UFC Fight Night 37: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
By beating Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 37, Alexander Gustafsson cleared the short path to a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Set to meet Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, Jones will also need one more win to make the rematch a reality. If Teixeira does upset Jones in April, Gustafsson will still be next up to get a shot at gold in the 205-pound division.
While one match appears to be made, here are the fights the UFC should make for the rest of Saturday's competitors.
Phil Harris vs. Dustin Ortiz-Alptekin Ozkilic Loser
Phil Harris has not been able to produce inside the Octagon.
In four UFC appearances, the Englishman has only picked up one victory. On Saturday, Harris was submitted by Louis Gaudinot in the first round and may now be in jeopardy of being released from the UFC roster.
However, since he competes in one of the organization's thinner divisions at flyweight and hasn't lost three in a row, Harris will more than likely get one more shot at UFC competition. A bout with the loser of a UFC Fight Night 39 matchup between Dustin Ortiz and Alptekin Ozkilic seems like a strong possibility.
Louis Gaudinot vs. John Moraga
Louis Gaudinot went into enemy territory and picked up an important win on Saturday.
Coming off a loss to Tim Elliott, Gaudinot needed a win over British flyweight Phil Harris. Locking up a guillotine choke in the first round, Gaudinot earned that victory in front of a raucous crowd at the O2 Arena in London, England.
The green-haired 125-pounder should now expect a step up in competition. That could mean a matchup with former title challenger John Moraga, who didn't seem quite ready to return to elite flyweight competition in a debatable decision win over Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 35.
Igor Araujo vs. Sean Pierson
Eliminated from Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter in the quarterfinals, Igor Araujo didn't appear to have a bright MMA future ahead of him.
Now, Araujo appears to be in a better spot than season winner Colton Smith, who was the fighter to eliminate the Brazilian from the reality show. Following his win over Danny Mitchell on Saturday, Araujo is now 2-0 in official UFC bouts, while Smith has lost back-to-back fights.
As he looks to climb the welterweight rankings, Araujo's next bout could be against Sean Pierson, who is also on a nice run against unranked competition.
Bradley Scott vs. Daniel Sarafian
With a submission win over Michael Kuiper at UFC Fight Night 30, Bradley Scott likely saved himself from being released. However, the Englishman was unable to carry that momentum through UFC Fight Night 37.
Giving up three takedowns, Scott spent too much time on the bottom against Claudio Silva on Saturday. In a competitive matchup, that made the difference on the scorecards.
Scott could now look to get back on track against Daniel Sarafian, a fellow TUF veteran who is also coming off a loss.
Claudio Silva vs. Tom Lawlor
At 31 years old, middleweight Claudio Silva made a successful UFC debut Saturday.
The Brazilian outwrestled Bradley Scott over three rounds to take a decision win. In the second round, Silva found himself in trouble when the referee refused to stop the action after he'd been kicked in the groin, but he was able to survive the frame and turn things back around in the final stanza.
Silva did his best work on the ground, so look for him to face a stronger grappler in his next outing. Tom Lawlor could provide Silva with a tougher test on the canvas.
Mats Nilsson vs. Andy Enz
Mats Nilsson had never been stopped coming into his first UFC showing.
However, the Swedish middleweight had his hands full with Luke Barnatt on Saturday. After landing some good shots of his own, Nilsson was rocked by a head kick—despite taking it on the forearm—and didn't make it out of the first round.
Nilsson will need to win his next bout, which could be a loser-leaves-town matchup with Andy Enz, who also recently lost in his first trip to the Octagon.
Luke Barnatt vs. Caio Magalhaes-Josh Samman Winner
Although he didn't reach the TUF semifinals, Luke Barnatt is quickly becoming one of the brighter prospects in the middleweight division.
Following a stoppage win over Mats Nilsson, Barnatt is now 3-0 in official UFC bouts. At 25 years old, the Englishman is going to keep getting better.
A bout against the winner of a UFC on Fox 11 matchup between Caio Magalhaes and Josh Samman could give Barnatt a chance to show how much he's approved, as Samman reached the semifinals on the same TUF season Barnatt appeared on.
Ilir Latifi vs. Nikita Krylov-Ovince St. Preux Winner
After stepping in as a late replacement at UFC on Fuel TV 9 and getting dominated by Gegard Mousasi, Ilir Latifi was widely dismissed and labeled as a fighter not ready for UFC competition.
