UFC Matchmaker for a Day: 10 Non-Title Fights That Could Be Made Today
On my wedding day, my father gave me one simple piece of advice. What he said was, he said, Slugger, whenever you have an opportunity to tell somebody you've never met how to do their job, take advantage of that opportunity. I took that advice. And you know what else? I've never looked back.
The tradition continues today, when I offer, from the comfort of my couch, a little bit of Monday morning matchmaking. Here are 10 tantalizing non-title fights the UFC could make today.
This list doesn't second-guess what Joe Silva and the UFC matchmaking brain trust has already done. These ideas involve fighters who are currently uncommitted and available to fight (or will be soon). It also doesn't pit one uncommitted fighter against the winner or loser of an already scheduled fight.
Got a non-title fight you're dying to see? Shout it out in the comments.
10. T.J. Grant vs. Khabib Nurmegomedov
What we have here are two of the fastest risers in the lightweight division. The well-rounded T.J. Grant (19-5) has won all three of his fights since dropping to lightweight, most recently a bloodletting of Evan Dunham. Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) also has a balanced skill set and has yet to lose as a pro.
9. Dan Hardy vs. John Hathaway
The two best Brits in the welterweight division would stir up international intrigue on any card. Dan Hardy (25-10-1) has evolved beyond the brawler phase, while the 25-year-old John Hathaway (17-1) is one of the most promising young fighters anywhere in the promotion.
8. Jussier Formiga vs. Darren Uyenoyama
Jussier Formiga was game in his UFC flyweight debut, but was ultimately run over by a very tiny, very animated freight train named John Dodson. Darren Uyenoyama (pictured) may have quietly become one of the division's better fighters. This would be a terrific matchup between two very high-level grapplers.
7. Jake Ellenberger vs. Nick Diaz
I probably don't need to sell this one. Nick Diaz still has time to serve on that pot suspension, but since Jake Ellenberger just fought at UFC on FX 5, the timing might work out perfectly.
6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Mark Hunt
Hard to believe these geriatric heavyweights have never crossed paths in a cage or ring. Which one has the stuff for one more serious run through the ranks? This matchup would find out, and it would also be entertaining.
5. Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva
Time to remake this rematch between the two Brazilian lions, which was originally set for UFC 147 but was scuttled after a Vitor Belfort injury. I suspect this one might contain some punching.
For his part, Wanderlei Silva is chomping at his usual bit, calling Belfort "chicken" for withdrawing. Are you just going to take that, Vitor?
4. Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
Rashad Evans really wants this fight. Lyoto Machida needs something to do now that Chael Sonnen has cut the line of light heavyweight contenders. I know Evans would love to sponge away the most embarrassing loss on his record. A Machida win would probably cement him a title shot.
3. Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
Two men who recently reinvented themselves by returning to their best selves. Best submissions in the welterweight division versus the best submission defense in the welterweight division. Any questions?
2. Glover Teixeira vs. Rampage Jackson
Unfortunately, Twitter isn't legally binding just yet, and as a result this fight doesn't yet appear official. But based on the back-and-forth between Quinton Jackson and UFC President Dana White, it's pretty close. Nevertheless, until the ink is dry on a contract, fans and pundits will probably keep the pressure on.
1. Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
This is probably the most highly anticipated non-title fight in the UFC right now that hasn't actually been booked. Though it appears to get closer every day.