UFC Beijing: Fantasy Matchmaker
By Calum Christie
With UFC Beijing now in the rear view mirror, fans always look to the future and that’s exactly what we will explore as we look at the potential matchups for the winners and losers of the main card.
Francis Ngannou def. Curtis Blaydes (TKO – Punches Rd 1)
With Francis Ngannou (12-3) breaking his two fight losing streak there are a few potential matchups that could be in place for ‘The Predator.’ During his post fight interview Francis mentioned a few possibilities including rematches with Alistair Overeem and Stipe Miocic, but I feel the matchup that makes sense for Ngannou will be the winner of the UFC Fight Night 142 main event between Junior Dos Santos and Tai Tuivasa – it’s a fresh matchup for the fans and also the timescale works as there is only a week between the fighters competing.
As for Curtis Blaydes (10-2) he still has many top-tier opponents that he can face and I feel that a matchup with ‘The Black Beast’ Derrick Lewis (21-6) would be appealing to fans and the competitors with both these fighters being ranked inside the top 5 and both coming off of defeats in their most recent bouts.
Alistair Overeem def. Sergey Pavlovich (TKO – Punches Rd 1)
Alistair Overeem (44-17) got a big victory on Saturday against undefeated Russian Sergey Pavlovich (12-1) by vicious ground and pound to bring his 2 fight losing streak to an abrupt end.
Overeem has a wealth of experience and there isn’t much in the way of new opponents for ‘The Demolition Mam’ to face but there is one fighter inside the top 10 ranking that will provide Alistair with a tough test is in the form of veteran Russian submission artist ‘The Boa Constrictor’ Alexey Olenik (57-11), who is coming off the back of a main event win over Mark Hunt (13-13) by rear naked choke at UFC Russia back in September of this year.
This fight would be a classic striker vs submission matchup between Europe’s very best and most experienced heavyweights. For the former Fight Night Global heavyweight it was a very tough debut against a battle tested Overeem but he still has a long career ahead of him at only 26 years of age.
Moving forward I would like to see Sergey Pavlovich work up the ranks at a slower pace and gain more experience – there are a few potential matchups that would be intriguing for Sergey which include: Brazilian finisher Augusto Sakai (12-1) who was triumphant over Chase Sherman (11-6) in his UFC debut back in September or even Marcos Rogério de Lima (16-5) who defeated Adam Wieczorek on the opening bout of UFC 230 at MSG early November.
Yadong Song def. Vince Morales (Dec. 30-27 x3)
The youngest fighter on the UFC Beijing card at only 20 years old, Yadong Song got a convincing victory over Max Holloway’s training partner and UFC debutant Vince Morales. Song is now 3-0 inside the UFC octagon after having wins previously against Bharat Khandare (5-3) and Felipe Arantes (18-10). I’d like to see ‘The Kung Fu Monkey’ who’s under the tutelage of Urijah Faber at Team Alpha Male get his chance on a UFC card out with Asia against a recognisable name – Andre ‘The Asian Sensation’ Soukhamthath (13-6) springs to mind in the bantamweight division who’s stock grew greatly after his PPV main card slot against the Sugar Show Sean O’Malley (10-0) at UFC 222 back in March.
With Song only being 20 years old though it may also be a wise idea to keep him close to home on Asian/Oceanic cards to allow him to gain valuable octagon experience, there isn’t any real reason to rush him – it may be a wise idea to allow him to mature and grow as a fighter against competition where he won’t be out his depth.
For Vince Morales (8-3) I’d like to see him get another fight where has a full camp to prepare, in terms of opponent I’ll leave that one to Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard as there is A LOT of matchups available for a UFC newcomer.
Li Jinglian def. David Zawada (TKO – Body kick and punches Rd 3)
Li Jinglian is one of the biggest Asian stars in the UFC, ‘The Leech’ got another finish on Saturday against David Zawada (0-2 UFC record). It’s time for the UFC to put Li Jinglian back on shows that aren’t Fight Pass exclusive – he is (8-3) inside the UFC and has proved his skills should be showcased to a wider audience. I’d like to see him get on a European card or even a fight night card to gain exposure to fans out with Asia and non-UFC Fight Pass subscribers.
With Li’s style of forward pressure and ability to finish there is a few opponents in mind that would be fun matchups: The original scheduled bout for Li Jingliang at UFC Beijing was to face Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (20-5) who is on a 6 fight winning streak and finds himself ranked number 15th in the stacked welterweight rankings. The UFC may look to revisit this booking in the future which does seem logical but another one that sticks out to me would be against Danny ‘Hot Chocolate’ Roberts (16-3), who both have defeating David Zawada (16-5) in common and there is an ideal event happening in March with the UFC returning to the 02 Arena on March 16th, 2019.