With a longer training camp and a more reasonable opponent, Latifi showed the world—or at least those with UFC Fight Pass subscriptions—that he can more than hang with UFC light heavyweights. The Swedish fighter sent Cyrille Diabate into retirement Saturday with a nasty guillotine choke in the first round.
Before he gets a big step up in competition, Latifi will need to build some momentum. A bout with the winner of a UFC 171 matchup between Nikita Krylov and Ovince St. Preux could allow him to take that step forward.
Omari Akhmedov vs. Danny Mitchell
Omari Akhmedov and Danny Mitchell came up short against more experienced competition at UFC Fight Night 37.
In a truly rough matchup, Akhmedov was dropped and submitted by Gunnar Nelson, one of the most promising fighters in the welterweight division. Mitchell, meanwhile, couldn't keep up with Igor Araujo on the ground and fell in a decision.
Both fighters could be battling for their UFC jobs next time around, so a meeting between the two seems like a possibility.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Jason High
Gunnar Nelson has the tools to become a contender in the welterweight division.
At UFC Fight Night 37, Nelson recorded a knockdown against Omari Akhmedov and then patiently worked toward a submission on the ground. At 25 years old, Nelson might be the brightest up-and-comer at 170 pounds, and he's nearly ready for a shot at a welterweight contender.
If he can beat veteran Jason High convincingly, Nelson will deserve a shot at a ranked adversary.
Neil Seery vs. Danny Martinez
Neil Seery may not have won in his UFC debut, but the Irishman picked up many new fans in a fight that probably should have earned him Fight of the Night honors.
While Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa took home the bonus, Seery and opponent Brad Pickett competed in what many believed to be the most entertaining, competitive bout on Saturday. Pickett was a clear winner, but Seery did not make it easy on the Englishman, trading big shots from start to finish.
Seery's next matchup should come against another opponent willing to stand with him. A fight with Danny Martinez, who also lost in his first UFC outing, could produce fireworks.
Brad Pickett vs. John Dodson
Brad Pickett wants a title shot, but he's probably going to need at least one more win.
While a competitive fight with a UFC newcomer didn't say much for Pickett's chances at beating Demetrious Johnson again, the Englishman's name value and past win over "Mighty Mouse" will cause UFC matchmakers to push him toward the top of the flyweight division quickly.
If Pickett can beat John Dodson, who also shouldn't be far away from a rematch with Johnson following a close fight with the champion the first time around, he'd be the most intriguing potential challenger in the 125-pound class.
Melvin Guillard vs. Sam Stout-K.J. Noons Loser
Once considered a future title challenger, Melvin Guillard's window of opportunity is beginning to pass.
Now 30 years old and no longer ranked in the lightweight division, Guillard's days as a contender may be over. A fighter who has depended on his athleticism, Guillard could start heading in the wrong direction quickly now that he's on the wrong side of 30 years old.
While it didn't show Saturday, Guillard is most entertaining against strikers. A fight with the loser of a TUF: Nations finale matchup between Sam Stout and KJ Noons would give Guillard an opportunity to turn things around.
Michael Johnson vs. Rustam Khabilov
Michael Johnson didn't get a chance to make a statement at UFC Fight Night 37, but it's hard to deny he's a contender following three straight wins over talented UFC veterans.
Johnson pushed the pace against Melvin Guillard, who wasn't willing to engage frequently. While it led to a decision win for Johnson, he would have liked to win more impressively to earn a big step up in competition.
Still, "The Menace" can expect a fight with a Top 15 lightweight now. Beating Rustam Khabilov would push Johnson to the next level.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Phil Davis-Anthony Johnson Loser
A fight with Alexander Gustafsson came too soon for Jimi Manuwa.
Whether it was standing or on the ground, the Englishman had no answer for the former light heavyweight title challenger. Ultimately, Manuwa was rocked with a knee and stopped in the second round.
Though he wasn't prepared for the top 205-pound contender, Manuwa was ready to be tested by a Top 10 light heavyweight. Should Anthony Johnson lose to Phil Davis in April, "Rumble" and Manuwa should engage in what could be a highly entertaining kickboxing matchup.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones-Glover Teixeira Winner
As expected, Alexander Gustafsson took care of business in the main event at UFC Fight Night 37.
The Swede took Jimi Manuwa down in the first round and looked for submissions. Then, he found his rhythm in the striking department in the second stanza and put his opponent away with a knee and follow-up punches.
Many wanted to see Gustafsson get an immediate rematch with Jon Jones after they fought at UFC 165. Now, as long as Jones wins at UFC 172, it looks like that rematch will finally happen.