With rumours and speculation swirling about a possible return by the UFC to Manchester headlined by newly crowned Middleweight champion Michael Bisping and with Jimi Manuwa, judging by his Twitter account, deep in training camp it seemed like a good time to dust of my old ‘NostradaMMAs Almanac’. Here I take a look into the possible future for the ‘Posterboy’ and create a highly speculative piece about five possible opponents for the UK’s KO specialist.
Krylov was the one that got away after being originally booked to face Manuwa in London their scheduled bout was pulled due to an undisclosed injury sustained by Manuwa. Whilst the bout does nothing to advance his position in the rankings it does allow him to practice his sharpened tools and adjust to a return to his hard hitting ways. Nikita Krylov is currently booked to face Ed Herman at the end of this month and is no push over. He represents a credible threat due to his current four fight winning streak, all finishes, three of which have been via submission.
Rua is another one that escaped as Manuwa was due to travel to the Brazillian’s home turf but again due to an injured Manuwa his place was taken by Ovince Saint Preux who went on to win the match up via KO. It’s a fight Manuwa was looking forward to as Shogun’s career was one of a small group of fighters the Light Heavyweight followed before entering the UFC as a professional athlete. Shogun represents an advancement up the rankings for Manuwa and is the fight to make in order to catapult him back into title contendership.
After losing to Shogun Rua via unanimous decision way back in May Anderson will undoubtably be itching to return to form. A match up with Anderson, whilst on the face of it does nothing for Manuwa, he’s currently ranked above him way outside of the top ten, but just like the Krylov match up it represents a nice opportunity to ease back into the Octagon. Based on the current rumours circulating that we are looking at a Manchester UFC show at the later part of the year it’s quite likely that Anderson will choose to fight before then.
Another legend who Manuwa has in the past spoken highly of Evans is currently licking his wounds after a two fight losing skid. We last saw Evans in the Octagon in April when he lost to Glover Texeira by KO. Evans will have had a fair chunk of this year to make the necessary adjustments needed for a rejuvenated performance once back inside the Octagon. However, a return against arguably one of the UFC’s heaviest hitters may not be the wisest of moves for Evans but a win here by Manuwa is what he’ll need to leapfrog back into title contention and answer the age old assumption that wrestlers are his kryptonite.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Currently sitting above Manuwa in the UFC rankings ‘Lil Nog’ represents a worthy co-main event status based on name recognition alone. Having defeated Patrick Cummins by TKO when they met in Brazil Nogueira’s style and aggressive nature would be an excellent opponent from a fan point of view. In addition the Pride veteran whilst up there in age, having recently turned 40, has proven critics wrong who have consistently written him off. His first round stoppage of Cummins proves there is fight in the ole dog yet and he still represents a credible threat.