On Saturday the injury-hindered UFC 213 card provided an exhilarating night of action despite losing three main card fights, including the main event on fight night. While losing these big fights certainly wounded the once-stacked main card, it didn’t quite bring to a halt to the fun. Now that the dust has settled I will throw on Joe Silva’s old work shoes and make the matches I think should be next for the winners and losers of UFC 213.
Robert Whittaker vs. Michael Bisping
The obvious choice for Robert Whittaker, after beating who many considered the best active middleweight in Yoel Romero, is to fight the middleweight champion. Considering that Michael Bisping is actually ready to fight and move the division along, this will be an electrifying contest. Style-wise this is a fantastic tilt. Both men rely on their solid boxing skills and cardio, while Robert Whittaker is the more prolific finisher of the two.
Going up against overwhelming odds Michael Bisping became the champion, stepping up on short notice to defeat Luke Rockhold by first round knockout. This added an excellent narrative to the career of the ultimate underdog. Unfortunately, Bisping did not become the champion many envisioned he would be. His decision to not fight contenders and instead fight a declining Dan Henderson and petition for a retired George St. Pierre left the division without a defending champion.
After securing the interim championship at UFC 213, Robert Whittaker is now on an eight-fight win streak essentially doing Bisping’s job for him, defeating both Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero. Now with the best active win streak in the division, “The Reaper” will look to prove himself as the rightful king on the muddled middleweight throne as he should take on Michael Bisping next.
Alistair Overeem vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
The Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum trilogy might not be one that will be remembered for a great many years, but it will be in the history books as an Alistair Overeem victory as he won two of three fights. Now as Alistair Overeem looks to make his way back to contention he should take on submission specialist Oleksiy Oliynyk. Also picking up a big win at UFC 213, Oliynyk used his superb veteran ground skills to defeat top 15 heavyweight Travis Browne and secure his biggest win under the UFC banner. Now, these two should meet inside the Octagon in what will be a great clash of styles.
Alistair Overeem is by all accounts an established legend in the sport of mixed martial arts. The 59-fight veteran is still on a mission to become the UFC heavyweight champion despite his recent loss to current champion Stipe Miocic. A former K-1 champion, Overeem is one of the best technical strikers in the heavyweight division and he shows that every time he steps into a cage or ring, picking up 19 wins by knockout and another 19 by submission.
A legend in his own right, Oleksiy Oliynyk is a 63-fight veteran with 52 victories, 43 of them coming by way of submission. Currently 4-1 under the UFC banner, the man known as “The Boa Constrictor” is on a mildly impressive two-fight win streak and should get the chance to secure his biggest career win by taking on the ‘Reem in what could be an interesting fight, as both men bring an impressive combined record of 95-25-1 (1).
Anthony Pettis vs. David Teymur
It was a successful return to action for Anthony Pettis as he returned to his natural weight class for the first time since April of 2016. The fan favorite creative striker won a unanimous decision over the always-game Jim Miller, picking up his first lightweight win since December, 6 2014. Now as Pettis hopes to once again make his way to the top of the 155-pound mountain he should take on fellow striking specialist David Teymur. This fight would be very intriguing for a number of reasons and it will be a huge win for either fighter.
Anthony Pettis is well known for his run in the WEC and UFC where he became lightweight champion both by defeating Benson Henderson. Despite becoming the champ at lightweight, a three-fight losing skid forced him down to featherweight where he went 1-1 before, opting to return to the 155-pound weight class. Pettis is a solid striker with a devastating kicking game, and he became a fan favorite with his creative striking skills. “Showtime” also boasts a great submission game, and although he can get shut down at times on the mat he has used his Jiu-Jitsu to secure nine career submission wins.
Looking to make his case as the best striker in the lightweight division, David Teymur is off to a great start. Currently, on a six-fight win streak and undefeated under the UFC banner, the Swedish-Syriac competitor says he is going to show a different level of striking inside the octagon. While that is a bold statement considering the division he fights in, Teymur showed off his striking game when he pulled off a major upset defeating Lando Vannata at UFC 209. This would be a big fight for both men. A win for Pettis shows he is undoubtedly back to his winning ways, while a win for Teymur will provide him with the most notable win of his young career.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Ledet
It is safe to say Chicago native Curtis “Razor” Blaydes has the best name in MMA. He is also a solid heavyweight prospect in a division that is desperately in search of new top contenders. While Blaydes has a ton of momentum after a unanimous decision win at UFC 213, I don’t think he is quite ready for a top ranked fight. Enter fellow top prospect, Justin Ledet.
Curtis Blaydes is a 26-year-old prospect with a ton of upside. His great wrestling credentials are displayed throughout his fights but it has been his finishing ability that has lead the hype around him, as he finished six of his seven wins by knockout or TKO. It wasn’t his greatest performance as he took a rather dominant unanimous decision over Daniel Omielańczuk, but it was still a solid victory for the young American heavyweight fighter.
