As the dust settles on a night of upsets at UFC 201, we’ve put our heads together here at #WHOATV and come up with five bouts we think should be next for the winners and losers in Atlanta.
Nikita Krylov Vs Jimi Manuwa:
Krylov has asked for a top ten ranked opponent and tests don’t come much tougher than heavy-hitting Brit Jimi Manuwa. Book this fight for UFC 204 and the job is done.
Krylov looked super impressive finishing Ed Herman with a beautifully placed head kick, his fifth stoppage win on the bounce inside the Octagon. Manuwa is coming off a loss to Anthony Johnson, and keen to get back to winning ways.
Manuwa is most dangerous when the guy standing in front of him is coming forward with an aggressive style just like Krylov would. A win for Krylov would give him the chance to move the top-five ranked opponents, whereas a win for Manuwa would give him the opportunity to put a halt to the young Ukrainian’s hype and get back into title contention.
Jake Ellenberger Vs Hector Lombard:
Ellenberger scored the most important win of his entire career against Matt Brown last night, effectively having to win the fight twice after failing to pick his shots after badly hurting the former title-challenger, and allowing him back into the bout.
Never the less, ‘The Juggernaut’ proved he still deserved his place on the welterweight roster, and should now allow another fighter teetering of the edge of release from the UFC, in the shape of Hector Lombard, an opportunity to do the same.
The Cuban judoka is coming off two devastating losses, in addition to having a win overturned for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. It’s fair to say that the promotion may be looking to move the 38 year-old on if he can’t recapture the explosive energy of old sometime soon. Certainly he should at least test Ellenberger’s mettle; and, if not, will demonstrate he no longer deserves a seat at MMA’s top table.
Georges St-Pierre Vs Matt Brown:
GSP wants a fight, Matt Brown will give him one. After a couple of years completely out of the sport,’ Rush’ has announced he is ready to get back in the game, and has suggested all manner of potential opponents, including Middleweight tite-holder, Michael Bisping.
Dana White, on the other hand, is adamant that the one time P4P best in the world is finished as a fighter. Well there’s one way to find out, and that’s to throw him in with a competitor as rounded and rugged as Matt Brown with a point to prove. If he triumphs, we’ll know he’s ready to move among the best once more, if not, Brown will get the fillip his career badly needs.
Tyron Woodley Vs Stephen Thompson:
After his upset victory over Robbie Lawler, Woodley expressed a desire to face Nick Diaz and not most people’s tip for the title shot, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
There are two very clear reasons for this: a)The Diaz fight would make more money, b)Thompson is a far tougher stylistic match-up.
Despite the fact that the UFC has been inclined to putting on more high-profile bouts for the revenue they would generate rather than simply rewarding the most deserving- the forthcoming Bisping/Henderson fight being a case in point- there is almost no chance that Nick Diaz will get a title shot when he hasn’t beaten anyone since B.J. Penn in 2011.
‘Wonderboy’ is the overwhelming favourite to challenge for Woodley’s new title and rightly so. His exceptional takedown defence and elite unorthodox striking- in addition to a considerable reach advantage- would make him massive test for Woodley; one he is understandably keen to avoid.
Ross Pearson Vs Takanori Gomi:
Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson has become something of a fixture in the UFC since his victory in the The Ultimate Fighter Series 9. However, it was easy to think ‘what is he doing here?’ as he was comfortably handled by Jorge Masvidal in a welterweight outing last night.
Pearson needs to get back on the winning trail, and do what he does best: throw hands with someone looking to do the same. Someone who could fulfil both criteria is ‘The Fireball Kid’, Takanori Gomi.
The Japanese veteran is now on a three fight losing streak, and his service to the support and the affection in which he is held by fans will buy him at most one more fight. Both men will stand and bang. A win gives Pearson a boost and likely a KO; something we haven’t seen in six fights. A win for Gomi would probably turn out to be the swansong he deserves.
*Written by Ben Szwediuk and Tony Quant