UFC Matchups: 5 Eventual Pairings the Organization Can't Miss
How great would it be to have UFC matchmaker Joe Silva's job?
I imagine he does nothing more than sit around watching fights, ordering expensive takeout, drinking the finest liquor, and throwing darts at a board of fighters faces to determine who will eventually face each other.
Sometimes he gets it right, sometimes he doesn't. But when you're dealing with the majority of the world's elite MMA fighters, as long as they are all fighting each other, there isn't much to complain about.
But there are a handful of matchups where it would be a travesty if his magic dart strategy didn't make them a reality. Some matchups just make too much sense that you hope it is early enough in the night for Silva's aim to be exact.
Here are five UFC matchups that I would be very disappointed to never see.
List your picks in the comments section.
5. Stefan Struve vs. Cheick Kongo
You won't hear many fans clamoring for this one.
But when you think it over, it makes perfect sense.
For one thing, they are both humongous. Everyone likes to see two giants go at it, and when one falls, it is that much more devastating.
Second, they are both in about the same place in the UFC rankings.
Struve was on a three-fight win streak before losing a big fight to Roy Nelson via first-round knockout. Since then, he has knocked out Christian Morecraft in a tremendous come-from-behind win.
Kongo had his own three-fight win-streak ended last year by a pair of losses to Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir. Since then, he has stopped Paul Buentello and earned a draw against Travis Browne.
Struve has a fight with Sean McCorkle to get through, first. But if he can remain victorious, this fight would determine who still has a shot to get a fight against the upper-tier fighters in the UFC heavyweight division.
4. Nate Diaz vs. Karo Parisyan
If you were a fan of the TV show The Ultimate Fighter way back at season five, then you might remember the entertaining clash between contestant Nate Diaz and guest trainer Karo Parisyan.
If you didn't catch it, it basically consisted of Parisyan pestering Diaz until he had had enough and standing up to settle things the old-fashioned Stockton way. The fighters were separated, and Parisyan went outside to give his infamous "Do you know who I am?" speech.
Parisyan was never seen on the show again, and most assumed they both went on with their lives. But, of course, it was not, and months later Parisyan was on TAGG radio spouting off about the situation.
"Recently, I almost fought at another competition with them, at fights in the UFC, where guys held me back again," Parisyan stated. "Eventually, one day, something is going to happen because I can't handle that kid anymore."
Well, two years later, it would now be a possibility for these two to settle it in front of millions of viewers.
Nate Diaz has moved up to Parisyan's division—Diaz is now 2-0 at welterweight—and Parisyan has allegedly recovered from his anxiety attack-driven fallout with the UFC, and has been welcomed back.
This fight would depend on the performances in the fighters next appearances. Diaz is facing Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 125, and with a win there, he would be far past Parisyan's current place in the division.
Karo has a match against Dennis Hallman at UFC 123 that he would have to win to get a matchup with Diaz.
So if Diaz loses his next fight, and Parisyan wins his next, this matchup would make perfect sense.
There is too much video buildup for this fight to never happen. Not to mention, it would be a great fight.
3. Quinton Jackson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Both Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira were two of the greatest light heavyweights to have competed in Pride Fighting Championships.
It really is an oddity that they never faced each other over their five-year stints in the Japanese organization.
They were both put on the same side of the bracket in the 2005 Pride Grand Prix, and would have met if not for Mauricio "Shogun" Rua putting a stop to it.
Now, they are both in the UFC and approaching a time when meeting each other could once again make perfect sense.
Nogueira—the twin brother of former Pride heavyweight champion and interim UFC heavyweight champion—made a shocking entrance into the UFC with a first-round knockout of Luiz Cane at UFC 106.
He then followed it up with a close split-decision win over Jason Brilz before most recently suffering a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader.
Jackson became the light heavyweight champion with a first-round knockout of Chuck Liddell in only his second fight with the organization. Since then he has done 3-2 in the UFC, which included a 16-month hiatus from the sport.
Jackson is now set to face fellow former champion Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 123. Most see this as a very tough matchup for Jackson, and he would have to lose against Machida for a fight with Nogueira to make sense.
Both would be coming off losses and need a big win over the other to springboard themselves back into the top of the division.
This would really be a treat for the old Pride heads.
2. B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch
Clearly, Jon Fitch is the second-best welterweight in the world.
Of course, everything can change very quickly in this sport. But at the present time, George St. Pierre is the only welterweight that can honestly be ranked above Fitch.
The problem with that is there is nobody left for Fitch to fight. He had his shot at St. Pierre and was utterly destroyed.
But everyone else he faces, he easily wins a unanimous decision over and ruins another contender for the champion.
Well, after losing his lightweight title to Frankie Edgar, former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion B.J. Penn has decided to move up to 170 pounds for a third fight with former champion Matt Hughes.
Hughes has resurrected his career with a couple more wins over the Gracie family and their associates, but Penn is still figured to be heavily favored in the fight.
If Penn can get a win at welterweight, why not have these two former St. Pierre victims face each other? If Fitch can't get the title, he might as well start defending his No. 2 spot, and against who better than a former champion of the division.
Fitch has never beaten a former UFC champ, and I'm sure that would be a feather in his cap that he would take quite a bit of pride in.
If Penn could come out on top, he could partially erase his pair of losses to Frankie Edgar from the recent memory of fight fans, while also stepping toward another fight with St. Pierre, which he has continually stated as one of his goals.
Fitch would not have the speed advantages over Penn that Edgar enjoyed, and Penn would not have the strength that St. Pierre employed over Fitch.
This fight is a must!
1. Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader
Never before have we seen two light heavyweights rise so quickly parallel to each other like Ryan Bader and Jon Jones.
Jones' career basically kicked off in his second UFC appearance, when he bulldozed Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94.
Since then, Jones has destroyed all four fighters the UFC put in front of him. The only blemish was a bogus disqualification loss to Matt Hamill for an illegal elbow in a fight that should have already been stopped.
Ryan Bader started his UFC career by winning season eight of The Ultimate Fighter. Since then, he has gone 4-0, most recently earning a unanimous decision over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Currently, this fight is already set for UFC 126, but there have been ramblings of the bout's cancellation.
Speaking at the UFC Fan Expo in London, Dana White said, “I don’t know if Jones is going to fight Bader. We tried to put that fight together, but Bader has some stuff going on. Jon Jones might be fighting somebody else, I don’t know how that’s going to go.”
This is a fight that must happen soon. Both are basically undefeated with the same number of fights, and both are getting near challenging for the title.
A win over the other would be a perfect way to earn that big fight.
There are some that consider Jones above Bader, but a win over Nogueira is far above anything that Jones has accomplished yet in his career.
I personally rank Bader a couple spots ahead of Jones in the light heavyweight rankings, based on opponents faced.
It would be a travesty for this fight not to happen.