Undefeated through nine career fights including two UFC victories, 28-year-old boxing specialist Justin Ledet is a top prospect within the heavyweight division. Despite his impressive run “El Blanco” has gone under the radar but his unique volume boxing in the heavyweight division, and ability to finish fights by submission makes him a real threat. This is a fun fight between two great prospects looking to break away in a wide open division.
Rob Font vs. Joe Soto
It was all business on fight night for the well rounded American Rob Font, and he took care of business defeating Douglas Silva de Andrade by submission at the end of round two. Now 4-1 inside the octagon and on a two-fight win streak, Font should take on veteran bantamweight Joe Soto next.
Rob Font is one of the best up and coming fighters in the 135-pound weight class. He has a stunning 72% finish ratio making him one of the more prolific finishers in the division. Joe Soto is a former title challenger with over 18 career victories, 10 of which came by way of submission. Despite losing his first three UFC fights, Soto came back strong currently riding a three fight win streak and looking to extend it to four in a row as he makes his case at a top 15 slot in the bantamweight division.
Thiago Santos vs. Brad Tavares
At UFC 213 Brazilian middleweight knockout specialist Thiago Santos added another stoppage to his record, improving his knockout ratio to 67 percent. Now on a two-fight win streak, the top middleweight should take on Brad Tavares in a battle of exciting strikers.
Thiago Santos and Brad Tavares are both solid strikers with a ton of ability to compete at the top of the middleweight division. While Tavares does have power, he uses his striking in volume to frustrate opponents and win a unanimous decision while Thiago Santos is much more of a finisher as he cuts off the cage and looks for the kill. A win here would put one of these men on a three fight win streak as Brad Tavares looks to capitalize on his big win at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, and Santos looks to make the most of his momentum gained from his win at UFC 213.
Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold
It is no secret that Yoel Romero has been screwed out of his shot at the middleweight title leading to his interim shot at UFC 213. Unfortunately for the 40-year-old Cuban wrestling great, he was unable to secure the victory and now it is back to the well-worn drawing board. His next fight should be against former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in a battle of great contenders.
A powerhouse wrestler, Yoel Romero has shown his well-rounded ability knocking out 83% of his opponents. Currently a top five middleweight it makes the most sense for the dominant knockout artist to take on Luke Rockhold next as he hopes to bounce back from his first UFC loss in a major way.
A five-fight win streak that saw Luke Rockhold become champion was ended in his first attempt to defend, losing to Michael Bisping at UFC 199. Rockhold hasn’t fought since the loss and there is no better way for the well rounded American striking specialist to return than against the Cuban knockout machine. This fight would be a fantastic battle of styles as a win gets one of these two competitors back on track and back in line for a title shot. (Editors note: Oh please god yes, make this happen.)
Fabrício Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez
It wasn’t a terrible performance for Fabricio Werdum at UFC 213, but it didn’t result in a win for the legendary Brazilian heavyweight. Undefeated in his first six UFC fights in his second UFC stint, Werdum became the champion when he submitted Cain Velasquez at UFC 188. However, Werdum is now 1-2 since the win, and should now rematch Velasquez who has only fought once since the loss to Werdum defeating Travis Browne at UFC 200.
This is a rematch that must happen. Cain Velasquez was a heavy favorite in their first meeting and Fabricio Werdum was able to take him out. Now both men are in need of a big victory to get back into the title picture. Cain Velasquez needs this win back if he wants to be a true contender for the title, while Werdum looks to get back to the win column.
Jim Miller vs. Abel Trujillo
A three-fight win streak for Jim Miller highlighted his recent run but despite a two-fight losing skid, both losses were Fight of The Year candidates. Now as Jim Miller looks to spark another win streak he should take on the heavy-handed Abel Trujillo.
Jim Miller is a submission specialist amassing 13 career sub victories in 28 wins. This is a big fight as he hopes to avoid going on a career-first three-fight losing streak. A three-fight win streak saw Abel Trujillo make his way toward the top of the division, however, a loss to James Vick in his last fight sends him back to the sandbox.
This is a big fight for both men. A win for Abel Trujillo will provide him with the biggest win of his career as he looks to continue his impressive UFC stint. For Jim Miller, a win will get him back on track and avoid losing three in a row. It would be a clash of styles as Trujillo will attempt to use his heavy hands and takedown defense to secure a win, as Jim Miller will look to get in the face of Trujillo and eventually take it to the mat and submit him.
Travis Browne vs. Alexander Volkov/Stefan Struve
After the loss at UFC 213, Travis Browne is on a four-fight losing streak and is 2-6 in his last eight fights. It is difficult to figure out where Browne goes from here and I think his next fight should be against the winner of Alexander Volkov/Stefan Struve, assuming he stays in the UFC…