Top 5 Fights To Make In The Wake Of UFC Fight Night 35
5 solid future matchups to make after UFC Fight Night 35
While there was initially criticism over a main event featuring two fighters who were coming off losses, UFC Fight Night 35 proved to be a rather entertaining and at times violent night of fights. The card had a little bit of everything, with some impressive knockouts, submissions and a bit of controversy with one of the decisions on the main card.
There were a number of impressive performances in Georgia, most notably in the main event where middleweight contender Luke Rockhold was able to get major redemption with a precision display of leg kicks in earning his first Octagon victory. In turn he also went a long way in making people forget about his rough UFC debut. Middleweight Yoel Romero continued to show he’s a scary proposition to deal with in the 185-pound weight division, while Brad Tavares continued to work his way up the ladder thanks to another decision victory. Bantamweight T.J. Dillashaw may have turned in the best overall performance of the night and showed that he is a legitimate title threat at 135 pounds, while lanky featherweight Cole Miller looked impressive in earning a Submission of the Night bonus. We may have also found a relatively fresh face to keep an eye on in the flyweight division. Even though he lost a controversial decision, Dustin Ortiz gave a solid effort against former flyweight title challenger John Moraga.
As I like to do after Fight Night events, I will put on my matchmaker’s hat and put together some bouts that I feel are the best ones to make moving forward. As with any high-profile card, there were fighters who upped their stock dramatically with strong performances while others saw their careers take a hit with the sting of defeat. Here are my top five UFC fights to make in the aftermath of this week’s Fight Night 35.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports
5. Yoel Romero vs. Brad Tavares
Romero made it 7-for-7 in knockout victories during his MMA career. He not only showcased his brutal finishing abilities, but also displayed an iron chin against Derek Brunson before finally stopping him in the final round. Tavares posted his fifth consecutive victory in the Octagon as he was simply the busier and more effective fighter against Lorenz Larkin. While Romero wouldn’t be the top-10 opponent that Tavares has been lobbying for, he would be a formidable challenge and an extremely dangerous opponent.
4. John Moraga vs. Brad Pickett/Ian McCall winner
Moraga may have been a little fortunate to emerge with a split decision win against Ortiz. While he will take the victory, it wasn’t an effort that puts him any closer to getting another title shot. Moraga is looking to get back into contention in the flyweight division after a previous failed title opportunity against champion Demetrious Johnson. A fight against either Pickett or McCall would allow Moraga to do that, and also would have the makings of being an outstanding fight. Pickett will be making his 125-pound debut against “Uncle Creepy” in March at an event in England.
3. Cole Miller vs. Conor McGregor
Miller looked great in dispatching of Sam Sicilia by way of rear naked choke in the second round. He used his height and reach well in avoiding Sicilia’s power, and landed his own huge punches that busted up his opponent and allowed him to go for the submission finish. Miller recorded his second straight win and believes he’s shown himself to be a top-10 featherweight. He’s had a war of words in the past with McGregor after calling him out at Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England. Miller believes McGregor is overhyped. For his part, “Notorious” has been in recovery mode since suffering a torn ACL at a Fight Night 26 victory over Max Holloway. McGregor is looking to make his return later this year possibly at an event in Ireland. A fight against Miller would be a good way for the no. 12 ranked McGregor to return to action. It's a matchup that would already have some bad blood, and there would be some solid trash-talk leading up to two settling their differences in the Octagon.
2. T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao/Francisco Rivera winner
Dillashaw had the look of a future title challenger as he was simply that good against a solid veteran in Mike Easton. “The Viper” picked his opponent apart in the stand-up game with crisp combinations and solid kicks during the three-round contest. Dillashaw has won five of six fights and is still bitter about a controversial decision loss to Assuncao in a fight that he felt he won. Dillashaw would no doubt relish a chance for revenge against the Brazilian. Meanwhile, Rivera is a tremendous puncher and finisher, and will be getting his chance against the no. 3 ranked Assuncao at next month’s UFC 170. Either matchup for Dillashaw would have the makings of a tremendous scrap.
1. Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping
Rockhold looked terrific in dismantling the tough Costa Philippou in the opening round of their main event. While the former Strikeforce champion can’t get a Vitor Belfort rematch out of his head, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Belfort is gearing up for a title shot later this year against champ Chris Weidman. Rockhold’s calling out of Bisping is a fight that would make plenty of sense. Rockhold didn’t appreciate comments Bisping made back in the day about getting the better of him in their sparring sessions. These are two top 185-pound contenders, and their styles would lead to an explosive clash. Bisping is on the road to recovery after having eye surgery a couple of months back, and a fight against Rockhold would be a strong test in his return.
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