, I can’t help but feel like this Luke Rockhold rematch is still needed. Jacare lost his Strikeforce title to Rockhold in 2011 and both made huge waves since coming to the UFC in 2013. Jacare Souza is widely known as the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner to transition to mixed martial arts and he has been very successful in doing so. Now a title eliminator fight with Luke Rockhold makes a lot of sense as Yoel Romero is a lock as next in line for the title.
This is an interesting fight. Jacare is a grappler at his core but his striking has improved with each outing and is one of the most well rounded fighters in the game today. The same can be said for Luke Rockhold. Although his striking stands out as his main weapon, Rockhold is an excellent grappler in his own right and has proven a tough task for any middleweight who stands across the cage from him. Not only is this a great title eliminator but it also gives Jacare a chance at redemption while Rockhold gets to prove he is still a top 3 fighter in the division.
Glover Teixeira vs. Jimi Manuwa
The light heavyweight division is short on big fights to make, but after securing a unanimous decision win over a top prospect at UFC 208 Glover Teixeira should now take on Jimi Manuwa. This would be a big fight with title implications as both are looking to capitalize on big wins in their last fights. Both are heavy hitting light heavyweight contenders and a win here will undoubtedly line them up for the next shot behind Anthony Johnson and Jon Jones.
Dustin Poirier vs. James Vick
In what was easily the most exciting bout of the night Dustin Poirier emerged victories picking up a lopsided unanimous decision win over crafty veteran Jim Miller. Now that he is back in the win column Poirier should take on James Vick, who also got himself back in the win column with a victory over Abel Trujillo. This would be a competitive contest between two lightweight contenders who love to strike.
The 6’3 frame of James Vick makes him a daunting task for anybody in the division and a win here would be the biggest of his career. Vick’s length in striking and skills on the mat has lead him to an impressive UFC run and is looking to continue to climb the ladder. Dustin Poirier is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC today. His technical striking and knockout power along with his great Brazilian jiu-jitsu and finishing ability on the mat make him a very tough opponent for any lightweight.
Wilson Ries vs. Demetrious Johnson
There was a time when Wilson Ries was scheduled to fight for the title. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition and since then Ries picked up two impressive wins more recently defeating Ulka Sasaki at UFC 208. Now Wilson Ries should receive his title shot against Demetrious Johnson as he looks to dethrone the dominant flyweight champion. This is an interesting new challenge for Johnson, who has thoroughly defeated every challenger in his way. It would be fun to see how a grappling specialist like Wilson Ries deals with the dominance of Johnson.
The first and only UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is approaching history as he is two wins away from breaking Anderson Silva’s consecutive title defense record. Johnson has built a reputation on doing everything perfect, from his footwork and timing, to his striking and wrestling. This has made Johnson very tough to beat. However, Wilson Ries does present an interesting challenge. His strength, well-timed takedowns, and outstanding ground game could cause issues for the history chasing champion as Reis looks to secure his biggest career win.
Belal Muhammad vs. Yancy Medeiros
One of the more exciting up and coming welterweights to watch, Belal Muhammad picked up an impressive unanimous decision win over top prospect Randy Brown. His exciting style has been met with mixed results as he is now 2-2 under the UFC banner and he should now face off against tough Hawaiian welterweight Yancy Medeiros. Also known for his exciting style Medeiros has also seen mixed results since entering the UFC going 4-4 with 1 No Contest through nine UFC bouts. Both are now coming off of impressive wins and should put their exciting style against each other in a fight that could steal the show on any given card.
Islam Makhachev vs. Floyd Mayweather?
Yes. On the prelims of UFC 208 the relatively unknown Russian grappler Islam Makhachev easily dismantled Nik Lentz, and then, to everyone’s surprise, called out Floyd Mayweather. While this highly unlikely fight would make less sense than any of our pointless MMA-fighter vs Floyd Mayweather debates, I say why not offer Floyd Mayweather a fight with grapple heavy Islam Makhachev? Let’s throw caution to the wind here.
Holly Holm vs. Cindy Dandois
Now on a three-fight losing skid Holly Holm will need to dig deep and bounce back if she wants to remain relevant as a top fighter. Assuming she stays at featherweight she should take on Cindy Dandois who is currently on a three-fight win streak which includes a 2015 win over Megan Anderson. This is a very intriguing match that would mean a great deal for the UFC’s newly created women’s featherweight division.
Cindy Dandois is a submission specialist who has proven her ability on the mat on many occasions. She has won her last three fights by submission picking up victories over Jessamyn Duke, Anjela Pink, and Megan Anderson. Holly Holm is in a must-win situation as the decorated boxing champion looks to reemerge as a contender. It is an intriguing clash of styles and a win here could line up Cindy Dandois for a title shot while a win for Holly Holm secures her first win since upsetting Ronda Rousey in 2015,
Derek Brunson vs. Tim Boetsch
It was a tough night for top 15 middleweight contenders Derek Brunson and Tim Boetsch as both suffered disappointing losses at UFC 208. After dropping a unanimous decision to Brazilian legend Anderson Silva, wrestling specialist Derek Brunson is now on a two-fight losing skid for the first time since 2012.
He should take on long-time UFC middleweight Tim Boetsch who suffered a first-round submission loss to Jacare Souza at UFC 208. This would be a good fight as both men look to find some consistency within the division. This fight is interesting as the young athletic Derek Brunson looks to get back to his winning ways. To do so he will have to get past a tough vet in Tim Boetsch.
Jared Cannonier vs. Steve Bossé
Top light heavyweight prospect Jared Cannonier faced a huge step up in competition at UFC 208. Unfortunately, he failed to impress getting thoroughly out grappled by former title challenger Glover Teixeira. Now Cannonier should face off against Steve Bossé who is 2-0 since returning to the light heavyweight division and will be looking to capitalize on those victories. This would be a fun fight between two exciting light heavyweight up and comers looking to make their way into contendership.
Jim Miller vs. Abel Trujillo
You can never count out Jim Miller and despite dropping a unanimous decision to Dustin Poirier the gritty veteran proved that once again at UFC 208. The loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Jim Miller and he should now face Abel Trujillo. This would be another fun fight for fans. Abel Trujillo is a heavy hitter with good footwork and wrestling. Jim Miller is a tough vet who has proven time and time again that he is no stepping stone for young talent. Abel Trujillo is in need of a win after a loss to James Vick snapped a three-fight win streak of his own. Both men will be looking to avoid losing two in a row while proving worthy of another top fight in the lightweight division.
Ulka Sasaki vs. Matheus Nicolau
UFC flyweight competitor Ulka Sasaki has nothing to hold his head about after dropping a unanimous decision to Wilson Ries at UFC 208. The towering 125-pound fighter held his own against a true contender and should now take on top prospect Matheus Nicolau. The 24-year-old Brazilian is currently on a five-fight win streak and won his first two UFC fights including a win over John Moraga. Ulka Sasaki is a solid boxer who is huge for the division and will give Nicolau many problems on the feet. However, Nicolau is a great BJJ specialist with knockout power in his hands.