Let’s play matchmaker! The Post-Fight Matchmaker is hard at work after UFC on ESPN 19 and is bringing you his predictions for what comes next. For a thorough breakdown of this week’s events and more, check out our weekly column Fight Morning in America.
Main event winner Marvin Vettori was feeling bullish after his commanding middleweight performance against Jack “The Joker” Hermansson and subsequently called out Paulo Costa during his post-fight interview. During the post-fight press conference he came out with a different tune:
“Before I called out ‘Borrachinha,’ (Paulo Costa) but to be honest with you, (expletive) ‘Borrachinha.’ He just came out of a crazy loss. Why would I even fight him? I want to go straight to the title, man. I’ll be honest, I like the fight, but I feel like the top five there’s no opposition. There’s no real opposition… Jared Cannonier just lost, Darren Till is – I don’t even think he’s top five – ‘Borrachinha’ just lost brutally and Jack was No. 4. (Robert) Whittaker wants to just enjoy Christmas with his kids, but I don’t blame him it just doesn’t really seem like he wants to fight for the title.”
Looks like someone wants that Israel Adesanya middleweight champion smoke one more time. Under normal circumstances, this would be a realistic callout. “The Last Stylebender” has already called dibs on Jan Blachowicz for March and honestly we’d rather see the rematch of the undefeated 20-0 Adesanya against Vettori (the only fighter to ever take a judges’ scorecard off the champ) and Blachowicz against Glover Teixeira, which makes the most sense. Next up for Vettori is most likely going to be Paulo Costa, the powerhouse brute whose only loss was the shellacking he received from Adesanya back in September at UFC 253.
On the other side of the decision, Hermansson gained huge street cred for being willing to fight anyone, from Darren Till to Kevin Holland to Marvin Vettori. His stock rose in defeat and he still has some exciting options left. Till is coming off a loss to Robert Whittaker, which makes the most sense – two great fights on losing ends of decisions. That’s a fun fight. Chris Weidman is the dark horse candidate here.
For Marvin Vettori: What we want: Vettori vs. Adesanya. What we’ll get: Vettori vs. Robert Whittaker, Darren Till or Jared Cannonier.
For Jack Hermansson: What we want: Hermansson vs. Till. What we’ll get: Hermansson vs. Till, Kevin Holland (if he doesn’t take damage vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 256); Chris Weidman
In the co-main event, Jamahal Hill raised his stock considering his brutal beatdown of Ovince Saint-Preux. While “OSP” didn’t actually go down, the standing TKO, complete with picture-perfect elbows and punches, displayed a ruthlessness and violence befitting an up-and-coming undefeated 8-0 fighter. He should join the ranks of the ranked at light heavyweight after his performance (OSP was ranked #15 prior to this fight) and next up could be anyone from Paul Craig (#14) to Nikita Krylov (#8). A better option for the 29-year old would be a bit more experience before taking on the elite, however the UFC loves throwing a guy like this against someone like Anthony Smith. Johnny Walker might be a better matchup at this point.
Ovince Saint-Preux has lost 4 of his last 6, and the cutting-hungry Dana White might see this as the time to cut loose the one-time title challenger. We hope he sticks around for 2021, and as wild as this sounds, maybe a permanent move up to heavyweight might be prudent for the 6’3″ fighter from Tennessee.
For Jamahal Hill: What we want: Hill vs. Johnny Walker. What we’ll get: Hill vs. Jim Crute, Ryan Spann, Misha Cirkunov
Gabriel Benitez left his mark on UFC Vegas 16 with a brutal knee to the sternum of Justin Jaynes. The question now is, can he make a serious run up the ladder at 155 lbs.? After losing two in a row, perhaps the momentum from this win has him looking at Alexander Hernandez or Vinc Pichel. Both could be solid matchups for the man they call “Moggley.”
Jordan Leavitt left Matt Wiman on the mat after the 12th KO by slam in UFC history. Leavitt is 8-0, 25-years old and has all the charisma you want to see in a fresh face. “The Monkey King” has intriguing matchups available, such as Gabriel Benitez, Alexander Hernandez or maybe a ranked opponent down on the list such as Gregor “The Gift” Gillespie.
Ilia Topuria is one tough Georgian. His combination work against Damon Jackson raised his stock considerably in the eyes of many. The featherweight known as “El Matador” could see a considerable rise in competition. A 10-0 record at 23-years old, there are plenty of matchups waiting for him at the tail end of the UFC top 15. The dangerous Ryan Hall would be an entertaining main card fight, however Charles Rosa or the winner of Daniel Pineda/Cub Swanson this weekend at UFC 256 could be options for the young fighter as well.
Leave your thoughts with the Post-Fight Matchmaker: UFC on ESPN 19 below in the comment section and let us know which fights you want to see next.