UFC Adelaide: What’s Next for the Winners?
By Calum Christie
With UFC Adelaide now in the history books it’s time to put on the shoes of UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard and take a look at what the future holds for those who came out victorious in the land down under.
Junior Dos Santos def. Tai Tuivasa (TKO – Punches, R2)
Junior Dos Santos (20-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) made it 2 consecutive victories for the first time in his MMA career since 2012 with a flurry of punches from mount to secure the stoppage. This placed JDS tied second behind Derrick Lewis (21-6) in the UFC history books for the most wins by knockout (9) and also 2nd for the most wins (14) in the companies heavyweight division behind Frank Mir (18-12) and Andrei Arlovski (27-17).
In his post-fight speech with Dan Hardy, the former UFC champion mentioned a potential rematch with Alistair Overeem (44-17), but I feel the matchup that makes sense is against ‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou (12-3) who is coming off the back of a KO victory over team elevation heavyweight Curtis Blaydes (10-2) last weekend at UFC Beijing. The pair were originally scheduled to face each other at UFC 215 but the Brazilian striker had to withdraw due to a USADA doping violation and Ngannou didn’t make it a secret in his post-fight press conference that he would be open to facing Dos Santos next.
I feel stylistically that this fight would make sense as it’s a striker vs striker matchup which will make for an exciting bout and it will propel the winner to where they need to be if they have future title aspirations. Also it’s fresh, the pair have never been stood across from each other inside the octagon and therefore in an ageing heavyweight division where most fighters have faced each other, it can be hard to come across fresh match-ups especially at the top end of the rankings where for many years there have been a lot of mainstay fighters at the top in the heavyweight division. This would be a fresh high level matchup against top ranked opponents.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua def. Tyson Pedro (TKO – Punches, R3)
Heavy betting underdog Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (26-11 MMA, 10-9 UFC) had to battle back from adversity in the first round to claim a big victory over the home nation fighter Tyson Pedro (7-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC), all be it with a bit of fortune with Pedro being hampered by a knee injury which seemed to occur at the end of the second round.
Shogun is pushing on in age and the matchmakers do have a few options for the former light heavyweight title holder. If they still see him as a main player in the division then rescheduling a fight against Knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir (15-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) seems logical. The pair were originally booked to be the main event of the UFC’s debut show in Chille back in May, but had to be scrapped due to visa issues due to Volkan having to deal with legal issues.
They were again rebooked for UFC Hamburg in July but this time an injury to the Swiss born fighter meant that the bout had to be cancelled therefore hopefully this time it would be third time lucky.
Volkan is currently coming off back to back defeats, losing in his title opportunity at UFC 220 to the double champ Daniel Cormier (22-1) and also more recently to divisional newcomer Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith (31-13), therefore this bout makes sense for both fighters. It gives Shogun the opportunity to try to work back up the rankings and it offers ‘No Time’ a good chance to break his 2 fight skid against a very recognisable name in the MMA world. Oezdemir is currently rehabbing an injury and if he can get back within a respectable timescale then we could see this matchup happen.
Justin Willis def. Mark Hunt (Unanimous Dec)
The AKA heavyweight Justin Willis (8-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) put on a striking clinic against UFC veteran Mark Hunt (13-14 MMA, 8-8 UFC) in his bid to push up the heavyweight rankings. He showed his high level striking and ability to keep his opponent at range with a well-drilled jab throughout the fight making a very good fighter in Mark Hunt look very average and sloppy.
Backstage at the official weigh-ins the day before the fight it was reported that ‘Big Pretty’ Justin Willis got into an argument with Team Juggernaut heavyweights Hunt and Tai Tuivasa where not only voices but tensions got raised. With Willis getting a victory over Team Juggernaut leader Mark Hunt, Tai Tuivasa (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) took the microphone after his main event loss and demanded that he gets the opportunity to fight Justin Willis next.
I’m all for this fight to come to fruition for a number of reasons. It’s got a story behind it right away, Big Pretty just defeated the man who Tuivasa has looked up to for guidance through his MMA career since turning professional, Hunt is his role model and training partner therefore he is going to be hungry to avenge that loss for his team and also his leader.
Stylistically this is two strikers which will make for an entertaining fight, Willis is a more technical striker with his pinpoint accuracy of the jab and ability to cut angles whereas ‘Bam Bam’ describes himself as a street fighter who brings a more fan friendly brawler style.
Tony Martin def. Jake Matthews (Technical Submission – anaconda choke, R3)
Tony ‘Rocco’ Martin (15-4 MMA, 7-7 UFC) remains unbeaten since his move up to the welterweight division extending his run of victories to three in a row. Going in to the fight the oddsmakers had the betting line very tight but it was the ground game of Tony Martin that got the job done for him in his opponents backyard. 9 of Martins 15 wins have come by way of submission and that speaks volumes on his ability on the ground and the confidence he has in his submission game.
I’d like to see ‘Rocco’ fight an opponent who is just outside of the top 15 where a win would then set him up for a shot at a ranked opponent. There is certainly a few options in the heavily populated 170lb division but a few names which would make for an intriguing battle would include, Ramazan Emeev (18-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) who is also on a three fight winning streak inside the organisation. He was last in action at UFC Moscow in a decision win over Stefan Sekullić (12-3) or another interesting matchup would be against the man who was in the octagon only a few hours before him, undefeated Russian talent Alexey Kunchenko (20-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) where a win against an opponent of Alexeys calibre would make a big statement in the crowded division.
Sadiq Yusuff def. Suman Mokhtarian (TKO – Punches, R1)
It was a debut to remember for Sadiq Yusuff (8-1 MMA) who showed that he has heavy hands against the Australian Top Team athlete Suman Mokhtarian (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC). It was made an even bigger victory when he revealed in his post-fight interview that his brother passed away one week before the fight was set to take place.
There is an abundance of options for the UFC newcomer to face next but I like the idea of new vs old, and I’m not talking about the fighters age, I’m referring to TUF vs DWTNC series. If SBG Ireland’s Brad Katona (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) wins his bout at UFC 231 and comes through relatively unscathed against Matthew Lopez (10-3) then I would like to see this matchup take place.
Katona showed us what he was about with his high level wrestling pedigree throughout the TUF 27 series and therefore it would be a good matchup for Sadiq who has shown he has skills in the striking department, but how does he hang with a pressure wrestler in the form of Katona.
It will be an intriguing fight that would allow Yussuf to show the MMA community what else he has in his back pocket in terms of takedown defence and where his ground game is at.
Jim Crute def. Paul Craig (Submission – Kimura, R3)
Jim Crute (8-0) who made his first walk to the octagon was the only home nation fighter to get a win on the main card of UFC Fight Night 142 and he put on a fine display in the process. Before hand all of Crute’s finishes came in the first round, but this time he had to wait until the last 10 seconds of the third and final round to tie up the victory with an expertly executed kimura on Scotland’s Paul Craig (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC).
Crute showed an active ground game all throughout the fight and nearly had the fight finished on 2 other occasions using a head and arm choke.
Again with Jim being a promotional newcomer there is many options for matchmakers to explore for the 22 year-old fighter. All I’d recommend for him is that he gets a quick turn around and placed on the UFC 224 undercard which takes places in Melbourne, Australia, on Feb. 10. This will allow him to gain valuable octagon experience in his own country and allow him to build up a profile in the oceanic area with his home country supporters behind him.