The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale took place last night and there are plenty of talking points. Right here though, let’s look at who might be next for the top of the card fighters.
Why should he do this? Well quite simply, he’s cleared out the division and there are no exciting top contenders in wait. Joseph Benavidez is the #1 contender, but Might Mouse has already beaten him twice. The last one being a first round KO.
Moving up in weight class for a title fight should be a very rare thing. It’s not normally a question of whether this is allowed though. The UFC are historically open to this, it’s more about whether they allow you to keep your own belt. Of course, Conor was allowed to keep his belt long enough to make history, take some pictures, and make the UFC bucket loads of money.
Demetrious Johnson should be allowed to challenge for the Bantamweight title while keeping his own because he’s cleared out his entire division and he is the pound for pound top ranked fighter. DJ vs Cruz or Garbrandt is an extremely exciting prospect! Mighty Mouse would be the smaller man against either man, and each would present their own unique challenges not currently available at Flyweight.
Cruz has defeated Johnson before at 135lbs. This was by decision back in 2011. Five years is a long time in this sport though. Both men have come a long way since then and both are regarded amongst the absolute best in the sport. Cruz would have to be the favourite in this contest, and that in itself should be incentive for Johnson. If there’s one mark on Demetrious, it’s that he’s not defending against world class talent every time, and he’s often a massive favourite. So a win against Cruz would arguably do more for the Legacy of the world’s best Flyweight than a whole string of 125lb defenses.
Garbrandt on the other hand, has something nobody at Flyweight can really threaten DJ with, serious one punch knock out power. So if Garbrandt can beat Cruz, a Champion versus Champion contest here would be fresh and fascinating. Just don’t tell TJ Dillashaw, I have a feeling he might not take it too well.
Should Fight: Kyoji Horiguchi
Arguably another controversial pick here. After a fantastic showing against the champ, Elliott needs a fight to keep him right at the top of the division. Ideally, one where a victory would give us a welcome rematch of last night’s main event.
A win against Horiguchi would do just that for Elliot. Horiguchi is currently ranked #3 in the division but has also suffered a loss to Demetrious Johnson (who hasn’t?). Horiguchi just fought and won via decision against Ali Bagautinov in November. So assuming both men are relatively injury free, the timing would be great for this one.
Should Fight: Each Other
It’s like I’m not even trying to swerve the controversial picks here!
But speaking of controversy, the decision and scoring for Benavidez last night was arguably controversial itself. I scored the fight for Cejudo, although the point taken away from him in the first round certainly muddied the waters.
This was an entertaining fight of two great rivals at the top of the division. The reasons I’d like to see these two go at it again are simple: Firstly, I feel like regardless of the scoring this fight was super close and we still don’t really know who the better fighter is. Secondly, I’ve picked Mighty Mouse to take a fight out of the division. Thirdly, Benavidez already has two losses to DJ, and I think he really has to stand alone as the top contender to get a third crack. I don’t think we’re there yet.
Should Fight: Gunnar Nelson
After the fight, Masvidal wasted no time in calling for a fight against Donald Cerrone. I like that fight, I like that fight a lot. The reality is though, Masvidal is currently ranked outside of the top 15 at Welterweight. Now, he should break into the rankings after last night’s win, but not as high as he needs to be to fight Cerrone. Especially if Cowboy is able to defeat Matt Brown next weekend.
Gunnar Nelson is a more natural move for Masvidal. After last night, Masvidal will be close to Gunni’s UFC rank of twelve. A win for either man would mean a crack at the top ten. In the meantime though, this would be a super competitive and entertaining fight between two fantastic Welterweight technicians.
Should Fight: Albert Tumenov
Last night’s fight against Masvidal will be a tough one to swallow for Ellenberger. Even though it wasn’t a true TKO loss, the fight was not going to plan for the Juggernaut. He’d already been hurt badly earlier in the round and was marked up around both eyes.
Tumenov has looked fantastic in some of his UFC fights, but he’s been inconsistent, much like Ellenberger himself. He’s still young though, just 24. This fight has potential upside for both men outside of the division’s top 15. For Ellenberger, it would show he can still beat the young guns of the Welterweight division. For Tumenov, a win against a veteran now just outside if the top 15 would get him back on track and back to bigger fights.
Some tough picks here after a strange night of fights and results. What do you think? What fights do you want to see? Let us know in the comments or post your own Matchmaker thoughts on our MMA Thread Facebook group.