With #UFCLondon fast approaching it is likely that we will soon start to hear some fight announcements. One fighter particularly keen to get involved is London’s own, #8 ranked Light Heavyweight Jimi “Posterboy” Manuwa. Manuwa is looking to rebound from a loss against Anthony Johnson in his last bout and where better to get back to winning ways than in front of his home crowd.
So scanning the Light Heavyweight division #WHOATV have come up with five potential opponents for the “Posterboy” at #UFCLondon, enjoy;
The one thing that Manuwa is missing on his resume is a win over a “big name” and Rashad certainly would provide that opportunity to bridge that gap. Jimi is always looking to move forward and whilst he is coming off the back of a loss is keen to bounce back against an opponent ranked ahead of him, Rashad also ticks that box. Likewise Evans is coming off a loss to Ryan Bader following a two year layoff and will not be wanting an easy name in his return fight, Manuwa is definitely no slouch. This fight would also answer a lot of questions for Manuwa especially those who question his wrestling and would really test just how confident he is in grappling exchanges against a high calibre wrestler. For Rashad it would also help him to answer the critics as to whether or not he really still has anything left to offer the Light Heavyweight division, which I strongly believe he still does. Rashad is in a tough spot following the Bader loss and won’t be in the best place for negotiations and I think a decent rallying from Manuwa and fans alike could help to push this one to fruition.
Ovince St. Preux
OSP is currently ranked one three spaces ahead Jimi in the rankings and I think this would make for a great fight pitting two very hungry guys who both posses huge knockout power. Both of OSP’s two losses have come in headline bouts which would possibly hint towards him not being able to deal with the additional pressure of headlining fights, that said he stopped Shogun in their main event bout in Brazil. With both men coming off a loss a matchup for these would make sense and really propel the winner into a Title run. If I was a betting man I would pick Jimi for the win though as I feel that his power shots would really hurt OSP who has been known to absorb a fair few shots even in the bouts he has won. Style wise though this fight really works for me and a win for either in this fight would certainly get the higher ranked fighters thinking about them.
People have seemed to have worked out the Fabio Maldonado plan and are now just intent on taking him down and grinding him out on the mat. Rest assured, Jimi Manuwa would not adopt that approach and would be looking to take his head clean off if the pair ever met. This fight goes against anything that would benefit Manuwa in the rankings game but would be a good fight to get him back to winning ways, whilst still providing that element of risk that a guy like Maldonado brings. Maldonado is 5-6 in his UFC career and coming off two back to back losses is really walking a fine line but in a division that is arguably one of the most shallow of the UFC may have one or two more fights left before getting the pink slip, obviously based on results. Maldonado is still very much a fan favourite and always brings that element of excitement to his bouts given his style and likewise I think Manuwa would really be able to shine against an opponent who would just be willing to stand a trade on the feet. Might not be the biggest test for Manuwa in terms of focusing on his all round game but give him the opportunity to stand and strike in front of his home fans and I doubt he would turn it down.
Cummings moved down the rankings following his loss to Glover Teixeira in Brazil a few weeks back but is still a top fifteen ranked Light Heavyweight and one that could pose some problems for Manuwa. In this one you could suspect that Cummins would again look to test the wrestling of Manuwa as he tried against striker Teixeira. What stood out in the Teixeira bout though was his inability to keep Teixeira on the mat after securing the takedown and likewise Manuwa is a tough dude to keep on his back. This could possibly lead to Cummins looking to stand and trade with Manuwa which would not be a great idea, given Cummins three UFC losses have all come by TKO. Cummins, like Maldonado would provide Manuwa with a credible named opponent and someone who is likely to maintain a top ten ranking throughout his UFC career.
Im still not quite sure how Lawlor isn’t ranked in the Light Heavyweight rankings following his win over Gian Villante who was at the time ranked but that’s beside the point. Although he has only fought at 205lbs once I think Lawlor is a very credible opponent for Manuwa and I am particularly impressed with how much power Lawlor has which he showed against Villante. Lawlor is a tricky customer and is not one dimensional in any sense of the word and can mix up his style dependent on opponent. I think unlike all the other potential fighters on this list with wrestling backgrounds, Lawlor is the most likely to look for a finish and as such perhaps offer the biggest threat to Manuwa, but a solid test at the same time. Timing wise this one would depend on the severity of Lawlor’s injury which forced him out of a fight with Maldonado, but if fit why not bring “Filthy” Tom Lawlor to the UK in February.