UFC Fight Night 93 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
UFC Fight Night 93 took place in Hamburg, Germany, and it was not the greatest of fight cards. Thankfully, the veterans on the main card saved it from complete annihilation.
Heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett put on a memorable affair in the main event. Barnett took over the fight after the first round and got a third-round submission to move forward in the heavyweight division.
The two preceding fights both took place in the light heavyweight division, and contenders Ryan Bader and Alexander Gustafsson re-established their position in the division.
Everything else? Good luck to the UFC matchmakers in deciding what's the next step.
Need help? Well, I suppose I can lend some assistance in this area. Do not fear Sean Shelby and Joe Silva. A list of suggestions for each fighter on the UFC Fight Night 93 card is coming your way. Read on, UFC matchmakers, to find out who you should be calling and drawing up contracts for in the wake of the latest UFC outing.
And, dear readers, I guess you should lend your thoughts too.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Rustam Khabilov def. Leandro Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Three straight wins for Khabilov. Silva was a good test, but Khabilov earned a bigger fight with his showing. Joe Duffy may not be the fight the UFC is seeking, but it's the fight the UFC should book. Duffy needs one more win before another big opponent, and Khabilov gets a shot at a notable lightweight.
Silva replaced Reza Madadi on the card. When Madadi is set to return, book this fight. It makes sense and should provide for an exciting undercard contest.
Jack Hermansson def. Scott Askham by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
The middleweight contest was a fun scrap. More importantly, it was a good debut for Hermansson.
Askham performed admirably. A return bout against Vitor Miranda is a matchup that will both push his development and reward him for his UFC Fight Night 93 showing. It's not a premiere contest, but it is also not a matchup that buries him.
Hermansson should immediately get a big test. That's what Rafael Natal is on the roster to do—test out the prospects. He's a gatekeeper to the top 15, and Hermansson should be tested to see where he is at in this division. A loss to Natal doesn't hurt him other than to show he isn't quite ready for the leap. But let's find out if he is ready.
Christian Colombo and Jarjis Danho fought to a majority draw (28-28, 29-27, 28-28)
This was a dreadful heavyweight fight. Danho gassed out, but Colombo wasn't quick enough to capitalize. If Colombo had any sort of speed behind his striking, he would have won the fight without issue. Instead, the incoming molasses of strikes made little impact.
Book Todd Duffee against either man. It will be a good return for Duffee who should win by devastating knockout. Whoever the fighter left out of that fight should be booked against a UFC newcomer. The UFC needs more bodies in this division anyhow; why not make use of an underperforming heavyweight to welcome them to the show?
Taylor Lapilus def. Leandro Issa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Issa repeatedly tried to get the fight to the canvas. He failed. He lost. That's about the gist of the fight. Chris Beal is on the cut line with three straight defeats, but he still has some value. Give Beal one more shot against a one-dimensional fighter in Issa.
Lapilus, on the other hand, looked very good in the cage. His defense was sharp, and his offense put the fight out of reach. A jump up in competition against Frankie Saenz is a good reward for the result. A win puts him in the rankings.
Ashlee Evans-Smith def. Veronica Macedo by TKO at 3:14 of the third round
Macedo did well enough, but she was woefully undersized. If she can make the 115-pound weight limit, she should drop down. I won't suggest a fight there until she officially drops weight. As such, looking at the bantamweight roster, Anna Elmose is someone who makes the most sense.
Evans-Smith was not impressive against a smaller, less experienced short-notice fighter. But she won. Who's next? The winner of UFC 203's Jessica Eye vs. Bethe Correia contest. The winner of that contest vs. Evans-Smith will have meaningful implications for the division.
Peter Sobotta def. Nicolas Dalby by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Dalby has plateaued. His last two outings, both losses, have shown his ceiling is not incredibly high in the welterweight division. However, he still brings it. That's why a fight with UFC Fight Night 93's Jim Wallhead makes sense.
Sobotta looked quite good. Fellow Fight Night 93 performer Jack Hermansson called out Thales Leites (h/t MMAjunkie), but I like that fight for Sobotta much more. Sobotta vs. Leites is a better matchup for where they are in their careers, and the result has a more direct impact on the division.
Jessin Ayari def. Jim Wallhead by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
The featured prelim was a forgettable affair.
As previously mentioned, Wallhead should meet Dalby. It'll be a fun fight for any future European fight card.
Ayrai slipped by with the decision win, but where should the UFC go from here? Ayrai's next fight perhaps should be the winner of UFC 203's CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall contest. Ayari didn't show any elite-level skills that make him a steep mismatch for either Gall or Punk (the jury is still out on what Punk can actually do).
