Sunday Morning Matchmaker: UFC Sydney Edition

The UFC’s  return to the land down under was a long and drawn-out card.  10 of 13 fights went to the judges’ scorecards including all six main-card bouts.  Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabrício Werdum notched in second win in forty-two days picking apart the up-and-coming Marcin Tybura.  Lightweights Damien Brown and Frank Camacho stole the show on the prelims with an instant classic landing Fight of the Night honors.  Now MMA Today steps into the world of UFC talent-relations gurus Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard to map out what’s next for the event’s competitors.


Fabrício Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez – There a lot of moving parts here.  UFC 218 features a fight between #1 Alistair Overeem against #4 Francis Ngannou. With a win, it’s hard to deny Overeem another title shot.  Should the Frenchman win, a case can be made for Werdum to get the next title shot.  Champion Stipe Miocic is looking to return in February so who knows who will be available to fight then.  Book Velasquez/Werdum 2 with the winner guaranteed a next title opportunity.

Jessy Rose-Clark vs. Lauren Murphy/Priscila Cachoeira Winner – While there may be a more intriguing matchup for “Jessy Jess” following the TUF 26 Finale, the winner of the upcoming matchup between the returning  Murphy and debuting Cachoeira should be a sound opponent as the women’s flyweight division builds traction.

Belal Muhammad vs. Siyar Bahadurzada – Muhammad added arguably the biggest name to date to his list of UFC accomplishments when he knocked off Tim Means.  Muhammad’s comfort-level inside the octagon appears to be growing vastly given his three-fight win streak. With Bahadurzada headed back to welterweight, the two should tangle with the winner likely landing in the tail-end of the rankings.

Jake Matthews vs. Keita Nakamura – Matthews picked up a much-needed victory in his return to welterweight.  Despite earning the victory, Matthews still showed he’s susceptible to being taken down and controlled on the mat.  Nakamura thrives on the floor and has a sneaky submission game.  He’d be a test for Matthews to overcome should the young Australian want to truly develop into a future contender.

Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders/Markus Perez Echeimberg Winner – Despite picking up a unanimous-decision victory, Theodorou fought extremely passively never really seeking opportunities to get a finish.  UFC Fresno features some strong middleweight prospects looking to breakthrough.  For the winner, it’s a chance to get a name on their record and for Theodorou, it’s a chance to prove he can beat a rising star.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy – “The Hulk” moved to 3-0 inside the UFC and is dire need of a step up in competition.  Volkanovski’s original opponent, Kennedy, would do just that as “JBC” provides relentless pressure and pace from bell-to-bell.  This would be a great challenge for Volkanovski to attempt to overcome.

Ryan Benoit vs. Eric Shelton – Benoit missed weight badly but seeing as it was his first time, he should still be able to compete at flyweight.  Eric Shelton was impressive on the UFC Fight Pass prelims portion of UFC Sydney.  The two make sense to be matched up for a fight night card sometime in early 2018.

Nik Lentz vs. Rustam Khabilov – The near four-to-one underdog Lentz cashed big when he submitted former teammate Will Brooks on Saturday.  In the win, Lentz proved he’s still got a lot left in the tank after moving camps to Hard Knocks 365.  Khabilov is quietly on a five-fight winner streak.  Let the two go to war.

Tai Tuivasa vs. Junior Albini – “Bam Bam” announced his arrival big-time after an injury delayed his UFC debut over a year.  The brother-in-law of Tyson Pedro took to twitter to call out his next opponent, Junior Albini who is coming off a loss to former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski.

Frank Camacho vs. Damir Hadzovic – Camacho was all class in suggesting his share of the Fight of the Night bonus go to his opponent, Damien Brown, after he was deemed ineligible for missing weight.  Camacho has suggested in an interview with MMA Today’s Caolite Barra that he’d be inclined to take short-notice welterweight fights.  Should he stay at lightweight, “The Bosnian Bomber” Hadzovic could easily become Camacho’s third straight Fight of the Night-earning opponent.

Nadia Kassem vs. Paige VanZant – Kassem also missed weight and detailed the scary details of her brutal weight cut after the fight.  She’ll likely head to flyweight and guess who is in need of a flyweight debut opponent? Fan-favorite, Paige VanZant.

Eric Shelton vs. Ryan Benoit – After being on the wrong end of two split-decisions, Shelton left no doubt when he dominated Jenel Lausa.  Fellow flyweight Benoit also picked up a victory on the card and their clash of styles would make a fun fight for a U.S.-based fight night card in 2018.

Adam Wieczorek vs. Allen Crowder/Justin Willis Winner – Poland’s Wieczorek went three hard rounds with veteran Anthony Hamilton picking up his first UFC win.  While Wieczorek showed the need for improvements, he could very well matchup nicely with the UFC 218 heavyweight matchup’s winner.


Marcin Tybura vs. Derrick Lewis– Perhaps it was too much too soon for Poland’s Tybura stepping in to fight former champion Werdum.  While Tybura hung tough, he’ll need to fight someone toward the bottom half of the rankings next.  Should “The Black Beast” be ready to come back from his back injury, a matchup with Tybura is sure to ignite the crowd.

Bec Rawlings vs. TBD – Despite coming up short, Rawlings showed strong improvements and levels of comfort in the flyweight division.  With a cast of TUF 26 competitors set to join the UFC next month, Rawlings’ next opponent will likely come from that bunch.

Tim Means vs. Bryan Barberena – Means may not be the same killer he was two years ago, but he still brings the fight to his opponent every time he steps in the UFC octagon.  One of the toughest and most durable welterweights on the roster is “Bam Bam” Barberena who is looking to make a return to the octagon after surgery this month.

Bojan Veličković (UFC Release) – “Serbian Steel” is one of those guys who is well-rounded but does not overly excel in any one martial art.  Sitting at 2-3-1 with one of those wins seconds away from  being a loss inside the UFC, Veličković is easily a guy that could be trimmed out of the crowed welterweight division.

Dan Kelly vs. John Phillips– Considering Kelly took little damage in the Theodorou fight, he could very well be on the UFC 221 card in Perth.  If “The White Mike Tyson” Phillips is ever able to get healthy, these two veterans could throw down in the land down under in February, 2018.

Shane Young vs. Martin Bravo – Young fought an extremely defensive fight in his short-notice UFC debut.  He’ll need a major step down in competition if he wants to build towards a successful UFC career.  TUF LatinoAmerica 3 winner Martin Bravo is sitting at 1-1 in the UFC and in need of an opponent in a similar position.

Ashkan Mokhtarian vs. Marco Beltran

Will Brooks vs. Stevie Ray

Rashad Coulter vs. Dmitry Smolyakov

Damien Brown vs. Lando Vannata

Alex Chambers vs. Ashley Yoder

Jenel Lausa vs. Alex Perex/CJ de Tomas Loser

Anthony Hamilton (UFC Release)


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