Last weekend’s UFC show in London produced drama and excitement aplenty as a host of fighters delivered the goods at The O2 Arena.
But, as is often the case in this crazy sport, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up and decisions to be made about a number of the key names involved last Saturday night.
So, let’s don our matchmaker’s hat and book some fights…
JORGE MASVIDAL vs LEON EDWARDS
After the post-event shenanigans between the two, this is an absolute no-brainer.
Masvidal was mid-way through a post-fight interview with ESPN’s Laura Sanko when Edwards, one of the least trash-talkative fighters in the UFC, talked a teeny bit of trash by calling for a fight with the American in July.
It led to Masvidal walking out of his live TV interview and, in full view of the cameras, gave the Brummie what he called “a three-piece with a soda” – three quickfire punches before being pulled away by security.
Edwards is riding a seven-fight win streak and claimed a career-best victory over Icelandic star Gunnar Nelson, while Masvidal starched Brit Darren Till.
And, after the post-event skirmish between the pair, it’s a fight that surely HAS to happen next.
DARREN TILL vs ROBBIE LAWLER
Darren Till’s spectacular KO defeat to Masvidal has had the Scouser ridiculed, written off and labelled as an overhyped prospect whose ranking was artificially high. Personally, I disagree with that assessment, but his defeat was emphatic enough that he will need to go back to the drawing board to consider his next move.
One option may be to move up to middleweight, where he could potentially compete at his more natural weight class. But if we assume he’s sticking around at 170lbs, there are a few options that would appear to make sense for him.
But the one name that leaps off the page – and one that would offer the potential of an outstanding matchup – is that of Robbie Lawler.
Both Lawler and Till are highly-ranked and both have suffered recent stoppage defeats and will be keen to get back on the horse and get back to winning ways ASAP. They also happen to be two of the most exciting stand-up fighters in the welterweight division.
Those factors make a potential Till vs Lawler matchup a mouth-watering prospect. The UFC could make the bout for UFC 239 at International Fight Week, with the bout installed as a mid-main card crowd-pleaser or, alternatively, as the featured bout on the ESPN-televised preliminary card.
Wherever in the world the UFC booked it, and wherever on the fight card they placed it, one thing seems nailed-on. It would be an absolute banger of a fight.
DOMINICK REYES vs VOLKAN OEZDEMIR
When you fight a man for 15 minutes inside the cage and your opponent’s team congratulate you on your win, only to then see the victory awarded to the other guy, you’re going to get angry. And that’s exactly what happened to Swiss light-heavyweight contender Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir in London at the weekend when he lost a split decision to American contender Dominick Reyes.
But, despite clearly feeling robbed by the judges’ scorecards in London, Oezdemir still tried to keep it classy when he spoke to me backstage after the fight.
He wants to jump back into the cage as quickly as possible, and would love to do so on June 1 in Stockholm, Sweden. But who should he fight?
Jimi Manuwa is looking for a win and also wants to be on that card, so a potential rematch between the pair could be a go-er but, after the controversy and closeness of that bout in London, I’d like to see Oezdemir and Reyes dance again to see if we can get a more decisive result at the second time of asking.
DANNY ROBERTS vs CLAUDIO SILVA
Yes, this one needs to be run back, too!
Danny Roberts was clearly livid after being adjudged to have verbally submitted after supposedly crying out in pain during an armbar attempt by the London-based Brazilian.
Roberts insists that other than a few grunts of discomfort, he was never going to stop – and by the time referee Kevin Sataki stopped the fight he had already escaped from the hold. It was a wholly unsatisfactory end to an exciting fight that Roberts appeared to be winning.
And after UFC president Dana White took to Instagram to voice his own disgust at the way the fight was prematurely ended by the referee, it seems certain that the UFC will put Roberts back into the cage sooner rather than later.
A rematch with Silva would make a lot of sense.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 16, 2019
TIME TO MOVE ‘THE PROSPECT’ UP THE RANKS
Nathaniel Wood’s surge up the bantamweight rankings could become one of the stories of 2019 in the UFC, and after his impressive win against Jose Quinonez took his UFC tally to three fights, three wins, three submissions, it may now be time to move the man known as “The Prospect” into a bout with a ranked contender.
Looking at the options available in the 10-15 range in the rankings, the name of Rob Font stands out. Like Wood, the American has an exciting, all-action fighting style, and is capable of finishing fights both by knockout or by submission.
He would provide a stern test of Wood’s skills in what will be the Brit’s fourth fight in the octagon. And with the London lad showing no signs of struggle so far in his UFC career, a tussle with Font may well give him his first big test of his UFC career.