Given what the UFC is in a position to do with the winner of that matchup, Ayari seems as good as an option as anyone else.
Nick Hein vs. Tae Hyun Bang
Nick Hein def. Tae Hyun Bang by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-28, 30-27)
Hein was given a favorable matchup in Germany to look good in front of his home crowd. It's debatable if he accomplished that feat.
Hein, simply put, is not an exciting fight. However, he's won three straight. Nik Lentz returned to lightweight with a victory, and has a fight at UFC 203 which should result in a second victory. If that happens, book these two against each other.
It won't be a barnburner, but it will ensure one of the grappling-heavy lightweights loses. It sounds harsh to book them this way to make sure that happens, but having two less than exciting lightweights on significant winning streaks isn't appealing.
Bang didn't appear out of his depth, but he just couldn't get much going. He needs another lower-level opponent so that his development can continue. The loser of the upcoming Chris Wade vs. Islam Makhachev bout (September 17) would make sense.
Ryan Bader vs. Ilir Latifi
Ryan Bader def. Ilir Latifi by KO at 2:06 of the second round
Bader got clipped in the first round, but Latifi couldn't finish the job. The cult favorite was never able to be threatening again. Bader established a good distance, while Latifi began to become predictable with his gameplan.
The American read Latifi well and finished him with a vicious KO knee in the second round.
Latifi will need a bit of time to recover. Once he returns the UFC shouldn't place him against another top light heavyweight. Instead, it should simply seek out a UFC newcomer who favorably aligns with what Latifi likes to do inside the cage. Book to make an exciting fight and figure out where to go from there.
Bader is right back in the hunt at 205, but he needs a couple of more wins before laying claim to a title shot. The list of opponents who make sense is incredibly short in the division's shallow waters. Perhaps the best plan for Bader is to give him a chance at redemption.
Glover Teixeira is coming off a quick defeat to Anthony Johnson. That was the exact position Bader was in coming into UFC Fight Night 93. Teixeira holds a win over Bader already, and the winner of the rematch would then be set up nicely for a title eliminator in 2017.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jan Blachowicz
Alexander Gustafsson def. Jan Blachowicz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Gustafsson got back in the win column for the first time since 2014, but he certainly didn't just breeze through Blachowicz.
Gustafsson got touched up on the feet from the outset. It was his grappling that was his savior. Gustafsson felt what Blachowicz had on the feet, couldn't stop getting hit and decided to fight a ground battle. It was a battle in which he dominated. Once on the floor, it was all Gustafsson.
Blachowicz impressed in a losing effort. He needs to shore up his takedown defense, but he showed promise. As such, getting another crack at a top-15 level light heavyweight seems appropriate. Gian Villante is a solid stylistic matchup that would make sense on the Madison Square Garden undercard in November.
Matchmaking for Gustafsson comes down to one problem: Do you want put him right back in the title hunt, or do you want to slowly rebuild his resume?
The latter would seem more preferable, but given the division's current landscape, it may be time to eye the rematch fans have been waiting to see.
Jon Jones may get a shorter suspension than anticipated, which opens the door for the rematch. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Nevada Athletic Commission would have to clear Jones to compete, but if so that's the route the UFC should take. Jones vs. Gustafsson II for the interim light heavyweight championship with the winner meeting Daniel Cormier (or Anthony Johnson) to unify the belts is the best option.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett
Josh Barnett def. Andrei Arlovski via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:53 of the third round
The opening 30 seconds of the contest were astonishing. Arlovski and Barnett threw heavy punches that rocked one another multiple times. It didn't appear the fight would last past the opening minute, but they began to clinch and recover from the brutal start.
Barnett seized control by using his grappling. Arlovski tired out, didn't have a lot on his punches and Barnett was able to dominate on the floor. Eventually, he got the submission he sought after.
Arlovski is 0-3 in 2016, and each loss was a stoppage. Three consecutive losses typically puts a fighter on the list to be cut, but Arlovski has the advantages of having name value and being a member of a shallow division. He'll get another shot, but hopefully not until 2017. He needs rest.
Arlovski would match up nicely with the loser of UFC 203's Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum matchup.
Normally, I would stick to the active UFC roster to find an opponent for someone like Barnett. He picked up a key win and deserves another ranked foe. But there is one name that stands above the rest when thinking about who he should fight next—Fedor.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett is a fight fans have craved for since PRIDE and were unfortunate to miss during the Affliction days. The UFC needs to find a way to sign the elusive Russian and make this fight happen. It's still relevant in 2016, and it's still a fight that will bring eyeballs to the division.