UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva more often than not seem to get it right. Proof of this is the fact that no reigning champion, with the exception of Demetrious Johnson, has defended their belt more than twice.
The UFC is a competition where champions and contenders are created regularly through intelligent matchmaking, which keeps fans interested. Styles make fights and there is no promotion in the world better at putting together the most exciting matches.
When it comes to fight time, you can forget everything you think you know because anything can happen. This has been proven over and over again inside the octagon.
There are some intriguing fights yet to be made however, and here we are going to outline one fight we would like to see per weight class.
Women’s Strawweight Division
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Paige VanZant
Kowalkiewicz (9-0) is an undefeated prospect who has very little hype behind her outside of her native land. The Polish fighter has won her first two UFC bouts by convincing decisions and has looked remarkably good while doing so. Unfortunately she doesn’t have the drawing power of a Paige VanZant or Joanna Jedrzejczyk. A win over the now uber-famous VanZant would give her that extra interest. Kowalkiewicz interestingly lost to Jedrzejczyk in an amateur fight in 2012 and would love to get another crack at the Champion.
VanZant (6-2) has become one of the fastest rising stars in the sport since her appearances on Dancing With The Stars. Paige finished second on the show and subsequently landed herself a role in an upcoming movie entitled Kickboxer: Retaliation alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gina Carano.
Her star power has never been greater and the UFC will look to use this on a PPV card towards the end of the summer. A win over Kowalkiewicz would propel the Team Alpha Male product back into the title picture.
Women’s Flyweight Division (At Trial Stage)
Aisling Daly vs Roxanne Modafferi
Daly (16-6), an SBG fighter under the tutelage of John Kavanagh, has had a relatively good run at strawweight in the UFC despite having to cut a lot of weight. The introduction of a flyweight division would be a hugely positive development for The Bash as this is her more natural weight. Daly and Modafferi were two of the original female fighters, long before the UFC or any major promotion was behind women’s MMA, and have somehow avoided each other thus far.
Modafferi (19-12) has been a pro fighter since 2003, a pioneer of women’s MMA and one of the most happy-go-lucky characters in the game. Modafferi has only fought once in the UFC, on the season finale of TUF 18, losing to Racquel Pennington. Since then The Happy Warrior has won four of her last five in Invicta at flyweight. The addition of a flyweight division would give Modafferi renewed hope of a UFC run.
Louis Smolka vs Sergio Pettis
The Hawaiian Louis Smolka (10-1) looks an extremely promising contender at 125lbs, a division lacking in real contenders. Da Last Samurai is on a three-fight win streak and has slick boxing to match his deadly Jiu Jitsu. After beating both Irish flyweights in his last two bouts, Smolka will be looking for a ranked opponent next.
Pettis (14-2) similarly has looked extremely impressive, with a 5-2 record inside the octagon. Pettis, younger brother of former lightweight champion Anthony, holds a win over the only man to beat Smolka, Chris Cariaso. Winning two in a row, The Phenom will also be looking to climb the rankings and a victory over Smolka would move the Roufusport product up at least two places.
Women’s Bantamweight Division
Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey
The darling of Women’s MMA, Holly Holm (10-1), had a disappointingly short spell on top of the pile. After shocking the world in November, 2015 with her destruction of long time champion Ronda Rousey, The Preacher’s Daughter came undone against Miesha Tate in March of this year. While Holm is scheduled to fight Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on Fox 20, her next opponent, regardless of result should be a Rousey rematch.
Rousey (12-1) has not fought since suffering that defeat to Holm and reports suggest her return fight will be against whoever is holding the 135lb strap. Her reappearance, which is likely to be at UFC 205, would be much better served as a rematch with Holm, as it is by far the biggest fight to make in Women’s MMA right now.
Takeya Mizugaki vs John Dodson
Mizugaki (21-9-2) was considered one of the next in line for a title shot before the return of Dominick Cruz and a one-sided beat down that he suffered at the hands of the now champion. While he lost his next fight against Aljamain Sterling also, the Japanese fighter looked incredible in his latest fight, dominating George Roop from start to finish.
Dodson (18-7) moved back up to bantamweight after feeling he had exhausted his title challenges against long time champion Demetrious Johnson. The Magician looked spectacular in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it finish of Manny Gamburyan in his first fight back. Dodson previously had success at bantamweight, even scoring a KO over TJ Dillashaw.
Women’s Featherweight Division (Not Yet Introduced)
Cris Cyborg vs Holm/Rousey
While no Featherweight Division exists as of yet, it feels like a matter of time before the UFC finally realise the star power of Cyborg is worth a division of its own. The Brazilian should not be forced to cut more weight than she already does to fight in the UFC, as she is potentially one of the biggest female draws in the sport.
The winner of Holm-Rousey should finally put this story to bed and a move up in weight to fight the feared striker.
Holm would probably possess the best tools to give Cyborg a fight, with her boxing and kickboxing background, but many still want the Rousey vs Cyborg debate to end. The solution: feed the winner of the rematch to Cyborg.
Paul O’Dea, Pundit Arena